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W2O Group, an independent global network of leading marketing communications firms, today reported another year of growth and progress with a 10 percent increase in revenue to nearly $83 million in 2014 from $75 million in 2013. W2O Group companies, comprising WCG, Twist and Brewlife, now employ more than 425 people in 10 U.S. offices and a growing London office and EMEA presence.

W2O Group Pragmatic Disruption Ad copyThe company also announced key senior management promotions designed to enhance client service and delivery, foster continued innovation of software-enabled services grounded in state-of-the-art analytics and insights, and position W2O for future growth and evolution internationally. Exemplifying this evolution, the firm’s digital health ecosystem and insights platform, MDigitalLife, stores more than 500,000 unique digital footprints of the world’s doctors, patients and health systems. This resource is used by numerous global clients, including nearly 70% of the world’s top pharma firms.

“2014 was a purposeful year of well-managed, profitable growth that will enable us to further diversify and innovate with our clients on a more global scale,” said W2O Group Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss. “We focused on getting the right systems in place and people in the right positions to ensure that as we expand into new regions and industry sectors, our teams are optimized to deliver flawlessly for our clients and that our infrastructure is aligned to support international growth. The moves we have already announced in 2015, including the acquisitions of ARC2 and VinTank and the hiring of Dorinda Marticorena to lead our Entertainment practice demonstrate how we are continuously evolving the firm to partner with clients in the most productive way possible. We will do all of this while staying true to our foundational #GoAhead #MakeItHappen culture that values and respects quality results and achievement, intelligence, independence, curiosity, courage and a #ChooseHappiness mindset.”

Key management promotions include the following:

Bob Pearson, President of W2O, will now also serve as Chief Innovation Officer to accelerate the firm’s software and technology offerings and facilitate and incubate new practices, offices and game-changing talent.

Jennifer Gottlieb, formerly President of Twist, which has more than doubled in size in the last three years, will become Chief Operating Officer and Head of Client Service for W2O Group and will run its three integrated marketing and communications firms.

Annalise Coady, who has run W2O’s London office and EMEA region, will become President of Twist, expanding the firm’s global footprint to accelerate and facilitate international expansion.

Aaron Strout, who has led the exponential growth of the Technology practice in the last few years, has been promoted to President of WCG. He is moving from Austin to the company’s Silicon Valley office to further focus and grow this area of expertise.

Carolyn Wang, who has been with the firm for over a decade, overseeing investor relations and corporate communications capabilities for life sciences and digital health clients, has been promoted to President of BrewLife to grow that firm in much the same way Jennifer Gottlieb led the growth of Twist.

Paul Dyer, who pioneered the firm’s social media, influencer analytics and digital capabilities, will become President of the firm’s centralized, yet-to-be renamed Analytics and Insights company and shared SaaS capability, which will serve W2O clients as well as its own client base. Seth Duncan, who has been integrally involved in creating the firm’s well-respected, industry-leading Analytics and Insights offering, has been promoted to Managing Director. He will work closely with Paul Dyer to enhance the current offering and develop a differentiated market research and influencer audience targeting sciences business.

Paulo Simas, formerly President of BrewLife, and Gary Grates, formerly head of W2O’s Global Change and Corporate Reputation practice, will now lead and grow a Global Business Design practice. That new practice will comprise those existing capabilities and expand beyond them to bring a differentiated branding and reputation offering to clients that will leverage the firms’ collective integrated analytics, insights, creative, digital technology and strategic media planning capabilities.

Mike Hartman, Chief Creative Officer of W2O Group, will expand the remit of that shared service to include strategic account planning and digital agency services such as customer user experience, e-commerce and social CRM planning and execution. He will also enhance the firm’s media and engagement and entertainment offerings with agile content development through W2O Group Films.

“Bob Pearson and Jenn Gottlieb will work together with this amazing group of people, who are stepping up into new roles and responsibilities, and their capable teams to deliver services, software and solutions that will exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Weiss. “We are expanding our healthcare offering, building technology into a practice as important to our future as healthcare, and developing our capabilities to create unique advantages for any brand in any industry. I have never been more excited about our future than I am today, and remain committed to making W2O Group the very best it can be for our clients and our people.”

