Cap­puc­cino, espresso and cre­ativ­ity

Ad firm’s founders start cof­fee shop next door in hope of cross-fer­til­iza­tion

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Lor­raine Mirabella lor­raine.mirabella@balt­sun.com

The co-founders of Bal­ti­more ad­ver­tis­ing firm Planit look at most things in terms of or­der and chaos.

“Ev­ery­thing in life has a lit­tle bit of both,” said Matt Doud, Planit’s pres­i­dent.

When he and co-founder Ed Cal­la­han de­cided to open a cof­fee shop next to their Fed­eral Hill agency, the part­ners looked for in­spi­ra­tion from their own oper­a­tions at the 22-year-old firm. The part­ners, friends since third grade, re­fer to the ac­counts man­age­ment side as “or­der” and the cre­ative team of de­sign­ers, writ­ers and web devel­op­ers as “chaos.” Thus, a name was born.

They will for­mally open Or­der & Chaos Cof­fee on Mon­day on Key High­way in the his­tor­i­cally ren­o­vated King Syrup build­ing where Planit moved in May. The shop has an in­dus­trial look with wood and metal ac­cents, an eye-pop­ping ceil­ing mu­ral and two glass walls be­yond which some of Planit’s 100 em­ploy­ees on the ac­counts team can be seen tap­ping away on lap­tops and smart­phones. Matt Doud, left, pres­i­dent of ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing firm Planit, and Ed Cal­la­han, cre­ative strate­gist, in their new cof­fee shop, Or­der & Chaos, with the agency’s of­fice be­hind them.

The shop, which em­ploys 10 and is supplied by Pf­ef­fer­korn Cof­fee in Lo­cust Point, is open to the pub­lic from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day and from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on week­ends. It has a hidden door off a seat­ing area lead­ing to the agency, whose work­ers get free cof­fee as a perk. Doud said he en­vi­sions open­ing more Or­der & Chaos Cof­fee shops even­tu­ally.

Planit and the cof­fee shop op­er­ate as sep­a­rate busi­nesses. But the own­ers expect them to feed off each other.

“Planit can use the cof­fee shop and the shop can use Planit,” Doud said.

When the agency was plan­ning to re­lo­cate from the In­ner Har­bor to the ren­o­vated Fed­eral Hill site, the land­lord wanted a cof­fee shop ten­ant as well, said Cal­la­han, the firm’s cre­ative strate­gist. The own­ers de­cided to take it on them­selves.

It seemed a nat­u­ral fit for a busi­ness that trades in ideas that in­flu­ence con­sumers. It’s as much a way to fuel the caf­feine habits of em­ploy­ees as to con­nect with neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents, work­ers and busi­ness own­ers seek­ing a set­ting with a cre­ative vibe, Doud said. White boards sim­i­lar to those used by Planit em­ploy­ees line one wall of the shop’s seat­ing area.

“Cof­fee shops are cre­ativ­ity gen­er­a­tors, [where] peo­ple think, col­lab­o­rate, and com­mu­ni­ties form,” Doud said.

The new ven­ture of­fers some ad­van­tages for Planit as well, Doud said. The think­ing was to “use this as a win­dow into con­sumers and get their opin­ions.”

Al­ready cus­tomers who come in for espresso, teas or light fare are asked for con­sumer in­put. Im­ages of pack­ag­ing for three brands of fa­cial wipes beckon from one of the glass walls, and cus­tomers can pick a fa­vorite and text Planit with their vote.

The sur­vey might be in­for­mal, Doud said, but it’s part of to­day’s mar­ket­ing, one of the mul­ti­ple chan­nels brands must in­creas­ingly use to reach con­sumers.

PLANIT

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