French | West | Vaughan: Agency Business Report 2014

French | West | Vaughan had modest expectations last year for Q1, but was surprised by an upswing in business in the first five months of the year.

Principal: Rick French, chairman and CEO
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Raleigh, NC; Tampa, FL; Los Angeles; and New York
Revenue: $18,801,845
Headcount: 97

French | West | Vaughan had modest expectations last year for Q1, which is typically its slowest period, and was surprised by an upswing in business in the first five months of the year.

Chairman and CEO Rick French attributes it to a combination of momentum carried over from Q4 2012 and "winning just about everything we were pitching." "It was just crazy," he adds. "We were turning away as many clients as we were actually taking on."

The agency landed accounts in 2013 such as Elevation Burger and Brazilian sparkling wine Carnaval.

In addition, it helped sports agent Leigh Steinberg launch his sports entertainment agency and handled the US Olympic speedskating team, most recently working with issues it faced during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Contracts ended for MoGo and Peter Millar.

Glen Fellman, formerly of McKinney, was hired as SVP and chief creative officer. Hayes Grooms was brought on as VP of sports and entertainment when the agency acquired his sports marketing firm, G.A.M.E. French says Grooms is a "key person" as the firm’s sports and entertainment practice, within the consumer marketing division, continues to grow. Arik Abel, VP of digital services, left the firm.

Business slowed down around summer-time and the year – its 17th straight of growth – closed with a revenue increase of 9.4% from 2012.

"As you get larger, it gets inherently more difficult to achieve those large double-digit growth figures every year," explains French. "Had we stayed on [the] trajectory we were on for the first five months of the year, we would have seen exceptionally high double-digit growth. Even at our size, I’m not sure we could have absorbed all of that at once."

Investing in key areas
The firm saw digital marketing begin to pull ahead and lead the conversation, so it responded by investing in the area and bringing on digital and social media experts. Although it closed its Texas office, which had temporarily moved to Austin from Dallas, the agency plans to replant a flag in the Austin market, just in a different and more meaningful way.

Bolstering the firm’s New York office – which is currently small – will be a focal point in the immediate future.

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