Cohn & Wolfe
In this period Cohn & Wolfe added more than 50 accounts including 2K Play, 3M, American Girl, Axa Insurance, Bang & Olufsen, Bayer Oncology, FLO TV, Friends Provident, Genzyme, Lloyds of London, Mattel, Quaker and Turner Broadcasting. It describes it as the best stretch of new business in its 40-year history.
New senior additions included Chad Latz as global digital media leader, Mike Kan as global healthcare practice leader, Scott Wilson as CEO, London, Michael Bayer as US corporate practice leader, Mark Cater, President, New York and John Hollywood, US consumer practice leader.
Cohn & Wolfe’s technology communications firm, AxiCom, merged with Enfatico’s PR business in the US. This created a 100-strong US and European agency that counts Dell, Cisco Consumer Products, Intelligent Energy and Red Hat among its clients.
It also picked up technology campaign of the year from PR Week US for its launch of SanDisk Extreme Pro and won PR Week US community relations campaign of the year for RadioShack (Educating Consumers through the Digital Television Transition). Cohn & Wolfe’s biggest win was the consumer account for Walmart in the US, and it also picked up pharmaceutical business from the likes of Allergan, Genzyme, Sanofi, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Merck.
Q&A – Donna Imperato, CEO, Cohn & Wolfe
How has the economic climate changed the way you work?
The economic climate has accelerated the need for strong, versatile ideas that engage and activate key audiences and stakeholders. At no time in the industry’s history has the demand for measurable business results – directly tied to brand strategy – been more important. It’s a welcome development for us, as throughout Cohn & Wolfe’s 40-year history, we’ve put a premium on ideas that can be leveraged across the entire marketing spectrum and deliver on our clients’ business objectives–not just their PR or communications goals. We don’t settle for one-dimensional ideas; we aim for programmes that are relevant to and resonate with target audiences, ultimately fostering action and long-term brand loyalty.
Which three offices have been experiencing the greatest growth over the 12 months to July 31 2010? Why?
Our New York office, home to Cohn & Wolfe’s world headquarters and its largest office in terms of employees and revenue, has experienced a tremendous stretch of new business in the last 12 months. We are also growing quickly in China, adding a Beijing office to the market to better serve clients and handle the increased demand for our services. In Paris, new business and strong organic growth coupled with 100% client retention for nearly two consecutive years have solidified its status as a major revenue contributor in Cohn & Wolfe’s network.
What were your agency’s three highlights of the past year?
- Our digital expertise drove more new business and organic growth than ever before. Brands finally understand the need to make digital a part of their organisational DNA, and in the process, bridge the space between the marketing and communications function. Consequently, it’s been a year in which we helped clients across a wide range of industries bring focus and discipline to their brand strategy by introducing new standards, skills, policies and processes to effectively engage and manage their presence and reputation online.
- Our Global Sustainability Practice continues to grow its expertise and reputation. We released our sixth Green Brands survey and the practice was only one of four in the industry to be recognised by independent analyst Verdantix as ‘verging on leadership.’
- C&W has built a reputation as one of the most innovative PR agencies, but in 2010 we took it to a new level with a bold new website (www.cohnwolfe.com) and employee engagement program, Dig Deeper. Imagine More. At C&W, we Dig Deeper into the research to find connections other people have missed or ignored. And we Imagine More ways to turn those insights into creative campaigns that matter.
Tell us about one account for which your agency is producing creative and effective digital work
American Girl is a wildly popular line of dolls and accessories representing a variety of cultures, countries and characteristics. In 2010, it launched a new line of customisable dolls, My American Girl™, which allow the owner to create a doll avatar and access a new virtual world called Innerstar University™. To further differentiate the line, we connected the launch to a larger cause-related initiative: Shine On Now. The grassroots charitable program mobilised girls across the country to collaborate in a virtual world to positively impact the real world. Working with influential parenting bloggers, social media channels, charity partner sites, email marketing and more, Cohn & Wolfe enlisted more than 15,000 girls to compel American Girl to donate over $1,000,000 in clothes, books, dolls and money to four charities.
What are the most effective ways of encouraging more collaborative working between global sister agencies?
WPP believes in delivering ideas that are channel-neutral, that build a sustained relationship over time with key stakeholders, and that establish or reinforce a consistent brand experience online or offline. WPP encourages collaborative partnerships with sister agencies through processes and award programs. This type of culture also rewards agencies through expanded business opportunities. C&W often works with sister agencies across the globe to deliver the best thinking and results for our clients.
What was your best decision over the past year?
The new competitive landscape has put a premium on creativity, and while we’ve always enjoyed a reputation as one of the most innovative in the industry, this year we made a strategic decision to make a significant investment in our creative culture. The core is a new employee engagement program and guiding mantra, Dig Deeper. Imagine More. This demands that employees dig past the obvious to find the hidden insights and imagine more amazing possibilities when they find them.
We also expanded our Creative Catalyst Network–a global community of creative thinkers brainstorming virtually via our award-winning intranet; shared insights into the creative process through weekly ‘Brain Blink’ emails; and recognised the great creative work from across our agency with the Charlie Farley Awards. It’s all part of an effort to maintain our creative leadership and ensure that we consistently deliver the most inspired, original and purpose-driven ideas to clients.
What will successful global PR agencies be doing in 2011?
The most successful PR agencies will be the ones that lead communications strategy, not just support it. At Cohn & Wolfe, we uncover deep brand, market and audience insights and turn those insights into durable, purpose-driven creative–ideas that don’t just ‘wow’ and then fade away, but mobilise communities to embrace, endorse and even defend a brand over time. In addition, as clients increasingly recognise the critical role of brand reputation – as well as its vulnerability in the digital age – leading agencies will not only build brands online but also formalise the organisation, processes and strategies needed to respond swiftly and intelligently to key issues.Back to top
Website address www.cohnwolfe.com
Parent company of agency WPP
Global HQ address and telephone
200 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
+1 212 798 9700
Tel: +1 212 798 9800
Global new business contact
Tel: +1 212 798 9800
Scott Wilson, CEO, London
+44 (0)207 331 5300
Jake Drake, President, Asia-Pacific
+86 010 8523 3586
Mark Cater, President, New York
Key global clients Colgate-Palmolive, ExxonMobil, Merck, Panasonic, Roche, Walmart
No. of wholly-owned and majority-owned offices 50
No. of affiliates 29