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OPRG Italy describes itself as “the daughter of three mothers”, born in 2017 from the merger of FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli’s domestic operations in Italy. The Omnicom agency has created 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 long-term general manager and MD Massimo Moriconi, OPRG has become Italy’s leading PR network serving multinationals as an international hub for integrated campaigns, thanks to its strengths in purpose, reputation management and digital marketing, across a sector mix that includes pharma, automotive, food and beverage, FMCG, fashion, financial services, technology and travel.
OPRG Italy’s 140 staffers operate from the firm’s base in Milan and an office in Rome.
It was another strong year for OPRG Italy’s business, growing 15% on 2021’s €16 million revenue, with substantial growth driven by the healthcare team. Around 85% of its business is from within Italy: the agency won new work from the likes of 3M, pharma firms Biogen and Zambon, Carlsberg, P&G, Paramount+, agricultural machinery multinational CNHI, Swiss home appliances manufacturer Franke, and Salewa, joining a client roster that features Barilla, BMW, Deloitte, Essity, Gilead Sciences, Leroy Merlin, McDonald's, Novartis, Prada Group, and Vueling (IAG). And after Russia invaded Ukraine, the agency stepped up its trusted advisor status in the market, as it was inundated with clients asking for help in navigating the implications of the war on the business, as well as concerns related to the impact of energy prices and an economic scenario that might lead to cuts and downsizing.
OPRG’s numbers are good, but it all begins with a strong focus on culture, from Moriconi and a leadership team that features HR director Marina Della Morte (one of the co-creates of the firm’s impressive internal comms campaign) as a key player. Moriconi thinks of the agency as a living entity where his people have emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual needs, and endeavours to reflect all of these in the team’s working environment, the work they do for clients, and the support they are given. OPRG’s focus on DE&I is a distinguishing feature for the agency in Italy, and includes support for local NGOs, including social inclusivity organisation Fondazione Sodalitas and autism non-profit Fondazione Piatti. In 2022 OPRG finalised its internal campaign, Open PRoud Great, focusing on its values and inclusive culture. Three years ago it introduced the ‘shadow board’ for its younger talent to share their views and make recommendations about the agency and its culture; last year this initiative provided content for OPRG Italy's new ‘Constitution’, which covers internal team play, client work, ethics and human relations.
The firm’s ‘Post-Invasion’ research focuses on current and future brand relationships, blending a traditional research approach with an analysis of ‘untold’ opinions via neuroscience studies. In April 2022, OPRG Italy launched the country’s first DE&I research focused both on the public and professionals, which was widely reported in the Italian media. It also published the ninth edition of its study into the digitalization of Italy’s wine industry. SABRE-shortlisted campaigns included a TikTok campaign to promote sign language for the Italian National Deaf Association, and ongoing support for women with breast cancer under the ‘It’s Time To Live’ banner, for Novartis.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Established by industry legend Tony Christodoulou in 1971 in Cyprus, Action Global deserves accolades for its pioneering PR work in Mediterranean markets. Now led by the family second generation, in the shape of Chris and Kathy Christodoulou, the firm continues to demonstrate the benefits of fierce independence and strong local insight, bolstered by sub-brands that bring a specific focus on content/digital multimarket work (Action 360x), public sector, travel/tourism and creative/video. Action’s work spans healthcare, lifestyle, energy and tourism, along with a thriving ability to handle campaigns for EU-funded projects and NGOs.
Action’s Mediterranean presence includes 61 people across Cyprus and Greece, while the broader network includes offices in Bulgaria, UAE, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine.
Action’s Mediterranean operations grew by 34% in 2022 to almost €3m, with headcount effectively doubling, despite economic headwinds in both Cyprus and Greece. A major mandate is the EU’s four-year EASME project, for which Action is part of a three-agency consortium, while there was also new business from Themis in Cyprus, the ISIS Fertility clinic, X-Spot Welath Management, Demetra Investments, University of Nicosia, MUFG, the European Centre for Disease Control and the Deputy Ministry of Tourism – Cyprus. Existing clients include Boehringer Ingelheim, the Cyprus Securities Exchange, Cyprus Higher Courts, NBA, Playmobile, Viohalco Group of Companies, Hyper X, ACCA and the British Council.
