Ruder Finn Acquires Integrated Communications Firm, Peppercomm

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CommPRO Editorial Staff

Ruder Finn announced today that it has acquired Peppercomm, a leading integrated communications and marketing firm that uses the science of humor to think differently, inspire people and solve complex problems. An agent-of-change communications agency, Peppercomm combines forward-thinking new service offerings and the agility of a startup to help clients anticipate the future and build unbreakable relationships with stakeholders. 

Founded in 1995 by industry veteran and CEO Steve Cody, Peppercomm has established a portfolio of blue-chip clients such as Dole Sunshine Company, MINI, Xero, and trivago, with work spanning across earned, owned and paid media, employee engagement, crisis and issues management, influencer programs, executive visibility and social and digital campaigns. Over the past 27 years, the firm has developed a number of innovative new service offerings, notably its signature Change Agent humor-led training programs. The breakthrough offering leverages the tenets of humor to bring joy and imagination back into the workplace and connect and catalyze stakeholders across the change journey. Additional propriety services include sentiment mapping tool Mindset.ai, Content I.Quity creative engine and CrisisRX crisis preparedness training. 

“Peppercomm’s unique Change Agent approach creates powerful synergies with Ruder Finn’s what’s next vision,” said Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO, Ruder Finn. “Their combination of powerful emotional mindset and sentiment analytics, combined with breakthrough creative, expands on and deepens our core capabilities, while their unique understanding of how to leverage humor in business gives us a new competitive edge in our ability to break down communications barriers, stimulate thinking and drive change. Peppercomm represents a significant milestone in our ongoing strategy to fuel strong organic growth with transformative, future-focused acquisitions.” 

As part of the acquisition, Peppercomm employees across New York, San Francisco and London will continue to work under the firm’s brand name and be led by Cody, who will maintain his title as CEO of Peppercomm and report to Ruder Finn CEO Bloomgarden. There will be no redundancies or layoffs as a result of this acquisition. 

“We’re thrilled to become a key addition to one of the world’s largest and most respected public relations firms,” said Cody. “It was critical we join an organization that values the strategic importance of being an independent agency. At the same time, we were intent on assuring that our two companies share similar values and a greater purpose. Peppercomm now has access to unrivalled services for our clients, as well as new and expanded career opportunities for our employees. This is the perfect move at the perfect inflection point in Peppercomm’s 27-year history.” 

The acquisition is the latest in a series of recent strategic moves by Ruder Finn to further build on its core leadership offerings in healthcare, technology, creative and change management. Other acquisitions include UK-based health tech firm Mantis (2021), award-winning creative & production studio Osmosis Films (2020), healthcare agency jacobstahl (2020), change management and internal communications agency SPI Group (2019), and digital marketing firm RLA Collective (2018). 

The deal follows three consecutive years of strong revenue growth for Ruder Finn, with 28% growth in 2021 and growth of more than 45% since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.