Carmichael Lynch Spong: Agency Business Report 2012

Carmichael Lynch Spong had what agency president Doug Spong described as "overall a good year, but not a great one" in 2011.

Principal: Doug Spong, president
Ownership: Interpublic Group (but operates outside of Constituency Management Group)
Offices: Minneapolis and New York
Revenue: $10 million to $65 million
Headcount: 60

Carmichael Lynch Spong had what agency president Doug Spong described as “overall a good year, but not a great one” in 2011. “It doesn't hearken back to the go-go late 1990s, when everyone was spending money hand over fist,” he says. “We, along with our Interpublic peers, had very reasonable growth and managed to improve profit on top of it.”
 
The Minneapolis-based firm reports 3% revenue growth compared with 2010, which was “in line with forecast, but fell just short of our goal,” notes Spong. Organic growth was 0.5%.
 
Spong says his firm won seven significant accounts, including work for tax-services giant H&R Block, replacement window service Renewal by Andersen, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Jennie-O Turkey Store, glassmaker Owens-Illinois, and a social media brief for Lutron Electronics. The agency also began work for Save-A-Lot last year.
 
Losses over the last year included Crypton Fabric, food chain Noodles & Company, and Lowry Hill, a private asset-management firm. Ten percent of the firm's clients are on a retainer.
 
Carmichael Lynch Spong put significant investment behind a health and wellness practice launch last year.
 
“We don't just call it healthcare,” notes Spong. “It looks at broader wellness, including things such as mental health.” The group will launch campaigns targeting Baby Boomers as one example.
 
Digital expansion
The agency also continues to expand its digital and social media footprint. Today, digital accounts for 45% of the firm's revenue. “[Members of the social media team] join each core client team,” explains Spong. “Their challenge is to bring social insight, listening, and learning and the ability to evaluate everything we do in that area.”
 
Among major 2011 hires was Lori Robinson, formerly of Hill+Knowlton Strategies who was brought aboard to lead the agency's New York office, a newly created position. Robert Prevost also joined the firm as senior counselor last year, and Beth Miller, now an agency principal, joined from The Carrot Agency. Senior principal Sarah McNeil left last year to start her own firm.

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