Global Consumer PR Agencies of the Year | Holmes Report

2016 Global Consumer Agencies of the Year

The 2017 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 of the Winners and Finalists across specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners were announced at the 2017 Global SABRE Awards, which took place at the PRovoke17 Global PR Summit in Miami on the evening of 25 October.

 Winner: M Booth (US, Next15)

Two years ago, competitors might have raised questions about M Booth’s future. The firm was acquired by Next Fifteen in 2009 and so some wondered whether founder Margi Booth would stick around after her earn-out, while others asked whether Dale Bornstein, brought in from Ketchum as CEO in 2013, would settle in a smaller, more entrepreneurial environment.

Consider those questions answered: Booth continues to play a significant role in her own firm, while taking on an expanded role with the parent company, and under Bornstein’s leadership the firm grew by 39% last year to $26 million (no larger firm grew faster) while expanding its footprint (it is now active in eight US markets) and being named our Best Midsize Agency to Work For in 2015.

Now in its 30th year, M Booth added new business from Weight Watchers, Carnival, Autodesk, Pier 1, JCPenney, Twitter, Leica Cameras, House, Foods, Patron, and Vega, while growing clients such as American Express, Unilever, Mercedes-Benz, Godiva, Google, and Campari USA. There have been significant investments in content creation and data and analytics, bringing in Adrianna Bevilaqua from DeVries as chief creative officer, Ketchum veteran Mark Malinowski as director of creative and strategic brand partnerships, and Matt Koppelman as senior strategic analytics manager. The quality of the creative work, meanwhile, has never been better, with SABRE nominations for its work with Campari’s Negroni brand, chocolatier Godiva, GE Appliances, and sex toy We Vibe. — PH


AKA Asia (Singapore, Independent)

Founded by former Grayling directors Kate O’Shea and Amy Wright in 2008, AKA Asia’s expansion since then reflects the agency’s transformation from a creative PR shop to an award-winning integrated comms consultancy, as comfortable competing with digital and advertising agencies as with its traditional rivals in the PR space. Growth has been impressive, driven by an increased focus on design and production, along with broad capabilities across corporate, consumer and digital — and a creative reputation that saw it rank fifth in the 2015 Global Creative Index.

Over the past 12 months, there was new business from Treasury Wine Estates, Disney on Ice, Premier Inn, Collective Works, MeadJohnson, Nutrition Rafferty’s Garden, FOX, Rajah and Tann, FrieslandCampina and DirectAsia, joining a client that includes Unilever, Jetstar, Chic Outlet Shopping, Diageo, Bentley, J&J Acuvue, Singapore EDB, FitnessFirst, LinkedIn and Costa Coffee.

The client roster is impressive enough, but what also catches the eye is AKA’s ability to deliver multi-channel integrated work. For Unilever and Diageo, for example, the firm handles major employee engagement assignments; for Acuvue, AKA has expanded its scope to include influencer engagement and production; for LinkedIn, AKA handles range of dynamic content creation; and for Costa Coffee, the agency develops above-the-line and below-the-line creative work across Asia-Pacific. — AS

French/West/Vaughan (US, Independent)

Some of the things cutting edge firms of today are doing—the expansion into paid media, for example—French/West/Vaughan was doing 15 years ago, when the then-Richard French & Associates acquired local creative shop French & Vaughan, a deal followed by acquisitions spanning licensing, multimedia content creation, and last year entertainment and Hispanic marketing. The result is the FWV has evolved into a $21 million public relations agency (fees were up 13% last year) that can provide a full-service integrated marketing capability to national clients such as Wrangler (a client since the day the firm opened its doors), ABB, Bassett Furniture, German coffee purveyor Melitta, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned Justin Boots, while providing highly-specialized services, most notably in the sports and western lifestyle categories, to clients including athletes and sporting bodies.

A terrific example of what this means to clients is the firm’s work for Wrangler: faced with mainstream media lack of interest in professional rodeo, FWV helped principal sponsor Wrangler create its own media platform, the Wrangler Network, which has attracted 2.5 million unique viewers to the sport, and even attracted ad support. New business, meanwhile, came from Trailways, the national bus transit system; Paralyzed Veterans of America; Concord Hospitality, the nation's largest independent hotel management company; athletic shoe retailer Fleet Feet; and EA Sports; for its Need for Speed and FIFA 16 video games. — PH

Golin (Global, IPG)

Ever since the restructuring of its business around the “g4” model (communities of explorers, creators, connectors, and catalysts replacing the traditional practice structure) five years ago, Golin has been on a tear. It has committed to its “Go All In” positioning, and introduced a new proposition focusing on brand relevance, and it has doubled down on digital and content creation.

So have many others, of course, but relatively few of them are seeing the kind of growth that Golin has enjoyed over the past few years, much of it driven by a consumer marketing offering that is as as sophisticated as any in the world, highlighted by the eye-catching campaign to introduce the all-day breakfast menu at McDonald’s, and bolstered by the potentially game-changing acquisition of highly-regarded creative shop Brooklyn Brothers.

In EMEA, the firm's consumer capabilities are led by its London office, which retains its status as one of the era's defining PR firms. Consecutive UK Consultancy of the Year honours in 2013 and 2014 are reflected by a 150-person team with serious consumer and digital heft; a client base that includes Sainsbury’s, Honda, Great Western Railway, Kraft Heinz, Unilever, Cadbury, Siemens and Smirnoff; and some superb work for nPower, Cadbury and Persil. 

And, beyond its two powerhouse markets, Golin's consumer business has made notable strides continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In Asia, where it has historically been as well known for its corporate business, there has been considerable consumer expansion in several markets, led by new business from Starbucks, Turkish Airways, Kraft Heinz and Vans, and bolstered by the acquisition of 100-person firm Magic Group in China. — PH/AS

Hope & Glory (UK, Independent)

In just four years, Hope & Glory has established itself as a dominant force in London’s fiercely competitive consumer PR market, with leadership duo Jo Carr and James Gordon-Macintosh combining substance and style to notable effect. Indeed, the shop has emerged as something of a go-to player for big consumer brands, adding Adidas, Airbnb, Virgin Trains East Coast, PZ Cussons, B&Q, Heathrow, Sega and Opodo in 2015 to an eye-catching roster that already includes O2, Ikea, Disney, Virgin Active, HTC, the Royal Mint and Honda.

The agency also sustained its remarkable pace of growth last year, growing 33% to £3.4m in fee income, with profits up 60% to £900k, from its 47-person staff base. Both Carr and Gordon-Macintosh continue to manage the growth well, focusing on ‘fame, fortune and fun’ in a bid to keep staff and clients happy. Unsurprisingly, there has been expansion of its senior ranks, along with a smart 50% investment in new digital consultancy OneFifty.

And, of course, Hope & Glory’s work continues to wow award juries, leading to 49 campaign awards in 2015 alone. That performance might well be matched this year too, given the evidence of another rich crop of campaigns, including standout work for O2 (‘Big Up’ and #WearTheRose); Ikea (‘No Place Like Bed’); B&Q (‘Plant Whisperers’); Airbnb (‘Floating House’); and, Virgin Trains (‘Beard Caps’). Perhaps the best evidence of Hope & Glory’s effectiveness comes from the grumbles it now elicits from rival agencies — a sure sign that an agency is succeeding in London’s cut-throat consumer scene. — AS