It emerged this week that Interbrand is quietly winding down Innocence, following a year of assessment by Jez Frampton, chief executive of both groups.
The 18-strong sister branding group has already been merged with staff at Interbrand’s London headquarters. Trading under the Innocence name officially ceased on 1 January although the switchboard is still taking enquiries.
The move follows speculation over Innocence’s continued independence, after Frampton became chief executive at Interbrand in November 2003, retaining the same position at Innocence (DW 20 November 2003). Frampton says that at the time of his promotion there was ‘an obvious corporate perspective’ on strategy that looked to ‘sharpen up the Interbrand offer’ in London.
Both Interbrand and Innocence are ultimately owned by communications giant Omnicom Group. It is likely that Interbrand Group’s senior management in the US is keen to focus on the equity in Interbrand’s own name.
‘We [waited] a year to see if the two groups would naturally come together or move apart. It got to the point where you couldn’t see the join any more, so we integrated the two,’ says Frampton.
Innocence lost its managing director Simon Bailey and senior consultant Glyn Britton in April last year (DW 8 April 2004), though Interbrand denied that this spelt the end of Innocence. A statement says the consultancies have concluded ‘the time is right to approach the future as a single business’.
Frampton also confirmed the departure of Richard Buchanan, a senior consultant at Interbrand. He joins Corporate Edge in mid-March to work on corporate and location branding.
Frampton says he will be looking for someone to fill Buchanan’s role.