Brunswick: Agency Business Report 2013

Despite continuing global economic uncertainties, Brunswick saw double-digit growth in 2012, says group CEO Susan Gilchrist, who declined to disclose revenues.

Principals: Alan Parker, chairman; Susan Gilchrist, group CEO (pictured); Steve Lipin, US senior partner
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 21; US: 4
Headcount: Global: 683; US: 160

Despite continuing global economic uncertainties, Brunswick saw double-digit growth in 2012, says group CEO Susan Gilchrist, who declined to disclose revenues.

The firm's services in corporate and financial communications, IR, mergers and acquisitions, crisis and litigation management, and stakeholder management were in demand because clients “have never faced such big communications issues,” she adds.

Continuing clients include AT&T, BP, GE, Cisco, Burberry, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Thomson Reuters, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Visa. Last year Brunswick also began working with Facebook on corporate issues, including the social giant's highly anticipated IPO and subsequent fallout. 

Brunswick has topped Mergermarket's League Tables of PR Advisers by value for the past five years, advising on 217 deals globally worth $296.1 billion in 2012. Last year the firm provided counsel on major transactions including ConAgra's $5 billion acquisition of Ralcorp Holdings and Walgreen's $6.7 billion investment in European pharmacy retailer Alliance Boots.

This year, it worked on Liberty Global's $16 billion purchase of Virgin Media and Heinz's $23 billion sale to Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital. 

Despite its M&A expertise, Brunswick wants to be known as more than just a deal shop. “We have a heritage in financial communications that in some way is a plus because we're analytical, have rigor, and believe in being accurate,” says Gilchrist. “We still want to be on the [League Tables of PR Advisers], but what we do day to day makes us a much broader-based firm.”

Brunswick has expanded into several practice areas to increase its service offerings to clients. For example, earlier this year the firm hired Keith Burton, the longtime president of GolinHarris' internal communications unit Insidedge, as a partner in the New York office to lead and expand the employee engagement practice. Bob Moran, former president of Edelman's insights subsidiary StrategyOne, joined the agency in April 2012 to oversee growth of Brunswick Insight, its research division in the Americas. The firm also hired Jeff Sindone as a director in New York to drive the US expansion of MerchantCantos, its corporate design and creative communications consultancy. The firm also restructured its leadership team, naming Gilchrist group CEO and Rob Pinker COO.

In early 2013, Bethany Sherman, Chrysta Castañeda, Eric Savitz, and Nicole Reboe joined Brunswick as partners. US managing partner Michael Buckley left the agency for a top role at Facebook, and partner Joe Carberry recently left for eBay.

In 2012, Brunswick opened offices in Rome and São Paulo, marking its expansion into Latin America, just as many multinational corporations are eyeing Brazil. Asia is also a “big growth market” for the agency, which will look to expand on the continent beyond its presence in China, she says.

More and more, Brunswick staffers are working across multiple markets for their clients. “Increasingly, companies want one adviser that can span markets,” she says. “Companies are finding that their business models are challenged and changing. This, along with a more complex communications environment, means clients want help from an integrated communications adviser.”

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