Global events agency FIRST was set up in London in 1996, originally under the name First Protocol. Its name may have shrunk, but, in every other way, the business has grown, in terms of the services it offers and the places from which it operates.
Today FIRST, with more than 300 employees, works with global brands to deliver marketing and brand strategy, creative and design, planning, production, venue sourcing, event technology and data analysis. It now has a presence in six locations across Europe, the US and Asia.
A crucial element in this growth has been the company’s ability to develop in line with the demands of its clients. “As clients’ needs have evolved, we’ve developed our expertise and skills by building our experiential and strategic marketing capabilities,” says Mark Riches, Founder and Non-Executive Director. “We’ve also built capabilities to enable us to attract new business and develop existing client relationships. We take a focused approach to new client acquisition, identifying prospective clients who seek a true partner agency, where we know we can bring value and expertise.”
The development of in-house skills has come about through a mixture of both organic growth and acquisitions. Among the latter deals, it bought Barkley Kalpak Agency in the US in May 2016 and Clive in the UK in January 2018. “Both agencies had creative and design strengths that complemented the logistics strength at FIRST, which has helped our expansion into new client sectors, as well as deepening existing client relationships,” says Mark.
The history of the business has been one of constant evolution and development – something that is unlikely to change soon. “More clients are demanding global consistency as the marketplace gets smaller and communication channels continue to evolve, so the ability to execute and deliver seamlessly across borders will be key,” says Mark. “And the demands of technology will continue to challenge and shape the industry.”