Principals: Ray Kotcher, CEO (pictured front); Rob Flaherty, president
Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of Diversified Agency Services
Subsidiary agencies: Access Communications, Concentric Communications, MMG, Zocalo Group
Offices: 58 wholly/majority owned globally; 25 in the US
Revenue: Global: $300 million to $400 million; US: $200 million to $300 million
Headcount: Approximately 2,200 globally; US undisclosed
Ketchum had its second best year for new business in 2009 amid a recession. The agency continued that momentum into a more stable 2010, touting global expansion and its best year ever for new business.
CEO Ray Kotcher says the firm won 65% of its pitches, adding $100 million in new business compared to $60 million-plus in 2009. New accounts included Hilton's DoubleTree, Walgreens, and Sony PlayStation, as well as additional business from Pernod Ricard. The firm also retained its Kimberly-Clark Family Care account after the business went up for review.
Of its 60 $1 million-plus clients, the agency lost its Cadbury account, following the brand's acquisition by Kraft.
In 2010, much growth came from global expansion. Wholly and majority-owned offices now total 58. Examples include purchasing a majority stake in its Russia affiliate; completing its Ketchum Pleon merger; and acquiring a majority stake in operations in China. The firm also entered a joint venture in the Mideast with TBWA/RAAD and rebranded the agency network, which includes affiliates and partially owned firms in 14 cities in the region, as Ketchum Raad Middle East. The split between North American and overseas revenue in 2010 was 60/40, versus 65/35 in 2009.
"When you look at those metrics in terms of new business, client retention, and growing our global footprint," notes Kotcher, "it shows that we keep our people, thinking, and client relationships fresh and exciting."
In large part a result of that international approach, 16 of Ketchum's top 50 clients – including Pernod Ricard, Oakley, Newell Rubbermaid, and Applied Materials –expanded their work with the agency into new offices or geographic regions in 2010.
Across practices, growth was particularly strong in global technology, brand marketing, and food and nutrition.
Power of its people
Global headcount rose by about 300 people in 2010, though retention was down to 80%, compared to 83% in 2009. But the firm is pleased with that rate "amid talent wars in the wake of the rebounding economy."
Senior-level hires in 2010 include Laura Wilkinson, former press secretary for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), as media strategist on the public affairs team. Bill Zucker joined Ketchum as Midwest region director and Marcus Peterzell joined the agency's sports and entertainment group as EVP.
The firm also added a number of partners from its leadership team, including Mike Doyle, an associate director in New York, and Kathy Jeavons, who handles public affairs in Washington, DC.
A handful of departures included Chris Nelson, SVP and director of North American issues and crisis management, and Ilene Smith, SVP and associate director of North American food and nutrition.
Giving back to the industry
In line with its investment in training and innovation, the firm last September debuted Mindfire, an online crowdsourcing platform that tasks students to tackle client challenges for the chance to get career coaching and prizes. It has hosted 30-plus challenges and more than tripled in size from its platform of six universities at launch.
"You can now mine ideas from anywhere," says Kotcher. "That was really important for us in 2010. We are committed to the business and tried to give back to the industry."