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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 firm is now planning an IPO on Euronext Paris to fuel further expansion.
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, Paris and three 2022 openings—London, Berlin, and Munich; in North Africa (Casabalanca, Morocco and after its acquisition of Africa Communications Group, also South Africa, Kenya and Ivory Coast); and in the Spanish-speaking Americas markets of Miami, Bogota, Lima, and Mexico City, as well as Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Marco’s post-pandemic growth has been impressive, with a 49% increase in fees during 2021 followed by another 15% growth year in 2022, so that it ended the year at around €15.1 million—more than three-quarters of which derives from the Iberian markets, despite rapid expansion into other European markets, Latin and North America, and northern Africa. Key clients include: EUIPO (the European Intellectual Property Right Office); Amazon Prime Video, the World Avocado Organization, Udemy, RELX, Anfevi (Friends of Glass), Heinz, Kraft, Spotify, Mattel, and Danone, while new additions in 2022 included EPO (European Patent Office) DG EAC (the EU’s directorate general for education, youth, sport and culture), CANVA, Junta de Andalucia, Iberdrola, Applus, the Government of South Korea, and Tourism of Morocco.
There was a significant change in senior management last year, with founder and former CEO Didier Lagae stepping up to become executive chairman, a role that will focus on International expansion and delevering a successful IPO. As a result, managing directors Noelia Cruzado (who leads the firm’s reputation practice) and Diana Vall (brand) have been promoted to co-CEOs and Paul Baeyaert named head of EMEA. One significant new addition was Xabier Olazabal, former CEO of Publicis Group Spain, to lead a new advertising capability, and a creative team led by Carlos Bustamante. 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.
The firm continued to diversify its operations in 2022 with the launch of Marco Advertising and the strengthening of its video and film production offering with the acquisition of Carmela. 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. As for the firm’s client work, it continues to earn international recognition, with six pieces of work nominated for EMEA SABRE Awards. Highlights include a second season of its own docuseries New Communication Frontiers (available on Prime), its public education effort for NATO (“Safeguarding Well Being and Progress”); work promoting glass recycling for Friends of Glass and the Spanish National Association of Glass Packaging); and the “Because Everybody Can Be a De3signer” social media campaign for Canva, an online design and publishing tool.
— Paul Holmes
Founded as a tech agency in 2006 by Deborah Gray, Canela started adding lifestyle clients to the mix in 2018, a move that led the agency to embrace more creative comms campaigns, including influencer work for brands. Part of Canela’s appeal is not just its strength in Spain and the Portuguese market (where it’s been for seven years), but also its active membership of the global Brands2Life network of independent consultancies. Canela was one of the first PR agencies in Spain and Portugal to receive B Corp certification. The agency is working toward having 30% of its clients be players in the regenerative economy.
Canela has offices in Barcelona, Lisbon and Madrid.
With the support of 40 employees across Spain and Portugal, Canela had an outstanding 2022, during which fee income rose an eye-catching 41% to €1.7 million. Fueling the lift was new business from Deel, e-Residency, Groupon, Hayu, Locus Robotics, Rover.com, Taxfix, Veeva, Smartwatt, and Velux. Canela’s noteworthy list of existing clients include Adyen, Babbel, KONE, Palo Alto Networks, Pipedrive, Sony and Vivid. Adding to its suite of services, Canela in 2022 launched Studio, a new business unit that boosts its creative offer, with audio, graphic design, video and web services.
Founder Deborah Gray has instilled her commitment to positive change in Canela’s culture as well as its work. A best agency to work for finalist for the last six years, Canela employee surveys show the team is very much in sync with the agency’s values (4.7/5). The agency is committed to hiring and developing young talent; Canela currently employees seven graduate trainees (members of past classes have gone on to build their careers at Canela). The firm accommodates employees as needed with reduced schedules and a hybrid work model. The percentage of profits Canela spends on team bonuses rose from 11% to 20% during last year. In addition to Gray, who runs the business as as managing director, Canela’s leadership includes financial director Alejandro Reguera, Canela Spain director Alba Calvet, and Canela Portugal director Catarina Oliveira.
