APCO Worldwide: Agency Business Report 2013

APCO Worldwide's February 2012 acquisition of StrawberryFrog expanded the firm's services, says CEO and founder Margery Kraus, and continued the agency's tradition of "challenging convention."

Principals: Margery Kraus, founder and CEO (c); Neal Cohen, president and COO (l); and Robert Schooling, president of the Americas and chair, global practices (r)
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 34; US: 9
Revenue: Global: $121.8 million; US: $75,255,177
Headcount: Global: 605; US: 288

APCO Worldwide's February 2012 acquisition of StrawberryFrog, a New York-headquartered advertising agency, was a move that not only expanded the firm's services, says CEO and founder Margery Kraus, but it continued the agency's tradition of “challenging convention.”

“The acquisition was a bold move for us,” she adds. “Internally, we developed and reinforced what has made APCO APCO in terms of being independent. We've always tried to take an independent route – we're woman-owned – and that is indicative of the way we think about things.”

The deal has also helped the firm evolve its digital work, Kraus explains. “What StrawberryFrog has to offer is being one
of the best creative agencies in the world, winning premier branded accounts, and helping us better understand the consumer area from a digital perspective,” she notes.

The agency also weathered 2012's uncertain economy in terms of financial growth. APCO does not disclose margins, but its global revenue was up about 1% to $121.8 million, and US earnings improved by 3.2% compared to 2012 to reach $75.3 million.

The agency claims to have met its expectations for the year, despite a slow start to 2012. It won work with PepsiCo, as well as being named global AOR for DEK International. APCO also sealed work for Rotary International that spans the US, Canada, Germany, France, the UK, and Belgium. In addition, the agency picked up Tetra Pak's global account and UK-based work for Honeywell, as well as KFC's account in France.

The firm says it did not have any unplanned account losses last year or in early 2013, but several assignments did end as planned.

“There were two parts to 2012,” says Kraus. “The first was slower than we expected, mainly because some people were undecided about what they were going to do. It's not that people cut accounts; people were very slow to make decisions. Things really picked up halfway through the year and Q4 was very strong.”

Kraus also cites the firm's Champion Brand Index as a high point of the year, as was APCO's growth in the Middle East. The agency opened offices in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Qatar, and Istanbul in 2012 or early 2013. Kraus also praised the firm's German and Southeast Asian operations. Stateside, a Boston office was launched last year.

On the staffing front, the agency brought on London MD James Acheson-Gray from Grayling. Other hires included Washington MD Mike Tuffin, Shanghai MD Frances Sun, as well as directors in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Washington, DC.

In February 2013, APCO also promoted Stig Albinus to global chair of its healthcare practice, a group previously run by Robert Schooling, who remains at the firm as president of the Americas.

Washington, DC, senior directors Sheri Kesser, Christal Goetz, and Tara Greco left the firm, as did London senior directors Rachel Thompson and Joanne Bullen, and Brussels MD Paolo Nicoletti. APCO listed voluntary turnover at 14.6%.

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