Atomic: Agency Business Report 2013

Atomic's year-over-year revenue grew a respectable 16% in 2012, down from last year's stellar 34.5% performance, but retaining profit margins at 21% - 85% of growth came from new business.

Principal: Andy Getsey, cofounder and CEO
Ownership: Huntsworth (part of Grayling)
Offices: Global: 7 wholly owned; US: 5
Revenue: Global: $18.7 million; US: $17 million
Headcount: Global: 117; US: 106

Atomic's year-over-year revenue grew a respectable 16% in 2012, down from last year's stellar 34.5% performance, but retaining profit margins at 21% – 85% of growth came from new business.

Staff turnover was 16% and 90% of clients are on retainer. The agency opened offices in Orange County and Palo Alto, CA, in 2012.

Cofounder and CEO Andy Getsey notes: “We have a strong reputation in tech, so we win a lot of technology-based business, but joining Huntsworth [in 2011] enabled us to service clients across broader geographies with more control over programs.”

Reaching new audiences
It also helped Atomic get on the list for larger pitches. A third of its billings come from startups, another third from established midsize companies, and the rest are big brands. “The loss of one or two things doesn't subject us to the volatility of some large agencies,” explains Getsey.

This helped when Atomic lost Sony Electronics in March 2013, with the work consolidated into corporate incumbent Burson-Marsteller as budgets were rationalized. “It was a significant loss, but our pipeline is very active,” says Getsey. He adds that some of the firm's best work was done on creating awareness for the new Sony Bravia TV line.

Atomic grew its consumer work in the year, including green cleaning products company Casabella and Starwood hotel chain Aloft – a pitch conducted via Twitter.

The firm also evolved its ComContext 4 analytics platform. “It helps people who work on campaigns become category experts,” says Getsey. Atomic's sister agency H30 Communications recently used smart analytics to launch a startup, Automatic, which links an iPhone to a car's computer.

Atomic added senior executives with a range of experience from blue-chip agencies. Scott Samson joined as VP of energy and sustainability and set up a practice to build out this offer, working with clients including Opower, a software company working in the energy sector.

Chris Knight came on as a VP specializing in Internet and mobile. Lisa Kennedy was hired for deep tech. Martha Shaughnessy was promoted to SVP and MD of the firm's San Francisco headquarters.

“We're among the best small agencies and want to scale to be one of the best global midsize firms,” says Getsey.

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