Digital PR Consultancies of the Year, EMEA 2015 | Holmes Report

2015 EMEA Digital Consultancies of the Year

Our 2015 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 100 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the region.

Winners received their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 19 May. Analysis of all Winners and Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below.

Digital Consultancy of the Year — [email protected] (WPP)

Ogilvy's social and digital unit remains one of the biggest, and best, in the region, spread across 40 offices in EMEA. Since arriving from Edelman 18 months ago, furthermore, managing director Marshall Manson now has a settled leadership team in place across key markets, helping to deliver impressive growth of more than 15% in each of the past two years.

[email protected]'s existing strength in earned and owned media is now complemented by deep paid capabilities from its Social Lab acquisition in Belgium, and an increasingly compelling analytics offering. Accordingly, the unit now accounts for 25% of Ogilvy PR's EMEA revenues, up from just 7% in 2011, and counts such key clients as AngloAmerican, the European Parliament, the Spanish Tourism Board, British Airways, Amex, BT, Mediamart, Nestle and Purina.

The biggest campaign highlight must be the British Airways 'Magic of Flying' programme, in conjunction with OgilvyOne, involving outdoor billboards that reacted to BA planes flying overhead. And [email protected] has carved out an increasingly relevant thought leadership position, around such themes as 'Facebook Zero' and the intersection of brands and content. — AS


Hotwire (Enero Group)

After establishing itself as one of the best technology PR firms in the world (and winning Global AOY honours last year), Hotwire's growth in 2014 owed much to its growth across digital platforms, particularly owned and paid. The integration of 33 Digital within the business helped to give it a headstart in this regard, but the firm has worked hard to develop an offering that reflects the rapid strides porgressive-minded PR firms are making when it comes to digital and social media.

The firm's Hotwire Labs capabilities covers a range of services, including SEO; design and build across web, apps and internal comms sites; paid media, including PPC, sponsorship and native advertising; and content generation and marketing. And that's without mentioning its award-winning Listening Post digital analysis tool, which Hotwire has continues to invest in and see strong results from.

All of that paid off handsomely in 2014, with Hotwire rolling out some excellent digital marketing work. The firm used Listening Post, for example, to power successful campaigns for GoPro and Findmypast. For Asus, meanwhile, there was a digitally-led Instagram campaign, and the firm also launched a new social media sentiment service called CommuteLondon. There was further digital work for Citibank in three markets, Inrix, XAd, Travelex, Viacom and Lamborghini Mobile, to go with new business from Qualcomm,, Ruckus Wireless, Vanity and World Remit.

And it's also worth noting that Hotwire's Digital Trends report remains one of the best of its kind, this year shining a light on such areas as unified experiences; the content car; and, anti-tech sentiment. — AS

MSLGroup (Publicis Groupe)

Best known in most European markets for its corporate expertise, MSL was perhaps slower than some of its competitors to fully embrace digital and social media, but the past couple of years have seen a couple of critical moves that have elevated the firm into a much stronger position. First, the merger of the UK operation with the former SAS—a specialist in employer branding—brought an impressive creative studio into the fold, with real expertise in digital build; then, the addition last year of James Warren—who presided over the growth of Weber Shandwick’s EMEA digital capabilities—as head of digital for the region provided leadership. London is the center of the firm’s regional digital capability, but there are 50 “studio” members in three locations (Hamburg and Stockholm are the others) and the firm benefits from partnership with other Publicis agencies, including Vivaki and Digitas.

The work over the past 12 months ranged from mobile outreach to millennials on behalf of EY to a redesign of L’Oreal’s digital newsroom by the Publicis Consultants team in France; from YouTube content from a variety of P&G brands across the region to the use of Oculus Rift virtual reality technology for the Students Union in the UK. The firm has also added new tools, including SB Tribe, which focuses on digital influence around sustainable business issues, and a creative content production tool from the Stockholm office.— PH


After several years as an above-average UK consumer PR firm, Threepipe made the brave decision to merge with Blowfish Digital in 2011, in recognition of the fundamental media shifts that require communications firms to be able to blend a range of paid and earned services under one roof.

Like any merger, the process has not necessarily been an easy one (Threepipe co-founder Eddie May departed earlier this year), but remaining leaders Jim Hawker and Farhad Koodoruth are starting to see their efforts pay off, even if their integrated vision sometimes appears to be a little ahead of market realities.

In a nutshell, Threepipe continues to offer all of the usual PR and content capabilities, now underpinned by the kind of digital marketing expertise that few of its peer-group firms have access to. The includes digital media buying, paid search, mobile advertising, SEO, data analytics and attribution modelling — helping to explain the firm's ability to win genuinely integrated briefs from the likes of the ECB, Box Plus,, Vosene Kids, the Rugby Football League and Gfinity.

The quality of the agency's campaign innovation also caught the eye, with its SEO campaigns winning In2 SABRE Awards for London Loves Business and Four Music. The firm now reports £3.3m in fee income, after growing 10% last year. Many observes have noted that the marriage of creative content and digital marketing heralds the future of communication; Threepipe should be lauded for actually trying to make this happen. — AS

We Are Social (BlueFocus)

When We Are Social launched in London six years ago, it was typically viewed as just another agency aiming to capitalise on the gap in the market for social media expertise. That, and a certain reputation for hard-driving competitiveness, didn't always endear the firm to its industry peers. But fast-forward six years and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't respect We Are Social now. The firm has grown to 500 people across nine global offices, employing some of the world's best digital marketing talent, enough to convince China's BlueFocus to shell out upwards of $30m for the agency in 2013.

2014 was another excellent year for We Are Social, with the firm growing its EMEA revenues by 21% to £22.1m. It now employs 350 people across EMEA, at its London HQ and offices in Paris, Milan and Munich. Key clients include adidas, Heinz, BNP Paribas, Mondelēz, Heineken, Lavazza, Beats by Dre and Expedia, while there was new business from Google, TaylorMade-adidas Golf, multiple brands from the Heineken portfolio, Lavazza, Pirelli, HSE24 and Hello Bank.

We Are Social's campaign work also remains in fine fettle, reflecting both how companies now embrace social media as the lead marketing discipline, and the agency's established of a strong creative team under James Nester and Graham Jenks. The firm helped develop Adidas’ hugely successful 2014 World Cup social media campaigns, as well as such projects as the social strategy around BBC Music’s landmark ‘God Only Knows’, and developing Hello Play: the world’s first crowd-funding music platform.

There is little doubt, furthermore, about the agency's industry leadership. It has upped investment in creative technology and created an innovation team, focused on mapping future digital trends, and continues to employ some of the best talent available in its different markets. In an industry awash with mediocre research, meanwhile, We Are Social's commitment to its own content continues to stand out, demonstrated by a range of global and local reports on the digital, social and mobile landscape.— AS