ABR 2011: The Kern 

Russell Kern
Russell Kern

: Russell Kern, founder and CEO

: Omnicom Group

US revenue
: $18 million-plus


Once a creative direct agency, The Kern Organization has become a strategic, customer-value optimization agency, dealing in acquisition and retention, says Russell Kern, founder and CEO. With its investment in CRM, direct mail programs for clients like Sprint and DirecTV are one of its biggest revenue generators, despite an industry that seems to shun the channel. "We mail out 750,000 million pieces of mail per year because it makes bucket loads for marketers," says Kern.


The agency won three small assignments last year, which it hopes to cultivate into larger mandates. Existing clients Direct-TV, Clearwire and SAP also handed the agency more work. Moving forward, Kern says, "we will continue to target large mailers," customer acquisition companies and the largest b-to-b marketers.


The agency has 115 employees in its Southern California office. Kern notes its 2010 turnover rate of 8.25% reflects the attention paid to employee satisfaction, which the agency tracks through surveys done by PricewaterhouseCoopers.


The agency's directional shift has helped increase revenues beyond the $18 million it made in 2009. Kerns says it is adding digital capabilities, but no more than 10% of the company's revenues come from digital work.

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