Sam Moqbel and Jamie King, former directors at Jack Morton Worldwide, have set up a full-service agency called St. Frank's that moves them away from the brand activation space.
The shop, which the pair say has been "founded on optimism", will work on TV, outdoor, print and digital, PR, shopper and brand experience.
When asked whether the agency will work on events, King explained that the proposition of the company will take things "a bit further upstream".
He said: "[We will try to] work out what the actual root cause of the client's problem or challenge is, and then help them to make sure that the starting point is the right one – that will dictate what the work will become.
"It's far more about focusing on the audience and making sure that we help the clients that we're working with to find the right points of connection. And a good idea will find its own path then."
St. Frank's is launching with a global drinks brand client, which the pair cannot yet reveal. This work will be for European-wide communication projects, Moqbel and King said.
There are plans to pursue organic growth in the short term and pitch for new business in 2021.
Moqbel and King have built up a pool of 35 freelancers that they refer to as "co-optimists". These are a mixture of strategists, creatives, production people and account managers.
King said that the freelancers will meet three criteria: "The first is that we know them very well, having worked with them somewhere or other, and we know that they're very good at what they do. The second is that we like them. The third thing is we trust them.
"We're calling them co-optimists because they're among the people that shared our outlook, got excited about it and were willing to commit to it."
The agency has opted against an office-based model and is not making any commitments to having one in the near future.
Moqbel explained that this will help with overhead costs and deliver the best value for clients. He told Campaign: "The idea is for clients to really feel the value of working with us, to pay for our ideas and not our overheads. That's a really strong element that has resonated positively with potential clients."
Moqbel and King added that they decided to set up the shop in the midst of a pandemic because they "started to see less and less of the super black cloud of negativity".
Moqbel said: "[The pandemic] has been an awakening of acknowledgment on what was working and what definitely wasn't working [in terms of agency business models]. That provided us with an opportunity to look at things from a positive viewpoint.
"It just felt like a very natural thing to join forces and to create something rooted in optimism. Using optimism as the force behind shifting the industry and the capability to do something incredibly positive. And to change the story. So that the negativity that has been around for these last few months really can be seen as being an opportunity."
The name of the agency is also based on an optimism ethos, taking Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of optimism, as its inspiration.
Moqbel and King previously worked together at Cheil Worldwide, where the former started as group account director in 2013 and exited as business director in 2016. King joined the agency a year before Moqbel as group account director for planning, he then became head of (RX) planning and left in 2015.
Moqbel has also worked at Mars Events and Wasserman. King's career spans stints at Elvis, EE and T-Mobile, as well as other agencies.
St. Frank's is one of a string of agency launches of late, including The Ninety-Niners, Other, Platform and Friendly Giants.