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Young & Rubicam Brands
Report by Peter Stringham (below)
Global chief executive officer
Young & Rubicam Brands
The idea of Young & Rubicam Brands was brought to life more than 30 years ago to give our clients access to the full range of marketing communications capabilities they might need to reach their customers. Each of the companies would be leaders in their field, advancing their discipline, but committed to working together in the interest of their shared clients.
What has evolved is not simply our philosophy of ‘Best Alone. Better Together,’ but a model and operating structure that offers an extraordinary depth of focus on our clients’ needs and goals, exceptional channel neutrality, and the ability to assemble a team – practiced at working collaboratively – from some of the world’s leading marketing communications companies.
At a time when many companies are carefully scrutinizing the allocation of their marketing resources, the wisdom of the Young & Rubicam Brands model – for our clients and for ourselves – has been reaffirmed. Our 25 Global Client Partners, defined as GCPs by their use of at least three of our disciplines across a broad international geography, now represent well more than a third of our total revenue. Most of these clients have continued to increase budgets through the downturn, finding the diversification of our resources part of their strategy to defend and build their brands during the downturn.
Our GCPs have traditionally been a catalyst for positive change. On behalf of GCP clients, we push on our technological front, expand our research repertoire and enlarge our creative palette. They make us better partners to all our clients, large and small, and tougher competitors in the new business arena. In 2009, we turned our focus on the cornerstone of our integrated assignments – training a new generation of global client leaders who are empowered to assemble the most appropriate blend of communications disciplines on behalf of their clients.
open quoteWe push on our technological front, expand our research repertoire and enlarge our creative paletteclose quote
To advance our integrated model, two years ago we created Raymond Rubicam University (RRU), named after our founder, who revolutionized our industry in his day. The program is a fertile training ground for our client leaders – an opportunity to gain valuable cross-disciplinary, cross-geography experience. RRU gives us a hothouse environment to work with clients – and prospects – on a particular business challenge. What results is an integrated solution that is state of the art and, for each of the participants, larger lessons that are brought back to our day-to-day business.
In each and every session, our relationships with our clients have deepened.
What follows is the ‘Best Alone’ part of our equation – reports from each of our companies. In a tough year, the Young & Rubicam Brands companies have moved their clients’ brands forward and been rewarded with relatively strong organic growth. They have won major new clients. Performed well at award shows. Provided thought leadership in the industry. Won the accolades of their clients and industry colleagues.
We have entered 2010 with the same tenacity, commitment and optimism that drove our operations last year. We continue to build our collaborative culture with new training and tools, through our strong base of category-leading clients.
Young & Rubicam
Report by Hamish McLennan (below)
Chairman and chief executive officer
2009 was tough for so many industry sectors and for so many of our clients’ customers. We took the year as a challenge to help our clients navigate the economic uncertainties in a way that found opportunities for their brands, connected them with their consumers in new ways and positioned them well for the future. Tough times inspired us to be innovative, inventive, creative and true to our credo to ‘Resist the Usual.’
After several years of quietly getting our house in order, Young & Rubicam was primed for the challenge. We have strong global creative leadership in Tony Granger and are building a broad and diverse base of creative talent around the world. We have solid regional management. We are digitally integrated.
As an agency uniquely organized to drive strong results through our regional hub structure and through brilliant work across borders and platforms, we found opportunities with new global clients like Dell, where Young & Rubicam has now taken a lead role on this massive assignment. We had strong new business from existing clients like LG, Bacardi and Danone, as well as regional clients like Sears, TAM, Cellular South, Office Depot, Western Union, Citrix and Hotels.com. Virgin Atlantic, a long-term client of our London agency, expanded its brief to Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East, Australia and the Caribbean; Young & Rubicam North America completed the global coverage by winning the account for its region. We also saw the return of Pirelli globally through our Milan agency.