Click here to view the press release.

As part of our continuing growth strategy to build strength in our digital and analytics offerings, to meet the needs of our clients in EMEA, we’re pleased to announce that Refreshed Wellbeing, a digitally based creative communications agency for health & pharmaceutical brands has joined the WCG fold.

With a background in both consumer marketing and professional healthcare sector expertise, Refreshed Wellbeing has extensive expertise in delivering  integrated pan-European digital marketing campaigns working for clients such as –  Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Grunenthal, Johnson & Johnson,  LEO Pharma, Mentolatum, Pfizer and Roche.  Additionally the acquisition brings digital creative, together with media planning and buying capabilities that further enhance our insight led strategic approach, combined with 360 engagement, as well as additional regional knowledge that will support the work we do in more than 50 countries.

We’re also pleased to announce that as part of the deal, Refreshed Wellbeing co-founder, Carl Engelmarc, a well-known digital strategist and integrated branding communications expert will be joining the WCG EMEA management team. He has over 20 years marketing experience in Rx, consumer health and FMCG.

This is another exciting milestone for WCG in Europe.  Earlier this year, Holmes Report named us as the Digital and Specialist Agency of the Year. And in March 2013 leading analytics group, Mettle, joined us to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. This acquisition of Refreshed Wellbeing augments our strategic and creative capabilities, as well as providing additional strength to our engagement offerings through the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model.

We look forward to creating “what’s next” with our new Refreshed Wellbeing colleagues.

– Annalise Coady, Global Practice Lead – EMEA
WCG, part of the W2O network of agencies, is an independently owned and operated full-service marketing services organization. What sets us apart is our uncompromised belief that analytics (re)empowers brands to make more insightful, better decisions, eliminating the “guesswork” of traditional marketing services.

“It’s not about ‘best practices’ – it’s about ‘next practices’ as learned my new colleague Annalise Coady and I, when we excitedly touched down at the W2O Media and Engagement Summit in Austin.

We knew we worked with some forward-thinking people, but the depth and breadth of experience (along with general awesomeness) blew us away. Here’s a quick and dirty summary of some of the things we learned and plan to pioneer across the pond:

  • Media has evolved and PESO is the future: Day 1 kicked off with Head of Earned Media, Jim Larkin, demonstrating how media has evolved from the 1960’s, and how we as communicators have had to continuously adapt in order to connect with our audiences in new ways. Jim introduced the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model – the integrated future of media engagement for W2O.
  • Relationship is king – know your influencers and tailor your pitch to suit: Ex-reporters Ryan Flinn and Brian Reid, along with Earned Media Director Peter Duckler and blogger aficionado Carla Clunis, shared their insights into ‘What Modern Media Want’. The clear message being we must become part of the community we want to influence and ensure we’re always approaching media with meaningful and relevant content.
  • Bring in the experts, right from the start: When you see an opportunity for our client to integrate, deploy our experts across digital, social, creative and media fields.
  • Jump in the pool: Your career at W2O doesn’t have to be linear. Do great client work and pollinate across the company, teaching account teams to do what you do.
  • W2O’s new search capabilities are awesome: Creating content that’s not findable in search is almost meaningless. W2O Search, championed by Greg Reilly and Sri Nagubandi, enables us to ensure we’re always producing content that meets the needs of our audiences – and most importantly, can be found!
  • Influence can be created – passion can’t: 92% of word of mouth still happens OFFLINE. We have the capabilities to execute outstanding WOM campaigns allowing us not only  to keep track of what people are saying about brands online and offline, but also enabling us to insert ourselves into the conversation through the engagement of ambassadors to spread goodwill.
  • Our clients are looking for first class ideas, strategy and execution: As part of a panel discussion, ex-clients Jim Larkin and Lionel Menchaca shared what they look for in an agency:
    • Passionate and committed to the cause as they are
    • Know the ball park they’re playing in
    • Competitive zeal
    • Always offer strategy and counsel where possible
    • Constantly align agency work with client business objectives
  • W2O knows more about what physicians are doing socially than anyone else in the world: Sounds like a heavy claim, but our MDigital Life database has made it so – just ask Greg Matthews!

