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Spanish public relations agency Llorente & Cuenca had already established itself as one of the leading corporate and financial consultancies in Europe, and the global leader in Spanish-language markets, before it received private equity funding in 2015 and changed its name to LLYC in 2019. But recent years have seen accelerated growth, much it through acquisition, as the firm established itself among the top 50 in the world, expanding beyond its corporate and financial roots to offer public affairs, consumer marketing, and a wide array of digital and social capabilities.
While much of the focus in recent years has been on LLYC’s work in Latin America, in 2020 the firm derived $23.5 million of its $48 million in global revenue from its European operations, which include offices in Madrid and Barcelona in its native Spain, as well as a robust presence in Lisbon. It has global reach (including the UK and Germany) through its affiliate partnership with Finsbury Glover Hering.
While the Covid pandemic hit LLYC’s Latin American operations, EMEA revenue was actually up, from $22.5 million to $23.5 million. That growth was a vindication of LLYC’s diversification strategy: about a third came from the traditional corporate and financial business; another third from a public affairs unit that was established in Spain 10 years ago and has been growing steadily; and about a third from the digital and social firms that LLYC has acquired and integrated in recent years. There was new business from Euronext, Seat, Capital Energy, Az Capital, Leroy Merlin, Prosegur Compañía de Seguridad, CaixaBank and more, while the firm continued to work with big brands Novartis, Coca Cola, Bayer, Ikea Ibérica, Repsol, Endesa, NH Hotel Group, and McDonald's.
José Antonio Llorente, founding partner and chairman, continues at the helm and led the team of partners—European managing directors Luisa Garcia and Arturo Pinedo, chief strategy and innovation officer Adolfo Corujo and senior director of engagement David González Natal—who in April of this year bought back the 30% stake they had sold to private equity firm MBO & Co in 2015. New additions in 2020 included some big names, such as former Spanish minister Jordi Sevilla, who rejoins as economic context director; Francisco Sánchez Riva, an M&A expert; and Alejandro Domínguez, senior director of digital.
LLYC tooks its creative work to a whole new level in 2020, receiving a record six SABRE nominations. A standout was the firm’s work for financial institution BBK Foundation, which sought to tackle the problem of isolation and loneliness among the elderly with a campaign called “The last older person to die in loneliness,” for which LLYC installed a hyper-realistic sculpture in Bilbao and then produced a highly emotive video that touched the heart of a nation. Other work included the “Ciao 2020” initiative for IKEA, the first Instagram live showcook for Pescanova, and internal and external engagement during the Covid campaign for EY.
— Paul Holmes
Evercom’s strengths across consumer, corporate, public affairs, tech and healthcare well positioned the firm to come out of 2020 ahead, despite Covid battering the Spanish economy. Evercom’s success also stems from operating under its guiding tenet, honed over the last 12 months: that Evercom’s role is compassionately strengthening the ties among people, companies, and institutions, while putting clients — and their purposes — at the center of conversations and movements. Evercom’s shift toward digital storytelling has resulted in a full-scale embracement of a multichannel model to disperse content created with traditional verve and ingenuity.
Evercom is based in Spain, with offices in Madrid and Barcelona.
Evercom capped 2020 as a €5.82 million operation, experiencing a slight uptick in business despite the year being what the firm refers to as “the most difficult moment of our history.” Doubling down on digital storytelling, and elevating clients’ purposes, members of Evercom’s 65-person staff operates as true partners to clients, creatively communicating their value propositions with the kind of authenticity that resonates with consumers. All of which has led to Evercom’s impressive list of new and existing clients including Mondelez, Vodafone, Infojobs, Deustche Bank, Coca-Cola European Partners, OnePlus, Triodos Bank and La Mesa del Tabaco, as well as Clinica Baviera, Canon, Rowenta, Edenred, AlainAfflelou and Qlik.
A quarter century after co-founding the firm, Alberte Santos continues to run Evercom with the same dedication to growing the business through traditional underpinnings of successful PR — creativity and fervor — and 21st century storytelling and distribution. Evercom is equally committed to promoting equality, particularly for women, in and outside the office, and is actively collaborating with advocacy organizations focused on women’s inclusion and poverty. A fervent proponent and promoter of purpose, Evercom is shifting its work to emphasize the role companies play in progress, turning the focus of campaigns from clients’ market leadership to social leadership.
Evercom’s work in 2020 continued to be guided by the firm’s staunch belief in authenticity, purpose and staying ahead of the game, eschewing any semblance of greenwashing, for instance, and dropping the promotion of digital transformation as an outdated concept. In the year ahead, Evercom plans to transition from influencer marketing to ambassador marketing. The firm’s hallmark work included a multi-faceted Midas campaign that positioned the company as a proponent of women’s empowerment and social inclusion, which garnered Eventoplus and Stevie Awards.
— Diana Marzalek
H+K’s Iberian presence comprises 48 executives in Spain and a further 59 in Portugal, giving it one of the biggest sub-regional footprints of the big PR networks. The firm’s offering spans all sectors, with particular expertise driven by its content studio and newer capabilities in CSR, data and analytics.
The firm operates Iberian offices in Madrid, Lisbon and Barcelona.
2020 was a standout year for H+K in Iberia, with single-digit growth in Spain and double-digit expansion in Portugal. In a normal year, that would be impressive enough, but during a pandemic that hit both markets hard, these results reflect the strength of H+K’s operations in the two countries. Portugal, in particular, has tripled revenue over the past five years. There was new business from Essity, Twitch, Activision, Smile Direct Club, Sanofi and Honor in Spain, along with Bayer, L’Oreal, Starbucks, AWS, Sony Pictures, Nespresso and Aston Martin in Portugal.
