Ownership: Vision7 International (EDC Communications)
US: New York; Los Angeles; Irvine, CA
Revenue:US: $15,353,956; Global: $27,236,982*
* includes Citizen Optimum and Citizen Brando
In late 2011, PainePR rebranded and joined with three EDC Communications group sister agencies in a global alliance called Citizen Relations. Paine changed its name to Citizen Paine, while Canadian firm Optimum rebranded as Citizen Optimum, and UK-based firms Band & Brown and Brando merged into Citizen Brando.
Daryl McCullough, CEO of Paine, took on the added responsibility of Citizen Relations chairman. The rebranding effort took eight months, with the agency handling all digital and rollout work for the launch.
“Marketing has changed from a monologue to a dialogue,” he says. “Our rebranding captures that in one word. It's citizen-powered communications.”
The rebranding has been well received by clients and staff, McCullough adds. While Paine had already been working closely with overseas firms, the shared Citizen brand formalizes those connections and clarifies the agency's global focus. Citizen Relations is supported by additional strategic partnerships with SPRG in Asia, JeffreyGroup in Latin America, and Creative Crest in India.
Citizen Paine's US revenue was down 7% year over year, which McCullough attributes to a government spending slowdown in California. The agency lost Sony Electronics and Toshiba America Business Solutions, but big wins last year included Aflac, Merck Consumer Care, Old Spice, Best Foundation, Tremor, and Powermat.
Citizen Paine was pitching for the Aflac account around the time comedian Gilbert Gottfried, then the voice of the company's iconic duck in commercials, tweeted offensive remarks about the Japan tsunami. Before signing a contract, the firm helped launch a nationwide search for a new voice of the duck. The firm ended up winning Aflac's corporate communications business, along with a bronze award at the Cannes Lions Festival for its campaign for the company.
Social media commitment
Citizen Paine continued to focus on its top areas of integrated marketing, publicity and promotions, and social and digital engagement. A commitment to social drove it to hire Jon Cronin as MD of social engagement. He previously worked with brands such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Procter & Gamble.
“We've considered ourselves owners of social engagement from the start,” explains McCullough. “We see the balance of ownership shifting and PR leading the charge.”