In the two years since Tony Granger joined as global chief creative officer, our ranking as a creative global network has gone up by five places in the Gunn Report. Our Melbourne agency was cited by Gunn for having the No.2 Most Awarded spot in the world. Our Tel Aviv agency was the No.2 media agency at Cannes. Work everywhere reflects our improved global creative network and our expanded creative palette. For LG, we created a cause-related integrated campaign from TV to apps, ‘Give It A Ponder,’ that encourages youth to think before they text – and it was an overnight, cultural phenomenon. We created, produced and sold original sports entertainment properties for TV for Cellular South, and will leverage the resulting TV sponsorship opportunity with other clients. In Singapore, we used guerilla theater to raise awareness for Colgate-Palmolive’s ‘Oral Health Month.’ A digital campaign from SAA/Y&R Tel Aviv helped launch a new entertainment and movies portal for Orange. Using advanced technology that detected light intensity, a banner redirected users to the new portal, but only if they followed the instruction to turn off the lights – just like at the movies. Inventive film and digital work from RKCR/Young & Rubicam London continued to help the agency’s strength in its market.
All around the network, strong ideas, fueled by our proprietary knowledge and our ability to interpret data into leveragable insights, gave our clients differentiating artillery to do battle in the hyper-competitive marketplace and the incentive to award us with new assignments.
Young & Rubicam North America, despite being at the epicenter of the world’s economic turmoil, made progress. We built on existing relationships with Mattel, adding their Just Like You brand of American Girl and consolidating the Boys, Girls and Games divisions at Young & Rubicam. Our agencies attracted a string of new clients, including Hotels.com, Bonefish Grill and Round Table Pizza.
Our EMEA region added new assignments from Danone and Barilla, regained Erste Bank and, as cited earlier, attracted Pirelli back to the agency. Local wins helped balance budget cuts. We made great progress in integrating our digital capabilities with the launch of 11 VML agencies in the region.
In Latin America, Young & Rubicam sustained its creative prowess in the region and, for the seventh consecutive year, Young & Rubicam Brazil was ranked No.1 in its market. New wins came from Hotels.com, Schering Plough, HSBC BTL business, Banco de Galicia and Direct TV, among others.
In Asia, Neil Cotton joined as the regional chief strategy officer. Young & Rubicam Asia made a major leap into the red-hot retail shopper marketing area; the successful start-up in Hong Kong will now be replicated in other markets. Young & Rubicam Singapore, our regional HQ, integrated digital completely into our offering in Asia. Young & Rubicam India innovated its agency model with a unified offering and new strategic tools.
In Australia/New Zealand, a major infusion of talent is revitalizing the group. Russel Howcroft was named national CEO of George Patterson Young & Rubicam Australia. Globally-acclaimed planner Jon Steel was named chief strategy officer and vice chairman of George Patterson Young & Rubicam Australia. George Patterson Young & Rubicam Melbourne was the only Australian agency to make the Top 50 in the Gunn Report, coming in at No.34.
One of the most profound changes – with implications across the agency – has been the partnership with VML. VML’s extraordinary offering and unparalleled digital intelligence has been a major force in our aggressive digital strategy.
Report by Matt Anthony (below)
Chief executive officer
For the past 18 years, VML has operated with the same founding philosophy, providing creative solutions at the intersection of marketing and technology. Over the past year – during one of the most challenging economic periods in memory – VML’s proven approach and our deepening relationship with Y&R propelled the agency to new heights.
Once again VML was chosen by Forrester Research, Inc. as one of a select number of digital agencies focusing on interactive marketing. According to the Forrester Wave™: US Interactive Agencies – Strategy And Execution, Q3 2009, VML was designated a digital leader “because of its overall strategic skills, social and emerging media prowess, unique company vision and high client ratings.”
Over the past year, VML activated new client partnerships for many industry-leading brands, including Avid Technology, Carlson Hotels Worldwide, Gatorade, Hershey’s, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Tom’s of Maine, Warner Brothers, Waste Management and Western Union.
VML’s ability to leverage leading-edge technology was fully extended through the launch of the COPIA, DMC Worldwide’s ground-breaking open platform social e-reader. VML led all aspects of COPIA’s extensive digital experience, including brand development, product interface, social media engagements and the richly-interactive COPIA website.
Strategic and creative output for long-standing VML client partners also flourished. Award-winning work was delivered for dozens of VML clients, including Accenture, Colgate-Palmolive, ESPN, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Hostess Brands, Microsoft, Sam’s Club, SAP and Xerox. VML leveraged an ever-widening array of social network platforms and technologies to help client partners such as Cartoon Network, ESPN College GameDay, LG and Wonder Bread connect with customers on an unprecedented level, fostering authenticity, transparency and trust.
