WPP in surprise rebrand of top PR firm as Hill & Knowlton Strategies

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell seems to have decided it’s not good enough to be ‘just’ a PR firm these days, even if the PR firm in question is one of the world’s biggest and most famous.

So WPP’s Hill & Knowlton is rebranding as Hill & Knowlton Strategies, reflecting its merger with lobbying outfit Public Strategies about a year ago and subsequent elevation of PS founder Jack Martin (pictured) to CEO in place of long-time H&K boss Paul Taaffe. This despite H&K being about ten times bigger than PS at the time of the merger.

Based on numbers this all seems rather strange but WPP CEO Sorrell clearly takes the view that ‘strategic consultancy’ is where it’s at these days. He recently added Washington lobbying firm Glover Park to what is already quite an impressive collection of such companies.

The term strategic consultancy can mean just about anything of course but maybe, as well as the political stuff, Sorrell has his eye on challenging the big boys of the management consultancy world such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and the big four audit cum consulting firms.

Back in May great rival Maurice Levy of Publicis Groupe shelled out a fairly eye-watering $575m for Rosetta Marketing Group, which we all thought was a digital agency but mighty Maurice tells us is actually a consulting firm.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.