Pan-EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year 2015 | Holmes Report

2015 Pan-EMEA 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.

Pan-EMEA Consultancy of the Year — Edelman (Independent)

Even during a year when the European economy continued to struggle, and when the firm elected to pull out of Russia, Edelman continued its steady growth in the region, with revenues up by 7% ; continued to lead the way in data and analytics, digital and social; and continued to produce first-rate award-winning work.

The UK continues to account a little more than half of the firm’s income in Europe, but there are strong operations in France (where the acquisition of Agence Elan gives Edelman 160 people and a leadership position); in Germany (where 26% growth helped them firm to revenues of close to $25 million); and even in tough markets such as Spain and Italy (Edelman has about 75 people in each). And, of course, Edelman's Middle Eastern presence is one of the best in that region, with strength in Abu Dhabi now complemented by the acquisition of Dubai powerhouse Dabo & Co, giving it 150 people across the two markets.

The firm continues to work for some of the region’s biggest brand names, including AstraZeneca, Diageo, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Novartis, Roche, Shell, and Unilever, and picked up some very impressive new business from the likes of Barclays, Danone, Dubai Tourism, Gap, Mars, RyanAir, Tetra Pak, Turkish Airlines, Visa, and Wrigley.

There was new talent too, including Mattias and Stefan Ronge and Anders Hallen from another innovative Swedish boutique Deportivo, who will provide creative input across the entire region; Michelle Hutton, who has relocated from Australia to lead the global consumer practice; and APCO veteran Stephanie Lvovich, who now heads global public affairs.

Edelman has been a pioneer in the digital space for several years, and the addition of the Deportivo team—coupled with an expanding Edelman Berland research capability that includes close to 40 people in the region—means that the firm remains on the cutting edge. Evidence can be found in work ranging from the Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign to Shell’s “smarter driving” work to anti-smoking campaign that took place in the online game Minecraft, to a fine integrated branding campaign commemorating the Armenian genocide.—PH


Hill+Knowlton Strategies (WPP)

After restructuring and re-restructuring (if such a thing exists), Hill+Knowlton Strategies finally returns to the conversation for Pan-EMEA Consultancy, befitting an agency that continues to have one of the biggest PR networks across the region. For a number of years,  that sheer scale (1,000 employees across 40 markets) appeared to be more of a burden than a benefit, with the firm exposed to recessions in various local markets. But an easing economic landscape means that H+K saw mid-single-digit topline growth last year, in a region that accounts for more than half of its global footprint, and more than $150m in revenues.

There were particularly strong performances in traditional powerhouse markets such as the UK and Middle East, along with improving results from emerging operations in the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark and Spain. Sweden has also grown and the firm retains a very strong presence in Norway, the home market of Lars Erik Grønntun, who became chairman and CEO of the region last year, following a leadership reshuffle that saw UK CEO Richard Millar add responsibility for the firm's global creative remit.

Unsurprisingly, Germany is a focus for Grønntun and early results there are good, bolstered by some new hires. H+K's PBN operation remains profitable in Russia, despite tough economic conditions, and the firm has also stepped up expansion in Africa, adding Nigeria to a network that already includes South Africa and Kenya. In terms of capabilities, H+K retains one of the strongest energy teams in the business ( with 60 people in the region working on blue-chip brands such as Shell and Statoil), and also possesses a broad portfolio of clients across FMCG, technology and healthcare.

Despite a relatively weak pipeline from the US, many EMEA operations submitted strong new business performances in 2014, with much of it spanning multiple markets, including Visa, Institut Pasteur, Northtrop Grunman, Twitter and GE Oil & Gas. The UK also expanded its business with Adidas, Ford and Intel, and a major pitch for E.On, while the region as a whole grew its existing business with key clients such as Statoil, Shell, P&G, Novartis, LG and Mondelez. 

Much of the growth came after some key hires across the region, particularly in the UK. Simon Shaw and Vikki Chowney arrived in London as chief creative officer and director of content, respectively, with that office also naming three new practice heads, for technology, employee engagement and financial/professional services. Many of the newer recruits reflect the firm's shift more of a visual storytelling model, led by London's status as a global creative hub. This has seen the office develop a comprehensive set of IP and tools, along with a new training partnership with Hyper Island, as it attempts to build the blend of generalist and specialist skills that are required from the modern PR firm.

