Offices: Global: 32 wholly owned; US: 8
Revenue: Global: $120,701,000; US: $72,902,800
Headcount: Global: 603; US: 304
For APCO Worldwide, the last few months have been about going to new frontiers both geographically and by expanding into the paid media realm.
The agency opened an office in Abu Dhabi in November 2011 and one in Istanbul in February 2012.
“We want to go where the action is,” says founder and CEO Margery Kraus of the firm's interest in the Middle East. The desire for communication services there is high with companies looking to promote brands around the region and world and western companies looking to break into those markets. Health communications has been a specific area of interest.
The global expansion follows a year in which global revenue rose 6.4% to slightly north of $120 million. US revenue fell 2.8% due to “projects ending,” says Kraus.
In the past year, APCO has hired former Porter Novelli CEO Helen Ostrowski as a senior adviser in its healthcare practice. Steve Bates joined as a director in the healthcare practice based in London to focus on medical-technology approval and reimbursement issues.
In healthcare, most of APCO's work has been in promoting vaccines. To aid the healthcare practice, it launched a health advisory board comprised of former chief medical officers, public health leaders, and heads of communications at large pharmaceutical and insurance firms.
The two practice areas that grew most were healthcare and food and consumer products. On the latter, most of the growth has been tied to sustainability efforts.
“There are parts of the world where there are shortages,” says Kraus. “From a US economy standpoint, there is a real capacity to grow exports.”
Client wins in this area include the World Cocoa Foundation and Share Our Strength, a nonprofit whose goal is to end childhood hunger in the US. The firm also grew a number of existing accounts to encompass new geographies, including work for Barilla in Europe and for Mars and Tesco globally.
APCO drew significant attention at the start of 2012 by moving into the world of paid media with its acquisition of a majority interest in advertising and marketing firm StrawberryFrog, which shares a philosophy with APCO of aligning a brand's values with current stakeholder interest versus creating campaigns that don't emotionally resonate with audiences – a concept StrawberryFrog calls “movement marketing.”
New York-based StrawberryFrog will operate independently with its current management team in place. The firm has about 100 staffers. At the time of purchase, the company was generating $20 million in revenue and had worked with companies including Procter & Gamble and Beam.
In late 2011, APCO introduced new integrated offerings to help companies better manage communications and resources involving material issues. The agency uses a proprietary model to assess the impact an event such as a merger, lawsuit, or leadership transition can have on a company's reputation and financial stability.