Principals: Olivier Fleurot, CEO (l); Jim Tsokanos, president of the Americas
Ownership: Publicis Groupe
Subsidiary agencies: Group includes Kekst and Company and Publicis Consultants USA
Offices: 81 wholly owned offices globally; 18 in North America
Revenue: Global: $400 million-plus; US: $100 million to $200 million
Headcount: Global: 2,491; US: 568
In 2010, MSLGroup continued to build upon changes started in 2009, when CEO Olivier Fleurot replaced Mark Hass and Publicis Groupe announced a consolidation of MS&L and Publicis Consultants. In October 2010, it officially rebranded as MSLGroup, uniting MS&L Worldwide, Publicis Consultants, and Publicis Events.
"We've created a true network with one management team and one brand identity," says Fleurot. "We see this year as a result of all the work we did in 2010 to transform and build this new network."
Jim Tsokanos, president of the Americas, adds 2010 was about redefining business.
"In today's world, you have to take narrative across multiple channels," he explains. "We needed to bring the brand to life in a way that was compelling and dynamic."
All of MSL's US markets experienced growth in 2010. The Chicago office showed 22% growth over the previous year in consumer and corporate accounts with key wins including Owens Corning and Sealy. The DC office showed record growth of more than 20%. Client wins included Allergan (Lap Band) and helmet maker Riddell.
Tsokanos says digital and social media ac-counts for more than 25% of revenue. He expects it to grow another 10% in the next year.
Key client wins for 2010 included Nestlé Purina, Disney Stores, Tiffany & Co., Wrigley, Kellogg's, and PayPal.
MSL lost Best Buy when it consolidated agencies and awarded Edelman the account.
Robust acquisition efforts
The agency made three acquisitions in 2010, which included Eastwei Relations in China, 20:20 Media in India, and a majority stake in Andreoli MSL in Brazil.
Fleurot says more transformation and acquisitions will come in 2011.
"We're looking to do an acquisition in the public affairs space," Tsokanos adds. "Technology and public affairs are two areas that we will look to make acquisitions in the US to round out our offerings."
Fleurot highlights London, Brussels, and Asia as other areas the agency will look to for expansion. He also says it is just the beginning for the agency in Latin America.
"It's part of the ongoing transformation necessary to offer all the new services our clients need worldwide," he explains.
In 2010, MSL hired CNBC's Mike Huckman as SVP of healthcare strategy and media relations, who went on to start a healthcare blog for the firm; Ogilvy PR's Jeanine O'Kane as SVP and North America healthcare practice director; and Michael Sullivan as SVP, North America consumer practice director, who was principal of SullivanBremer and president of DeVries PR.
"Talent is the new fuel," says Tsokanos. "It's expensive and there's a short supply."
Departures included Joe Carberry, Western region president, who joined Brunswick Group; Kelly Denker, SVP, healthcare director; and Rob Baskin, MD of MSL Atlanta, who joined Weber Shandwick.
Extending global reach
Part of the firm's strategy entering 2010 was to extend client work into more countries.
Fleurot says MSL was able to achieve results by migrating work with Procter & Gamble in the US to Europe and expanding work with the World Gold Council beyond the UK.
Of the growth MSL saw in 2010, 66% was organic and 34% was new business. About 10% of its clients are on retainer.