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It was a pivotal year for Paris-born international agency Jin, which was founded in 2012 by Edouard Fillias, Alexandre Villeneuve and Romain Boudre, who recognised the opportunity to build an agency focused on digital marketing, technology and influence. After raising €3 million in private equity funding in 2021, last year the agency made its first acquisition, buying Opinion Act – a specialist in community analysis and digital strategy founded by Caroline Faillet – with the aim of creating Europe’s leading digital influence and community activation consultancy. The merged firm, which works with clients in sectors including health, finance and food, is now structured around five divisions: corporate reputation; social media brand building; media relations, plus two new divisions focusing on data and insights, and digital strategy.
Jin is based in France (Paris, Lyon), UK (London), Germany (Berlin) and in the US (New York), and, post-merger, now has 120 employees across the agency.
Jin’s fee income grew by around 15% last year to close to €30 million, with a 10% increase in its gross margin, excluding Opinion Act’s numbers. It is expecting 40% income growth across the merged company this year. Client wins during 2022 included Dermapharm and Getty Images, as well as a global investment firm and a leading utility provider, which joined Crédit Agricole, SNCF, Ferrero, Duolingo, Bouygues and Technicolor on Jin’s roster.
Jin – which has a multi-lingual, culturally-diverse team who are encouraged to work across its offices – has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of discrimination, sexism, bullying and harassment, and has never had an employee complaint – especially important at a time where French agencies are under scrutiny from Instagram account BalanceTonAgency, which shares testimonials of harassment victims in the advertising and PR agency world. The agency offers a return-to-work bonus of €2000 for mothers and fathers returning from parental leave, has harmonised sick leave rights across its markets, contributes to health insurance and offers yoga classes and gym subsidies. The agency runs the Jin Academy training programme, and after consultation with its young teams has partnered with Hackers without Borders and Techfugees. Senior appointments during the year included Anja Timme as head of augmented PR and Germany country manager, and Hugo Fargeas as head of international; at the start of this year, Fargeas – a prime example of homegrown talent, having started at the agency as a junior in 2016 – also became the agency’s MD in the UK.
Jin was shortlisted for a SABRE award for its Pink October breast cancer campaign for women’s health company Organon. Other outstanding work during the year included differentiating optical retailer GrandVision in a crowded market, increasing social media engagement for pharma Lilly, and impactful corporate and consumer media relations work for electric vehicle charging network Ionity. Thought leadership during the year included the publication of Faillet’s book, ‘Web3, the new digital war’, and the agency has continued its history of tech innovation (it built the PitchBoy VR pitch training tool for sales and customer relationship management in 2018 and has since spun it off into a stand-alone business) working on a soon-to-be-launched AI training product for clients.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
It was the year that London digital agency Coolr grew from a start-up to a scale-up, with impressive growth in both revenue and team, expansion to the US, and being named as an official creative marketing partner to TikTok in Europe and the US. Adam Clyne, former EMEA digital chief at Weber Shandwick and LADbible COO, founded Coolr in 2017 on a mission to reinvent water cooler moments (hence the name) for the digital age by bringing together big agency thinking with the speed and agility of a social publishing platform. Coolr’s aim is to transform consumer brands as they navigate the social landscape and look for new ways to connect with their audiences. The agency lives and breathes digital and social, and is completely plugged into popular culture; Coolr is often behind viral and trending campaigns that generate worldwide earned and editorial cut through. Last year it launched Coolr Studios, delivering a social-first, mobile-first approach designed to reach Gen Z news consumers.
Coolr is based in London and has opened a US operation in Los Angeles.
In its sixth year, Coolr has grown into a team of 70 strategists, developers, creators and dreamers – include a team of eight in Coolr Studios and seven in the US – from backgrounds spanning publishing, communications, PR, content and technology. The agency grew its revenue by an impressive 55% in 2022, after a 40% leap the previous year. Its client list features global brands such as Burger King, Doritos, Deliveroo, Walkers Crisps, Dreams and Trainline, as well as pro bono work for The Follicular Lymphoma Foundation. New assignments included being appointed in the US by Dolby and as rideshare company Lyft as its brand marketing social agency, winning the social agency of record account for a global electronics giant’s, and introducing plant-based bacon brand La Vie to the UK via TikTok. Coolr is now recommended by TikTok and over the past year it has launched more than 50 brands onto the platform, in sectors from food and drink to fashion, and from entertainment to banking.
Coolr’s fast-growing team come from diverse backgrounds spanning publishing, comms, content and tech (some of them social media influencers in their own right), united by the fact that they all live and breathe digital, and by the firm’s five core value: one team; think big/act small; wrestle and hug (it’s okay to disagree to get to the solution, but always come back together as one team); celebrate the wins, big and small; and don’t be a dick. Recognising that Coolr is in a significant growth phase, the agency brought in HR consultants to help build deeper processes and systems, and introduced the HiBob HR and culture programme. It also began working with inclusive recruiter Hidden and continued its partnership with the Taylor Bennett Foundation to ensure it is hiring from diverse backgrounds; 18% of its staff are now from Black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds and LGBTQ+ employees are represented in the team. Coolr also employed an intern from the MAMA Youth Project – which recruits and trains young people from under-represented groups, or with limited educational or employment opportunities – and gave them a permanent position as junior producer. A significant senior hire was the firm’s first director of operations, Coral Crann, who joined from Dentsu X to help Coolr scale in its next growth phase.
