Publicis is attempting to hold on to the clients that have been looking beyond their agencies for strategic advice by launching a brand consultancy.
The agency's new division is emphasising the premium nature of its offering by declaring that it will work directly with company chief executives and not marketing departments.
The venture is being headed by Stephen Meade, who is handing over his role as client service director to the former M&C Saatchi senior executive Simon Derungs (Campaign, 29 September).
Meade, who will retain responsibility for the agency's Muller yoghurt business, is being joined by David Howard, a specialist in developing and floating internet brands, who was previously at Getty, the digital picture service.
A brand consultant for 14 years, he will combine his new job with the management of the Publicis Bass account.
The division kicks off with assignments from existing Publicis clients including Whitehall Laboratories and KP. It will seek business outside the agency's client portfolio but will not take conflicting work.
Meade denied that the consultancy was being established because Publicis clients had been looking elsewhere for advice, but acknowledged that it was a problem for the industry as a whole.
'Twenty-five years ago agencies sat at the top table with clients, but that's not necessarily true any more,' he said. 'It's now time we got to that top table again when it comes to brand communication issues.'
Richard Hytner, the Publicis chief executive, said: 'This new service reinforces our commitment to help clients to define and realise the true value of their brands.'