New M&C offshoot to advise lobbyists

M&C Saatchi is setting up a new company to advise pressure groups trying to win over the public and politicians.

But Maurice Saatchi, the Tory Party's newly elected joint chairman, will have no direct involvement in it for fear of alienating left-leaning potential clients.

As a result, the new operation, to be called Influence, will have no Saatchi branding although it will be part of the so-called Saatchi "village".

Influence is being modelled on existing US companies that provide strategic advice on complete communications programmes for groups, which could include everything from lobbying and PR to above-the-line advertising.

It starts up with two clients. One is the campaign against the introduction of the euro, The other is Vote 2004, the cross-party group which wants a referendum on the European Constitution.

Influence will be under the control of Jeremy Sinclair, one of the agency's founding partners, Moray MacLennan, the joint chief executive, and Damian Collins, a former Conservative Central Office executive who is an M&C Saatchi account director.

MacLennan acknowledged that Maurice Saatchi could act as a deterrent to some radical groups and that it was hoped this could be countered with the appointment of a political left winger as a non-executive director of Influence.

"Initially, it might be the case that our business will come from the political right but our intention is for that not to happen in the long term," he said.

He added: "We think the business is out there and that it fits well with us. We have lots of experience of political issues."