Ownership: Omnicom, as part of its Diversified Agency Services division
Revenue: Between $10 million and $65 million
Brand marketing was the top performer for Cone last year and it accounts for the most revenue. CEO Jens Bang says the Omnicom agency posted double-digit increases and exceeded expectations for revenue and profit.
Beyond brand marketing, the agency's other primary practices are cause branding, corporate responsibility, nonprofit marketing, and crisis prevention and issues management. Corporate responsibility enjoyed the greatest percentage jump last year, while crisis grew the least.
Key wins include cause work for several brands in the Hilton portfolio; brand and sustainability work for Green Mountain Coffee and Keurig; brand marketing for Sun Products' Snuggle, Wisk, and All; and Nars for cause work, the agency's first stake in the cosmetics market. Losses included the American Cancer Society and Scott's Wild Bird Food.
Agency growth was 70% organic and 30% new business. It continued to expand its General Mills account.
“We just won the Cheerios business,” reports Bang. “We have six or seven projects going on for General Mills right now and are doing so much work for the Purina dog and cat business. GM has been a very important part of our organic growth.”
Last year, Cone took the time to examine its own brand positioning.
“We did a classic brand analysis and changed our name to ‘Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency,'” adds Bang. “Management was concerned that we had become known for cause and CR work and we wanted people to understand we had a thriving brand marketing practice.”
While not an official discipline, the agency has formed the Cone entertainment marketing team led by Mark Malinowski, SVP of the brand marketing group, to advise clients looking for celebrities to drive programs.
Cone reported a 10% staff increase over last year. Senior hires included former Nike director Ziba Cranmer, who was named VP of cause branding, and VP of brand marketing Rich Guida, formerly of Russound.
Keeping momentum going for top-line growth will require a differentiated offering to attract new business, says Bang.