CRT/tanaka: Agency Business Report 2012

CRT/tanaka saw a modest 4.4% revenue increase last year, but behind those numbers are some strong growth in its food, beverage, and nutritional practice — as well as its corporate b-to-b business — that have continued on in 2012.

Principals: Mark Raper, chairman and CEO; Mike Mulvihill, president; Patrice Tanaka, chief creative officer
Ownership: Independent
Offices: US: 5
Revenue: $11.6 million
Headcount: 71

Richmond-based CRT/tanaka saw a modest 4.4% revenue increase last year, but behind those numbers are some strong growth in its food, beverage, and nutritional practice — as well as its corporate b-to-b business — that have continued on in 2012.

“Our most recent win is the Bridgestone corporate b-to-b account, and we are already in the throes of helping to develop a national winery,” says CEO Mark Raper, noting the company focuses on consumer and health as well as food and beverage and corporate b-to-b.

Additional wins have included ZeroWater, TIAA-CREF, and the Girl Scouts of the USA (100th anniversary).

“The one area where we haven't seen the strength of growth that we would have liked is health,” he says. The agency's two major client losses in 2011 were the Council for Responsible Nutrition and Bon Secours Health System. “One of our focuses is on growth through our health and healthy lifestyles practice and though we're not growing at the pace we would like, we're continuing to be optimistic that it will rebound.”

About one-third of CRT/tanaka's work comes from non-US-based clients—including its largest client, Wines from Spain, but Raper explains, “Very little of the work we do is focused on anything other than North America, with a little bit of Central America added in.”

Several years ago, CRT/tanaka purchased a specialized social media PR firm and has since strived to ensure it has a totally integrated approach, including social marketing, for all its clients, including its b-to-b partners.

“Some of our clients are very savvy and understand social media doesn't need to just be consumer facing, so we think there are some strong applications there,” Raper says. “On the PR horizon, clearly there will be an evolution in new media, digital media, social media, and we intend to stay ahead of that.”

The agency is looking to add staff this year, but will focus on people with backgrounds in specific industries, such as food and beverage. “Culture is also a strong part of our agency, so we are very selective, but generally speaking, we have not found there's a lack of talent to pull from,” Raper says.

Thanks in part to wins such as Bridgestone, CRT/tanaka is already anticipating 12% to 15% growth in 2012. “We're seeing a lot more spending from our existing clients,” Raper says. “But having said that, it's been a long time since we've been as busy on the new business front—many of them more significant than what we'd played in in the past.”

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