Joan Ramon Vilamitjana oversees H+K Spain, while Francisco Teixeira is GM of Portugal — with both leaders investing heavily in cultural initiatives to support their growth. That included new training offerings, in line with H+K’s regional efforts, and elevated emotional support, along with efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. Employee engagement survey results suggest these measures are paying off.
In Spain, the firm expanded its Somos Mujeres Tech initiative to empower women to succeed in the tech industry and also supported the creation of Women Action Sustainability. Meanwhile, the firm also launched WPP Next Cell, a WPP taskforce to help companies with post-pandemic growth, and supported several industry and educational initiatives, including Portugal XXI, a think tank that gathers the country’s business leaders and politicians.
— Arun Sudhaman
Didier Lagae founded Marco (formerly Marco de Comunicación), our reigning Southern Europe 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. It now ranks among those market leaders, though the challenger culture remains.
The bulk of Marco’s business is in the Iberian region, with substantial offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon, but the firm has been expanding its international footprint in recent years and now has operations in European capitals Brussels and Paris; in North Africa (Casabalanca, Morocco); and in the Spanish-speaking Americas markets of Miami, Bogota, Lima, and Mexico City, as well as Sao Paulo, Brazil
2020 was a challenging year for Marco, which was exposed in the hard-hit travel and retail sector and as a result saw revenues decline from just under €10 million to around €8.7 million. Nevertheless, some of those losses were offset by gains in the digital and social media arena. New client wins included Iberdrola, Snapchat, Amazon Prime Video, Audible, Tourism of Dubai, Visit Finland, European institutions DG TAXUD and the European Investment Bank, and Nickel BNP Paribas. These new wins join the ranks of existing key clients such as World Advocado Organization, Udemy, Friends of Glass, Kraft Heinz, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), The European Intelectual Property Rights Office (EUIPO), the European Environment Agency.
The senior management team remains unchanged with CEO Didier Lagae and managing partners Noelia Cruzado and Diana Vall continuing to lead the agency. There were several key additions in 2020, including Tomas Matesanz as global chief innovation officer; Samira Sitaïl, a former TV news anchor and CEO of leading Moroccan TV station 2M to spearhead operations in the Maghreb region and in France; and Vassilia Orfanou to head a newly opened Brussels bureau.
Marco made an unprecedented commitment to thought leadership in 2020, with CEO Didier Lagae published a book “A Country Brand, a Branded Country” in English and French, following its original edition in Spanish, and presiding over the first ever Country Brand Awards, which brought together a distinguished jury to evaluate the way governments managed the Covid crisis. Meanwhile, Marco continued to produce innovative work, including a docuseries available on Amazon Prime in the UK, USA and Spain. The firm earned awards recognition for the Spanish launch of Audible; the annual report for Union for the Mediterranea; a Covid-related campaign for Orlando tomatoes (Heinz Kraft); and a digital sustainability campaign for Friends of Glass.
— Paul Holmes
OPRG Italy describes itself as “the son of three mothers”, born in 2017 from the merging of FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli’s domestic operations in Italy. The combined Omnicom agency has succeeded in creating its own distinct culture from the blend of three parent firms, and has become a top-three agency in a country that has hitherto resisted the dominance of the networks. Under the leadership of general manager and MD Massimo Moriconi, OPRG has become the leading network in Italy. Its disciplinary strengths include digital and social, media relations, public affairs, creativity, reputation and crisis management for clients in the pharmaceutical, consumer goods, fashion, and food and beverage sectors. The agency also launched its purpose offer last year.
OPRG Italy operates from its base in Milan.
In 2020, despite the significant hit Italy took from Covid, it grew by 1%, with its stable team of 120 consultants turning over €12.6 million. New client wins over the year included Barilla, BMW, Bosch, Gruppo Eurovo, McDonald's, Sandoz, Solvay, Takeda, Vivo, who joined existing clients including Allianz, Bimby, Bose, Deloitte, Mastercard, Leroy Merlin, Novartis, Prada, Viacom and Vueling.
OPRG’s agency culture was key to managing the impact of the pandemic on its team. The agency’s senior team – which also includes SVP Laura Meroni, who has a deft touch in understanding the talent within the agency – doubled down on its values of ‘leading by example’ and ‘teamplay’ and created an internal multichannel campaign and co-wrote a constitution to ensure its team survived and prospered over an extremely tough year. As well as rolling out Omnicom-wide DE&I initiatives, OPRG Italy added its own local commitments, including pro bono work for two charities that support DE&I activities in the workplace and help families with children with disabilities. On Juneteenth, all staff chose two local organisations focused on cultural integration to support with donations, and the agency will shortly be appointing its first DE&I officer.
Notable campaigns over the year included ‘E' tempo di vita’ – It’s time for Life – for Novartis Italy with NGO Salute Donna Onlus, focusing on living with metastatic breast cancer, and a taboo-breaking, cross-platform campaign for Nuvenia, ‘Viva la Vulva’, with an art exhibition celebrating women’s bodies. The agency has also been innovating with technology, working with Salesforce to develop a new BTL dealer marketing platform for a client in the automotive sector that connect its with more than 300 outlets across Italy and provides them with customised materials and creative for CRM and sales, and links to real time data analysis to track ROI. Two pieces of research stood out: its ‘Post-Invasion’ study on using neuroscience to map the gap between brand expectation and brand experience, and its seventh annual study on the digitalisation of the Italian wine industry.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
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