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Edelman’s Asia-Pacific business as a whole grew by 11% last year, leaving Edelman with 1,500 people generating just shy of $100 million in the region. The firm’s Korean operations, led by SB Jang—who took over late in 2011—outperformed that impressively, with fee income up by 23% to more than $10 million, and headcount topping 100 for the first time, making it one of the rare multinational offices that can compete on a level footing with the local powerhouses.
The office works for clients including the Almond Board of California, Samsung, the Government of Korea (mostly on health and public education assignments), Pfizer, Alticor, Diageo and more, while new business last year came from AB InBev, Amore Pacific, AIG, Novartis, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Korean Food Foundation, and more. Historically most notable for its corporate capabilities, the biggest advances last year were probably in digital: Edelman merged its consumer and digital practices, brought in a new leader—Andy Lee, formerly of Cheil Worldwide—and picked up some key digital work for Samsung and Hanwha SolarOne.—PH
In 2014, KPR marked 25 years—making it one of the first PR agencies in South Korea. Growth numbers were solid at 10%, ending the year at $8.6m. Much of this growth was fueled by KPR adding 10 retainer clients over the past 12 months, some of which include Akamai International, Maeil Dairies Bio ( a Korean yogurt brand), ncsoft (a mobile game developer), Royal Copenhagen, Samsung Electronics (TV & Home Appliances), Samsung Display, SK planet (a Korean e-commerce business) and The Presidents Cup 2015 (USPGA). These newcomers joined existing clients: 3M Korea, Airbus, CA Technologies Korea, Citibank, Hankook Shell Oil, Hawaiian Airlines, Lockheed Martin, LANXESS Korea, LA Tourism and Convention Board, Monsanto Korea, Siemens Seoul, Singapore Airlines, Stokke, Symantec Kore, and others. KPR also services a large number of clients on a project basis. KPR has a total of 99 full-time professionals within its office in Seoul. The firm also taps into its partnership with MSLGroup Asia for access to an international network. At the top of the agency, A. Kay H. Imm as founder chair and B. Sung-In Shin as president. The leadership has built enviable expertise around consumer marketing communications, social media communications, trend research and sports marketing to lead the local industry. This year, KPR established collabo K, an integrated marketing communication brand, as a new business division. The new entity leads collaboration projects with diverse organizations to take advantage of specialized expertise targeting publics of common interest.—AaS
Considering that Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy, it took western multinational PR agencies a long time—arguably too long—to set up shop in Seoul, and even after a handful of them did so, Korea’s indigenous firms continued to dominate the market. Medicom, established in 1997, is perhaps the most dominant, with 160 full-time employees and revenues believed to be close to $20 million last year. In addition to being a market leader, the firm has also been a pioneer, developing a video news release service, and digital and social capabilities (it partners with SMC, a social media specialist, and has developed its own digital content platform, Alldependent) ahead of its closest competitors. Its expertise spans both corporate and consumer PR, with strong capabilities in the public sector and in issues management. Key clients include Samsung Galaxy, Samsung Electronics (for CSR), Sony, Mastercard, Kiehls, Philip Morris, Cathay Pacific, Mundipharma, Handok Pharmaceuticals, Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Riot Games. New additions last year included Twitter, Janssen Korea, the Australian Trade Commission, Shopbob, Dr. Bronner's, CJ E&M and SK Telecom. Highlights of the past 12 months included a number of new product launches, including Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy S6 Edge, over the past year, and supported Twitter’s Sochi Olympic 2014, which helped turn around the network’s decline in the Korean market. The firm has also expanded its influence beyond its domestic market, signing an affiliate agreement with Chinese powerhouse BlueFocus back in 2008 and more recently partnering with Cosmo of Japan.—PH
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