Publicis Launches All-Star Digital Consultancy

Publicis Groupe has launched a new digital consultancy that will be led by online luminaries Nick Pahade and Rishad Tobaccowala.

The long-anticipated agency unit is called Denuo, Latin for “afresh” or “anew.” At launch, it employs 15 and has offices in Chicago and New York.

In addition to strategic consulting, Denuo will invest in and partner with media and tech companies to gain “first-mover rights for clients.” It already holds stakes in Brightcove and Shadow TV, among others.

The unit also has a business development function that will arrange relationships with other Publicis companies to enact its recommendations.

“We want to get back into the business of being paid for idea generation,” said Nick Pahade, who recently left Beyond Interactive to accept a post leading Denuo alongside Tobaccowala. “We’re not looking to be executing campaigns and be the AOR [agency of record] of the large brands. We’re really more of a plug-and-play model. We can come in and attach ourselves to things, whether in the network or outside the network.”

Other partners and staffers include Tim Harris and PJ MacGregor of gaming and digital unit Play; Tom Tercek, founder of SMG Access; Courtney Jane Acuff, who launched Digits Wireless; Dan Buczaczer of word-of-mouth shop Reverb; Scott Witt, a digital group director at MediaVest; former Millward Brown director Christian Kugel; and Tim Hanlon, who started Starcom practice TV 2.0.

Publicis has arguably been more aggressive in digital channels than any of its holding company brethren. This holds particularly true for media services unit Starcom MediaVest Group.

“There is huge market demand for expertise that can serve clients as sensors, editors and collaborators,” said Tobaccowala in a statement. “I believe we are starting with the largest assembly of experienced, world class digital talent in the industry.”

Denuo reports to Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media. It will not specifically be affiliated with any one of the company’s subsidiaries.

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