Allison+Partners: Agency Business Report 2012

Allison+Partners turned 10 in 2011, a year marked by both geographic and financial growth.

Allison+Partners: Agency Business Report 2012
Principal: Scott Allison, CEO; Jonathan Heit, president and senior partner
Ownership: MDC Partners owns 51%; agency partners own 49%
Offices: US: 10; Global: 1
Revenue: $18.2 million
Headcount: 120

Allison+Partners turned 10 in 2011, a year marked by both geographic and financial growth. Revenue increased 25%, exceeding expectations. CEO Scott Allison reports strong top-line and good bottom-line growth, noting that office openings in London, Dallas, and Chicago cut into the bottom line a bit.
Major growth came from the launch of the Brand Innovation Group, led by Billee Howard, who came from Weber Shandwick. It includes AOR clients DreamWorks Animation, Marvel, Fast Company, and Juniper.
“This group takes a holistic approach to brand story and positioning,” Allison says. Examples of work include developing a new brand story for long-time client Best Western and repositioning DreamWorks Animation as a tech company.
The corporate practice, launched in 2010 by Matt Della Croce, grew 400%. Significant corporate practice clients include Open Solutions, TheLadders, and Beiersdorf. The tech and digital practice continued growing and consumer bounced back.
“There's no recession in the Bay Area economy,” Allison notes. “It's roaring.”
New business, including 10-plus AOR clients, drove 85% of overall growth. ConAgra, Mozilla, and THQ awarded projects. Work expanded with Best Western Inter-national, Healthways, and IGT. Projects with Deloitte and Hyundai ended. Clients Meltwater and ScoreBig changed firms. Six other accounts were lost due to budget cuts or project completion.
Senior hires included two VPs in Howard's group – Carlos De León, SVP, consumer; and Matt Averitt, VP, corporate. Greg Dunn and Mary Shaughnessy are MDs in Chicago. CMO Lauren Selikoff and SVP Matt Harris departed.
Headcount increased 18%. The New York office surpassed San Francisco in terms of headcount (about 35 and 30, respectively).
Ahead of last year
Allison is shooting for 15% growth in 2012, but deems 20%-plus likely. “We had a strong Q1 and are well ahead of last year,” he says.
He expects to expand this year in Europe organically and possibly through acquisition. Allison is also looking at acquisition in Asia.

The billing model is a challenge Allison sees for the firm and industry. “Overservicing has become an epidemic,” he says. “[Retainers] are being treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet. We've let a few clients go.”

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