Coolr is nominated for three SABRE awards this year, including social media work for Burger King and Fairgame, an adults-only entertainment and gaming venue in London. The agency launched the indoor fairground on Instagram and TikTok to drive ticket sales, and mounted an influencer event that led to nearly 8 million views on social media and helped the venue sell out. Coolr was also social agency of record for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant to celebrate 70 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, working with stakeholders and sponsors to build a Twitter and Facebook livestream sharing stories from the public, performers and celebrities, which reached millions globally. Other standout work included launching the Free Now mobility app in the UK via a collaboration with musician Nile Rodgers and friends involving a jam session in a London studio which had nearly three million views on the app’s channels, 11.5 million impressions across LADBible and Secret London, and an 11% engagement rate.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Established in 2012, The Digital Voice is one of those firm’s that took a decade to become an overnight success. A business-to-business focused, adtech-driven PR agency working primarily with clients ranging from startups to companies heading for an IPO, The Digital Voice provides a wide range of services (including several that many larger agencies still struggle with) including public relations, thought leadership, content creation, social media, SEO and keyword management, event management, speaker engagement, graphic design, podcast production, marketing automation, website management, and newsjacking.
The Digital Voice team is 100% remote, which means that while it is focused on the UK market, it has consultancts on the ground in Spain, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and can deliver programming across the region.
Last year was a breakthrough for The Digital Voice, which doubled in size, from just under £550,000 to more than £1.2 million in public relations fees. Headcount increased from seven full-time staff to 16, supplemented by an additional 10 freelance experts in various disciplines. The firm’s longstanding clients include soon-to-IPO Impact.com (nine years), White Bullet, Adverty, Adnami, Brand Metrics, Verasity, Lumen Research, Optable andGumGum. New clients over the past 12 months include Exit Bee, Playground XYZ, Preciso, Bubbl, AIDEM, Apester, and Automated Creative.
The Digital Voice was founded by managing director Julia Linehan, and head of content Adam Woods has been with the firm for three years after a successful career in journalism covering digital marketing and adtech. New additions include Camealia Xavier-Chihota, marketing lead, a veteran of various roles with River Island, and Ren Bowman, senior marketing and multimedia producer. The firm has a strong commitment to diversity, building a close-knit team from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender identitites—and holding on to 100% of its talent during the past 15 months of super-charged growth.
While the past year has been challenging for many tech companies, The Digital Voice has supported four companies through funding rounds and taken on three start-ups turned away by other agencies, confident that its PR help can make a significant difference to their business. It has also developed new capabilities in areas of content creation—as well as maintaining a commitment to measurable results. In terms of client work, highlights included the GumGum launch campaign, an international effort introducing a contextual intelligence company that uses AI to create dynamic ads.
— Paul Holmes
Many public relations firms have been scrambling—in the wake of seismic events such as Brexit and the pandemic, and the accompanying tidal wave of disinformation—to incorporate behavioral science into their capabilities. Shayoni Lynn’s firm was launched four years ago with behavioral science at its core, pledging to put data, science and experimentation at the heart of creative communications and to design and deliver campaigns that tangibly improve and save lives—an approach that earned Lynn our Digital Consultancy of the Year award last year. Over the past 12 months, the firm has focused on three specific practice areas with its Lynn Planet, Lynn Health and Lynn Change practices.
Lynn is based in Cardiff, but was founded as a remote workplace even before the pandemic and has people based in England, Scotland and Wales..
Lynn is only in its fourth year, but it has grown at an impressive pace since the day it opened its doors: nine people at the end of year one; 17 at the end of year two; 19 at the end of year three—supplemented by virtual resources. Key clients include the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, NHS England & Improvement, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, NHS South East London, Integrated Care System, Southampton City Council, Cavendish Square Group, The Jockey Club, Thrive LDN, Bron Afon Community Housing, Hertfordshire Local Resilience Forum, and Welwyn Hatfield Council
Shayoni Lynn brings strong credentials to the business: in addition to serving as chair of PRCA Wales, she was previously communications manager for Cardiff University and associate lecturer at its School of Journalism, Media & Culture But form the start of her own firm she surrounded herself with an impressive team of advisors including David Gallagher (formerpresident of growth and development at Omnicom) Andy West (former group chief development officer, Hotwire), Dr Laura de Molière (former head of behavioral science, Cabinet Office), and Chris Perry (former head of behavioral science, Ipsos). Key hires have included Alice Cadwgan as director of campaigns and operations (former managing partner, Ogilvy) and Samar Khanna, director of Lynn Planet (former head of economics research, Willis Towers Watson).
Drawing on the work of its own Misinformation Cell, the firm aims to build more impactful campaigns that are disinformation-proofed, and it has been willing to share much of its in-depth knowledge on the subject with the industry, giving it a prominence in the UK market place that is out of all proportion to its (still boutique) size. The Cell has also provided vital pro-bono support to Ukraine to counter Russian disinformation, work recognized by the Ukraine government and the wider industry. Award-winning client work includes the data-driven #DontMissYourVaccine campaign for NHS South East London Integrated Care System, which engaged with young people and other at-risk group to overcome vaccine hesitancy—a campaign that achieved real, measurable impact on attitudes and on vaccinatination rates at a time when many similar efforts were flagging.
— Paul Holmes
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