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Allison+Partners (China, MDC Communications)
Just two years after it inked a deal with David Wolf—CEO of leading Chinese boutique Wolf Group Asia—to spearhead a new global China practice, US-based, MDC-owned Allison+Partners has built quite an impressive presence in the region. In 2014, the firm acquired Chinese firm Century PR, established in 2010 and focused on corporate and business-to-business PR, but Allison continues to be best known for its consumer work. With the addition of a Singapore office, the firm achieved 300 percent growth last year, and now has 50 people in Asia, which contributes about 10 percent of the firm’s $4 million global fee income. New business over the past 12 months includes an expansion of the firm’s work for iRobot (Allison worked the company in the US and added Chinese business last year) and Airbnb (which retained the firm to help the accommodation sharing service market itself to Chinese travelers). Wolf, meanwhile, has cemented his reputation as a thought leader in the China market, with his new book “Public Relations in China: Building and Defending Your Brand in the PRC,” which argues that “few companies have found the right formula” in China. Allison is helping more and more of them figure out the right way to do that.—PH
Cohn & Wolfe (WPP)
Cohn & Wolfe is a relative newcomer to the Asian market, dispatching veteran counselor Doug Buemi to the region in 2006 and doing some interesting work for Ford in the early days before making a serious push into the region with the acquisition of Greater China’s impactasia and Singapore-based XPR in 2011. There was more change last year, with the appointment of Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller veteran Angelina Ong as president, Asia-Pacific, a role that ties the disparate parts of Cohn & Wolfe Asia together. While the acquired firms’ roots were primarily in the tech space, consumer PR has always been part of Cohn & Wolfe’s DNA, and over the past 12 months the firm has expanded its consumer offer impressively. Colgate—a longtime client in the US—is now a major account in Asia, and the firm has added Rolls-Royce to the regional roster and added local assignments from Samsung in Malaysia, Coca-Cola in Sinapore, and Starbucks in China. The result is that consumer is now about 30 percent of Cohn & Wolfe’s total business in the region and the firm is beginning to compete against—and beat—the best firms in a space where it has considerable intellectual property, including its groundbreaking Authentic Brands study, and increasingly impressive digital and social capabilities.—PH
Haystac (Australia, Independent)
The mindset at Haystac is, simply put, ‘influence is everything’ because influence ultimately starts compelling conversations, seeds powerful ideas and creates lasting — and positive — change. This philosophy has turned into a launchpad for making Haystac a formidable player in the Australian consumer PR scene. The agency employs 48 staff across its four Australian offices, as well as having additional staff in New Zealand. Haystac’s managing director, Patrick O’Beirne, oversaw gross revenue for FY14/15 that totalled $8.5m. Among its notable clients: Officeworks, Goodyear & Dunlop Tires, Toyota, Expedia, eHarmony, Etsy, Harley Davidson, Toys R Us, Dyson, Pernod Ricard and Sanofi-aventis Healthcare. As the firm has looked to transform into the “the Influence agency” it has solidified influence as a service offering with its Integrated Communications Planning (ICP) model. The idea is to connect people with brands, organisations, companies, ideas and movements by creating multi-channel campaigns beyond the norm that put connectivity, and the technology that drives it, first, to affect positive communication and change. Notable work includes the SOLO Connect campaign for Schweppes as the brand looked for a refresh. Haystac broadened SOLO’s appeal by partnering with amateur sportsmen and getting them to create engaging content to #GOHARDGOSOLO. The firm also worked with Expedia on its “Vacation Deprivation Report.”—AaS
Sinclair Communications (HK/Independent)
Founded by former Grebstad Hicks director Kiri Sinclair in 2009, Sinclair Communications has rapidly carved out a niche as one of the top players in Hong Kong’s competitive consumer PR market. With a team of around 20 people—including director Leona Ng, who joined the firm when it was just a few months old—Sinclair offers an integrated approach, with brand strategy (positioning, storytelling), media relations (press office management, media training), and marketing (influencer engagement, creative campaigns) supplemented by digital (SEO, mobile strategy) and social (community building, content creation) capabilities. That blend of services enables Sinclair to deliver a distinct creative approach that helped the firm garner three 2015 Asia-Pacific SABRE Award nominations: for the launch of Hong Kong Art Central Week, a booking campaign for Expedia, and a family-friendly push for the Singapore Tourism Board.—AS
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