When Gavin Anderson left his position as managing director, international, at Hill & Knowlton to start his own agency, it was with a unique business model in mind, one that created the first genuinely international boutique agency. While every other international agency had a full-service approach, Gavin Anderson & Company focused first and foremost on investor relations—although it has since expanded to include broad corporate communications services, including crisis management, employee relations, and public affairs.
The criticism of the firm had always been that it was stronger in overseas markets (Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia in particular) than it was in the U.S., and a succession of leadership changes in the New York office underscored that point. But the appointment 18 months ago of former BSMG executive Robert Mead and former Hill & Knowlton and Fleishman-Hillard executive Scott Tagliarino brought a new stability to the firm’s management and a renewed focus on “corner office” issues.
The firm has expanded its work in the financial services arena (clients include Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Standard & Poor’s, and Fidelity Investments) and boasts a growing portfolio of technology and telecommunications business (IBM, Oracle, Cisco Systems, and Verizon). New business wins included Zurich Financial Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York Life, and Volkswagen. The biggest news of 2000, however, was the firm’s acquisition of Chlopak Leonard Schechter & Associates, a highly regarded public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., where it is working with Oracle on the Microsoft antitrust case and represents Ted Turner’s Better World Campaign. The deal expanded Gavin Anderson’s service offering and added more senior counseling depth.