WCG restructures, creates W2O Group parent company, two sister firms

SAN FRANCISCO: WCG has restructured, creating a new parent company called W2O Group that will oversee the agency along with new firms Twist and W2O Ventures.

SAN FRANCISCO: WCG has restructured, creating a new parent company called W2O Group that will oversee the agency along with new firms Twist and W2O Ventures.

Bob Pearson, former chief media and technology officer at WCG, will serve as president of W2O Group, reporting to Jim Weiss, chairman and CEO. Jennifer Gottlieb, former biopharma practice leader at WCG, will lead Twist.

Paulo Simas, former chief creative officer at WCG, will lead W2O Ventures, which will build products and services for clients. It will offer services such as local search and analytics, engagement platforms, mobile, and augmented reality.

WCG will maintain offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, London, and Austin, TX. The company said in a blog post about the move that “nothing has changed” with the firm. It will focus on practice areas such as healthcare, consumer, technology, corporate, and public affairs.

The network of complementary firms will offer integrated communications, business, and technology solutions. WCG and W2O Ventures will operate under the same roof, and Twist has its own offices in New York with a staff of 45 and between $13 million to $15 million in business.

Twist will emphasize “next practice” analytics that will help the firm provide communications strategy based on real-time experience.

“Analytics provide a powerful new lens through which to see business, which is increasingly driven by social and online channel activity and commerce,” Pearson said. “Done right, analytics not only lead to insights but allow communications and business executives to pinpoint specific solutions rather than chase symptoms.”

W2O Ventures will serve as the incubational arm of W2O Group, and it will focus on forming partnerships based on new technologies, strategies, and ideas. The firm will focus on local search and analytics, engagement platforms, mobility, and augmented reality.

Asked if the move will help WCG manage potential client conflicts, Weiss said, “It is not why we did it primarily, but it will certainly help us manage those satiations via both firms if and when they arise.”

WeissComm Group rebranded as WCG in mid-2010.

When the agency realized it needed to expand to meet client needs, its leadership did not consider putting the firm on the block, said Weiss, who added that he wanted to remain independent.

“Many of our employees came from holding companies, and they felt it was more constrained. There wasn't an appetite to go back to that,” he said.

Weiss explained that the new structure will help the parent company address communications needs in terms of both earned and purchased media, without having to acquire other agencies.

“It's not easy to integrate companies that have grown operating under two philosophies,” Weiss said. “It will be a lot easier to grow these things under our own uniformed philosophy from the ground up.”

WCG saw 38% revenue growth in 2010, compared with 2009, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report. It grew its staff by 34% in 2010. In the past decade, the firm has seen a compound growth rate of 41%, said Weiss, who added that in the two-year period that ended last year, WCG nearly doubled its revenue from $27 million to $48 million. Weiss said he expects revenue growth could reach $60 million this year.

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