VML developed engaging mobile marketing campaigns for numerous client partners. Using smart phone applications developed by VML, Colgate sent smiles around the globe through a popular photo-sharing iPhone app; Jägermeister rewarded concert goers with cool prizes via text sweepstakes; Southwest Airlines enabled travelers to book flights, check-in and receive DING! deals directly on their iPhone; and Sam’s Club helped shoppers discover the perfect present through the Gifter Stress Lifter program.
As VML’s business has grown, so has our commitment to the communities where we live, work and raise our families. The VML Foundation, fueled by active financial participation by the vast majority of VMLers, leads the agency’s community outreach program, including hands-on volunteer opportunities, pro bono projects and financial grants – supporting literally hundreds of worthy causes and not-for-profit organizations.
After 18 years of steady expansion, pushing the boundaries of marketing and technology, VML has definitely come of age. While the recent past has been the strongest period in VML’s history, the agency is poised for even more dynamic growth in the future.
Report by Daniel Morel (below)
Chairman and chief executive officer
2009 was challenge-laden, a “tale of two halves” and it brought us the benefits of consolidation.
As expected, finance and automotive clients cut their budgets. Most clients asked us to do the same volume of work but with fewer dollars. We rode on previous commitments for the first quarter; then the situation quickly changed, only to improve in October. In North America, we adjusted by reducing our workforce or hiring more slowly. In Europe, we did the same, but it took longer given protective legislation. In the end, Wunderman benefited when smaller companies lost ground as clients consolidated budgets with the largest players.
As a result, we grew our largest global accounts, Microsoft and Nokia. We were able to consolidate large parts of digital assignments or in-source data, web analytics and campaign management globally as many clients reduced their workforce.
Microsoft further consolidated its business with us. Nokia ramped up at unprecedented speed in 52 markets, delivering thousands of campaigns via digital production hubs in Russia, South Africa, Brazil and India. Another in China will open this year.
Revenue in Latin America and Asia rose by double digits. And we won some noteworthy new business, including T-Mobile, SoCal Edison, Hotels.com, BNP and Kraft, among others. Although the last quarter of 2009 suggests the worst may be over, we remain very cautious. We continue to experience growth of digital and data assignments. In addition, we can count on the footprint of our network and the diversity of our client base to generate further growth.
Our specialty companies give us digital depth and a diverse and robust digital marketing offering. While each is fully interactive on its own – and maintains its individuality – it also carries a unique center of excellence, which can be tapped network-wide:
- Blast Radius – social networking and technical backbone
- ZAAZ – site-side optimization and analytics
- Designkitchen – digital promotions
- These Days – digital media integration
- Kassius – mobile marketing
- Agenda, AquaOnline and ActisWunderman – digital production.
This digital prowess is complemented by leadership in data analytics. Data drives digital marketing. Today, neither can exist alone. The uniqueness of digital marketing is the sheer volume of customer data it offers. When real-time information is backed by historic knowledge and directed at the customer, the result is powerful ideas that resonate.
Whether it’s Ford’s challenge to reignite customers’ love affair with Mustang; Citi’s plea to get New Yorkers back on their side despite the economic turmoil; or Southwest Airlines’ call to find a new form of media, Wunderman turned insights into activation via fresh, bold ideas.
In 2009, we answered our clients’ call about “What do we do now?” with a blend of innovation, pragmatism and passion. In 2010, we stand poised to answer their call about “What do we do next?” Our power as a global agency network, embedded with digital and data strength, will be the catalyst to our growth and success.
David Sable (above)
Vice chairman and chief operating officer, Wunderman
Report by Mark Penn (below)
Worldwide chief executive officer
Burson-Marsteller navigated the difficult waters of 2009 by delivering its second-highest revenue since the dot-com boom and its greatest profit and margin in its history. This performance followed 2008 when the firm had set the previous record on all key metrics. During 2009, we experienced only a low single-digit setback in revenue.
These results come after three years of momentum based on the strategy of giving the firm new DIGS – becoming more Digital, Integrated, Global and Strategic. This is a strategy focused on modernizing the firm’s offerings to meet the state of the art in communications and PR in a changing world. The firm launched the new Proof Integrated Communications brand as part of displaying its commitment to meeting the trends in online and offline issue and corporate advertising hand-in-hand with its traditional PR offerings. And the firm’s integration with Penn, Schoen & Berland’s research has led to the development and launching of Evidence-Based Communications – a suite of new tools for helping guide the development and measurement of PR campaigns.
