Centrillo, Tutin Launch Brand Consultancy

NEW YORK Steve Centrillo, former CEO of Foote, Cone & Belding in New York, and ex-Grey executive creative director Dave Tutin have joined forces to launch CommonGround Partners, a strategic brand consultancy that will target chief marketing officers.

Centrillo and Tutin, who are also former managing partners at the darkGrey unit of Grey, aim to carve out ground traditionally held by ad agencies: the development of client brand strategy. They are not looking to provide creative executions, however.

“We think we can do it from a different perspective. We don’t have a dominant discipline,” explained Centrillo. Added Tutin: “It’s not better. It’s different.”

New York-based CommonGround will pitch CMOs who have been unable to achieve brand integration in part because their various roster shops in different disciplines compete on strategy more than they collaborate, the partners said.

“For years now the ad industry has wrestled with the issue of integration, while not admitting that it created this problem by disintegrating the ever-growing forms of advertising communications in the search for revenue streams,” said Centrillo, 49, who exited Interpublic Group’s FCB last September after its merger with sister shop Draft.

“It has almost become a cliche that chief marketing officers have less than 21 months to generate success or they’re gone,” Centrillo added. “We want our clients to raise the average, succeeding right away through unbiased strategies that recognize the need for common ground between themselves and their increasingly Internet-empowered consumers.”

The goal is not to replace a client’s agencies but rather “to provide them the springboard for creating great work for clients,” said Tutin, 55, who left WPP’s Grey in March 2006, after a change in top management. “A strategy drawn out of the client’s business, without the inherit bias driven by an agency’s dominant discipline.”

During the course of their agency careers, the partners collectively have worked with dozens of major marketers, including Coca-Cola, Motorola, Nokia, HP, BellSouth and AT&T Wireless. The consultancy opens, however, without any clients.