Canela marked International Women’s Day with an initiative designed to celebrate women in communications and inspire younger members of the industry. The firm made a book showcasing the stories of 36 women working in or around communications — journalists, agency directors, copywriters, marketing directors, account directors and more — with the goal of reaching junior staffers. Supported with digital and print communications, Communicating Together reached more than 90,000 people who work in the industry. Other key efforts include Canela’s “No és Culpa Meva” (“It’s Not My Fault”) campaign for mental health organization Obertament, targeting Catalonian young people at-risk of mental health issues.
— Diana Marszalek
Edelman Spain’s story of the past two years is one of regeneration, growth and transformation. From an operation that was 15% down on fee income, the business has completely turned around its fortunes and the work it is doing in the market, becoming a truly integrated agency – including not only full integration into the Edelman network but leading the region in digital and creative work and acting as a European hub. The agency – blending the edgy, dynamic spirit of Madrid and the Catalan passion of Barcelona – works across consumer marketing, healthcare, technology, tourism and corporate communications, as well as growing specialisms in public affairs, crisis, employee engagement and events for clients from home-grown companies and organisations to global clients wanting to engage Spanish audiences and stakeholders.
In Spain, Edelman has offices in Madrid and Barcelona, which work alongside the firm’s 15 other offices across EMEA.
Edelman’s operation in Spain grew fee income by 37.2% last year – its best-ever year in revenue terms – and the team grew 48% to 85 people. Growth came from sectors such as health and technology, with new clients including Tinder, Galderma and Seat Cupra, Spain’s biggest car manufacturer, which the team is supporting in its transition to only producing electric vehicles with everything from employee engagement to crisis comms to creative campaigns. The client roster in Spain also includes AstraZeneca, HP – for which it is Spain’s lead creative agency – Paypal, TikTok, LinkedIn and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts.
Edelman Spain celebrates diversity in all its facets, including across the LGBT spectrum, and is committed to creating a positive impact for its communities, people, clients and society. The agency works pro bono for organisations including child cancer charity Fundación Pequeño Deseo, and its team volunteer for local environmental initiatives, among others. The leadership team in Spain includes general managers Pelayo Alonso (head of brand) and Lucía Carballeda (head of reputation). Against a huge fight for talent in the country, the agency transformation includes becoming a destination employer for leading creatives and digital experts; senior hires in 2022 included Eva Calo as head of technology, Yeannine Casco as head of digital, senior creative director duo Marcelo Conde and Eiji Kozaka and senior art director Albert Botelho – the latter three all former McCann creatives.
Edelman Spain picked up more than 20 awards for its work last year – its most award-winning year ever – including at Cannes Lions, where the team won a Bronze Lion for its campaign for the Spanish LGBT federation, #RealVoicesOfPride, helping the community to celebrate Pride despite Covid lockdowns via a TikTok lip-synch challenge with influencers that had 12 million impressions, more than 500,000 interactions, and reached people in 37 countries. Stand-out work during the year ranged from the #UnPasoaTiempo campaign for Alexion, AstraZeneca's rare diseases group – which raised awareness of the importance of research and early diagnosis through videos showing the reality faced by patients with rare diseases and the consequences of the average four-year delay to diagnosis – to the lighthearted Tortilla Tinder campaign, which aimed to solve the age-old debate of whether Spanish tortilla should have onions or not (an issue that Spaniards feel so passionately about that they include their preference in dating profiles).
— Maja Pawinska Sims
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 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 additional reach (including the UK and Germany) through its affiliate partnership with FGS Global.
LLYC ended 2022 with strong growth, with €88.9 million in revenues and PR fee income of around €72.7 million, up 36% on its 2021 numbers. Among the firm’s major European clients are national and international giants such as Havaianas, CEPSA, IKEA, Coca-Cola, Bayer, Pernod Ricard, Leroy Merlin, BBVA, NH Hotel Group, and Liberty Seguros. In 2022, new additions to the client roster included El Corte Inglés, Red Cross, Carrefour, JCDecaux, Ferrero, NTT Data, Gilead, Asics, Cash Converters, and Delta Cafés.