While Chris serves as CEO, Kathy leads Action’s international network, and in the Mediterranean there has been new leadership in the form of country manager Artemis Pnevmatikou in Cyprus and Aggeliki Kiofiri in Greece. Action360x MD Rebecca Theodorou is another key leader, overseeing a 26-strong team. But Action’s defining strengths stem from the unique familial culture that the Christodoulous have inculcated at the firm, which has helped it rank high in Great Place to Work standing in Cyprus and Greece, and also explains why several employees have been with the form for more than 20 years. The firm has significantly increased investment in training and development, and also uses a range of surveys to gauge employee satisfaction. Action has signed MoUs with the Diversity Charter in Cyprus and Greece, while its senior management is 75% female, and the firm’s workforce features 27 nationalities.
Action 360x launched last year to provide content and digital capabilities for multimarket campaigns, and has already resulted in considerable business for such names as Boehringer Ingelheim, WeProtect Global Alliance, NBA, Three Cents, Heineken, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, and the European Commission. A new creative and production arm has bolstered these efforts, with campaign highlights including work for Cryos, A4YH, Kean, EISMEA and Playmobil.
— Arun Sudhaman
Washington, DC, headquartered APCO has been operating in Europe (London and Brussels) since 1995, and followed up with the opening of an office in Rome in 1999. Over the years, APCO has been recognized with our EMEA Corporate Consultancy of the Year and its Public Affairs counterpart, an indication of the progress it has made expanding beyond its heritage to become one of Europe’s best when it comes to corporate reputation, public policy, issues management, and social impact. Its ability to help clients solve their thorniest public policy and stakeholder relations challenges is one of the things that sets the firm apart from anyone else of its size and scale. And more recently, it has also been on the cutting edge of using digital and social media to achieve those goals.
APCO built on its growing presence in Rome in 2018, opening a second operation in Milan, and those two offices are now home to more than 50 people. And of course, the Italian offices have access to a European network that includes offices in London, Brussels, Berlin, Frankgurt and Paris, as well as the firm’s powerful Middle Eastern operations and global network
APCO’s EMEA operations were the top performing part of the global business last year, with revenues up by 9.9% to $82.3 million (about half the global revenue total). Italy was one of the strongest performers in the region, with 10% growth in 2022 coming on top of 46% the year before and 31% the year before that—a doubling in size over the past three wildly successful years. Much of that growth has come from existing clients—more than 80% of Italian clients have expanded the scope of their work beyond the initial assignment parameters—but there were also more than 20 new clients in 2022. Apple, one of ASPCO’s largest accounts in Europe, is hubbed in Italy, as is its work for the international cruise industry.
Paolo Compostella has been working with APCO for 17 years, working in London and Asia before re-launching the Italian operation and leading its growth since 2011 until the summer of 2021 when he was promoted to president of Europe. He was succeeded by Sara Amadei, who had earlier launched the Milan office, who now serves as managing director, with 10-year APCO veteran Matteo Martone in the deputy MD role. The European food and consumer practice is led out of Italy, as is the European Women’s employee resource group, one of several ERGs that demonstrate the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, including a Black heritage scheme. The past year have seen a renewed emphasis on employee mental health, with sleep training a particular highlight.
In addition to APCO’s leading role in critical issues such as the rise of AI, gene therapy and health in novation and climate and sustainability, EMEA thought leadership has included a monitor tracking the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and political reports in each of its key markets. Highlights of the firm’s client work in Italy, meanwhile, include its ongoing work for the cruise industry, from which APCO has handled several high-profile crises, including corporate reputation and tourism support work for Costa Group in Italy; the launch of Virgin Fibra, a new player in the Italian broadband market, for Virgin Mobile; and work for Henkel, promoting the adhesives, sealants and functional coatings company’s diversity initiatives with a series of internal events.
— Paul Holmes
Bpress has grown into one of Italy’s top performing agencies in the 33 years since Diego Biasi launched the firm in Milan with an eye on furthering brands’ success in the Italian market. Today, Bpress is closing in on the €4 million Euro mark thanks to roughly 50 clients in the gamut of sectors — tech, B2B, consumer, food and lifestyle among them. With a homegrown understanding of what makes Italians tick, Bpress crafts its offerings and output to help clients navigate the nuances of the market. A full-service agency, Bpress has capabilities in PR, media relations, social media, strategic comms and events.
