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Longtime Norwegian market leader Geelmuyden Kiese went through a sticky patch during the first decade of the new century, but the past five years—since the return of Hans Geelmuyden to the CEO role and the installation of a new management team of 12 minority partners—has seen a robust recovery.
The firm has doubled in size in that time (fees last year topped £12 million) and diversified a business once best known for corporate and public affairs so that is now equally adept in areas such as change management, brand communications and digital media. That broader offer is not surprising, but what nobody would have predicted a decade ago is that GK would transform itself into a creative powerhouse.
Hans Geelmuyden believes that communications firms of all striped have entered an era in which “the best idea wins,” regardless of whether that idea comes from PR, advertising, and digital, and he is determined that GK will be the firm to deliver that idea. To that end he has invested in research and planning, insight and creativity, and multi-channel delivery—a process the firm breaks down into “sensemaking, storymaking, and storytelling.”
It has paid off in terms of growth, in terms of blue-chip client list (Ikea, Kiwi, Volvo, Novartis, McDonald’s, Scandic, Google, Ben & Jerry’s and more), and in terms of awards: GK is nominated for six SABREs this year (no independent firm tops that) for work ranging from a socially-driven hybrid marketing campaign for Toyota to a driver safety campaign for the Norwegian Ministry of Education & Research to creative internal communications for professional services giant PwC.
And while the firm is the dominant independent in Norway, it has also expanded into Sweden and Denmark (smaller offices, but equally capable of solid, award-worthy work) to offer a genuine Nordic service.—PH
Iteo Consulting (Norway/Independent)
Founded in 2011 by Andreas Thue, previously head of the Nordic region for Text100, Norwegian agency Iteo is focused on employee retention as the path to client retention. So there is a lot of emphasis on creating an attractive employer brand, offering flexible work conditions and a surprising degree of freedom to employees. At the same time, it has been building a reputation in the marketplace for its creative work in digital and social media, content creation and multi-channel storytelling. As a result, it has grown from fees of €800K in 2012 to around €2m in 2014, establishing itself as a challenger brand and an interesting alternative to the country’s giants.
It works with Det Norske Veritas, Intel, Dell, Panasonic, Citrix, NEC, Tata Consultancy Services, and SAP, and in the past year added Technical Weekly, www.digi.no, Emirates, Western Digital and Pernod Ricard. The firm launched Emirates in Norway, helped give 15,000 infants in Tanzania a safer start to life through a pro bono project, and designed and produced websites for VG (Norway’s biggest newspaper), Teknisk ukeblad (the largest trade media)and for the trade union for Norwegian journalists.— PH
First it was Swedish consultancies like Prime and Jung punching above their weight in international awards competitions, giving the Nordic region a reputation for creative thinking and strategic counsel; then it was Norwegian powerhouses like Trigger and Geelmuyden Kiese. If the Finns are going to make their mark, Miltton is the firm most likely to lead the charge. Young, hungry and fiercely independent, Miltton is tearing down the boundaries between marketing, PR, IR, HR, public affairs and every other area of communication—the formation last year of an internal ad agency, Miltton Creative, signaled its intention to continue innovating and expanding.
It hit the €10m mark in 2014, with 100 employees in its Helsinki headquarters and a client list that includes many of Finland’s largest companies and a host of multinations: Wärtsilä, Outotec, KONE, Finnair, Hartwall, Gasum, Arla, Fortum, Tieto and Kesko. In 2014 it became lead agency for Finland’s largest financial group OP, Ticketmaster Finland, Forum, American Express, and the Ministry of Defence. The firm is proud of the lead role it played in the passing of equal marriage law in Finland, but also helped increase fundraising levels for Red Nose Day Finland, and created an internal radio station for industrial company Wärtsilä as it celebrated its 180th anniversary.— PH
Narva — named after the biggest victory for the Swedish army — has always embraced its positioning as a challenger brand that is modernizing the stodginess historically associated with financial communications. Now 15 years from its founding, the Stockholm-based firm is still regarded as a young agency delivering on its brand promise of “always something new.”
Staying in front of the ongoing transformation of communications, Narva has sustained strong growth. In 2014, the business grew 13% to €5.3 with a headcount of 30 people. Key clients include Telia Sonera, Karolinska Institute, Air France/KLM and Nordic Cinema Group.
At the helm are managing partners and founders Daniel Bergsten and Johan Molander, supported by seasoned lobbyists and those with backgrounds in policy and pharma. This deep expertise has enabled the firm to grow into a geographic leader around life sciences, financial comms and public affairs.
Notable work includes brand development, with an emphasis on digital channels, for the Nordic Cinema Group. For Sanofi Pasteur, Narva created Sex11 — a campaign aimed at convincing young women to get the condyloma and HPV vaccine. — AaS
Prime (Sweden/Weber Shandwick)
When Weber Shandwick acquired leading Swedish independent Prime in May of last year, the giant multinational made it clear that the real attraction was not a bigger presence in Stockholm. Rather, it was buying a firm with formidable intellectual (Prime’s business intelligence unit, United Minds, includes 24 planners) and creative (the firm had won numerous SABREs and Cannes Lions) resources that could add value across the region. That has begun to happen, with the opening of a United Minds office in London and other inter-office transfers, with the appointment of Tom Beckman as chair of the parent company’s Global Creative Collective, with the integration of Prime’s sustainability offer into the public affairs practice, and with clients such as Electrolux, Ericsson and IKEA now drawing on Weber Shandwick network resources.
Other clients include McDonald’s, SCA, and Skanska, served by a team of 120 people and generating revenues of around $17m. And the quality of the work continues to impress: helping hotel chain Scandic take its refurbished rooms to consumers with a mobile hotel room that showed up all over the Nordic region; working with Ericsson on a series of business intelligence reports, including an in-depth look at the mobile internet in Africa; and helping ECPAT Sweden—which fights the child sex trade—increase the penalties for child sexual abuse.— PH
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