Key executive: Rick Segal, CEO
2008 revenue: $26.2 million
2008 b2b revenue: $26.2 million
Key clients: First Data Corp., Hobart Corp., John Deere & Co., Pitney Bowes, USG Corp.
Major 2008 campaigns: John Deere, "The Ultimate Skid Steer Smackdown," print, online, direct, events; Pitney Bowes, "Connections That Matter," print, online, direct, events; Chicago Board Options Exchange, "Accept No Substitute," print, online, outdoor
Comments: Grew revenue by 30%; added new clients including Bright House Networks, Chicago Board Options Exchange, First Data Corp., John Deere & Co., Motorola Corp., Pitney Bowes and United Stationers; acquired Fergus Peters Group and Flow Creative in Chicago; won 10 BMA Pro-Comm awards and nine ADDY awards.
HSR Business to Business, a pure-play b2b agency that has been on an acquisition streak of late, is seeing its expansion efforts pay off with soaring revenue, new clients, strong creative and a powerful presence in the Chicago market.
The agency's revenue totaled $26.2 million last year, up 30% over the previous year and more than double its revenue of three years ago.
“Our growth program in Chicago began organically in 2003,” said CEO Rick Segal, noting the agency's opening of an office in the city that year. HSR is based in Cincinnati and also has an office in Denver.
“To get to 2009 and be as well-positioned as we are in the important b2b market in Chicago is very significant for our agency,” Segal said.
Last year, HSR acquired two Chicago b2b agencies: Flow Creative and Fergus Peters. Through these acquisitions, it added clients including the Chicago Board Options Exchange, John Deere and Potash Corp.
Also last year, the agency added new clients Bright House Networks, First Data Corp., Motorola, Pitney Bowes and United Stationers. “Despite the difficult economy, we still delivered the most successful year in our 28-year history,” Segal said.
The agency continued to turn out innovative creative work for its clients.
For John Deere, it developed an integrated campaign called “The Ultimate Skid Steer Smackdown” to introduce two new skid steers, which are small front loaders used in construction.
The hub of the campaign is a microsite at www.skidsteersmackdown.com, which features videos of events at which John Deere skid steers take on competitors, such as Caterpillar Bobcats, in loading competitions around the country. The campaign was promoted through trade advertising, direct mail, in-store merchandising and a 600-dealer introductory event. It also included social media, such as a blog, YouTube videos and “Laying Down the Smack,” a viral campaign.
Within the first five months of the campaign, the Web site attracted more than 90,000 unique visitors; more than 2,000 e-postcards were sent; and videos attracted more than 50,000 hits on YouTube.
For Pitney Bowes, HSR created a repositioning campaign called “Connections that Matter,” designed to show that the company offers a full array of solutions beyond the mailroom. The campaign, including print, online and direct, uses images such as a rocket, waterfall and flower emerging from a plain envelope.
For the Chicago Board Options Exchange, HSR developed a brand campaign called “Accept No Substitute,” designed to position the exchange as a leader in the options marketplace. The effort included print, online and outdoor, and won a Graphis award, which recognizes excellence in design, photography and advertising.
HSR expanded its media department last year, bringing in senior leadership to its Chicago office; grew its search marketing business; and added staff in data analytics. It also increased the volume of video communications work for clients.
“We've all moved into a YouTube kind of world,” Segal said. “It's an expanded area of work in which we continue to see growth.”
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