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When Carme Miró, Kirsty Brown and Olivia Walsh launched their own public relations consultancy in July of 2007, 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 consulting firm specializing in the technology and telecommunications sectors, and sought to combine that kind of strategic thinking 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 and influence marketing, and has expanded internationally.
Apple Tree is headquartered in Barcelona and has offices in London and Bogotá.
Twenty-five years after launch, Apple Tree today is a 112-person, €9.9 million operation, up 42% from 2020 thanks to new clients including Ecoembes, EA Games, Vodafone, Cricut, Goiko, Pernod Ricard, Bimbo and We Are Water Foundation, joining existing clients including Mahou, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Corteva, Lego, NIKE, Radisson Hotel Group, Schneider Electric, VISA and Volkswagen. The firm is keenly aware of how the emergence of issues like climate change, population growth, the big social protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the current global pandemic require new approaches and new kinds of communications from the big brands. The magazine El Publicista ranked Apple Tree second on lists of best Spanish agencies and agencies that clients want to work with.
Apple Tree has prioritized the safety and well-being of its people since the start of the Covid pandemic. The firm supported staff professionally as well as personally, adapting processes and systems and increasing communication to ensure they had due support as needed. Apple Tree also created and adapted services to provide they needed at every moment. We also created and adapted services in order to help clients overcome their own challenges.
Even as Covid disrupted normal interactions, Apple Tree stayed front and center through outreach. The firm grouped its initiatives: #NewThinkingInsights, which included opinion pieces and research posted online and distributed to clients and journalists; #AppleTreeBytes, which includes interviews with top CEOs and KOLs published on the agency’s website; and #NewThinking podcasts, which are informal discussions about communications trends. 2021’s hallmark work includes a campaign for 8M promoting gender equality in sponsorships and positioning the bank Bankinter as a brand that helps society.
— Diana Marzalek
Atrevia continues to build on its 30-year history as a market leader and a thought leader in Iberia, although that past few years have seen the expansion of its operations beyond the peninsula to include several small offices in Latin America. Nevertheless, Spain and Portugal continue to account for the majority of the firm’s revenues. 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 and more recently in public affairs.
Atrevia operates an extensive Spanish network (offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Málaga, Sevilla, Valladolid) and is well-established in Portugal (Lisbon, Porto), while it Latin American footprint continues to expand, providing comprehensive coverage of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking markets.
A strong 2021 put the pandemic in the rearview mirror as Atrevia, already ranked among the world’s 100 largest agencies (and the top 20 headquartered in continental Europe) grew from €21.7 million to €28 million (29%), with more than €23 million in Europe. Headcount, meanwhile, reach 430. Key clients include AstraZeneca Farmaceutica, the California Walnut Commission, Eurodepot, Lilly, Irobot Iberia, Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Iberdrola Generacion, while new business came from Brico jDepo Portugal, Ouigo España, Bayer Hispania, Suez WT & Mexico, Roche Diagnostics, Pfizer, Amazon Web Services, and China Road & Bridge Corporation.
Founder and president Nuria Vilanova and CEO Asuncion Soriano Cuesta have built a strong, inclusive culture, and a stable leadership team. The firm is an active participant in the Mirada Plural platform, formed by women leaders in different fields and focused on increasing the presence of women in the media, as well as committees, institutions, councils, and associations. Atrevia has also joined a voluntary agreement promoted by the Ministry of Health, Social Services, & Equality to increase the presence of women in management bodies and boards of directors. The firm has been named a Best Place to Work award in Spain over the past two years, recognized for a democratic culture and strong values.
Atrevia has structured its services into two distinct businesses: agency and consultancy. The agency integrates analysis, strategy, and creativity, as well as corporate and product positioning, paid media, and branded content while the consultancy division is made up of reputation and sustainability, data analytics and social intelligence—an area of particular focus in 2021. In terms of thought leadership, the firm published its 10th report on “Women on the Boards of Directors of Listed Companies” as well as new research into “hidden generations.” High-profile client work included support for the European Climate Project in Spain and Portugal, and Twitter’s #ProyectoKepler, which started a conversation by asking Twitter users how they would design an alternative earth.
— Paul Holmes
Evercom’s strengths across consumer, corporate, public affairs, tech and healthcare have positioned the firm to come out of 2021 ahead for the second consecutive year, despite Covid’s toll on the Spanish economy. Evercom’s success also stems from operating under its guiding tenet, honed during the pandemic: that Evercom’s role is compassionately strengthening the ties among people, companies, and institutions, while putting clients — and their purpose — at the center of conversations and movements. Evercom’s shift toward digital storytelling has resulted in a full-scale embrace of a multichannel model to disperse content created with a healthy dose of verve and ingenuity.
Evercom is based in Spain, with offices in Madrid and Barcelona.
