Cappuccino, espresso and creativity
Ad firm’s founders start coffee shop next door in hope of cross-fertilization
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.