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Didier Lagae founded Marco (formerly Marco de Comunicación), our reigning Iberian Consultancy of the Year, in 2002, after a career that included senior roles at progressive icons Body Shop and Levi Strauss and global agencies Edelman and Weber Shandwick, and it is fair to say that his ambition was apparent from the new firm’s early days, when it was a scrappy newcomer disrupting Spain’s established market leaders. That spirit of disruption has not dissipated, and MdC has continued to grow faster than the market, adding both capabilities (it is a leader in sustainability communications and one of the most digitally and socially savvy firms in the region) and geographic reach (it opened offices in Mexico City, Bogota and Lima in recent years)—with the promise of more aggressive moves in the year ahead.
Fee income was up by about 10% last year, and Marco ended 2018 with fees of close to €10 million and 120 people across two continents. Having picked up several multi-year EU assignments from DG Comm (the Communication Directorate of the EU, a €95 million framework contract over the next five years for a consortium led by Marco), EUIPO (the European Intellectual Property Rights Office), EEA (The European Environmental Agency), and DG Connect in 2018, the firm added assignments from the European Investment Bank, the Union for the Mediterranean, Dupont, Hocelot, Panattoni, SAGE, Realme, Stockholm International Water Institute and Kraft Heinz in 2019.
The firm earned three SABRE nominations this year, for work on behalf of TaxDown, Subway, and B the travel brand, while other highlights included a campaign to position the World Water Council as the leading global voice on water security and resources; the #ActivateYourWellbeing campaign, developed for furnishings retail chain Conforama, using a multi-channel strategy to link Conforama with themes of exercise and mindfulness; and an integrated effort for the European Union Intellectual Property Office, working with influencers across the continent to underscore the value of intellectual property.—PH
Appletree Communications (Spain/Independent)
When Carme Miró, Kirsty Brown and Olivia Walsh launched their own public relations consultancy in July of 2003, they chose the apple tree as their brand because it is constantly bearing new fruit, and they wanted to communicate to the market that this was a firm that would constantly generate new ideas for its clients.
The three had met at Cluster Consulting, a strategic consulting firm specializing in the technology and telecommunications sectors, and sought to combine the big strategic thinking of a consulting firm with the creativity that is the hallmark of many marketing and PR firms in other markets, but which was thought to be in short supply in Spain. It has since supplemented that approach with an integrated offer that includes digital, influence marketing, and has expanded internationally, with offices in London, Bogotá and México City. Today, the firm is a 115-person, €11.6m operation, up in 2019 thanks to new clients including Corteva, Puma, Volkswagen, Lavazza, Coca Cola and Europcar, joining existing clients including Mahou, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Nike, Visa, Mars, Henkel, Lego, Radisson Hotel Group and MSCruceros. — PH/DM
Our 2018 Iberian PR Consultancy of the Year, Atrevia continues to build on its 30-year history in Iberia, having expanded to 16 countries over the past few years — the largest concentration of which are in Latin America. But the former Inforpress continues to derive the majority of its revenues from the Iberian markets: more than to €21 million of its €24 million in fee income last year (revenues were up slightly) was derived from its extensive Spanish network (offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Málaga, Sevilla, Valladolid) and its Portuguese operations (Lisbon, Porto). That’s enough to make it a market leader on the peninsula, as well as one of the leading independent firms in Europe.
The other thing that continues to set Atrevia apart from its competitors in Spain is the diversity of its operations. While others have carved out niches in corporate and financial communications or consumer PR, Atrevia is genuinely full-service, with strength in consumer, corporate, financial, healthcare, technology, and digital, and with market leading expertise in areas such as employee communications. The firm has a newer public affairs capability that has been expanding internationally (including a small Brussels office) and expanding advertising capabilities. Innovation is in the agency’s DNA, as exemplified by the launch last year of Atrevia Foresight, a data and social intelligence-based service that monitors reputation risk factors, and the firm’s expansion into media buying and app development.
Founder and president Núria Vilanova has built a strong leadership team that includes Asun Soriano, president of the Spanish operation and Ana Margarida Ximines, who leads the Portuguese offices. New this year were four high-level senior partners: Juan Luis Cebrián, founder of El País and president of the PRISA publishing group; Germán Rios, chief economist at CAF, the Ibero-American Development Bank; Joan Clos, former Mayor of Barcelona; and Belén Romana, former general director of the Treasury; as well as practice leaders Manuel Sevillano (reputation and CSR) and David Ricoy (creativity). In other big news, Procter & Gamble joined a client list that includes the likes of Lilly, Repsol, California Nuts, Twitter, Oracle, CaixaBank, AstraZeneca, Starbucks, Iberdrola, DIA, ENAGAS, Nationale-Nederlanden, Real Madrid, and Royal Caribbean.—PH
Evercom numbers nearly 70 people across Iberia (double what it had just four years ago), emerging from 2019 as a nearly €6m business. With offices in Madrid and Barcelona, the firm's Spanish operation has long possessed strength across corporate, public affairs and brand marketing, and this has been complemented in recent years by growing capabilities in healthcare, technology and food and beverage.
With offices in Madrid and Barcelona, Evercom has attracted an impressive list of more than 80 clients including Mondelez, Canon, Deutsche Bank, Infojobs and Liberty Seguros. Over the last 12 months the roster expanded with the addition of new partners such as Caser, Beko, Credit Andorra, Kellogg’s, and Moulinex. Hallmark work included Evercom’s #EllasConducen (#WomenDrive in English) for Midas, which promoted gender equality through a campaign aimed at eradicating stereotypes about women drivers. — DM
INC (Istituto Nazionale per la Comunicazione) has maintained its independence for more than 40 years, and while it is not the largest PR firm in Italy (the firm has 32 people and fee income was €2.7 million last year) it has been a pioneer throughout its history: it was one of the first Italian PR firms to add dedicated digital and content practices; it created a management board that includes not only former journalists but also designers, publishers and other creators; and it was an early adopter of a cross-functional communications approach.
That kind of mindset helps explain INC’s steady growth in a sluggish market, and its ability to attract clients such as Amnesty International, Barilla, Birra Messina, Emirates, Findus, Heineken, the International Pasta Organization, Terre des Hommes, and UNHCR (the UN human rights organization). The firm’s creative work, meanwhile, remains among the best in the region, generating five SABRE Awards nominations this year, ranging from the #letsputonyourhead campaign for UNHCR to “Back for good” for Ichnusa; from Barilla’s launch of the new Biscocrema Pan di Stelle and Carta del Mulino to #carbonaraday, an event created by INC for the Unione Italiana Food and IPO.
The firm is led by president Pasquale De Palma and three partners: Paolo Mattei, who is focused on the food and beverage sector and social campaigns; Paola Canali, who works with consumer and NGO clients; and Rosanna Teta, art director.—PH
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