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It’s been four years since Hotwire bought Eastwick Communications to accelerate the UK-based company’s US expansion. There are so many technology acquisitions that ultimately fall short of expectations, the success stories — like this one — standout. It helps that Eastwick founder Barbara Bates was elevated to Hotwire’s global CEO in 2017, allowing her to infuse the entire agency with the ethos and mindset that made Eastwick so successful at the epicenter of technology.
With Bates at the helm, the size of the business has more than doubled — revenue has grown by 114% and headcount by 81% with many top-tier clients coming on board. In 2019, global revenues were up 13.5% to $42m. US growth exceeded this at 23% as revenues soared to $18.5m, up from $15m. Growth was fueled by new clients: Adobe, Casper, OkCupid, Pinterest, among others that joined the existing roster with Amazon Kindle, Eaton, Facebook, Linkedin, McAfee, NetApp, and Qualcomm.
In EMEA, meanwhile, the agency was back with a vengeance, with the first double-digit growth in the UK (10%) and solid growth across its European offices in Paris, Munich, Frankfurt (Germany revenue was up 9%), Milan and Madrid; total EMEA revenue for the year came in at over $21 million.
Bates has been a leader in building more progressive agency work cultures. This year, the agency launched a global Employee Value Proposition, which has resulted in an increased retention rate to 84%. The agency maintains a “work from anywhere” results-oriented culture and provides sabbatical to employees after four years. The leadership team also includes US CEO Heather Kernahan, global CFO Adrian Talbot, chief strategy officer Chris Paxton, and chief development officer Andy West. The agency has also produced standout thought-leadership centered around Generation Alpha and High Stakes Leadership Reports, which has delivered more than 500 marketing qualified leads. — AaS/MPS
In the age of coronavirus, Bospar’s operating model is proving to be remarkably prescient. It remains unseen whether the current crisis will become the tipping point for virtual agency models — but we know being distributed hasn’t hindered Bospar’s remarkable five-year trajectory. The tech shop has grown to $6m with 30 people – up from$4.7m in the year prior.
The leadership team— tech PR veteran Chris Boehlke who co-founded Bospar with Curtis Sparrer, and also in-house veterans Tricia Heinrich and Tom Carpenter as principals — initially worked together on Boehlke’s first entrepreneurial venture launched shortly after the 2000 tech bust. But when she sold that firm, the team parted ways. In 2015, the band came back together but with a new insight: be bold and start with a virtual model. It’s a model that every agency is familiar with now: everyone at Bospar operates virtually, so there is no such thing as “remote.” Unsurprisingly, this has been a boon from a recruiting perspective — opening talent pathways to people regardless of geography.
Much of the agency’s recent success has been powered by new business, which accounts for more than $2m in revenue from clients, including Unisys (which signed Bospar on as AOR after one project), Healthline, Antworks, Business Warrior, GetUpside, ModelN, Riskified, Snow Software, Ware2Go, Yellowbrick, Zensar. Meanwhile, the firm also enjoyed nearly $400K in organic growth fueled by existing clients like Cambium Networks, Ceres Imaging, Conversica, Marqeta, Reflektive, SleepCycle, among others.
Bospar won an Innovation SABRE Award for its work with Unisys in which the agency secured top-tier broadcast coverage for Unisys’ annual security index — a feat that Unisys had never achieved until bringing Bospar on board. Unisys was so proud of the "get" that it changed its homepage to feature the Fox News interview and Unisys asked Bospar to become its AOR, the agency's first publicly-traded client on the NYSE. Last year, Cambium Networks also asked Bospar to lead its IPO, another first for the five-year-old agency. — AaS
You could say specialist technology agency CCgroup has been on something of a rollercoaster over the past few years. CEO and self-confessed telco geek Richard Fogg bought the agency in an MBO with chief client officer Paul Nolan in 2012, and together they reinvigorated the 30-year-old firm. In the first four years post-MBO, CCgroup doubled in size. But the final year of transition, 2018, was tough. Revenues shrank by 8%, profit was hit hard, over-servicing was rife, a new B2B marketing intelligence venture, Aperture, failed, and morale across the agency was low.
In 2019, however, the agency unequivocally got its mojo back: focusing on business results for clients increased satisfaction, and six-figure client wins and new services drove revenue growth of 31% to £4 million for the first time, with margins of 26%. Most importantly, for Fogg, the launch of a suite of wellbeing initiatives – including generous sabbaticals and one of the most comprehensive programmes of mental health support in the industry – resigning unprofitable clients, boosting diversity (the senior leadership team is now 55% female and the agency is ahead of the industry on BAME employees) and investing heavily in training meant that the agency dramatically increased team happiness, from a low of 3.2/5 in 2018 to 4.2/5 by the end of 2019.
