Global Creative PR Agencies of the Year | Holmes Report

2015 Global Creative Agencies of the Year

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.

Winner — Trigger (Norway, Independent)

No independent firm in Europe garnered more SABRE Award nominations this year than Norway’s Trigger: it was recognized for its #StoptheWedding child-bride awareness campaign for Plan Norway; its marketing efforts for the Norwegian Air Shuttle; a wonderful video series for Jordan Painting Tools; “The Ham Destination” for Nortura; and an education initiative for The Norwegian School of Information Technology—a truly impressive variety of work, made all the more impressive by the fact that Trigger is still less than five years old. Last year, furthermore,Trigger bested more celebrated rivals to rank third in the Holmes Report's Global Creative Index.

The firm was launched in 2010 by founder and managing director Preben Carlsen, whose youth (he is 33) belies his experience, which includes time at leading local independent PR-operatørene and as communication manager at IKEA Norway. It sought to challenge a local industry that still revolved around traditional media relations, and it has demonstrated that a focus on engagement—supported by audience analysis tools and content creation capabilities—rather than coverage can lead to great work and healthy growth.

The firm now has a team of 28 and fees of more than €3 million, up by 44 percent last year. Trigger works with IKEA, adidas, Norwegian, H&M, Telenor, Stabburet, Plantasjen, The Ministry of Climate & Environment, NHO, Statoil Fuel & Retail, Sony Playstation and The Norwegian Public Roads, with new additions last year including DNB (the largest bank in Norway), Synsam, Rom Eiendom, KLP, Westerdals School of Communications, Den lille nøttefabrikken, Slettvoll, NITH, Active Against Cancer, and the Norwegian Association for Blind People.—PH


Golin (Interpublic Group)

Over the past couple of years, the Holmes Report has recognized Golin for its business transformation — the introduction of a new industry model that replaces the traditional practice area/industry structure architecture with a new model revolving around strategists, creators, connectors and catalysts. But this was the first year in which the fruits of that restructuring were clearly visible in the agency's creative work, resulting in seven SABRE Awards nominations.

Particularly impressive is the way the firm's best campaigns reflect some of its investment priorities: its #inspiredbypets cause-related marketing work for PetSmart reflects its ability to come up with crisp and clear brand insights; its brand newsroom for McDonalds — responding to criticism and questions about the fast-food giant — reflects the pioneering work Golin has done in real-time marketing; its executive positioning efforts for clean energy leader NRG reflect its commitment to research and strategy; its new website for Unilever's 'Dirt Is Good' campaign reflect its impressive digital capabilities.

It's a result of a culture that values risk-taking (CEO Fred Cook is calling on the agency's people to 'Go All In'); important new hires like chief creative and community officer Caroline Dettman and executive director of planning Jesse Dienstag; and of a suite of offerings (the Brand Relevance methodology, strategic planning process Brand Story, real-time marketing offer The Bridge, storytelling approach Brand Voice, and more) all designed to bring the agency's creative heritage to new life.— PH

Jung Relations (Sweden/Independent)

Following Weber Shandwick’s acquisition of Prime, Jung Relations is now the largest independent marketing communications firm in Sweden, having parlayed a reputation for mold-breaking creativity and constant innovation—including formidable digital capabilities and a small but growing corporate communications practice—into numerous awards.

Led by CEO and co-founder Claes Bodén and creative director Jonas Sevenius, the firm expanded its leadership team last year with the addition of creative leader Ebba Hultengren from Prime and senior advisor Erica Wigge from Nordiska Kompaniet, Sweden's leading department store. Jung works with clients including Absolut Vodka, Volvo Cars, Blocket, adidas, P&G, Svenska Spel, Sony, ICA. Recent additions: Electrolux, Lernia, Facebook, American Express, GB Glace, Nespresso, and Arla, with highlights last year including the Andy Warhol Art Exchange (inviting consumers to submit a work of digital art and get one in exchange) for Absolut and The Stutterheim Puzzle (creating a luxurious car cover and a quirky photo puzzle to allow media and online users to reveal the new Volvo before anyone else) for Volvo Cars.— PH

Marina Maher Communications
(US/Omnicom Group)

When Omnicom acquired Marina Maher Communications four years ago, chairman and chief executive John Wren was clear about his motivation: “They understand the importance of integration, and are equal partners with advertising, relationship marketing and all of the disciplines.” Under the leadership of founder and CEO Marina Maher, the firm had made the transition from fashion and beauty boutique to brand-building powerhouse—a firm capable of holding its own in the company of other marketing and management counselors.

One key indicator of that capability is its ability to not only survive but thrive few several agency reviews and consolidations at flagship client Procter & Gamble, adding new brands and responsibilities, particularly in digital and social media. But the firm also expanded its focus: long known for its expertise in marketing to women, it added a healthcare practice that now accounts for almost half of its business (especially after adding another Omnicom business, RxMosaic, to its portfolio last year).

Over the past four years, MMC has expanded its capabilities—a significant investment in insights and strategy, trend-spotting and trend-watching, design and video capabilities, digital content creation and community management, and analytics and measurement. The most recent expansion of the firm’s capabilities involved adding a shopper marketing offer (research shows that 75 percent of shopping decisions are now made before the customer enters the store) bringing brands into shoppers’ lives before they are even thinking about a purchase: it’s an approach the firm has applied for client Stainmaster’s Pet Protect brand with a living demo/torture test, a sales associate toolkit, and display signage.

The team continues to grow too, with longtime employees like consumer and P&G lead Nancy Lowman Labadie; EVP of consumer, lifestyle and health Diana Littman Paige; and creative catalyst group leader Susan Bean joined last year by managing director, digital strategies, Dave Richeson.

The leadership firm also picked up a host of creative awards—more than 40 last year—for campaigns including Procter & Gamble’s Thank You Mom (building on the success of the consumer products giant’s Olympic sponsorship); the Merck for Mothers CSR initiative; the “Drop Your Pants for Underwareness” campaign for Kimberly Clark’s Depends brand; and continuing work for U by Kotex. All of that was enough to see it secure a top 10 spot on the Holmes Report's Global Creative Index.

And it has expanded its international reach through the formation of “MMK,” which brings it into partnership with Omnicom sister agency Ketchum for overseas work.—PH

Unity (UK/Independent)

From its earliest days as a scrappy start-up, Unity has demonstrated impressive creativity, providing clients—many of them charities—with high-impact campaigns thanks to an approach that balanced “left brain” reliance on data and analytics with “right brain” creativity, generating unique insights that helped clients connect with consumers and other stakeholders. Just as important as the creative process is the belief system: founders Nik Govier and Gerry Hopkinson say they want to create campaigns that “increase human happiness,” a reflection of the need for companies to build mutually-beneficial relationships with their stakeholders.

Now coming up on its 10th anniversary, Unity is now attracting larger clients with bigger budgets: Amazon, Ebico, Lucozade, Post Office, IWF, Direct Line and PizzaExpress joined the firm’s portfolio last year and there were expanded remits from the likes of Butlins, while M&S, Netmums and Ribena continue to rely on the firm for high-profile work. Those clients helped the firm grow by 27% last year and Unity now has a headcount of 30; it even launched a conflict brand, last year (Tin Man, itself nominated for two SABRE Awards this year). Govier and Hopkinson have been joined at the helm by Davnet Doran, a longtime employee who was promoted to managing director last year, and brought in Katy Stolliday (formerly of W and Frank) as director.

High-profile work included a continuation of the firm’s “schwopping” campaign for M&S, marketing Butlins as a family-friendly destination, and educating teens about the danger of sunbeds for Liverpool City Council.—PH