Bpress works with clients a cross Italy from its Milan headquarters.
Based on its 2022 performance, Bpressis on track to crack the €4 million in business mark this year, having capped last year almost there. The firm’s fee income of €3.9 million was a 21% lift over 2021, thanks to business from roughly 50 clients across sectors. Bpress expanded its headcount from 30 to 42, building out a team to support new business from Bitpanda, Fanuc, HolidayPirates, Otovo, Verisure, Voco Hotels, Zity as well as existing ones such as Audible, Babbel, Bosch, Google Cloud, Guggenheim Bilbao, Illy Caffè, Pinterest, Siemens, Vaillant, Zalando. The Bpress organization includes sister agency Now!PR, created in 2000 to serve clients with a small agency feel.
Bpress understands the road to achieving true DE&I is a long one, but the ideal of having a truly equal opportunity organization has been part of the agency’s DNA since its inception. The agency’s team has always been dominated by women, who today make up 85% of staff. Bpress has also created an environment and culture designed to accommodate and incorporate employees with different needs and abilities, which includes three paid days off a month and a special remote work program. In addition to founder and CEO Diego Biasi, Bpress’ senior leadership team includes tech and lifestyle head Alexandra Cian, food & lifestyle head Cinzia Sartori, tech B2B head Cristiana Rovelli and Mattia Zanetti, who leads sister firm Now!PR.
Bpress used the end of pandemic living to reposition the firm as a progressive agency through its R3START! Campaign, an initiative that focused helping clients and businesses reconnect with their audiences post-Covid. The effort included free brainstorming sessions for clients, and a weekly talk show-style discussion with guests (62 episodes reaped 70,000 views) and a blog dedicated to strategic restarts. Bpress also invested in improving employees’ work from home experience that included dedicating the office to be a hub for brainstorming and socializing, flexible work hours and disconnecting devices from 8 pm to 8 am daily and weekends. The year’s top client work included ongoing support of Google Cloud, creating a 30th anniversary event for Skechers and overseeing Starbucks’ partnership with the Milano Summer Festival.
— Diana Marszalek
Founded in 1975, INC’s 47-year tenure has seen it play a pioneering role in Italy’s PR market, whether via the embrace of digital or new flexible hybrid working models. The firm is perhaps best known for its food and beverage work, on behalf of Barilla and Heineken notably, and for a social communications practice that includes several NGOs and nonprofit organizations.
INC’s 45-strong workforce includes offices in Rome and Milan, while the firm is also a member of the 41-country IPRN independent agency network.
INC grew by 17% in 2022 to €3.4m in revenue, and steadily expanded at an average rate of 8% over the last five years, despite a domestic PR market that has remained largely flat. Much of that growth is organic, for such clients as Barilla, Heineken Italy, UnaiItalia, GroupAMA Assurance, Emirates Airlines, Findus Italy, Mulino Bianco, Unione Italiana Food, Lega Del Filo D’Oro, and the UNHCR — but there was also significant new business from Gruppo Montenegro (after a 10-agency pitch), the Fater joint venture between Angelini Industries and P&G, ISMEA (leading a campaign to support organic food), Negroni (Gen Z and CSR work), CISOM and ACRI.
Pasquale De Palma continues to serve as chairman and CEO, supported by VP/partner Paolo Mattei, and a 10-strong leadership team. From April 2022, INC adopted a completely hybrid working model, while its managerial team is 67% female. Also of note, INC retains a strong focus on listening to its younger staff.
INC’s focus on social communication resulted in the INC Non-Profit Lab, which aimed to boost the sector after three years of the pandemic. The initiative included research into the disruptions faced by third sector organizations, and will also offer support to the sector going forward. Campaign highlights included INC’s continued work to promote the merits of eating pasta on behalf Barilla, along with Gen Z focused activities for Negroni Salumi, and efforts to address pet abandonment for Facile.it.
— Arun Sudhaman
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