Bhatt, Holtby and Sahni leaving Rethink to start new agency

Three senior leaders from Rethink—Dhaval Bhatt, Joel Holtby and Niki Sahni—have left to start a new agency brand as part of the fast-growing No Fixed Address network.

Rumours of their departure began circulating this week, and Rethink’s managing partner and national chief creative officer Aaron Starkman confirmed they were leaving the agency today. “We’re thankful for all that they’ve done for us and wish them all the best,” said Starkman.

No Fixed Address co-founder Dave Lafond also confirmed that the three are starting a new agency “in partnership” with himself and NFA co-founder Serge Rancourt, but said it would operate independently of NFA.

Two years ago, No Fixed Address launched Mischief @ No Fixed Address in the New York City with Greg Hahn. “It’s similar in that we are partnering with [them] in their creative agency,” said Lafond. “But they are not joining NFA… This particular agency will run independently and separately from No Fixed Address.”

Lafond declined to say what the new agency will be called, but said it will not have a @No Fixed Address name, as Mishchief does.

Bhatt, Holtby and Sahni were all part of the senior team at Rethink, which has been at the top of Canada’s industry for the past several years—dominating domestic awards shows, and earning recognition on the global stage while also picking up high-profile clients like Scotiabank.

Starkman said the agency is well-positioned to continue its strong performance after their departure. “One thing that I’ve always loved about this place is how it’s about the collective,” he said. “And there are 300 Rethinkers who make contributions across four offices and on every single brand, every single day. I’m constantly blown away by our people, and I can’t wait to see more of the same.”

Bhatt, Holtby and Sahni also posted updates to LinkedIn on Friday afternoon.

“This was my last week at Rethink,” said Bhatt, a partner and creative director at Rethink, who worked at NFA prior to joining Rethink in 2018. “[Four] years ago I joined this agency knowing that I was going to be working with some of the smartest people in the business. I leave knowing that they weren’t just the smartest, but also some of the nicest.”

“Rethink has been the perfect nest to grow in, but sometimes you need to take a leap and fly on your own,” said Holtby, who had been at Rethink the longest, joining in 2012, and has been a partner, CD and head of art.

“I’ve had amazing mentors, partners, and co-workers who made it all possible,” said Sahni, who had been group account director for Scotiabank. “And incredible clients to partner with, to boot. I wouldn’t be able to take the next step if I didn’t have the past three years under my belt.”

David Brown