Waggener Edstrom: Agency Business Report 2012

For Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, 2011 largely served as a foundational year during which it invested money and time in building out its offerings within integrated influence and digital communications.

Principal: Melissa Waggener Zorkin, president and CEO
Ownership: Independent
Subsidiary agencies: Maloney & Fox
Offices: Global: 17 wholly owned; US: 7
Revenue: Global: $115.8 million; US: $100.5 million
Headcount: Global: 925; US: 714

For Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, 2011 largely served as a foundational year during which it invested money and time in building out its offerings within integrated influence and digital communications, explains CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin.
 
WE reported global growth of 3.5% and a slight uptick of 0.8% in the US. Global revenue grew to $115.8 million and US revenue to $100.5 million, while 67% of growth was organic and 33% attributed to new business.
 
“We were very optimistic about integrated influence, but not everyone has figured out how to harness it on the client side,” she says.
 
WE's financial performance was lower than anticipated in 2011, mainly due to expecting quicker and more robust growth within the digital space. In response, the firm has evolved the digital practice into a more integrated model and invested time and money into offerings such as expanded video production capabilities. The firm's digital arm, Studio D, is now embedded within all accounts.
 
The firm rolled out its Ripple Effect tool to help marketers measure key influencers and developed the Social Influence System, which enables organizations to integrate marketing, communications, and social media.
 
WE has seen a return on that investment, such as winning the Make-A-Wish Foundation account. The agency is redesigning its national website and 62 chapter sites. In early 2012, the agency won work with Expedia for an internal communications project around social innovation.
 
“There's a Gold Rush going after this digital space,” Zorkin says.
 
Strong-faring sectors included healthcare, tech, and consumer tech. Siemens PLM Software was a key US win in 2011.
 
Globally, the firm invested in Australian communications agency Buchan Consulting, which has been part of WE's Global Alliance Network since 2007. The firm plans to further expand into India, as well as Korea with an investment in technology and consumer agency Shout Communications Korea. WE closed its Brussels, Belgium, office in March 2011.
 
The firm reported growth in Asia-Pacific of 27% and a 19% boost in EMEA. One reason for the strong EMEA performance is the firm's South Africa office, which works for top clients including Cisco South Africa, Samsung Africa CSR, and Microsoft West, East, Central Africa.
 
“South Africa has been exciting,” says Zorkin. “It blew our goals out of the water.”
 
A big client loss in 2011 was BMC Software, which the firm serviced in North America, EMEA, and APAC for five years until Ogilvy won the account in October. WE did not participate in the pitch.
 
The agency's France office performed well last year. Zorkin attributes that to the hiring of Xavier Latil as GM and director.
 
“If you have someone that can motivate, inspire, and embrace collaboration, even in a small office, they can be mightier,” she adds.

In 2012, the firm will focus on expanding its client portfolio, maximizing its global expansion investments, and growing and developing its staff.

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