APCO Worldwide: Agency Business Report 2014

APCO Worldwide celebrated its 30th year in business in 2014.

CEO Margery Kraus
CEO Margery Kraus

Principals: Margery Kraus, CEO; Neal Cohen, president and COO
Ownership: Independent
Subsidiary agencies: StrawberryFrog
Offices: Global: 34; US: 8
Revenue: Global: $120,345,400; US: $76,614,800
Headcount: Global: 658; US: 295

APCO Worldwide celebrated its 30th year in business in 2014.

CEO Margery Kraus notes the agency’s consistent annual growth in those three decades was only interrupted by a few flat years, 2013 among them.

APCO’s global revenue dipped 1.2% in 2013. Kraus attributes it to three international assignments totaling nearly $10 million that ended, including the launch of TV9, an independent news station in the Republic of Georgia.

"Delivering that kind of value for clients is more important than maintaining ongoing streams of revenue," she asserts.

Stateside, the firm saw a 1.8% uptick. The New York office, which marks its 10-year anniversary in 2014, was a major contributor to that, growing about 18% last year. West Coast offices, particularly San Francisco, also performed well.

Revenue at the DC office – APCO’s global headquarters – slipped in 2013. Some of the decline was attributable to the political stalemate in Washington, but revenue also followed several staffers who were relocated to lead efforts in other domestic markets.

While global revenue dropped slightly last year, including dips in China and Brussels – mainly due to management changes and reorganization, adds Kraus – certain markets performed strongly. India, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf region grew notably, the latter by about 40%. New clients added in the region include Noor Bank and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Work was also expanded with existing accounts such as Sony, Mars, and the government of Sharjah [UAE].

Last February’s launch in Doha, Qatar, was APCO’s sole office opening in the last 16 months. No offices were closed.

The three practices that grew most in 2013 were food and consumer products (11%), healthcare (19%), and technology (27%). The "great start" Kraus says APCO is enjoying this year is similarly attributed to these units. The former area was bolstered by Ikea, which named APCO AOR in the US last August. Kraus says this was "a coming of age assignment in a sector in which we are not always associated."

The technology practice was buoyed by last April’s BlackBerry win. In addition to the claiming of an account estimated at $10 million, the partnership APCO formed to net the task was unique. The firm teamed with Text100 – a Next Fifteen agency with which it had no formal ties – to pitch for, and eventually win, the account.

"We truly felt Text100 had expertise that could help us. Our cultures meshed," she explains. "We refer business to each other. It is a unique partnership that has already reaped great benefits and will continue doing so in the future."

Former Text100 North American regional director Scott Friedman joined the firm in May as senior director, New York.

Strength in numbers
On the staffing front, Kraus takes particular pride when APCO alums re-enter the fold. Last year, one such returnee was Linda Du as MD of the Shanghai office. "Keep an eye on her," notes Kraus. Meanwhile, Alcoa’s former VP of public affairs Nick Ashooh headlined last year’s new hires. This is Ashooh’s first agency role, says Kraus, "but he has lived through so many crises and worked for so many CEOs. His value as a mentor alone has already strengthened us."

The most notable departure was president of the Americas Robert Schooling, who left the agency after 18 years to join APCO client WellPoint. Kraus credits him for building the strong healthcare practice.

Looking forward, she sees New York, the West Coast, and Southeast Asia as being among regions with high growth potential.

More broadly speaking, Kraus highlights the conversion of big data into relevant data as one of the industry’s biggest and most immediate challenges. Additionally, the attraction and retention of the right talent at all levels is crucially important as the workplace becomes increasingly multifaceted.

"So many of our people started with us in their 20s," she says. "We now have a very energized and experienced group of people who are around 50, some even younger, who will lead us into the future. This should be our time."

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