MSLGroup: Agency Business Report 2010

For MS&L, 2009 was a year of regrouping and restructuring, after several senior-level departures, most notably CEO Mark Hass in April.

Principals: Olivier Fleurot, CEO; Jim Tsokanos, president of the Americas (pictured)
Ownership: Publicis Groupe
Offices: 83 wholly owned offices globally; 8 in the US
Revenue: Global: $250 million-$500 million; US: $150 million-$200 million
Headcount: Global: 2,500; US: 750

For MS&L, 2009 was a year of regrouping and restructuring, after several senior-level departures, most notably CEO Mark Hass in April. Late last year, parent company Publicis Groupe announced a consolidation of MS&L and Publicis Consultants into one group – MS&LGroup – and MS&L is optimistic that its new global scale will help it overcome a 12% worldwide revenue drop in 2009.
 
"We have a new CEO [Olivier Fleurot] who is passionate about the future," says Jim Tsokanos, president of the Americas for MS&LGroup. "Changes had to be made last year. We're going to be a far
better agency for it."
 
Notable staff turnover
The firm had layoffs in 2009, Tsokanos confirms, reporting that staff turnover was 12.8%. Senior-level departures included Kim Friedman, SVP and co-practice leader of the consumer marketing practice in New York; Allison Ross, VP and director of global communications; and Krista Webster, SVP and North American consumer practice director.
 
MS&L replaced Ross with Diane Bruno in November, hired Kim Bernhardt as SVP of consumer, and named Nancy Glick SVP of the health and nutrition affairs practice. With several healthcare exits in early 2010, the firm is restaffing in that department, Tsokanos adds.
 
The agency lost a handful of major clients in 2009, including Philips, TurboTax, and Match.com. But it leveraged its global scale to win several accounts – including the World Gold Council, the Country Music Association, Puma, and Evian – and to expand work with Coca-Cola, Citibank, Nestlé, Ciba Vision, and P&G.
 
Optimistic outlook

"It was really important to us to win really big, well-respected international brands," Tsokanos says. Going forward, he is bullish on how the newly combined MS&LGroup – which was official as of January 1 – will impact the firm positively.

"We just need to migrate three or four major European clients here to North America," Tsokanos says. "If we can do the right sorts of acquisitions, in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and migrate those accounts to Asia and Europe, imagine what that would do for our business."

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