GolinHarris: Agency Business Report 2011

Coming off a profitable year in 2009, something relatively unheard of during an economically trying period, GolinHarris continued to capitalize upon that growth in 2010, with worldwide and US business up more than $100 million.

Principal: Fred Cook, CEO
Ownership: Interpublic Group
Offices: 31 wholly owned globally; 12 in the US
Revenue: Global: $150 million to $200 million; US: $100 million to $200 million

Coming off a profitable year in 2009, something relatively unheard of during an economically trying period, GolinHarris continued to capitalize upon that growth in 2010, with worldwide and US business up more than $100 million.
 
"We had one of our best years ever in 2009 during the recession," says CEO Fred Cook. "Solid growth and a very high level of profitability in 2010 continued what has been a great financial streak."
 
The agency doesn't disclose exact profit numbers, and is part of Interpublic Group's Constituency Management Group, which as a whole saw its 2010 revenues climb 10.8% for the year, up to slightly more than $1 billion from $915.1 million in 2009.
 
Success around the world
In the US and worldwide, growth was seen across the board, in all practice areas and industries. Cook attributes last year's success to the agency's continued efforts to grow its global footprint.
 
"Our London office is very strong," he notes. "And we are seeing quite a bit of growth in China, too."
 
The firm bulked up on its staff in Asia in 2010, hiring Darby Doll as MD in China, Eddy Yang as MD in Beijing, and Jeremy Walker as head of branded entertainment and sports marketing in Hong Kong. Among a number of new hires in the US, James Kelly was appointed to the newly created role of creative director, based in New York.
 
Staff turnover, says Cook, "was a bit more than in 2009. It's because the economy has picked up and you are seeing more people getting recruited. There's more demand now." He declined to give an exact figure.
 
Last year, Golin's consumer marketing practice grew through a combination of new client wins, including Sargento, Crown Imports, the YMCA, Arbonne, and King's Hawaiian, and organic growth, through existing clients such as Unilever. In all, the firm added six more brands to its portfolio.
 
Corporate gains
Meanwhile, its corporate communications area continues to be a bright spot for the firm, says Cook. New client wins included Alcoa, Mead Johnson, and Ceridian. Golin also expanded its relationships with Dow Chemical, Lloyd's, Olympus, Tetrapak, and Underwriters Laboratories.
 
"Corporate is probably our fastest-growing practice and is also the one where we are seeing more and more global opportunities," he explains. "Our corporate clients are interested in expanding into other areas."
 
Other practice win highlights included Vivus' Qnexa, a new weight-loss drug waiting for FDA approval, in healthcare, and Infosys, an India-based IT outsourcing firm, in technology. Cook says the agency had no major client losses in 2010.
 
"We had a lot of big wins, existing clients grew, and we didn't lose any accounts," he explains. "All three of those things worked well together to make 2010 a strong year for us. When you have all that stuff happening at the same time, that's the magic formula."
 
Last year, client Texas Instruments consolidated its communications group in the area and requested Golin do the same, adds Cook. As a result, the firm closed its Houston office, consolidating that work into its Dallas office. The majority of the Houston staff remained on to work with the Dallas office.

In February 2011, the firm opened an office in Bucharest, Romania.

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