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Our 2016 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
More than a year has passed since Weber Shandwick acquired Swedish powerhouse Prime, and while it can take longer than that to evaluate the merits of a merger, all the early indications are that the deal has been a win-win. The global agency has benefited from Prime talent (particularly with the appointment of Tom Beckman as chair of the firm’s global creative collective), its expertise in analytics and evaluation (the two firms are collaborating for clients such as Ericsson, glass industry federation FEVE, and NASDAQ; and its capabilities in social impact (Hanna Hellquist joined from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to spearhead its work in Sweden).
Meanwhile, Prime has been able to add some new capabilities, most notably in public affairs—Stockholm is now one of three “centers of excellence” for the practice across the EMEA region, while continuing to produce the kind of amazing creative work that attracted Weber Shandwick’s attention in the first place—accounting for five SABRE nominations this year. Highlights include “Don’t Drink and Dive,” a smart and funny piece of content created for insurance company Trygg-Hansa featuring the Swedish synchronized swimming team; “The House of Clicks,” which drew on search data from Sweden’s most popular property portal to design the country’s dream home; a mobile app to help Swedes deal with the replacement of old currency with new coins and notes; and a campaign against child abuse and human trafficking for the Stockholm County Administrative Board. — PH
Geelmuyden Kiese (Norway/Independent)
Our reigning Nordic Consultancy of the Year, Geelmuyden Kiese is one of the largest independent public relations firms in Europe, with 150 employees, fee income of NOK 167 million (€18 million), and offices in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm—and most recently Brussels, where the firm is committed to helping Nordic companies navigate the EU bureaucracy. Under the leadership of founder Hans Geelmuyden, the firm has been enjoying a renaissance over the past five years, which have seen it expand beyond its roots—very much in the corporate and public affairs realm—to develop consumer and digital capabilities and the range of skills to offer integrated solutions to its clients: its creative department in Oslo now totals 30 people, making it as big as many of the ad agencies with whom it now competes.
Award-winning work includes the “Trail Memories” campaign for the Norwegian Tourist Board, DNT; a disruptive initiative on behalf of funeral industry leader Fonus; and ongoing marketing support for Betsafe. The firm is 100 percent Scandinavian-owned and has been ensuring its ability to operate seamlessly across the region by moving senior people between offices: Janna Sundewall moved from Sweden to become CEO in Denmark, while Morten H. Jørstad moved from Denmark to take over the Norwegian operations, while new partner Svein Roger Selle joined from national lottery Norsk Tipping to strengthen the regional business model. Fee income has more than doubled size 2010 and was up by 11 percent last year, with new business from Recycling Partner, GN Hearing, GoPro, Ubisoft, NEC, the Professional Association of Veterinary Clinics, Bosch Small Domestic Appliances, Ricoh, L’Oreal, and the state alcohol monopoly Systembolaget. — PH
Iteo Consulting (Norway/Independent)
In just six years, Iteo has transitioned from a startup to an established Oslo-based agency — while also retooling its service offering around the “more for less” digital mindset. Surviving on traditional PR in the Norwegian market has become a huge challenge, so Iteo has worked to carve its niche helping clients turn their employees into brand ambassadors. Even this has evolved as the agency matures. In the early days, Iteo was primarily producing content for clients, now its teams are editing and coaching subject matter experts. Ultimately the latter helps clients breakdown silos and ensures that content is used throughout the organization. Iteo also offers marketing automation and other digital marketing services.
Iteo now counts 15 staff divided into three teams (b2b, b2c and digital) with plans to reach 20 by mid-year. The firm grew 20% in 2015, driven by clients Dell, NEC, Emirates, NTT, Panasonic, Intel, SAP, Telenor, Philips (Lighting and Automotive), Tesla (new), VisitEstonia and VisitFlorida. Managing director Andreas Thue is at the helm. Key work includes Emirates’ launch of direct flights between Oslo and Dubai. — AaS
Nowhere has the convergence of corporate reputation management and consumer marketing been more evident than in the Nordic region, where traditional corporate and public affairs firms have either adopted by adding new digital and content creation capabilities—like JKL—or stagnated. JKL was perhaps fortunate to have the consumer (and healthcare) capabilities of parent company MSLGroup to draw on, and for a while it appeared that the two firms would maintain separate and distinct brands in the region but the past 12 months have seen some blurring of the lines and closer collaboration between the two brands.
There are 120 consultants in the Nordic region (the Stockholm office is still the largest, but there are additional operations in Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen) and new hires that range from creative director Calle Schulman, who joined through the acquisition of his content boutique HardHat/TopHat and director of creative planning Daniel Glasman, former creative director of PHD Worldwide, to more traditional JKL types like Ann Sonne, who rejoined after holding positions with Inter IKEA Group and Ingka Group; and Erik Zsiga, who had served as Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s press secretary. Major clients include Procter & Gamble, E.ON., PostNord, Samsung, Lego, and the Association of Private Care Providers, with new business from Systembolaget, Volkswagen, Scandic Hotels, and OmegaPharma.
Highlights of the work include “The System Man” campaign—combining JKL’s traditional issues and public affairs expertise with new creative tools to raise awareness of changes to the private welfare sector—crisis recovery support for Volkswagen in Sweden, and support for Bravida’s top management and owner Bain Capital on the company’s IPO. — 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 has smartly expanded via acquisition, buying smaller healthcare and advertising firms to help expand an offering the now encompasses life sciences, public health, sustainability and financial comms. Under the leadership of managing partners Daniel Bergsten and Johan Molander, the firm remains one of the fastest-growing in the Swedish market — up 28% to $6.7m in 2015, generated by 40 staffers working on such clients as Telia Sonera, Air France/KLM, Boliden, Barncancerfonden, ComHem and the Swedish eHealth Agency. Notable work includes brand development, with an emphasis on digital channels, for the Swedish eHealth Agency and Cybercom, ensuring that Narva remains one of the more exciting agencies in an already exciting market. — AS
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