Ketchum and Pleon made their European merger official on 1st January 2010. With more than 2,000 employees, the global merged agency spans now 70 countries.
This year Ketchum announced a joint venture to create the Ketchum Raad Middle East network, consisting of 14 offices and affiliates in the Middle East and North Africa.
New clients included Sony and Adecco in the US and several new Government clients such as the German Federal Ministry of Finance and the US Department of Agriculture.
It picked up senior staff from rivals such as Don Foley who joined as director North American public affairs from Prism Public Affairs, and Fiona Jolly who joined as director, brand practice London from Lexis PR.
In anticipation of growth in the energy market the agency launched Ketchum Energy and, like many agencies, Ketchum continued to build its digital capabilities.
All this work was recognised with awards including North America’s Large Agency of the Year in April from the Holmes Report.
Q&A – David Gallagher, senior partner and CEO of Ketchum Pleon London and president of Ketchum Pleon Europe.
How has the economic climate changed the way you work?
We've recognised that clients need our work to be faster and more efficient, while maintaining our creative edge and continuing to deliver high-impact results. This doesn't mean compromising on planning or strategy, but we realise that our clients’ business cycles are now highly compressed, which means we need short-fuse programmes that get to peak output in half the time.
Which three offices have been experiencing the greatest growth over the 12 months to July 31 2010? Why?
Over the past 12 months, Ketchum Pleon London and Ketchum West, comprised of the agency’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, and have performed particularly well. European offices such as Ketchum Pleon Düsseldorf also saw a strong surge in 2010. These offices all enjoyed strong incremental investments from existing clients, as well as above-average new business performance. Additionally, Ketchum’s complementary businesses – word-of-mouth-marketing agency Zócalo Group in particular – fared well, due in part to the fact that word-of-mouth and social engagement is of particular interest to clients right now.
What were your agency’s three highlights of the past year?
- Ketchum was recognised as Large Agency of the Year by both PR News and the Holmes Report, and was honoured alongside its clients as the Holmes Report’s PR Campaign of the Decade, and Campaign of the Year at the PRWeek U.S. Awards.
- Ketchum greatly advanced its global client service capabilities by finalising its merger with Pleon in Europe to form Ketchum Pleon, the industry’s largest, most diversified consultancy in the region; acquiring a leading agency in Russia; forming a new joint venture in the Middle East called Ketchum Raad Middle East; and establishing a new exclusive affiliate relationship in South Korea with local market leader Prain.
- Ketchum charted new territory by becoming the first PR firm to launch an open innovation network to crowdsource ideas. Called Mindfire, the online community is getting international buzz for engaging students at seven universities on three continents, including Bournemouth University in the UK, to brainstorm ideas and offer fresh perspectives to clients.
Tell us about one account for which your agency is producing creative and effective digital work
As part of the launch of the limited-edition flavor ABSOLUT BROOKLYN, Ketchum created a campaign in collaboration with film director Spike Lee, who designed a bottle depicting his stoop in Brooklyn. The Summer of Stoop Life campaign, calling for proclamations of Brooklyn Love through a content aggregator (BrooklynStoopLife.com) and social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, invited consumers to share photos and recipes, and fueled conversations and buzz about the product. The ABSOLUT BROOKLYN campaign garnered 375-plus media placements, and national sales doubled the city series’ previous record.
What are the most effective ways of encouraging more collaborative working between global sister agencies?
With all humility, I think Ketchum is as good at collaborating with other networks as we are at integrating across our own practices and geographies. We're currently involved in nearly a dozen different integrated solutions partnerships with sister PR networks, advertising networks and specialist consultancies to serve some of our largest client engagements, and we've been doing so for years.
For these partnerships to work, we've identified several success factors. First, the partnership needs to add real value to the client – extra reach, more specialist expertise, more efficient service delivery. Second, they must be driven from the partners, not the holding company – each consultancy needs to believe in the alliance proposition on its own merits. And third, they need to be elegantly designed in a way that's easy for the client to access and use, with strong leadership, clear operating procedures and no tolerance for selfish behaviour.
What was your best decision over the past year?
While it was far bigger than ‘my’ decision, our biggest game changer in recent months has to be our merger with Pleon. Like all significant transactions, it has been complicated and time-consuming, but it has changed our profile dramatically outside of North America. We're now a market leader across Europe, and with our recent ventures in the Middle East and North Africa region and Russia, we've become a tiger across the entire EMEA region.
What will successful global PR agencies be doing in 2011?
I think you'll see some surprising moves from the larger global agencies next year. The more successful networks will likely invest in some combination of the following:
- Integration: Most have spent heavily to be wherever clients need them to be – now they need to knock down internal barriers and make it easy for clients to access these resources.
- Analytics: Winners and losers will be separated by the ability to analyse and apply data not to merely justify past expenditures but to substantiate future investments.
- Expansion: Global players will collect specialist expertise in established markets like North America and Europe while adding coverage in places like the BRIC countries.
Website address www.ketchum.com
Parent company of agency Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.
Global HQ address and telephone
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY, USA 10031
Raymond L. Kotcher
senior partner and CEO
Global new business contact
partner and director,
new business and corporate communications
Senior partner and president
Europe, and CEO, London
+44 (0)20 7611 3564
partner and director
new business and corporate communications
+1 646 935 4141
CEO, Argentina, and regional director
+54 (0)11 4832 7700
Asia-Pacific and Middle East and North Africa
partner and CEO
+ 852 (0)852 1418 8000
Key global clients Best Buy, ConAgra Foods, Eastman Kodak, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Nokia, Philips (as part of OneVoice), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
No. of wholly-owned offices Ketchum has 42 wholly owned offices and 25 partially owned offices.
No. of affiliates
Ketchum has 58 exclusive affiliates