Principal: Aaron Kwittken, CEO and global chairman
Ownership: MDC Partners
Offices: London, New York, and Toronto
Revenue: Global: $11.0 million; U.S.: $8.6 million
Kwittken enjoyed significant growth in New York and Toronto, while the agency’s London office felt the aftermath of Brexit and a struggling European market. Revenue in the U.S. office was $8.6 million, up from $7.6 million in 2015, a 12.7% increase. About 65% of the growth came from 28 new accounts, including BMW North America, Cervélo Cycles (U.S. and Canada), and S&P Global (U.S. and U.K.), among others.
The firm lost three accounts. It parted ways with LDR Spine after it was acquired by Zimmer Biomet; HomeAway after its acquisition by Expedia; and OneMedical.
And Kwittken restructured its 47-person New York office into three groups: brand strategy, corporate, and global. In late April 2017, it restructured again into two in the U.S.: a brand strategy group and a global corporate group.
"We’re at a certain size where we can no longer say we don’t have practices," says Aaron Kwittken, CEO and global chairman. "We’re known as a modern, multi-specialist agency, and that is not going to change, but people need a home and clients need to know where they live."
In Toronto, where Kwittken opened an office in early 2015, revenue more than doubled to $696,125.
As a result of Brexit, Kwittken says, revenue in London fell from $2 million in 2015 to $1.7 million. In February 2017, Sarah Moloney was appointed director in London, reporting to U.K. MD Sam Bowen. "Our office in London had a bit of an off year, but there is still a lot of opportunity there," says Kwittken. "Fifty percent of our clients in London are shared with New York, but one of the things we’re trying to do is have the London office become more of a U.K. agency."
Employee retention problems
Employee turnover increased to 26% last year. "Talent acquisition and retention is our number one challenge," says Kwittken. "Entry level up to senior account executive is where we have the most turnover."
A new orientation program called Day One is taking a year-long process to help new staffers become integrated into the organization, rather than the typical day or two.
He also sees the proposed New York State Department of Labor’s incremental increases for the salary threshold for overtime-exempt employees a major challenge, noting it could change agency cultures to a punch in, punch out mentality.
"It could wreak havoc in our industry as the rules continue to evolve over the next few years," Kwittken explains.
In late April, Kwittken cofounder Jason Schlossberg departed the firm to build a PR unit of about 50 staffers at Brooklyn-based creative shop Huge.
Schlossberg’s title will be MD of PR at the firm. Kwittken said in a statement that it is realigning its U.S. operations into two groups, a brand strategy unit and a global corporate team, led by executive MD Shanee Goss and EVP and cofounder Gabrielle Zucker, respectively. MD William Nikosey, who led the corporate group, departed in April 2017.
This story was updated on May 2 to correct the previous responsibilities of Nikosey, Zucker, and Goss.