Havas backs Interbrand breakaway consultancy

Interbrand Newell and Sorrell, the identity consultancy, has lost two senior directors to a fledgling marketing consultancy funded by French media giant Havas.

The new company, called Brandsmiths, has been set up by Kevin Thompson, founder of design agency Grey Matter, along with Interbrand director of innovation Chris Cleaver and director of strategy Pam Robertson, who leave for the new venture in mid-June and mid-July respectively.

Brandsmiths will be funded by Havas following negotiations by Thompson with Havas’ head of UK diversified businesses, Jerram Shurville. It follows projects including Prestige Housewares, which the three partners worked on in 1993.

Thompson says the three agreed at that stage on the best way to run branding consultancy projects and that Havas promised Thompson funds if he ever wanted to go it alone.

Thompson says: “I approached Sherville to say I wanted to give this a go and the Havas board signed up. It is taking this project very seriously.”

The new company, which has begun work for a number of clients, will report to Havas’ diversified businesses’ board based in Paris.

Robertson says Brandsmiths intends to be “solutions neutral” – which means no particular marketing discipline, such as design or advertising, will be favoured for use in projects.

Interbrand appointed First Direct head of innovation Penny Harris as team leader of the agency’s brand development team last week, in response to losing Cleaver and Robertson.

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