W2O Group: Agency Business Report 2015

W2O Group's global revenue growth rate slowed considerably in 2014, but CEO Jim Weiss says a silver lining was that the firm could shore up its infrastructure.

Jim Weiss, CEO
Jim Weiss, CEO

Principals: Jim Weiss, CEO; Bob Pearson, president
Ownership: Independent
Subsidiary agencies: WCG, Twist Marketing, and BrewLife
Offices: Global: 10; US: 9
Revenue: Global: $82,625,212; US: $75,670,030
Headcount: Global: 402; US: 365

W2O Group’s global revenue growth rate slowed considerably in 2014 to 10% at $82.6 million, down from 21% the previous year, but CEO Jim Weiss says a silver lining was that the firm could shore up its infrastructure.

"It was probably one of the best years we have had, but it won’t necessarily look like that on paper," he adds. "It was the most critical from an infrastructure and structural development perspective as we scale to grow in the future."

The US continues to make up the lion’s share of its business, accounting for $75.7 million of revenue, with most of the remainder from the UK. Though the firm did not specify profit for 2014, Weiss adds it was up in the three-digit range [i.e. more than 100%].

True to its past, healthcare was the agency’s fastest-growing practice in 2014, with account wins including the Cancer Research Institute, Chimerix, Allergan, and digital work for Bayer Animal Health.

The most-used service areas were PR, analytics, and its CCX creative unit. Sixty percent of revenue was from existing clients, the rest from new business.

"I see us not moving away from the CCO, but being able to provide services the CMO also buys," Weiss explains.

W2O was named PR AOR for NetScout Systems, though its work extends beyond traditional PR to multichannel marketing and digital engagement, as well as strategic PR and influencer engagement.

It lost BMC Software’s AOR account. In the consumer space, W2O won work from Best Buy and Harley-Davidson.

"We are moving into new sectors such as consumer, technology, oil and gas, and food and beverage," Weiss says. "That also benefits our healthcare clients because we can apply what we’ve learned to them."

Planning for the future
The agency added offices in San Diego and Boston and, in February 2015, boosted its footprint in Los Angeles by acquiring boutique ARC2 Communications & Media. Founders Christine Cassiano and Andrea Rothschild joined W2O in the process.

W2O also launched a multicultural practice in LA in early 2015 and acquired social engagement and CRM platform VinTank in late March.

Weiss said the firm will focus its international growth on partnerships with other firms through the PROI Network, focusing on analytics.

In terms of personnel, W2O hired Louise Strong as group director last year, as well as MDs Steve Goldberg, Amber Edwards, and Marie Emms. Aaron Strout was promoted to head the agency’s technology practice. Managing directors Paul Laland and Maura Bergen left, as did president Chris Deri, who left WCG after a year to join Teneo Holdings last June – group director Stephan Merkens joined Deri at Teneo.  

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