Peppercomm: Agency Business Report 2015

Peppercomm's global and US and revenue declined 3% last year on top of a 8% decline in organic US revenue from 2012 to 2013.

Co-CEO Ed Moed
Co-CEO Ed Moed

Principals: Steve Cody, co-CEO; Ed Moed, co-CEO; Ted Birkhahn, partner and president
Ownership: Independent
Offices: New York; San Francisco; Boulder, CO; and London
Revenue: Global: $18,807,537; US: $16,957,821
Headcount: Global: 106; US: 90

Peppercomm’s global and US and revenue declined 3% last year on top of an 8% decline in organic US revenue from 2012 to 2013.

"We lost one of our largest accounts toward the end of 2013, Whirlpool, and that greatly impacted our 2014 revenue," says co-CEO Ed Moed. "We actually had a pretty good year. We made up a lot of ground through a host of new business wins and organic growth throughout all of last year."

Sixty percent of work came from new clients. The firm’s biggest wins included insurance and investment company The Hartford; Meridian Health, a network of hospitals in New Jersey; and retailer Aeropostale for which it is handling licensing.

Account losses included manufacturer Earth-Kind, Lincoln Financial, and restaurant chain Texas de Brazil. Most losses came in the firm’s consumer category, which was flat as a result.

Non traditional offerings
"Only 40% to 50% of the firm’s revenue is from PR-focused work," says Moed. "We do a lot of marketing, and that is a different mindset for communications because that includes things such as database management, digital marketing, and advertising."

Peppercomm has made investments to help embrace a more integrated approach. The firm brought on many senior execs last year including Matt Lester, a veteran of McCann Erickson, as creative director.

"Matt has allowed us to take a ‘big idea’ approach to creative, and has gotten us into advertising, which is a key part of integrated campaigns," notes Moed. 

The agency hired Scott Gober as executive director, marketing strategy, a former marketing executive with Thomson Reuters and American Express.

Employee turnover last year was 11%, down dramatically from 23% in 2013 when the agency made two acquisitions – Janine Gordon Associates and Walek & Associates.

Talent acquisition is one of the biggest challenges for the industry in 2015 believes Moed.

The co-CEO says Peppercomm will continue communicating to the marketplace about its integrated marketing capabilities.

"Many clients don’t believe you can do a lot more than PR, that you’re really integrated; they tend to put you in a box," he explains. "We have to show clients through our own brand evolution the things we can do."

In June, Peppercomm came together with other agencies to sign a statement committing the firm to act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines. Peppercomm’s initiative was led by director of audience engagement Sam Ford.

"There is a lot of gray around the ethics of who posts what, and we wanted to help shape the ethics for the industry and the Wikipedia strategies for clients," Moed notes. 

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