Billings up 19% to $8.3 billion; revenue up 17% to $314 million. Won General Motors buying ($675 million, split with sibling Starcom), Gillette broadcast and digital buying ($260 million, planning duties split with Starcom), Mattel planning ($100 million), Ross Pediatrics ($70 million), EarthLink ($60 million), Starwood Hotels and Resorts ($50 million). Lost NBC planning ($70 million). Full impact of GM win (which took effect in October) not fully felt until ’06.
Added to its arsenal of communications planning tools with June launch of Media Pathways, which analyzes contact points and consumer receptivity to different kinds of messages. In September, launched Digital Dialogue, a research planning tool that creates online surveys to gather consumer perceptions on things ranging from brand interaction to technology, new media. Strength of the planning offering helped win two major new accounts this year: Mattel and Gillette.
U.S. broadcast president Donna Speciale restructured national broadcast department in November, renaming it video investment & activation unit and making it client-centric and broadly focused on video applications, including traditional TV, VOD, Internet TV, wireless and other emerging video platforms. Pam Zucker, 39, who ran P&G account, moved to VIA unit as svp, marketplace ignition. Her mission: create new ad models designed to heighten consumer engagement across distribution platforms. Branded-entertainment unit renamed Connective Tissue to convey idea that brands and consumers are joined via content.
CEO Laura Desmond and her team generated double-digit revenue growth for third consecutive year. Agency did it through a combination of tag-team efforts with Starcom (GM, Gillette) and pulling in new standalone accounts (Mattel). Strengthened management in March by hiring Jim Kite, 41, from Universal McCann as evp, director of insights, research and accountability.
MediaVest continues strong trajectory in early ’06 with Comcast ($100 million) win in March. It’s no surprise competitors are eyeing agency’s A-team; Initiative hired away top P&G planner Richard Beaven to be North America CEO in March. Solid bench strength enabled quick replacement: Marla Kaplowitz, 40, who had been head of N.Y. planning operations.