WASHINGTON: Two local boutique agencies - which boast fewer than 15 employees and six years in business between them - emerged this week as agencies of record for two of Europe's largest manufacturers of planes and military products.Highland Stone Associates (HSA) won a six-figure contract with Thales, one of the world's top-10 defense contractors. The five-person shop outpitched four national firms and one other boutique to become Thales' US agency of record.
HSA will help Thales acquire a larger percentage of the expanding US defense market. The more than 100-year-old company changed its name last year from Thomson-CFS, and is looking to rebuild brand identity in the US as well as Europe.
Meanwhile, Xenophon Strategies, established in 2000 as a crisis communications firm specializing in the airline industry, was chosen by Airbus to be its crisis firm of record.
Xenophon won the business based largely on the work it did for the France-based company following the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in New York on November 12, 2001. The work will include continued support for that incident, 24-hour on-call crisis support, strategic planning, and counsel on the company's ongoing crisis communications efforts.
Principals from both agencies credited the size of their operations for the wins. Maintaining small shops staffed almost exclusively with senior-level people makes it easier to specialize, they said, which made the difference in attracting these clients.
"We're a relatively specialized firm,
said Xenophon founder David Fuscus.
"We do a lot of work with the aviation industry. We're the agency of record for the Air Transportation Association. At least for us, those types of credentials are a big selling point."
"We're tiny, and we work primarily in regulated industries,
said Ed Cooper, president and founder of HSA. "A firm like mine can provide the level of service big companies want."