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As soon as it launched in October 2018, it was clear that Blurred was something a bit special. The agency set up by former Unity co-founder Nik Govier, alongside former Weber Shandwick strategy and creative director Stuart Lambert and ex-Unity and Brands2Life director Katy Stolliday, recognizes the increasingly blurred lines between marketing and consulting disciplines, and is equally as strong on strategic and corporate consultancy as creative work.
Blurred’s fee income for its first full year of operation was over £1.1 million, with revenue coming from an enviable list of high-value accounts for a new agency, including luxury brand house LVMH Paris, Marriot International, The Coca-Cola Company, BT Group, UBS and Grundig, among other household names. The scope of work for these clients reaches well beyond traditional PR, including management consultancy, creative campaign development, employee engagement, crisis consultancy, ESG and purposeful business consulting and large-scale change management.
Key hires over the year brought the core team to 11, including former Vodafone corporate affairs lead and sustainability specialist Matt Peacock, who has enabled the agency to step up its consultancy around purposeful business, and live up to its promise of only working with brands that are working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The team combines its permanent team with members of its experienced, specialist consulting and creative cohorts who come from varied backgrounds including government, FTSE boardrooms and sustainability experts, as well as the worlds of music, digital culture, and photography, with the likes of Rankin among its partners. — MPS
Park Street Partners (Independent)
Park Street Partners was set up in 2018 by former MHP and Newgate Communications chief executive Gavin Devine to offer strategic corporate communications and public affairs counsel to clients in regulated sectors, often around highly sensitive topics. Devine brought a wealth of experience to his first solo venture, and has built a virtual agency of senior consultant partners and small affiliate agencies that now has European reach across Dublin, Warsaw, Bratislava, Prague and Budapest as well as London, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Starting from scratch with no outside investment, Devine has built the agency to a healthy fee income level, with growth for 2019 of 40%. Clients include dairy giant Arla Foods, the HS2 high speed railway development, British Transport Police, Anglian Water, Daily Mail Group and Royal Mail.
Many of the agency’s clients regard the well-networked, highly-experienced team at Park Street Partners as not just trusted advisors, but effectively their in-house corporate affairs department, with one saying that Devine is one of the very few external consultants who he would comfortably put in front of his chief executive. The agency is praised by clients for its agility and responsiveness, political and business smarts, and has delivered work with real impact over the year, from changes to the legislative and regulatory environment, to shifts in opinion and perception. — MPS
It’s not every new agency that can claim a business the size of Marks & Spencer as its founding client, but that was exactly the case for Sentient, set up by Daniel Cohen in 2018. It’s not every new agency that has Cohen’s pedigree, either: before starting his own venture, he had helped to build three successful UK consumer agencies: Harrison Cowley, Trimedia and Grayling. He also grew integrated shop Atomic across EMEA, and, latterly, was SVP EMEA, digital and consumer at Lewis.
Sentient has deliberately set out to be a strategic brand consultancy rather than an activation-focused agency, with a proposition of helping clients find their “meaningful difference”. When M&S appointed the agency on a retainer to provide strategic and creative services, working with the corporate communications team, its remit was to challenge status quo thinking, harmonise and integrate marketing communications across the business and inject new energy into environmental programmes.
M&S was closely followed by The London Resort, Europe's largest theme park, due to be built outside London, where the agency’s remit includes managing IP relationships and creating media assets to evolving the brand narrative and guide the media strategy. The team – Cohen plus a virtual network of specialists – has also helped Pernod Ricard’s Plymouth Gin revise its brand purpose, and guided wine producer Penfold’s into new territories. New clients in 2019 included Swedish home appliance brands Electrolux and AEG – which Sentient is supporting across Europe with strategic, integrated and creative comms – deep ocean exploration specialist Nekton, property developer Hammerson and new wine brand 19 Crimes. — MPS
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