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The 2021 LatAm PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving numerous submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region.
Consultancy of the Year winners were announced and honoured at the 2021 LatAm SABRE Awards, which took place on 28 September. Analysis of all Finalists and Winners can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:
The world’s largest public relations firm, and the only independent, family-owned firm in the top tier, Edelman was founded in Chicago in 1952 and has grown to become a global powerhouse, best known for its work in the consumer realm, but with thriving corporate and public affairs practices and—in recent years—one of the most formidable digital and creative offerings in the business. Its Latin American operations, launched in 1994 and offer a full suite of services.
The world’s largest public relations agency, Edelman was later to develop its reach in Latin America than some of its publicly-owned competitors, but has nevertheless built an impressive network that includes owned offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico (as well as its Miami office, which hubs some of its regional work) and affiliates in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Central America.
Edelman now has about 400 employees in Latin America, making it a formidable competitor for regional business and in each of the major markets, and it consolidated that position during the past year, despite the pandemic. After a trying first quarter in 2020, the firm bounced back, with the health and technology sectors leading the way, adding new business from DiDi, NovoNordisk, Nestlé, Univision, and more. Revenue for calendar year was $19.3 million, up from $18.4 million the year before. Both the Brazilian and Mexican operations are now firmly established among the top five in their respective markets.
Edelman restructured its regional leadership earlier this year, elevating longtime Mexico CEO Mariana Sanz to CEO of the region, working alongside Lisa Kimmel, who chairs the firm’s operations in Canada and Latin America. Sanz replaced Edelman Argentina’s Allan McCrea Steele, who is taking on a new role focused on expanding Edelman’s footprint across the region. There were promotions too for Carla Santiago, GM in Miami; Juanita Barrios, GM in Colombia; Gustavo Garcia, head of digital; and Natalia Villegas, head of the firm’s Colombia studios.
From the beginning of the pandemic, Edelman’s Covid-19 task force partnered with WHO and produced Trust studies to provide frequent and reliable information and guidance to clients and teams. In terms of client work, highlights included the “Talking Inspires Life, The Movement” campaign for Janssen Brazil; “Keep Family Close” for KFC in Mexico; “I Want to See You Well Tomorrow” for Heineken Brazil; and “More Women” for LinkedIn Mexico.
— Paul Holmes
Jeffrey Group was founded 28 years ago by Burson-Marsteller and Rowland Company alum Jeffrey Sharlach, a Miami-based firm that would help US and international clients position themselves and their products in the Latin American market. It has since developed a network of offices throughout the region while maintaining that unique focus.
In addition to its Miami headquarters, Jeffrey Groupn has owned offices in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, but is active in every market throughout Latin America.
After achieving 33% growth and its best financial results to date in 2019, JeffreyGroup was poised to reach new heights in 2020 before the pandemic forced cuts in the travel and tourism sector, one where the firm was extremely active. Nevertheless, the firm managed to hold revenues more or less steady at around the $12 million mark, thanks in large part to new business from the likes of Heineken, Mars and PlayStation, as well as expanded mandates for existing clients such as Amazon Web Services, Salesforce \, and Tetra Pak. And the firms continues to work with longtime clients Airbus (12 years), Amazon (9 years), American Airlines (11 years) Bayer (12 years), Facebook (9 years), and Reckitt Benkiser (10 years).
CEO Brian Burlingame celebrated his 20th year at the agency last year, and he has the support of an experienced team in the Latin American offices: Mauricio Gutierrez, managing director of JeffreyGroup Mexico, in his eighth year with the company; Patricia Avila, managing director of JeffreyGroup Brazil, who joined the firm in 2019 from a role as CEO of BCW Brazil; and Diego Campal, managing director of JeffreyGroup Argentina and regional director for public affairs, now in his fifth year at the agency after many years at BCW.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a host of fresh challenges and opportunities. In Brazil, where misinformation was running riot, Jeffrey worked with Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most respected hospital systems, documenting efforts to treat the disease inside Einstein’s health units, including ICUs and emergency rooms, and disseminating accurate information. For Bayer, which found 70% of its employees working from home in Brazil, the firm handled challenging employee engagement outreach, while Jeffrey also worked with Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol brand in Mexico on a multi-stakeholder campaign focused on breaking the chain of infection.
— Paul Holmes
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.
In addition to its offices in Spain and Portugal, LLYC has built an extensive network in Latin America, with offices in Argentina (Buenos Aires), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo), Chile (Santiago), Colombia (Bogota), the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo), Ecuador (Quito), Mexico (Mexico City), Panama (Panama City), and Peru (Lima), supplemented by affiliates in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Roughly $23 million of LLYC’s global income (slightly less than half of the total) was generated by the firm’s Latin American operations, but for the first time in a while, growth came from the European offices while Latin America experienced a slight decline, largely as a result of the Covid pandemic. Nevertheless, LLYC continues to work for 50 of the 500 largest companies in Latin America. Key clients include Petrobras, Bimbo, Cemex, Grupo Romero, Yanbal, Avianca, CCR Group and Grupo Cisneros, while new additions included Philip Morris International, Boeing, Grupo Ultra, ABB Power Grid, PedidosYa, Sonda Chile, HBO, Toyota, Amazon Web Services and Shell.
