Spong: Agency Business Report 2014

Spong - rebranded from Carmichael Lynch Spong this April - had a mixed year in 2013

Principal: Doug Spong, president
Ownership: Interpublic Group (but operates outside of Constituency Management Group)
Offices: Minneapolis and New York
Revenue: Less than $50 million
Headcount: 60

Spong – rebranded from Carmichael Lynch Spong this April – had a mixed year in 2013, meeting new business goals and winning accounts, but losing existing work due to what it described as factors beyond its control. The firm, which does not disclose specific financial numbers, reported a flat year in terms of revenue.

However, president Doug Spong says the agency finished the year with a bang.

"As a year, it had its highs and lows," he offers, "but the most important thing is that we finished really strong. We won a lot of new business in Q4 and that continued into Q1 2014. So it has teed up really strong top-line growth for this year."

Key wins included Genuine Thermos Brand, cereal company MOM Brands, bioactive product manufacturer and marketer Morinda, Arla Foods, and Minnesota Public Radio.

For Arla, a European dairy company and cooperative, the firm is supporting its US growth plans with the goal of "making cheese the new chocolate," says Spong. It is the company’s first US agency.

He adds the firm has also bolstered its work with retailers, picking up accounts from GNC and Bath & Body Works.

Spong lost Calphalon, Merrick Pet Care, and lock manufacturer Schlage during 2013. Though it stopped working with the Kellogg School of Management, part of Northwestern University, last year, it began working with the University of St. Thomas. Spong cites new CMOs as the reason for multiple business losses.

New service offerings
The Minneapolis-based agency launched a design and content creation practice in 2013, adding it to its eight existing practice areas. Brand marketing and social engagement were the areas showing the most prolific growth in 2013.

The firm saw 18% staff turnover compared with 2012, maintaining the size of its team at 60. Key hires included managing counselor Nancy Knutson, director of media relations Serena Tesler, and design director Michael Skjei. Senior principal Beth Miller left the firm.

As part of its rebranding in spring 2014, done to differentiate the shop from Interpublic advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, it also produced a new logo and color scheme that appeared on its website and social media properties. 

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