Lewis: PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016

Tech-focused global firm Lewis, previously Lewis PR, celebrated its 20th birthday in 2015 with a rebranding and healthy growth.

Chris Lewis, global chairman and CEO, Lewis
Chris Lewis, global chairman and CEO, Lewis

Principals: Chris Lewis, global chairman and CEO; and Morgan McLintic, EVP, U.S.
Offices: Global: 27; U.S.: Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC
Revenue: Global: $68.6 million; U.S.: $32.8 million

Tech-focused global firm Lewis celebrated its 20th birthday in 2015 with a rebranding and healthy growth, particularly at its London headquarters. It dropped "PR" from its name, simplifying as Lewis, to emphasize integrated communications.

Its San Diego 40-person digital advertising shop Piston boosted Lewis’ digital services to 29% of U.S. revenue. That acquisition follows prior-year purchases of interactive firm Purestone in the U.K. and EBA Communications in China, aimed at doubling down on a long-term bet in three areas: international, digital, and integrated.

"We now offer all the marketing services our clients need," says Morgan McLintic, EVP and top U.S. executive. "We’re able to solve the client’s problem, not just say, ‘well, whatever the problem, PR is the answer.’"

Lewis’ global revenue grew 12% overall and 7% organically in 2015. Two-thirds of organic growth came from existing clients, a third from new business. The U.K. was its strongest region, bolstered by the Purestone acquisition: Revenue jumped 44% to $10 million, while organic growth was in the "high twenties." McLintic credits group MD Giles Peddy with "being on fire" and the hiring of a head of consumer to diversify the firm’s portfolio.

Two offices closed — Stockholm and Prague — but McLintic says Europe overall is "performing strongly" with low double-digit organic growth.

U.S. revenue jumped 19%, but, excluding the acquisition, was the firm’s slowest-growing region, hit by a retraction in spend from IT startups. Lewis still saw organic growth in the "single digits."

Key account wins included an integrated brand awareness brief with Indian multinational Infosys across the U.S., U.K., and other markets and an integrated brief in the U.S., India, and Singapore for ShoreTel, a $94 million communications provider.

New 2016 business includes DataScience and Intelsat in the U.S. and multinational briefs for Jahia and Jabra. Lewis lost business with social network Yik Yak and Good Technology when BlackBerry bought the latter.

APAC potential
APAC produced "single-digit" organic growth, the third-best-performing region. Lewis opened in Mumbai in 2015 and shuffled leadership, promoting Scott Pettet to lead nine APAC offices and 81 staff. It added Roman Kibe in Hong Kong to lead Pulse APAC, its digital arm. "Even with the slowing in China, it’s still a fast-growing market," says McLintic. "We see a lot of potential."

San Francisco remains the firm’s most profitable office globally. McLintic says he was "pleased" with 2015 results, but expects 2016 in the U.S. to be "a tougher year," especially in a tech market that many say is ripe for a slowdown.

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