While agency founder José Antonio Llorente continues to play an active role as chairman, the firm promoted Americas leader Alejandro Romero to global CEO in November of last year, while CEO of Europe Luisa Garcia was named one of the Top 100 Women Leaders in Spain by Mujeres&Cia last year. Jorge López Zafra, who had led the corporate and financial practices, is now managing director of the firm’s flagship Madrid office, while Tiago Vidal leads operations in Portugal. The firm has also made a significant commitment to creating 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).
LLYC has been a consistent contributor to the Spanish-language body of knowledge about public relations and continued that tradition in 2022 with a host of reports, magazines, podcasts and a global report—in collaboration with neuroscientists, sociologists, psychologists, and data experts—called, “The Hidden Drug,” focused on political polarization. At the same time, the firm’s creative work continued to scale new heights, with seven finalists in the EMEA SABRE competition, including “Bihar, Choosing Tomorrow,” a campaign focused on the rise of climate anxiety among younger people that has been, recognized at Cannes and several local competitions; “You are a Gamer and You Don’t Know It,” which delivered an eye health message while convincing seniors that they could be video gamers too; employee communications work for Liberty Seguros; and purpose-driven branding work for Unilever’s Dove.
— Paul Holmes
Twenty years. Ago, Paula Carrera and Xurxo Torres, veterans of Burson-Marsteller and LLYC respectively, created Torres y Carrera with an eye on growing a global consulting firm with local presence and flair. Launched in Vigo, an industrial city in Northwest Spain, T&C started with focuses of local importance — workers, the environment and public administration. Since then, however, the firm has achieved its global goal, operating offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Vigo, Valencia, and Mexico City and leading a network of independent agencies, COMbyCOM, that provide T&C clients on-the-ground teams in much of Latin America.
Torres & Carrera has offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Vigo, Valencia, and Mexico City, leads a network of agencies throughout Latin America that provides services in Lisbon, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Quito, Montevideo and Bogatá.
After taking serious hits from Covid, Torres y Carrera celebrates its 20th anniversary this year in stellar shape following a record 2022. The agency’s €3 million in fee income was a new high for the firm resulting from 17% year-over-year growth. T&C rose its headcount to 52, adding technology, art, and Mexico City directors among others, to support new business from the likes of Thermomix, Kobold, Parlamento Europeo, Obramat, Grupo Lactalis, Fundación Mahou San Miguel and Zona Franca de Vigo among others, which joined existing clients including Coca-Cola, AbbVie, Primar, Iberia Express, Vueling, Enterprise, Mahou, Amgen, UCB and Aqualia
Twenty years in, T&C is still governed by its commitment to people and the environment, which guides the firm’s internal operations as much as its client counsel. By creating a culture that values diverse opinions and people, T&C has created a culture where all employees have opinions that count — and full opportunity to further their careers. T&C has been a United Nations Global Compact signatory since 2009 and became a member in 2013. All of Torres y Carrera's operations and professional activities are carried out in accordance with the 10 principles established by the Global Compact addressing human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruption. The agency’s management team is 87% female. In addition to Carrera and Torres, key leaders include managing partner Bárbara Navarro, Vigo director Angela Caruncho, Barcelona director Betina Pons, and digital marketing director Laura Vázquez.
Three weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, T&C launched Going North for Truth, a multi-pronged initiative that leveraged the firm’s expertise in communications to help people in need. Actions included two staffers spending a week at the Ukrainian/Poland border helping refugees as well as broadcasters. The firm also activated digital listening in eight countries, including Russia and Ukraine, to track narratives and disinformation, and conducted multiple surveys analyzing public opinion in the EU. A champion of eradicating misinformation, T&C last year, also continued its formal research into the subject — an effort that is supported by the Complutense University of Madrid and earned the IPRA GWA award for best global agency research project. None of which eroded the attention to or quality of T&C’s client work, which included a campaign launching Vorwerk’s new cordless vacuum cleaner positioning the company as a leader in intelligent cleaning technology.
— Diana Marszalek
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