This year the firm focused on managing costs, providing great client service, and improving utilization of personnel. While many clients reduced budgets in 2009, we did not lose a single significant client and others came in with new work because of the economic crisis and Burson’s reputation for being a go-to firm for issues and crisis management. And we had a particularly strong fourth quarter giving us momentum going into 2010.
Our Key Client Relationship (KCR) program, which is comprised of our largest clients, continued to play its role as a growth engine for the firm. The program ended the year with positive year-over-year growth among our core KCR clients and with the new KCRs added to the mix the program grew even further. In 2009, KCR clients contributed over one-third of the company’s global revenues. Burson-Marsteller was again involved in some of the most critical issues in 2009, including work for insurer AIG, which faced communications issues related to employee relations, media relations and communications with regulators. The firm also participated in a WPP team that led Ford Motors’ communications during one of the most difficult years for the US auto industry. Burson-Marsteller also continued work on key initiatives for KCR clients like Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei and Thomson Reuters.
During the second half of the year, new business opportunities from both new and existing clients were developing at a steady pace. In the US, against a highly competitive field, the Washington DC Issues & Crisis Group won a significant assignment from Microsoft. The Burson-Marsteller LatAm region developed a new digital campaign for Visa Debit that will appear in Latin America’s largest markets. It will be the first of its kind by Visa.
In Asia Pacific, Burson-Marsteller was appointed the agency of record for Drager, one of the world’s leading companies for medical and safety technologies. Additionally, a Burson-Marsteller managing director, Clancey Houston, was selected by WPP and Ford to assume the role of Ford Team Leader for Asia Pacific.
In EMEA, Burson-Marsteller won a major contract for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Bid. The Holmes Report recognized our superior public affairs capabilities in EMEA by naming us Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year in the region.
As we head into 2010, we are confident that our new business pipeline, strong client relationships and overall corporate strategy will contribute to another year of progress.
Report by Charlie Wrench (below)
Chief executive officer
Our performance in 2009 differed dramatically, depending from where you viewed it.
In the US, Landor’s all-important financial engine, our margins were quite exceptional. But we were patchy in Europe where the recession hurt us. We were Marketing magazine’s Branding Agency of the Year in Greater China, but we suffered in the Middle East where the market for our services was undermined by events in Dubai. Our business with most of our long-term clients performed very well indeed, but the number of new business opportunities around most of the world dropped dramatically.
The net result of all this is that, while our revenue and operating profit were down on the previous year, we nevertheless weathered this recession better than most. Indeed, despite the nature of the year, there has been much to celebrate.
It goes without saying that our success is built on the shoulders of our client relationships and many of these moved forward significantly in 2009. We improved our performance ratings with our largest client, Procter & Gamble, in all five geographies where we were measured; and we established a successful Asian hub for them in Singapore to further strengthen our global partnership in the region. In return, we were rewarded with a solid year and some terrific new brand assignments.
Our relationship with Kraft also went from strength to strength, with multiple new appointments in the US and the opening of a new relationship in Greater China.
We had a record year alongside Diageo, too, being appointed to no less than 10 new brand responsibilities in the year. Finally, after years of pace-setting performance supporting the Coors brand, I am delighted to say that we have been appointed agency of record on the Miller brand portfolio.
There is nothing more important in our business than the confidence of our clients. But the opinion of our peers comes a close second, as it is this that enables us to attract the best talent around the world. We had a good year on this front too. Our work collected two platinum and eight gold awards in the high profile Graphis competition; we upped our performance this year at the all important Cannes Awards; and we carried away an impressively high number of this year’s WPP Atticus Awards for thought leadership.
The combination of the ongoing support of our key clients, the undoubted quality of our creative performance, and the increasing recognition of our thought leadership are a source of enormous pride for me. More importantly, they give me confidence that we are well placed to move forward as the market for our services picks up.
