FleishmanHillard US: Agency Business Report 2015

The agency brought in $129 million of new business in 2013, a figure that was surpassed by the $160 million-plus achieved in 2014, 28% up.

FleishmanHillard president and CEO Dave Senay
FleishmanHillard president and CEO Dave Senay

Principal: Dave Senay, president and CEO; Jack Modzelewski, president of the Americas
Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of the Diversified Agency Services division
Subsidiaries: BlueCurrent, CCW, DDC Advocacy, GMMB, High Road Communications, Lois Paul & Partners, TogoRun, VegaRun, and Vox Global
Offices: Global: 90; US: 39
Revenue: Global: more than $600 million; US: more than $400 million
Headcount: Global: more than 2,700; US: 1,750*
*PRWeek estimate

"Last year we were recovering from a record 2012 where the election and Olympics revenue went away, but in 2014 we still had high single-digit organic global growth over 2013 and low teens in the Americas," says FleishmanHillard’s CEO Dave Senay.

The agency brought in $129 million of new business in 2013, a figure that was surpassed by the $160 million-plus achieved in 2014, 28% up. It has 95 $1 million-plus clients and anticipates reaching its target of 100 this year.

"We had record revenues and profits and one of the healthiest margins in the history of the firm – 1.5% ahead of where we were last year," adds Senay, despite a significant gap between Fleishman’s claimed organic growth and the much lower 4.1% achieved by Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services division, which contains its PR firms.

"I can’t explain the discrepancy," he notes.

Account wins included SAP, won from Burson-Marsteller, and GoPro, initially working on comms around its IPO, extending to China, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan on product influencer and social activations.

Levi’s enlisted Fleishman to support its sponsorship of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium. Network security company FireEye was won after a competitive pitch. In March this year the agency launched a global cybersecurity and privacy practice within its crisis unit. Other notable wins included programs for Walmart, crisis work for Tyson Foods and JetBlue, and work for the US Olympic Committee and Special Olympics.

Parting ways
HP reduced its spending with Fleishman considerably, but is still a top 30 client. The agency said goodbye to four of its top 200 clients. Lenovo felt it was "too crowded" at Fleishman with PC clients such as HP and Huawei in the stable. ConAgra Foods Foundation, Tiffany in Asia, and the remnants of the Chobani account lost in 2013 also ended.

Existing clients accounted for 53% of agency growth in 2014, including top 50 client American Petroleum Institute, where fees are in the low-single-digit multimillion dollars. Fleishman had a revenue bump from the US midterms in 2014, but the "real fire-works" start in 2016 with the general election.

"Obama spent $1 billion in 2012 and most of that went through [Fleishman subsidiary] GMMB," observes Senay.

Stratacomm was dropped from the agency’s numbers, as Fleishman reduced its holding to 49%. DDC Advocacy was acquired by Omnicom in December and it also merged the operations of UK-based content marketing agency Specialist into FleishmanHillard.

Content is a huge driver of growth and Fleishman formally wrapped its offerings under the FH ContentWorks banner in January 2015, folding content strategy and creation unit Freshwire – and Specialist – into the mothership and elevating Freshwire founder and CEO Shawn Amos to chief content innovation officer of the Americas for the new group. Technology underpinning the unit includes TrueIQ, formerly Black Box, a listening, analytics, and real-time content creation platform.

"Content creation, channeling, and amplification are huge and always changing," says Senay. "It’s creating a whole new discipline: Monitoring, listening, trending, analysis, and analytics. With content creation, there’s endless innovation, digital command centers, and ‘a one time zone is now’ real-time trend."

Key client examples include Philips, AT&T, and Gatorade. TrueIQ also drove the social media command center at the International Consumer Electronics Show for the second year and worked with SXSW. Leavers included MD of strategic integration and ad industry veteran John McNeel, who was replaced internally by Stefan Gerard. Deputy GM of New York Heidi Hovland went to DeVries as global CEO; and global media relations practice leader Steve Naru moved to Burson-Marsteller.

Fleishman promoted four SVPs to global roles as part of a realignment of the agency’s structure from geographical to global think-ing, including Gerard, Kris Balderston in public affairs, Maria Gallagher in public sector, and Dawn Langeland in consumer, though the latter left for Golin last month.

Ephraim Cohen came on from MWW as SVP and senior partner in New York and Richard Sorian was hired as SVP and partner in Washington, DC. Senay is "bullish" about 2015: "We have new leadership in London, momentum in the Americas, and we have put surprise reductions last year, such as HP, behind us."

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