Former Agency Wunderkind’s UK Launch Stays Earthbound

06 June 2003

Rupert Howell, the founding father of quondam London supernova HHCL & Partners – now fizzled and integrated into WPP Group’s HHCL/Red Cell London unit [WAMN: 09-May-03] – has aborted the launch of his much-heralded new venture, The Growth Organisation.

Howell, the frontman in the 1987 birth of HHCL, flew high from day one, establishing for the agency an overnight reputation as the hottest shop in town – and for several years few could match its record of success.

But hotshops more than most are prone to the whims of fashion and after its acquisition in 1997 by Sir Tim Bell’s Chime Communications, corporate middle-aged spread precipitated a serial migration of the agency’s bluechip client list.

Howell resigned in September 2002 following Chime’s announcement that it would sell 49% of HHCL to WPP, along with an option to acquire the remainder after twelve months.

Following his exit, Howell kept an uncharacteristically low profile until a few weeks ago when he launched his new venture in tandem with business consultant Piers Schmidt and former HHCL colleague Robin Price. TGO was positioned as an acquisition-focused business consultancy, designed to aid senior executives in the identification of future corporate expansion opportunities.

But Howell learned, as thousands had before him, that promises made over the second cognac evaporate along with the bouquet; and potential backers backed. Away.

Said Howell: “We have received strong interest and support for the idea and the management team but, to date, have been unable to marry the available funding to our precise needs.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff