Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of its Diversified Agency Services division
Subsidiary agencies: BlueCurrent, CCW, GMMB, High Road Communications, Lois Paul & Partners,
Paul Wilmot Communications, Stratacomm, TogoRun, VOX Global
Offices: Global: 84 wholly owned; US: 37
Revenue: Global: $500 million-plus
US: $350 million-plus
Headcount: Global: 2,500; US: 1,550
Dave Senay, who took over from John Graham in 2006 to become only the third CEO in Fleishman-Hillard history, is in a bullish mood about the Omnicom firm.
"Our growth carried on from 2010," he notes, "and 2011 was the best year in the history of the company – in terms of revenue and profit, margins, and new business."
Omnicom's 2011 organic growth for its PR operations was a paltry 1.9%, but Fleishman says its top- and bottom-line growth "far exceeded" that of its parent company. Major wins included the American Petroleum Institute, Cigna, Bloomberg Government, Tiffany & Co., and LivingSocial. It also just won the $14 million Illinois Tourism account from incumbent Edelman.
Accounts lost include beauty brand Coty and an AOR relationship with Perdue Farms.
Senay notes an increasing procurement-driven trend for clients to consolidate their firms, with Fleishman benefiting on GM's social media work – where it displaced Publicis' Big Fuel – but it remains unclear with PepsiCo, which is still rationalizing its roster. "Global CMOs want fewer agency partners and want them to work together," he adds.
This resulted in Fleishman increasing its million-dollar clients from 70 to 84 in 2011. Senay aims to break the century mark within three years. In Asia, it expanded its million-dollar roster from one to seven accounts.
In the past two years, Fleishman took part in 67 joint pitches or referrals from 41 Omnicom firms. That helped bring in an extra $130 million of new business in 2011, up 24% year on year, with about half coming from existing clients. Only a third are now on retainer, down from more than 50% in past years.
"We also have aggressive plans to acquire companies or partner with other Omnicom companies," notes Senay. "We can double in size in five years through acquisitions, partnerships, and organic growth."
The agency decided to focus on four big bets at a strategy meeting last December: analytics, paid media, social media, and reputation. Fleishman placed $100 million in paid media in 2011 (not including its ad subsidiary GMMB), a growing trend, but not one Senay says will derail the firm from its principal focus: "Paid media is another way to tell a story. But we won't engage in it if it's not integrated with overall activity."
Staff turnover was about 20%, principally among staff in the three-to-five-year range. Total headcount ticked up 3%. Ad industry veteran Steve Hardwick, US eastern region president and New York GM, had a brief sojourn at Fleishman, leaving late last year for unspecified reasons. Jack Modzelewski, president of the Americas, assumed Hardwick's duties in the short term.
Karen van Bergen, SVP and senior partner, also left Fleishman late in 2011 to join Omnicom sister agency Porter Novelli. TBWA's John McNeel came on board in April as global MD of strategic integration.
Senay instigated an ethics code of practice with the Josephson Institute that Fleishman will adopt and offer through the Council of PR Firms as a white-label product. "The PR industry is dangerously close to one really bad scandal that will leave us in danger of failing to operate," he warns.