RF|Binder Partners: Agency Business Report 2015

In the year since finally becoming independent from The Ruder Finn Group, RF|Binder Partners' revenue growth was below expectations, increasing about 2% in 2014.

CEO Amy Binder
CEO Amy Binder

Principal: Amy Binder, CEO and founder
Ownership: Independent
Offices: New York and Boston
Revenue: $12.6 million
Headcount: 80

In the year since finally becoming independent from The Ruder Finn Group, RF|Binder Partners’ revenue growth was below expectations, increasing about 2% in 2014. Though below what was forecasted, that was an improvement over the 6.4% revenue decrease from 2012 to 2013. The agency’s 2014 profit margin was 1% compared to 7% in 2013.

CEO Amy Binder says that, after long negotiations over the spinoff, 2014 was a foundation-laying year focused on "positioning for growth in 2015."

To do that, RF|Binder set about expanding its core accounts and brought in about $2.5 million in new business, largely from existing clients, Binder says.

Rise in CSR efforts
The firm also saw an increase in CSR initiatives. For client CVS Health, it supported CSR, digital, and social efforts around the announcement that the retailer would no longer sell tobacco products.

Talenti Gelato turned to the agency for an experiential marketing program in New York City’s Bryant Park. RF|Binder also won new clients including re-newable products company Amyris and renewable oil creator Solazyme, prompting the firm to launch a biotechnology practice.

In 2015, the agency has already brought in $1.5 million in new business, she adds. About $800,000 of that came from new clients, such as a CSR program with IMAX and work for Hearst Digital Media. 

Last year, the firm lost longtime client McGraw-Hill Education to Ogilvy Public Relations after a review, as well as Fiserv.

"It was a big disappointment because education is important to us," Binder says, citing the agency’s work with edX and NYU’s Stern School of Business. "That was not an easy one to take, but we are focused on expanding our education practice."

Staff turnover during 2014 was about 25%. Mike Boccio joined the financial services team from Sloane & Company, former DeVries Global MD Molly O’Neil took over the lifestyle group, and Karen Paff was appointed as senior MD in education from Columbia Business School.

The agency named David Weinstock, a former executive at MSLGroup and several advertising firms, as chief creative officer. He oversees Studio 950, which launched at the beginning of 2015 and offers advertising and video services.

"Videos are a big part of our work," Binder adds. "We’re now creating a lot of visual content."

Chris Gee, who used to work at Teneo Strategy, joined as chief digital officer. Following his appointment, the agency merged its research group with the digital and social unit, and is in the process of hiring a data scientist, Binder says.

Senior MD Jeff Zack left for client Ace Group and Laura Giannatempo, senior MD of consumer/food and beverage, joined Cohn & Wolfe.

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