Principal: Ken Makovsky, president and CEO
Offices: New York and Washington, DC
For the second consecutive year Makovsky achieved a slight uptick in growth in 2015, at 1.03%, down slightly from 1.8% the year prior: profits were up 5%. However, the agency spent last year attempting to lay the groundwork for future revenue growth by expanding its core capabilities in B2B to consumer.
"We maintain our deep specialization in the health, energy, and financial and professional services verticals, but we have built on our heritage with a thrust into consumer health, consumer finance, and consumer tech," says president and CEO Ken Makovsky. "It is a key shift for us."
In December, the agency opened a consumer brand marketing practice led by MD Denise Vitola, who joined the firm four months earlier from MSLGroup, where she was consumer practice director. Makovsky’s first foray into consumer work came in 2014, with the launch of independent subsidiary Skylabs, an innovation lab to help companies develop new revenue through product development. Verizon and Pepsi are now two of its biggest clients.
Consumer work now accounts for 7% of Makovsky’s total revenue. Its healthcare practice accounts for 50%, followed by financial at 25%, and energy at 8%. Roughly 10% of work the firm does is digital in scope.
Sixty-five percent of its growth in 2015 came from new business such as GlaxoSmithKline and Roche — Makovsky also secured 10 new clients in Q1 2016, including Compare.com, Energy Storage Association, and PixarBio. That offset two client losses so far this year: Enigma Life and pharma company Duchesnay.
Makovsky’s employee turnover was 17%. Key departures included EVP Gil Bashe, who left last May to lead Finn Partners’ health practice. Ross Sutherland, EVP and chief creative officer, also left the firm.
New digital offering
Existing SVPs Tom Jones and Alexandra Peterson were installed to lead health. The firm also carried out its plan to hire a chief digital officer by bringing on EVP Justin Chase. As well as collaborating with the agency’s existing practices, he leads a separate digital practice and is responsible for creative and design. Chase was previously at Digitas and social health agency Hypertonic.
New perks were introduced to employees — including employee rewards and unlimited paid time off — as the HR department continued to invest in agency culture.
The firm is considering opening new offices in Boston and San Francisco. "We just signed off on our threeyear plan and those were two cities we decided we would examine," he adds. Makovsky says a key objective is also to expand the Washington, DC, office beyond energy clients.