Sudler & Hennessey
Report by Jed Beitler (below)
Chairman and worldwide chief executive officer
Sudler & Hennessey is one of the worlds’ most sought-after healthcare communications networks. During a year of economic challenges, we continued to build on our successes by bringing ‘Established Innovation’ services and geographic offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients within human and animal health industries including pharmaceuticals, biotech, fast-moving consumer goods, foods, device/diagnostics, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The S&H network focused on strengthening its relationships with current clients, growing network opportunities and providing 100% client satisfaction, resulting in positive outcomes for the network.
In 2009, the S&H network was honored with over 35 awards from creative festivals around the world, including the Global Awards, the Rx Club, Best of Health, Effie Awards and Comprix Awards.
In 2009, we continued our focus on supporting client technology needs through S&H Digital, adding digital strategists and expanding our overall delivery across a wide array of interactive solutions. As opportunities grew, we worked to ensure that offline and online brand communications converged productively. This meant providing effective strategic solutions to the growing role of relationship marketing between HCPs, patients and caregiver communities in brand preference and behaviors that drive them.
To oversee our international operations, Max Jackson was promoted to CEO of our EMEA and APAC regions. Louisa Holland and Rob Rogers continue as co-CEOs for The Americas, overseeing our US and Canadian operations and continued expansion into Latin America.
Supporting growing global opportunities, we expanded our geographic footprint with affiliate offices in Johannesburg and Moscow; the acquisition of MDS Healthcare in Shanghai and Beijing (now Sudler/MDS); strengthened our capabilities in Spain through a collaboration (now CYS/Sudler); increased Canadian operations; and broadened our Mexico City presence with medical education, advertising and CRM offerings that serve both the country as well as many parts of the LatAm region.
The Bravo Group
Report by Eddie Gonzalez (below)
Chairman and chief executive officer
Bravo’s transformation continued on track in 2009 with enhanced client relationships, evolving digital capabilities and the addition of more senior talent. The year started tentatively with clients debating Hispanic and multicultural investments during a recessionary environment, but ended well due to Bravo’s superior performance. Whereas revenue was down slightly, operating profits and margins enjoyed double-digit improvements versus 2008. Bravo was ranked No.3 in Advertising Age’s Hispanic Agency rankings for 2009.
We knew 2009 would be challenging, but Bravo’s enhanced capabilities and its ability to clearly drive incremental growth for our clients during these tough times proved noteworthy. A network model built on client centricity, superior talent, and operational efficiency is paying big dividends with client satisfaction and superior creative work. Relationships and revenues with Bravo’s top 10 clients grew and clients’ satisfaction survey data from the last two years continues to over-index positively. One disappointing factor was the near-dormant level of category new business opportunities in available business sectors that stifled top-line revenue growth possibilities.
Superior talent continues to augment Bravo’s capabilities: new managing directors were added in our New York (Chris Campos) and San Francisco (Melissa Lammers) offices. Additionally, digital and creative talent continues to drive Bravo’s transformation.
Bravo is now leading and driving business strategies; we are truly helping our clients leverage and profit from the Hispanic market. By taking a bold stance on new opportunities, creative work and performance accountability, clients are recognizing Bravo as a real strategic leader and business differentiator. With the 2010 US Census under way, we expect further validation of the attractiveness of the Hispanic sector as a critical demographic that is ripe for business development.
2010 has started well, with Bravo being named Pfizer’s multicultural agency of record and strong top-line growth projected for the agency.
Cohn & Wolfe
Report by Donna Imperato
Chief executive officer
Strengthening the agency and setting us up for future growth were Cohn & Wolfe’s key goals for 2009. It was our first full year following the merger with GCI which doubled our business and our talent base. And we succeeded in strengthening our culture and talent, while maintaining a solid client base during the tough economic climate. By keeping clients and staff motivated in 2009, Cohn & Wolfe entered 2010 with a dedicated team and committed clients, both existing and new.
See full report
Robinson Lerer & Montgomery
Report by Linda Gosden Robinson
Robinson Lerer & Montgomery (RLM), a New York-based strategic communications firm, serves the directors and senior management of companies in every major industry on a broad range of ongoing assignments and special situations.
In a difficult environment, RLM reported strong results, driven primarily by continuing corporate communications assignments for major financial institutions, assisting them as they navigate the unprecedented upheaval in their industry. In addition, the firm continued to provide ongoing and project-related corporate communications and strategic marketing services to numerous clients in various other industries. Such work encompassed crisis management, corporate positioning, litigation support, regulatory issues and financial transactions, among other matters.