ICF Next to ‘wind down’ advertising, platform development to focus on integrated comms

The Virginia-based firm will also work on business transformation and loyalty, as well as earned-first creative, says senior managing partner Kris Tremaine (pictured).

Tremaine: 'The demand for culturally relevant storytelling and holistic comms strategies is at the heart of what we do really well.'

FAIRFAX, VA: ICF Next is making a strategic business shift in its commercial division, bringing its traditional advertising and platform-development offerings to a close, the firm said on Monday. 

The agency will focus on its core services in integrated comms, business transformation and loyalty for commercial clients, but will also prioritize rapidly developing industries such as health, lifestyle and consumer goods and travel and hospitality.

Kris Tremaine, senior managing partner at ICF Next, said that to invest and provide better value in the aforementioned areas, the agency needs to wind down sectors that have had less client demand, such as traditional advertising and platform-development offerings. 

“[Consumers] want to participate with brands, whether it be to sell products, buy goods or drive social change,” said Jackie Hopkins, managing partner at ICF Next. “A lot of that doesn’t happen through traditional advertising.”

Hopkins, reporting to Tremaine, joined ICF Next in November after spending more than 16 years at Edelman. She primarily works on integrated comms, as well as digital engagement and ICF Next’s creative and strategy work. 

Tremaine stressed that the agency will continue its creative work, but with an earned-first approach that could include storytelling via content shared across platforms, including paid media, as well as experiences.

“The demand for culturally relevant storytelling and holistic comms strategies is at the heart of what we do really well,” she said, emphasizing the inherent creative nature of both functions. 

Asked how the changes are expected to affect the agency’s top and bottom line, Tremaine said ICF Next is seeing “good momentum,” with a string of account wins this year. “A focused strategy like this will only help us secure better growth,” she said. 

This year, ICF Next has been named PR AOR for TrueCar and Silk and has won work with Avanir, Anthem, Wyndham, Molson Coors and Muscle Milk, as well as new incremental work with Hilton, Hyatt and Expedia.com. 

Asked about layoffs, Tremaine said the business shift will affect a “targeted number” of ICF Next staffers in North America and India, primarily the latter, but declined to specify exactly how many. 

“It’s not a significant number within ICF,” she said, adding that there are no plans to close offices. 

ICF Next is collaborating with clients amid the business transition. Tremaine said the firm may end certain aspects of work with partners, but in many cases relationships will continue as normal. 

Along with Hopkins’ appointment, the Virginia-based firm has named two senior partners, Hal Riley and Gregory Lee Hendricks, overseeing creative and strategy and integrated comms, respectively. Both are reporting to Hopkins.

Hopkins, Riley and Hendricks are supporting accounts including Molson Coors, Expedia Group, PepsiCo, Danone North America, Mars Inc. and Beam Suntory.

ICF Next posted a 7% revenue decline in 2021 to $215.4 million, including a 2% drop in the U.S. to $191.1 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2022.

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