GolinHarris: Agency Business Report 2013

GolinHarris continued on its path in 2012 to double its revenues by 2020 by adding an international flavor to the firm.

Principal: Fred Cook, CEO
Ownership: Interpublic Group (part of Constituency Management Group)
Offices: Global: 39; US: 11
Revenue: Global: $100 million to $150 million; US: $65 million to $100 million

GolinHarris continued on its path in 2012 to double its revenues by 2020 by adding an international flavor to the firm.

The Interpublic Group agency acquired London-based Virgo Health last year on top of its buys of S2 Publicom in Brazil in September 2011; Fuse in the UK in December 2011; and Germany's Nicole Weber Communications in December 2011. Those deals helped to drive a 16.8% global increase in revenue in 2012. Organically, the firm's revenue grew by 6% globally and 5.2% in the US.

"[The acquisitions] were terrific and helped us balance the ratio of global and US business and strengthen our global network a lot," says Fred Cook, CEO. "It also improved our digital and healthcare capabilities." The Virgo deal in particular, he adds, "worked on a business and client level."

Golin also continued to implement its nontraditional g4 model this year, which separates employees into four groups and uses "Bridge" media-reaction centers in each of the agency's offices to do more
real-time marketing.

"By the end of the year, we were g4 everywhere and built 13 Bridges," adds Cook. "The difficult part is training staff into new roles. Some are doing new roles 100% of the time and some 60%. We did 10 times more training in 2012 than ever before."

Despite a number of senior executives leaving, Cook says "there haven't been any personnel changes that have had a real impact on our business so far." Golin lost Keith Burton, president of internal communications unit Insidedge, to Brunswick. New York MD Jennifer Cohan moved to Edelman, and creative director James Kelly joined Ketchum.

Among key 2012 hires were Paris MD Pierre-Hubert Meilhac, Los Angeles executive creative director Charlie Tercek, Margaret Shubny, executive director of healthcare in Chicago, and Mark Bonham, executive director for technology in San Francisco. The company does not disclose staff numbers, but says the size of its team has increased and turnover rate is "lower than industry average."

Among major account wins in 2012 was Cisco, which named Golin its social engagement agency on a global basis. It also won more business from Dow Chemical, taking on the AOR account for Dow Building and Construction. The firm added Cadbury's UK consumer account and a large piece of Smirnoff's European work. It also expanded work with Walmart and won back previous client, the Society of Actuaries. The Bridge helped create new revenue streams with clients McDonald's and Toyota. The firm lost PR responsibilities for Schwan Food to M Booth, as well as accounts with Smithfield Foods and Hass Avocado Board.

While Golin's bread and butter remains its consumer marketing capabilities, more work is coming from other practice areas, such as corporate and healthcare. "Consumer is our largest practice, but that percentage of business has shrunk, and that has gone into corporate," Cook says. "We're doing different kinds of work – packaging, a creative campaign for a client, billboards, and others. These are new to us and other agencies are experiencing the same thing."

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