The agency was only aiming to increase income by 7.5% during 2019, but its refreshed mindset meant the work came in thick and fast from every one of CCgroup’s revenue streams: the new enterprise technology division grew rapidly to break £1 million in fees; the analyst relations practice led by Duncan Chapple contributed 8%, the agency’s US office now contributes 10% of revenue, and fintech, led by Daniel Lowther, was another stand-out performer: the agency has such a good reputation in this sector, it no longer needs to pitch for fintech clients. Growth also came from mobile, media tech and new verticals like legaltech, transport tech and retail technology.
Client highlights over the year included the launch of new payments company Tribe – shortlisted for a SABRE – where the team’s creative approach led to more than 150 marketing qualified leads which immediately started converting to new business. — MPS
Vuki Vujasinovic founded Australian firm Sling & Stone nine years ago with just one client and a compelling positioning as the agency that would “unearth, craft, and share the stories of the most ambitious brands shaping the future.” It turns out there were plenty of those in the Australian market: Sling & Stone doubled in size through each of its first five years and is now – somewhat accidentally – one of the biggest independents in Australia, as well as having bases in Auckland and Los Angeles.
Vujasinovic is supported by a dynamic management team including global general manager Kya de Rome, global head of consumer Kasi Reynolds and global head of business James Hutchinson. Sian Church was promoted in 2019 to lead the NZ office, doubling the Kiwi team, and leading campaigns for some of the country’s most ambitious startups.
In 2019, the 55-strong agency grew in healthy double-digits while maintaining its focus on ambitious, future-focused brands and startups, and is still growing with typical resilience through Covid-19, with no redundancies. It’s so picky, in fact, that Sling & Stone’s leads come almost entirely from word-of-mouth recommendations, and it turned down 90 clients in 2019 who didn’t fit.
After a lot of change in 2018/2019 – during which Vujasinovic relocated to LA to build the agency’s American operation, the NZ office moved from Wellington to Auckland and the agency launched a social and content arm in Sydney – the past year was focused on organic growth through regional and global campaigns. This included more work for Snow, Halo Top, and Slack in new regions, as well as winning global engagements for Google Cloud, Zwift, Eventbrite, Deputy, KeepCup, Linktree, G2 and Xero, who join Uber, Twitter, Strip and founding client Kogan.com in Sling & Stone’s portfolio.
The agency also launched a sustainability offering, doubled down on its expertise in the growth areas of health tech, energy and fintech and expanded its government relations, stakeholder relations and crisis work. — MPS
Rather than retrench, Value 360 responded to India’s economic slowdown during the last year by doubling down — and expanding — on what it does best: boosting the visibility and viability of clients with a future-facing approach based on optimizing the moment, and the future. Over the last year, the 12-year-old firm grew its regional capabilities, expanding to Pune, Chennai and Chandigarh while also building out its expansive Delhi HQ. All of which included expanding a technology-based infrastructure that enabled Value 360 to offer the likes of real-time consumer insights, fully map and measure influencer campaigns under the watch of a tech-savvy team that grew to 250 in 2019, up 40 staffers from the year before.
Value 360’s strategies appear to be working. 2019 saw the firm’s fee income rise to $3.7 million from $3.5 million the previous year despite economic challenges — which are not a new phenomenon for the agency. Launched in midst of the global economic meltdown, Value 360 built its success by serving the specific needs of the startups and entrepreneurs emerging in India at that time, delivering communications that boosted their visibility and brand awareness. The firm capitalized on the need for PR expertise, and practitioners, that could grew with the burgeoning companies, through an integrated and measurable approach to communications. Although India has weathered financial instability over the last few years, Value 360 has emerged ahead by focusing its efforts on clients in underserved categories with an eye on growth.
The firm’s proven experience working with startups, tech companies (with an emphasis on fintech) and the automotive sector is a draw. The year’s new clients included Lufthansa, Pogo Channel, Union Bank of India, Falken Autotech, realme Smartphones, Infinix Mobiles, LogMeIn, Angel Broking, realme PaySa and Oppo Kash, adding to a roster already populated by the likes of, MG Motor India, Limelight Networks, Konica Minolta, Saavn, Qlik, ASUS, Oriflame, Cleartrip, Paytm and Comic Con. The agency has made its name on notable work, which has resulted in plenty of industry recognition. Value 360’s multi-dimensional campaign created to help MG break into the crowded Indian auto market led to a 2019 sellout. — DM
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