Waggener Edstrom Worldwide: Agency Business Report 2009

WE cited 2008 as its "best-ever year for growth and revenue," noting that the agency exceeded its expectations.

WE cited 2008 as its "best-ever year for growth and revenue," noting that the agency exceeded its expectations.

This year, the agency expects to grow its innovation communications practice with products like its recently launched "Twendz," a Twitter monitoring application, says Melissa Waggener Zorkin, president and CEO of the agency. She adds that 2008's formalization of Studio D will also help to shape the firm's future in 2009 and beyond.

"We have been doing this work within the company for at least the past six years," Zorkin explains. "Formalizing this structure is certainly allowing us to be more efficient and effective in the digital space."

Despite the record growth, Zorkin says the agency is proceeding with caution in this economically tumultuous year. Yet she adds that the agency's independence gives it more flexibility to adjust to the climate.

"As we move through 2009, we know the most important things are making sure every dollar spent is highly measurable and shows results," notes Zorkin.

There was a 24.7% turnover in 2008; headcount increased 5.1% since FY 2007. The agency made 11 senior hires in 2008. Seventeen senior-level staffers departed the firm in 2008.

Practice areas
The agency experienced growth in every practice area in 2008, but its corporate communications practice had the strongest performance, seeing a 281% increase in revenue.

No practice areas were phased out at the firm; all experienced "stellar" growth over the year. WE distribution of business across its practices is: 63% technology, 19% consumer marketing, 10% corporate communications, 5% healthcare, 2% public affairs, and 1% environment.

The agency won several accounts in 2008, including Chevron, Natureworks, GSM Association, and Interwoven. GSK and T-Mobile work also expanded into more US markets. In addition, its existing client BMC expanded from the US to Germany and the UK. The agency also lost accounts with AMD and MasterCard in 2008. Of its clients, 61% are on retainer, a decrease from last year.

Financial performance
The agency's global revenue in 2008 (including the US) totaled $123,352,000, a 12% increase from 2007. Revenue in the US was $108,591,000, also a 12% increase.

The agency declined to share bottom-line growth figures, but noted that it experienced top-line growth. New business accounted for 67% of its growth; organic made up 33%.

key facts
Principals: Melissa Waggener Zorkin – CEO, president, founder (pictured); Pam Edstrom –EVP, agency partner

Ownership: Independent

Subsidiary agencies: Maloney & Fox

Offices: 16 wholly owned globally; eight in the US

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