Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of its Diversified Agency Services division
Subsidiary agencies: Access Communications, MMG, Zócalo Group, Harrison & Shriftman
Offices: Global: 73 wholly/majority owned; US: 27
Revenue: Global: $400 million to $450 million; US: $250 million to $300 million
Headcount: Global: approximately 2,500; US: undisclosed
In an era where reputations are destroyed in an instant online, CEO Ray Kotcher says Ketchum's corporate practice, specifically reputation building and crisis and issues management, saw more demand than ever from clients.
“Many institutions and companies find themselves having to defend their reputations today,” he notes. “We live in an always- on, extremely transparent world and companies are recognizing they need to do what they say, as well as say what they do.”
Last November, Penn State brought on Ketchum to counsel the board of trustees as it responded to the indictment of former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on charges he sexually abused minors.
The $400-million-plus firm, PRWeek's reigning Agency of the Year, also worked with IBM on its centennial celebration, helping it tell clients, customers, and media everything it's done over the past 100 years.
Ketchum garnered more than 600 new business wins in 2011, nearly double 2010, and also saw an 18% increase in revenue in its top 25 clients. It claimed double-digit top- and bottom-line growth despite holding company Omnicom reporting organic growth in its PR operations of just 1.9%.
Procter & Gamble's Gillette, US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, Sharp Electronics, Weight Watchers, Fruit of the Loom, and Tourism Australia were among major wins.
While the firm no longer handles the California Strawberry Commission or Kellogg Company's brand work, it retained all its top 50 clients, says Kotcher, who proudly notes that Ketchum has had six clients for 30-plus years, three for more than 20, nine for more than 15, and 12 for north of 10.
The agency's well-known brand marketing work also continues to swell. Recent projects include tasks for Mattel's Hot Wheels and Barbie brands, ConAgra, and 7-Eleven.
The firm's specialty areas, word-of-mouth marketing, change management, and sports and entertainment marketing, saw double- digit growth, adds Kotcher.
Global headcount increased 13% to about 2,500 staffers. New hires included investment in the firm's North American public affairs offering with the addition of Katie Conover as SVP; Joe Wagner as VP and group manager; and Matthew Simmons as VP and account supervisor. Agency veteran Nick Ragone replaced Liz McLean as director of the Washington office a year ago.
Elsewhere, the firm welcomed Don Bartholomew as SVP of digital and social media research and Brett Carrey as SVP and director of the New York consumer technology practice. In Europe, David Gallagher was promoted to CEO of Ketchum Pleon's European operations.
Expanding its global footprint, Ketchum acquired the following firms last year or took its minority stake to majority ownership: Sampark PR in India, DDB Financial in France, Ketchum Italy, Maslov PR in Russia, and Ketchum Greater China. In the US, it bought luxury firm Harrison & Shriftman, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and London. It sold Concentric Communications while retaining an alliance with the New York-based meetings and events firm.
“We're in all the regions we believe we must be in,” Kotcher says, “but we will continue to look at Asia and Latin America.”