Catalyst: Agency Business Report 2014

Acquired by IMG Worldwide in late 2012, last year was Catalyst's first full year under the IMG umbrella.

Principal: Bret Werner, MD
Ownership: IMG Worldwide (part of IMG Consulting Co.)
Offices: 6 (New York, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London)
Revenue: $9,541,893
Headcount: Global: 42; US: 38

Acquired by IMG Worldwide in late 2012, last year was Catalyst’s first full year under the IMG umbrella. In that 12-month period, revenue climbed 21% to $9.5 million, which is up more than 60% from 2011 figures.

"We had an incredibly successful integration with IMG," notes MD Bret Werner. "It was our best year in terms of overall growth. Most importantly, in a transition year, staff retention was at an all-time high – turnover was less than 5%."

The battle for talent
Overall, headcount was up seven from 35 in 2012. Notable senior hires include Andrew Garson, who joined from Cohn & Wolfe as senior director of the entertainment practice, which showed continued growth through new wins including Warner Brothers. VP of digital Valerie Tyson was the only senior-level staffer who left, after just seven months.

"Hiring talent in a competitive landscape is an ongoing challenge," adds Werner.

A consumer agency through and through, Catalyst does digital work, media relations, content creation and management, as well as consulting for all clients. 

Of the agency’s growth, 60% was from existing clients, 40% new business. Digital strategy and content work grew most, up from $1.3 million in billings in 2012 to $1.8 million.

Three new clients named Catalyst AOR last year – Purity Vodka (content development), CampusInsiders.com, and Courtyard by Marriott. Other new wins included consulting on NFL sponsorships for US Automobile Association and brand work for Dockers.

"We started to see how we can integrate with existing IMG clients, such as Courtyard by Marriott, which IMG had been doing business with, but not in communications," Werner explains. "We pitched the communications business and won."  

Agency consolidation claimed Campari’s US business, which was the only loss.

Going forward, priorities include expanding entertainment skill sets and further broadening content creation and distribution ability.

"IMG creates 25,000 hours of content annually," Werner explains. "We will work even more closely this year with IMG Media to create additional content to distribute through earned, owned, or paid channels." 

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