LLYC founder and chairman José Antonio Llorente continues to lead the global business, while Latin America falls under partner and CEO Alejandro Romero, who has led the firm’s expansion into Latin America since 1997. His team includes Juan Carlos Gozzer, partner and COO; María Esteve, partner and Andean region managing director; Mariano Vila, partner and southern region managing director; and Juan Felipe Muñoz, CEO of the US. There were new additions, including Soledad Camus, Chilean partner and CEO; Marcela Arango, managing director, Colombia; and Carmen Julia Corrales, managing director, Mexico.
Long committed to thought leadership in the region, in 2020 LLYC launched the “Future Leaders” study in Latin America, analyzing the views of 120 young leaders in 12 countries, highlighting future trends, and also the “Foco América” podcast to analyze global political trends. As for the firm’s client work, highlights included a Brazilian influencer marketing campaign for Emirates Airline, focusing on the many attractions of Dubai; the “Let Your Hair Down” campaign for Pantene, featuring an original pop song; the first manual of best practices for the Dominican pharmaceutical industry on behalf of the Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives, Agents & Producers; and the “Scania Lovers” ambassador campaign for manufacturing company Scania.
— Paul Holmes
Porter Novelli’s operations in North America, Europe and Asia have been on a rollercoaster ride over the past decade or more, but under the leadership of Karen Ovseyevitz, the firm’s Latin American business, which spans 14 countries, remains one of the most extensive in the region. The agency has particular expertise in consumer (purpose is a notable focus) and corporate (including crisis) areas and the healthcare, technology sectors, as well as formidable digital and social capabilities.
Porter Novelli’s Latin American operation includes offices in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Since its 1996 LatAm launch, Porter Novelli has grown into a sprawling regional network with more than 600 employees across 21 offices in 18 countries. The firm’s Mexico and Brazil offices are particularly solid, ranking last year among the top three agencies in their respective markets. In the last year, Porter Novelli added an impressive list of new clients including Asics, VTEX, Clorox, HMD, Henkel Brazil, Even Construtora and Camargo Correa Infra, which join a roster including ABInbey, American Express, GSK, Kellogg´s, LinkedIn, MARS, McDonald´s, P&G and Pepsico — some of which are handled on a regional basis.
Porter Novelli has a history of championing its employees’ wellbeing, meaning it went into 2020 with the likes of work-from-home policies and DE&I initiatives, laying the groundwork for the amplified efforts necessitated by Covid. Leaders boosted internal communications via biweekly updates and new social channels. New wellness programs offered yoga, meditation, therapy, parent support groups, and monthly training focused on inspiration. Porter Novelli has an extensive DE&I program that includes training and development, maximizing opportunities to further DE&I across the organization, cross-office collaboration, and discussions about racism and unconscious bias. All of which is a testament to ethos of the firm’s regional leaders including LatAm president Karen Ovseyevitz; Mexico co-founder and managing director Sandra Kleinburg; Kiki Moretti, president of Grupo InPress in Brazil; and Porter Novelli Brazil CEO Roberta Machado.
Porter Novelli responded to the biggest issues of 2020 with new offerings and thought leadership to help clients navigate the tumultuous year. Throughout the region, Porter Novelli managed the Covid pandemic by having frank conversations with clients, adjusting the scope of its work and budgets to meet their needs, often putting increased focus on internal and crisis communications. The firm formalized and amplified its offerings around DE&I with the creation of its Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Services, a full-serve offering to help companies fully integrate JEDI into their organizations. A purpose practice launched in Brazil. The year’s hallmark work included providing regional support for multinational campaigns including Kellogg’s World Food Day and Pedigree’s Dogs On Zoom initiative promoting pet adoption.
— Diana Marszalek
Founded in 2015, Sherlock Communications has grown from a small office in São Paulo into one of the most awarded PR firms in Latin America, with 55 consultants, a physical presence in 11 countries, and expertise in all sectors of the public relations business supplemented by a strong digital capability.
Headquartered in São Paulo, the company also has bureaus in Lima, Bogota, Santiago, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, San José, Panama City and Guatemala City.
Despite the headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was another year of healthy growth for Sherlock Communications, with revenues up 22% across the region. The firm retained the vast majority of its non-event work and was able to make up for a shortfall in live events by growing its digital, content creation and technical offers. There was new business from clients such as the Mayo Clinic, Kelloggs, #Dating, PGMBM, Opera, and the German Government, while the firm continued to work for Getty Images, Taboola, Manhattan Associates, Airfox, Freshworks, Indeed.com, and Criteo.
Managing partners Patrick O’Neill and Alasdair Townsend lead a growing team that includes São Paulo-based senior consultants Nira Worcman and Amanda Boucault and entertainment and fashion division lead Alexandre Queiroz.
Over the past couple of years, Sherlock has performed as well as any agency—including some of the much larger, global agencies—in the Latin American SABRE competition, and 2021 is no exception, with 17 finalists, more than any other firm. Highlights of the firm include the transformation of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, a global award that recognizes pioneering technologies and sustainability solutions, which had been largely ignored by Latin American media until a sustained media relations campaign raised its profile. The firm also generated international coverage for legal partnership PGMBM, focused on 12 distinct initiatives. And Sherlock’s pro bono work for Pimp My Carroça, an NGO that aims to improve the lives of waste collectors in São Paulo, resulted in more than 400 pieces of coverage and raised important funds.
— Diana Marszalek
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