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Critical Mass is a leading digital design and consultancy agency, originating in Calgary, Canada but working primarily in the US since 2000. Part-owned by Omnicom since 1999, that group acquired full control of the business in 2014, and has gradually rolled out expanded its footprint. Critical Mass is now its biggest standalone digital network. Much of the agency's creative production and administration is still handled out of its original HQ in Calgary, or from Costa Rica, but the sales and marketing team works out of Chicago, and there are four other offices across the US as well as outposts in Brazil and the UK. The latter was formed from the absorption of local Omnicom-owned unit Agency Republic. The Chicago office also houses social media subsidiary Zocalo Group, acquired at the end of 2015. Critical Mass offers a full range of services from digital design, media, technology, consultancy and social media. A comparatively new specialised service is employee experience, designing intranet systems for client companies. Dianne Wilkins is the company's long-serving CEO, appointed to that role in 2006. However she will move to the role of chair from Jan 2021 to be succceeded as CEO by Chris Gokiert, currently president. Both have spent more than 20 years at the agency. Advertising Age estimated global revenues of $191m in 2019. Valerie Carlson was appointed as global chief creative officer in 2020. The company was founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Ted Hellard to market a CD-ROM guide to playing better golf. Hellard approached a number of major marketers, pitching the CD as a promotional tool. One such customer, Mercedes-Benz USA, declined the offer of golf CD but asked if Hellard was able to put together a website for them. Further work followed. Ted Hellard stepped down from day-to-day involvement with the business in 2003, and the following year acquired Canadian football team the Calgary Stampeders. In 2018 he became chairman of Sundial Growers, a producer of medical cannabis.
Capsule checked 2nd December 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Nov 2015: Omnicom is merging Chicago-based social media agency Zocalo Group, currently a unit of PR network Ketchum, into its larger sibling Critical Mass. Omnicom acquired the business in 2007, aligning it with Ketchum. However, "the synergies really were not there in the way I think we all had hoped they would be," according to Zocalo Group founder and CEO Paul Rand. "In turn, Critical Mass certainly had some social capabilities, but it wasn't their core. They found they were getting more and more requests for social and word-of-mouth and influencer things and turning them down. It became a growth opportunity."
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jan 2014: Omnicom's standalone UK digital shop Agency Republic is being absorbed into global network Critical Mass. The latter already has a field office in London, but this will be upgraded to a full-service operation following the injection of Agency Republic, whose management team will take over control of the combined business. Agency Republic was originally created in 2001 as a joint venture between the UK office of one-time interactive giant Agency.com and direct marketer Claydon Heeley.
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