Former IBM comms head Whitehouse and Penrose cofounder Nicolls launch Copperfield Advisory

The firm will specialize in clients that are founder- and owner-led.

(L-R) Andrew Nicolls and Andy Whitehouse
(L-R) Andrew Nicolls and Andy Whitehouse

NEW YORK: Former IBM comms head Andy Whitehouse and Penrose cofounder Andrew Nicolls launched their consultancy Copperfield Advisory on Wednesday.

The firm will work with clients on communications, public affairs, marketing, and corporate strategy. Nicolls said they plan to focus their work on clients that are founder- and owner-led in the corporate, financial, and social sectors.

"Being led by their founders makes them more interesting clients for brand communications, marketing, and reputation," Nicolls said. "We focus on reputation because obviously the brand and reputation of institution and the founder are intimately connected."

Copperfield has offices in New York and London and has eight staff total. Nicolls and Whitehouse could not name clients, but said the firm is already working with five companies.

Copperfield is also backed by investment firm Clarim Holdings, which was established by Jim McCann, founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com. McCann will also join the agency’s board. Financial details were not disclosed.

"We’ve taken some investment to help us scale the firm a little quicker than we would have if we were just trying organically," Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse exited his role as chief communications officer at IBM in February, after about a year in the job. He was previously global director of marketing, communications, and knowledge management at Willis Towers Watson and spent more than a decade in various roles at McKinsey & Company.

Nicolls was previously vice chairman at Hudson Sandler, which he departed in December 2015. Prior to his role there, Nicolls was MD at MHP Communications and cofounder and senior partner at Penrose.

The founders said the combination of Whitehouse’s in-house experience and Nicholls’ agency experience is integral to providing the best work for its clients. Whitehouse is taking the role of chairman at Copperfield and Nicolls is CEO.

"The world of communications is changing rapidly," Nicolls said. "Now we’re founding something that is a truly differentiated, unique offering that exists in the moment."

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