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Our 2015 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 400 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.
Analysis of all agencies in each category can be accessed via the navigation menu or here. Winners were announced at the 2015 Global SABRE Awards, at the Global PR Summit in Miami on the evening of 28th October.
In the four years since its acquisition by Next Fifteen, Margi Booth’s firm has continued the growth trajectory it had enjoyed in the preceding years, doubling in size over that period while going through a significant transition that included the appointment of Ketchum veteran Dale Bornstein as CEO.
After a strong first year under new leadership, the firm now has more than 100 people in five offices (Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and San Francisco in addition to its New York headquarters), fees of around $18 million, and strength in consumer marketing (food, travel, and wines and spirits) and corporate—and digital, including planning and analytics capabilities unusual for a firm its size under the leadership of Bonnie Ulman and Jeff Bodzewski.
New business came from Autodesk, Beyond Meat, Carnival Cruise Line, Cutty Sark, Intel, Jägermeister, Kelley Blue Book, Leica, Lutron Electronics, Noosa Yoghurt, St. Ives, and Twitter, while the firm expanded its Google business (expanding an initial assignment as social media AOR for Google at Work to include social for Google for Education, Google Science Fair, Android for Work, and Chrome for Work); growing the American Express rosterto include Amex Global Network Business, Amex Global Corporate Payments, and Amex Global Merchant Services; and picking up more corporate work for Mercedes Benz.
Creative work includes the long-term work for American Express, including the brand’s iconic Small Business Saturday initiative; content creation—30 or 40 pieces every day—for Google; influencer outreach to leading bartenders for Campari; and a campaign to “get America ready for re-engineered meat” for Beyond Meat.
The firm is also becoming a magnet for talent, thanks to a work environment that earned it a Best Agency to Work For trophy this year. It has added to its leadership team, bringing in Adrianna Bevilaqua from DeVries as chief creative officer and industry veteran Mark Malinowski in a new role as director of partner innovation.—PH
Catalyst (US, WME/IMG)
Launched by principals who had been part of the Alan Taylor Communications sports PR specialist, the thinking was that Catalyst would focus on more traditional sports marketing and media relations. But less than a decade later, it’s clear that the firm is anything but traditional. While it continues to boast expertise in the sports arena, it has added expertise in entertainment and lifestyle marketing, and developed sophisticated capabilities that span traditional public relations, content creation, social media, and influencer relations.
Acquired in early 2013 by talent agency IMG (now part of WME/IMG following the merger with William Morris), as part of its consulting business, the firm partners with sister agencies such as droga5, Red Interactive and Grab Analytics, providing clients with access to a wide array of strategic and creative capabilities.
Under the leadership of managing partners Bret Werner, Bill Holtz and Ted Fragulis, the firm has grown consistently—doubling in size since 2011 and up by a healthy 10 percent last year—and in stature, picking up new assignments over the past 12 months from clients such as Facebook, Marriott, Purity Vodka, Tata and Warner Bros last year, joining a roster that includes Dockers, Subway, Timex and Under Armour.
High-profile work included enlisting A-list celebrities to help introduce the new Xbox One; launching the Sports Matter cause-related marketing initiative for Dick’s Sporting Goods; and managing the crisis that ensued after Under Armour’s speedskating suits came under fire at the Olympics.
The firm also continued its own thought leadership efforts with the latest iteration of its Fan Engagement Study, which provides insight into the continuing convergence of sports and digital media among sports fans.—PH
Hope & Glory (UK, Independent)
In just three short years, Hope & Glory has established itself as the latest London shop to dominate the city's fiercely competitive consumer PR market. That it has done so is largely down to the leadership duo of Jo Carr and James Gordon-Macintosh, a pair that had already served notice of their talents at a prior posting with Seventy Seven PR.
In 2014, Hope & Glory kept up its remarkable pace of growth, growing 65% to £2.7m in fee income, led by such new clients as Barclays and Barclaycard, Virgin Trains, Disney, Turner Broadcasting and Airbnb. The firm added press office duties to its existing Sony consumer electronics brief, and also consolidated its hold on Ikea's UK PR work. If that alone doesn't sound like a impressive client roster, then consider this — Hope & Glory's also works for The Royal Mint, O2, HTC, Virgin Active and the Meantime Brewing Company.
Growth like that can throw even the best managed firm off course, but Hope & Glory appears to be handling its meteoric rise pretty well. Now numbering 37 people, the agency has only lost two full-time staf members since it launched, and Car and Gordon-Macintosh oversee a leadership team that also includes partners Adrian Chitty and Gavin Lewis.
Unlike some of its bigger rivals, meanwhile, Hope & Glory demonstrates little disdain for press office work, believing that it helps fuel great campaigns. And in this, there seems little point arguing, because the firm's work remains among the best in the market, showcased by award-winning campaigns for the Royal Mint, HTC, Virgin Holidays, Ikea and O2. — AS
MSLGroup (Publicis Groupe)
Even amid significant management changes, it is clear that MSLGroup has been building on its already-impressive consumer marketing capability, particularly in New York.
Consumer accounts for about 60% of MSL's US business, with a client list that includes the likes of P&G — its feminine care, family care, oral care and consumer health businesses — GM, Home Depot, Paypal, Netflix, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Marshalls, and with notable strength in food and beverage (particularly in Seattle, with its excellent culinary center) and fashion and beauty (MSL Canada has been named beauty agency of the year for three straight years).
Last year saw new talent, with the appointment of Edelman's Andrew Silver as managing director in New York, Carolyn Samuel as lead on the P&G business and Kris Garvey as consumer lead in Chicago.
There was new business too, from brands like Rover, TruGreen, 24 Hour Fitness, and Zico. But it was the work that really stood it, most notably MSL's efforts on P&G's Always #likeagirl campaign, which looks like an early favorite for the year's most awarded public relations initiative, but also its support for PayPal's positioning as a 'consumer champion' and its work on a Netflix social media campaign around spoilers.— PH
Ruder Finn (Independent)
Last year was the 25th anniversary of Ruder Finn’s launch in China, and in the intervening quarter century the firm has established itself as a market leader—primarily in the consumer space, where its creativity and a renewed commitment to client service have helped the firm’s consolidate its market leadership position.
One major factor is the stability and seniority of the leadership team: Jean-Michel Dumont, chairman of Ruder Finn Asia, has close to 30 years of experience, 14 at Ruder Finn. Elan Shou, senior VP and managing director for Greater China has 15 years of experience, 11 at Ruder Finn. Hong Kong-based senior VP of reputation management Charles Lankester is a relative newcomer—his firm was acquired three years ago—but has just as much regional experience. Ruder Finn's largest clients include Volkswagen Group China, Cartier, Sanofi, Michelin, Hèrmes, Longines, Omron, Bosch and British Columbia, and the average retention rate is around eight years.
New clients, meanwhile, included Alibaba, Shanghai Disney Resort, De Beers, Michael Kors, Richemont, Blancpain and Watches and Wonders. The firm’s China operations—offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou—now generate revenues of around $18.25 million, up by 17 percent over the previous year; add in Ruder Finn’s offices in Singapore and India, and the Asia-Pacific operations are contributing about a third of the agency’s global revenues.—PH
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