Evercom capped 2021 as a €6.6 million operation, experiencing a nearly 14% lift in a year rife with what the firm calls “volatility moments and unpredictability.” Doubling down on digital storytelling, and elevating clients’ purposes, members of Evercom’s 85-person staff focused on helping companies become more resilient and more innovative so they can build new communications bonds with their stakeholders in the face of uncertainty. The agency also launched a new comms & talent offering, adding to existing offers including financial corporate and consumer communications, as well as B2B and crisis communications and digital marketing.
All of which has led to Evercom’s impressive list of new and existing clients including Kellogg´s, Deutsche Bank, Cloudera, Canon, Midas, Vodafone, John Deere, Mondelez, Motorola and Beko.
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 tackled an array of subjects in its own research and reports — corporate citizenship, health influencers, the European Green agreement, and Madrid’s elections among them. Its work for clients includes its work for Kellogg’s Spain driving awareness of the company’s commitment to nutrition, society and the planet. Evercom’s initiatives also included positioning HomeExchange as Spain’s premiere home exchange platform.
— Diana Marszalek
While much of the focus in recent years has been on LLYC’s work in Latin America, the firm still derives a little more than half of its €53 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.
Globally, revenues were up by about 40% in 2021, which saw LLYC end the year with fees of €53 million. The continental European business more than held up its end, contributing close to €29 million as LLYC’s shift from corporate and financial specialist to well-rounded modern generalist continued to pay dividends. Just as satisfying to the agency’s leadership must be the fact that after becoming the first communications consultancy to list on he Spanish stock market, LLYC saw its initial €109 million valuation grow by 32% by year end. The firm continues to work with major companies around the world, including Bayer, Caixabank, Cepsa, Coca-Cola, Deoleo, Ikea, Novartis, and Repsol. And there was new business in 2021 from Alcoa, Astrazeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Google, Mini, Lidl, Orange Bank, The Carlyle Group, Seagram’s, and Vodafone.
LLYC has made a significant commitment to creative a diverse and inclusive culture within its own walls and in the broader creative community. It signed the European Diversity Charter, and is member of several organizations that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace such as REDI (a network formed by companies and experts on diversity and inclusion of LGBTI employees and allies in Spain) or UnadeDos (a network of brands, agencies, and media promoting gender equality in the creative industry). The firm’s Foundation, meanwhile, saw about 350 employees participate in 14 different charity projects. New talent, meanwhile, came through the acquisitions of Apache, a performance marketing consultancy, and China, a highly-regarded Spanish creative agency.
Last year, LLYC was recognized for one of the top creative campaigns in the world, its “Invisible Soledad” (the last older person to die in loneliness) for Spanish bank BBK, an initiative that not only brought a hidden issue to life, but also shattered people’s expectation of the agency—once seen as a conservative corporate shop. Other highlights included a campaign to highlight “screen pollution” for Multiópticas and “The Last Plastic Straw” for McDonanlds, spotlighting the company’s commitment to sustainability; and the “Beauty without Filters” campaign for Dove, launching the self-esteem project in Portugal. Meanwhile, the firm continues to gain recognition for its core financial capabilities: Mergermarket, in its annual review of PR support for M&A, ranks LLYC as number 13 transaction advisor globally, as well as top 10 player in Europe; and handled communications and investor outreach around its own IPO.
— Paul Holmes
Didier Lagae founded Marco (formerly Marco de Comunicación) 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. Last year saw new offices in Berlin and Milan and an expansion of the African operation to include South Africa, Kenya and Ivory Coast through its acquisition of Africa Communications Group.
After a challenging year in 2020, Marco rebounded with characteristic aplomb, recouping the prev ious year’s losses and then some, as income went from €8.7 million to almost €13 million and the firm added 28 new client wins including multimarket accounts for Applus, Iberdrola (internal comms in more than 40 markets), Ferrovial, Canva (social media and Influencer marketing in 7 languages)and local clients such as Coinbase, Younited, N26 and Cordeniu. Other key accounts include the European Intellectual Property Rights Office and the European Environment Agency, Friends of Glass, and Orlando Kraft Heinz.
Senior management remains unchanged with CEO Didier Lagae and managing partners Noelia Cruzado (MD, reputation) and Diana Vall (MD, brand) continuing to lead the agency and attract new talent such as senior advertising executive Xabier Olazabal (previously CEO of Publicis Group Iberia) and creative director Carlos Bustamante (previously CD at El Laboratorio) to lead a new advertising unit. The firrm’s ethos is reflected in everything from its headquarters, located in one of the most sustainable office buildings in Madrid, to its commitment to recycling to its reduced travel, as the firm aims to be fully carbon neutral by 2030.
Marco defines its purpose in terms of bringing organizations and their stakeholders together, to create better understanding and to overcome prejudices. To explain its view of the world, the firm produced its own Prime Video docuseries, “The New Communication Frontiers,” and is producing additional films focusing on how the pandemic changed consumer behavior and on the economic outlook in Spain over the next five years. Thought leadership, meanwhile, has focused on country branding, and includes a book as well as an annual survey and ranking of country brands around the world.
— Paul Holmes
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