As a company at the forefront of innovation, we must continue to push the boundaries of conventional approaches; experiment and practice truly integrated planning for our clients, or as they say in Texas; “Always drink upstream from the herd!”

Jim Weiss and I are are happy to announce that Lionel Menchaca, Dell Inc.’s chief blogger, has joined our global media and engagement team in Austin and senior communications strategist, Annalise Coady, of Fleishman-Hillard (High Road), has joined our global technology practice based in London.

Lionel, one of the first corporate bloggers in the Fortune 500, is re-joining me (Bob) here at W2O Group. In my view, Lionel is the best corporate blogger in the Fortune 500. He will immediately help our clients because he combines a deep understanding of enterprise technology with a customer mindset and the skills of a publisher that can think and communicate clearly in multiple languages.

Annalise was most recently interim President of Fleishman-Hillard’s High Road Communications, an integrated digital firm in Canada. She has led teams in the Middle East, North Africa and throughout the EMEA region and has expertise ranging in all aspects of B2B and B2C technologies. She also has led and conducted exceptional work for some of the world’s leading brands outside of technology.

We are investing in and building our companies so they can provide ‘next practices’ to our clients. Annalise and Lionel represent our commitment to create a leading integrated global technology team and expand our worldwide offering and capabilities for all brands.

Learn more about Lionel and Annalise and why they joined at W2O’s CommonSense Blog here and here.

Thanks,

Bob & Jim

With all of the hiring W2O Group/WCG have done recently, we wanted to take a little time to let our partners/customers/employees get to know some of these new employees better. To that end, we are kicking off a blog series that asks each of our new employees to answer five questions — some straightforward and some that show our more playful slide. Via this process, we’re hoping to give our readers a little better sense of who we are.

The second interviewee in our series, Annalise Coady, brings a strong global flavor to the W2O Team. Located in our London office, Annalise leads our European technology practice and will play a valuable role driving international business and global technology expansion.

  • [Aaron] Annalise, welcome to the W2O Team. We’re looking forward to working with you. For our first question, talk a little bit about your past experience.
    [Annalise] Thanks Aaron. I was most recently interim President of Fleishman-Hillard’s, High Road Communications.  Prior to that, I led teams in the Middle East, North Africa and throughout EMEA which helped round me out from a global perspective. On the technology front, I have expertise ranging in all aspects of B2B and B2C technologies and have been fortunate to work with some of the world’s leading brands outside of technology.
  • [Aaron] What is your “super power?”
    [Annalise] My superpower is celebrity spotting. Most recent, Rory Macllroy. Most embarrassing, Stephen Fry. Most wanted, Mark Harmon.
  • [Aaron] If you could work with any company as a client, who would it be and why?
    [Annalise] Everton Football Club (soccer) with David Moyse (now ManU) because of the way he used data to make them the “Moneyball” team of the Premier League (and I’m a Toffee).
  • [Aaron] How do you stay up to date on latest trends/industry news?
    [Annalise] BBC & Sky News (all formats), Timesonline, @nytimes, @TimHardford, @om and sadly dailymail.com (my guilty pleasure)
  • [Aaron] Finish this sentence… “The agency of the future is ____?”
  • [Annalise] …still the brand guardian, increasing sales and loyalty as well as building and protecting reputation of organizations. However we’re at a massive inflexion point where to survive agencies have to evolve their structure to remain relevant to the ongoing business environment. Cutting to the chase, agencies essentially have to become social businesses. Borrowing shamelessly from the views of IBM and Paul Holmes, the key foundations elements of the “agency of the future” include:
    1. Data driven insight
    2. Insight that drives strategic approach and meaningful creativity
    3. Understanding the essence of how people engage
    4. Understanding that managing reputation is about more than just communicating reputation
    5. Becoming real brand journalists
    6. Being truly channel neutral
    7. Eliminating internal barriers
    8. Recruiting differently
    9. Creating new career paths
    10. Making sure it matters, so it pays off in business terms

As a bonus, Annalise asked me to include this funny (and telling) quip from Austin favorite/local, Hugh MacLeod.

Image courtesy of Hugh McLeod aka @gapingvoid

Big thanks to Annalise for answering these questions. I can tell from her sense of humor that we are going to like her style.