Cone: Agency Business Report 2009

Cause branding, a Cone staple, continues to play a key role in the agency's business, says president and CEO Jens Bang.

Outlook
Cause branding, a Cone staple, continues to play a key role in the agency's business, says president and CEO Jens Bang.

"We're seeing a growing awareness and importance of the role that cause branding can play in building reputation and brand equity in the marketplace," he says. "For many years, people thought we were just exclusively a cause marketing agency, and we're far from that."

The first quarter of 2009 has seen slower decision-making and more prudence from clients, but Bang's outlook is still favorable.

"Although 2009 is more challenging... we're optimistic about what the rest of the year will look like," he notes. "We're proud of our reputation in the cause arena, [and] we've done terrific work in brand marketing and corporate responsibility. Combine that with crisis and issues management work, and we're well-positioned to meet the needs of the marketplace."

Staff
Current headcount is 100. There was 15% staff turnover in 2008. Mark Malinowski was brought on as VP of the brand marketing group; Julia Hobbs Kivistik left her post as EVP of the cause branding practice.

Practice areas
Cause branding, corporate responsibility, brand marketing, and crisis prevention and management. Cause branding and brand marketing each contributes about 30% to 35% of the firm's business. Crisis and issues management showed the least growth for the year.

Accounts
Key wins were Betty Crocker, Timberland, the American Cancer Society, and Zone Diet. The firm also added crisis work to its CVS account and a cause program to the Jiffy Lube account.

Financial performance
Cone reported less than $50 million in 2008 revenue, experiencing both top- and bottom-line growth. About half was organic growth, half through new business.

Key facts
Principal: Jens Bang, president/CEO

Ownership: Omnicom

Offices: Two – Boston and a small satellite office in Seattle

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