The Omnicom agency said that in his new role, Hargrave (pictured) will develop Portland's research and polling offer and lead a group of eight specialists in the firm’s SPARC (Strategy, Planning, Analytics, Research and Creative) team.
In addition, Nick Bonstow, formerly associate director at Hanbury Strategies, has been hired to support Hargrave in building the agency’s data and research capabilities.
Hargrave joined Portland in 2017 from No 10 where he was latterly deputy political director. He has worked on political campaigns in a number of continents, including the Conservative Party’s General Election victory in 2015, and in Europe more widely, plus Asia and the Caribbean.
Hargrave started at Portland in 2010, working across a range of clients and sectors before becoming a speechwriter to Cameron and later a political adviser in the Conservative Research Department.
Portland UK MD Mark Flanagan said: "It’s important that, as our client needs evolve, we are able to refresh and renew the way we work. Nick’s move into a leadership role will help us further improve our rigorous approach to client issues, ensuring that we use the best evidence and data to inform our strategy for new business pitches and high-level client engagement."
Hargrave said: "The agencies that prosper in the future will be the ones who can blend the science of research with the art of actionable advice. I am delighted to be taking on this role and helping Portland offer an ever-more-premium service to our clients."
Other hires at Portland in recent months include Worldpay director of corporate affairs Claire Hardy, who joined the agency's new financial offering founded last year; and Conservative peer and former Tory minister James O'Shaughnessy, who re-joined the agency as a member of its advisory council.
Portland, founded in 2001 by former Tony Blair comms chief and ex-Sky director of communications Tim Allan, employs more than 250 people in offices in London, Washington DC, Nairobi, Doha and Singapore. Its global revenue hit an estimated $44m in 2018, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report.