Already, the campaign work has seen a noticeable uplift, demonstrated by some excellent work for Adidas (#FromWhereIrun and the 2014 World Cup), along with above-average activity for Ford, the Global Terrorism Index, Western Union, Aviva, Intel and P&G. — AS

(Omnicom Group)

Ketchum’s EMEA region operations have been evolving over the past few years, since the 2009 merger of the US-based firm and its German-based sister agency Pleon, which also brought with it operations in Central and Eastern Europe and the Netherlands. A year later, Ketchum acquired Russia’s Maslov, and in 2013 it added German creative boutique Brandzeichen.

Integrating all of those businesses proved challenging, but EMEA chief executive David Gallagher has been insistent in his belief that it would all come together, and in 2014 for the first time it did. There was growth in Germany (albeit modest) and in the UK—the two equally-important pillars of Ketchum’s EMEA operations—under the leadership of Dirk Popp and Denise Kaufmann respectively (both relatively new to their roles). The Russian operation (nominated to Consultancy of the Year in its market) has been performing strongly for several years, and the Brussels office—focused on Belgian market PR rather than public affairs—likewise made a strong contribution last year.

New business came from, MasterCard, and Nissan (for sports sponsorship) and there was growth from existing clients including IBM, Philips, and Procter & Gamble. Just as impressive was the creative work, with more than a dozen SABRE nominations across the region, ranging from migraine education efforts for Allergan and Novartis to a social and digital project for Google in Russia to the #Dirtycash campaign for MasterCard.—PH

Ogilvy PR (WPP)

After stunning its bigger rivals to win Pan-EMEA Consultancy of the Year honours last year, Ogilvy PR continued its progress over the past 12 months, integrating the highly-rated Memac Ogilvy Middle Eastern operation to add the kind of regional scale that global CEO Stuart Smith so clearly craves. Ogilvy PR now weighs in at around $70m in EMEA, after growing by 33% in 2014 (although a good two-thirds of that growth came via the addition of Memac's Middle East and North African network).

The firm's regional profile, accordingly, now features strong operations in numerous markets, notably in mature countries like the UK and France and places like Turkey, South Africa and Kenya — emerging markets where Ogilvy possesses an edge on many of its rivals. The integration of Memac can only help that state of affairs, although Smith will be keen to see better growth in Germany (where the firm is still small); and the Czech Republic and Ireland (where it is among the market leaders).

After being elevated to the global CEO role late last year, Smith continues to lead EMEA from New York, but is investing in a more cohesive regional leadership team. The first major sign of that came from UK CEO Michael Frohlich's promotion to EMEA chief operating officer, and there have also been investment in regional roles for such functions as new business, human resources and knowledge management — all part of H+K veteran Smith's desire to build a genuine 'one-firm' culture across Ogilvy EMEA.

Business growth was again good, and more profitable, led by a London operation that continues to win business and produce great creative work, and the Memac network that does much the same. South Africa continues to shine, with Turkey up 35% to around $5m in fee income. Key new business across the region included Allianz, Acer and General Mills; the firm doubled the number of clients it services in three or more offices, and increased its roster of +$1m clients.

Much of that comes down to Ogilvy PR's ability to play well in an increasingly integrated landscape. The [email protected] unit remains one of the best in the business, and the network's creativity is apparent in some standout work for Puma and BA. — AS

Weber Shandwick
(Interpublic Group)

 Perhaps the most impressive thing about Weber Shandwick’s growth in Europe last year—a very healthy 6% organic, better than 20% with its Prime acquisition included—was its consistency across both markets (the UK and continental Europe were on a similar pace) and practice areas. But other metrics are similarly impressive: the firm retained all but one of its top 40 clients, which grew by a combined 10% over the course of the year; digital revenue was up by 30% and now accounts for a third of EMEA revenue.

Clients such as Aldi, Abbott, Merck, Nestle, Novartis, SABIC and Unilever all stepped up their spend, and there was new business from Beijing 2022, FIFA, FoodDrinkEurope, Listerine, Rolls Royce, Telefonica, Twitter, and Wickes. The continued success of the digital capability (now helmed by EMEA lead Adam Clyne) in the realm of content creation is now complemented by a planning team that doubled in size last year, and a new data and analytics center in Cologne.

But it’s the quality and variety of the programming that really stands out, with campaigns such as The Girl Effect for the Nike Foundation (supporting the first ever Girl Summit in London), the revitalization of the Motorola brand (from 0.1% market share to 7%), Unilever’s All Things Hair content channel (more than 160,000 subscribers), the unusually bold (for a pharma client) Living Like You social media community for Novartis, and a Lloyd’s of London campaign that assessed the insured value of all the teams playing in the World Cup in Brazil—work that garnered WS more than 70 awards across the region last year.— PH