Cone Communications: Agency Business Report 2013

Cone Communications restructured its cause marketing and corporate responsibility practices last year into one group with a focus on ROI.

Principal: Jens Bang, CEO
Ownership: Omnicom, as part of its Diversified Agency Services division
Offices: Boston; Seattle; New York
Revenue: Between $25 million and $50 million
Headcount: More than 100

Cone Communications restructured its cause marketing and corporate responsibility practices last year into one group with a focus on ROI.

Cone, long known for its work in cause marketing, says the change was necessary because more consumers want to know about the results of CSR efforts. With the rollout of the combined group, the firm also developed a measurement tool for cause campaigns called CSR Dashboard.

“Companies want to have a purpose that ignites their employees and gives soul to the organization. It's not enough to tell people what your purpose is,” explains CEO Jens Bang. “People want to see progress and programs must have measurable business impacts. We're going to do a lot more in 2013 to expand upon the ‘return' concept.”

Organic growth
As an Omnicom subsidiary, Cone does not release specific revenue numbers, but Bang says the agency saw single-digit growth in 2012, with a nearly 50/50 split between growth and new business. “Organic growth has always been a strong point for us,” he explains. “We have an average eight-year span for clients.”

Cone continued to see organic growth from its General Mills account, adding the Chex, Total, and Old El Paso brands. The firm also expanded work with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Hilton Worldwide.

Other key wins included SunTrust Banks, Philips North America, Autism Speaks, Johnson & Johnson, Neiman Marcus, and HAI Group, a provider of insurance programs for public housing. The firm ended work with Timberland and Jockey.

Along with cause marketing and CSR, other practice areas include brand communications, social media, crisis management, and entertainment marketing. Brand communications, which Bang calls a “cornerstone” of the agency, saw double-digit growth last year.

A New York office opened in September, joining the Boston and Seattle branches.

“We were at a point where people knew us as the ‘cause agency,' which was a misnomer,” Bang explains. “That's why we went through a name change to ‘Cone Communications, a PR and marketing agency,' to bring clarity to what the core of our business is. It has helped us from a new business standpoint. We used to call ourselves a ‘strategy and communications agency.'”

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