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Both parties to the merger that created BCW—Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe—had significant presence in the Nordic region, but that five years since their coming together has seen those disparate operations coalesce into a coherent whole and have established BCW as the largest US-based multinational in a sub-region that continues to be dominated by locally-based firms. Indeed, with most of those local firms strong in at most one or two countries, BCW is arguably the most comprehensive Nordic agency.
BCW has 100 people across offices in Finland, Norway and Sweden, all of which are part of a broader European operation that covers nine additional countries.
While growth of 4% last year might sound modest, it reflects an impressive turnaround in Finland and Norway, combined with continued strong performance from Sweden and fails to reflect both a massive improvement in profit margins and the region’s growing status as a creative engine for the region (17 awards last year). There was new business from Bristol Myers Squibb, Lidl, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Pfizer, Accenture, Klarna, and Gasgrid, while the firm also enjoyed growth from a number of existing clients including .Amazon, BMW, Carlsberg, IKEA, telecom provider 3, and Swedish insurance giant Trygg Hansa.
Marta Karlqvist has served as president of the Nordic region since 2018, based in Stockholm, with strong leadership in Finland (Riitta Laine) and Norway (Kristian Sarastuen) and a formidable creative team led by creative director Axel Bringel, recently named Creative Professional of the Year in the EMEA region by this publication. BCW seeks to deliver a superior employee experience with its Destination Inclusion initiative, a fully flexible workplace, and enhanced career development options, and in the Nordics, Karlqvist says she wants the firm to be known as “the kindest agency in the region.”
The Nordic region produces some of BCW’s standout creative work, including the “Sunken Bar” campaign for Carlsberg Sweden, a clever publicity stunt that helped reduce alcohol-related deaths on the water; a TikTok campaign for telecom company 3 celebrating “sales queens”: a content-driven campaign for mobile company Hallon that pledged not to increase prices in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis; sought nominations for the “Santa act of the year” for Amazon; and produced the “Dancing Not Drowning” campaign for Trygg Hansa, which used the medium of dance to combat misperceptions and show people what drowning looks like.
— Paul Holmes
H&H Group has its roots in advisory firm H&H, which was founded in 1995. The agency was sold to DF King Worldwide in 2008, with a 2014 MBO by Johan Ramsten, Martin Petersson, Anders Halvarsson and Staffan Lindgren to create a group that now includes some 60 partners. That includes the recent acquisitions martech firm Nordic Morning, B2B marketing agencies Pyramid and Petra, and brand shop Graal — all of
which join such other players as Springtime (content), Jung Relations (creative), Consilio (geopolitics), Bysted (financial), and Comprend (digital corporate).
The group’s 579-strong workforce is primarily active in Sweden but also maintains a presence in Finland and the UK.
Fuelled by acquisition, fee income surged to US$73m in 2022, reflecting growth of almost 50%, underpinned by increasing collaboration across the group’s different entities. Key clients include Ericsson, Spotify, Klarna, P&G, Electrolux, Google, H&M, TetraPak, and Scania, while there was new business from Samsung, Bauhaus and Fazer.
Aside from the group owners, key figures include Jung co-founder Jonas Sevenius, Consilio chairman and former Swedish deputy PM Jan Nygren, CEO Anna Grönlund Krantz, and Comprend/Nordic Morning CEO Johanna Fagrell Köhler. Significant new hires included planner Alena Sucher from Forsman & Bodenfors, Pär Pärson (brand strategist), Bo Krogvig (former head of election campaigns for the Social Democrats), Peter Torstensson (former senior communication & marketing director at Alfa Laval), and Ulf Pehrson (previously VP of governmental affairs at Ericsson). Within H&H Group women constitute more than 50% of employees, 60% of agency directors, 50% of group management and 25% of the board of directors.
There is considerable research and thought leadership work across H&H’s various specialist entities, including political analysis from Consilio and digital insights from Comprend and Nordic Morning. Campaign highlights included campaigns from Jung for such clients as Spotify, Gilette Venus, Svenska Spel, and P&G.
— Arun Sudhaman
Chairman Johan Wetterqvist and CEO Axel Lagerbielk have seen Spotlight grow year after year since launching the Stockholm firm in 2005. At that time, Spotlight offered a new take on PR, one that puts driving business results for clients at the center of its work. That approach encompasses the firm’s strengths across technology, consumer, creative, digital marketing and thought leadership, including a Spotlight Scorecard that measures the firm’s work on three levels: output, brand effect and business impact.
Spotlight PR is based in Stockholm, Sweden.
2022 was Spotlight’s best ever year since its founding, capping the year as a €4 million, 27-person business, having seen revenue rise 12% year-over-year. The agency continued its expansion of services, creating dedicated strategy and creative teams, furthering its integrated solutions offer. There was a strong new business haul from Zaptec, Seven Eleven, GoodHabitz, Endava, CPP Garments, Strato, Quinyx, Outsystem and Paradox Museum, joining a client roster that already included Coca-Cola, Adobe, Eaton, Emirates, Jabra, Hendricks, Cointreau, Campari, Randstad, Qlik and Weight Watchers.
Camaraderie has always been core to Spotlight’s culture, and the sense of community that comes with that was never more important in the three years since the first Covid shutdowns. Spotlight’s leaders implemented a variety of means to keep its team unified and made a series of key hires that has built out the firm’s leadership team to include Åsa Hart, Aron Samuelsson, Axel Lagerbielke, Johan Wetterqvist, Isadora Cugler, Robin Kvarnström, Tommy Perlhamre and Stefan Rydén. Spotlight’s office manager Jenny Ericsson is also the agency’s designated culture ambassador. An equal gender split is reinforced by complete pay equity. Upon joining the firm, employees sign a document signifying agreement with the agency’s principles around diversity, equality, inclusion and respect for individuals.
While media relations is still at the heart of Spotlight’s work, the agency has expanded into thought leadership and integrated campaigns to keep pace with client needs. 2022 saw the agency launch strategy and creative teams and a sustainability practice, as well as develop a digital ecosystem product which helps clients to successfully integrate PR, content and digital marketing in order to strengthen brand perception and improve digital performance. Spotlight’s thought leadership work for real estate brokerage Bjurfors earned the firm a gold IPRA Golden World Award in the consumer PR for an existing service category. That campaign was also a SABRE Award finalist.
— Diana Marszalek
Trigger was launched in 2010 by founder and managing director Preben Carlsen, a thirtysomething former IKEA communication manager, and made quite an impact over its first decade, becoming the biggest SABRE Awards winner in Norway and being named both Nordic Consultancy of the Year and Creative Consultancy of the Year by this publication. Remarkably, Trigger Has been named Norway's PR-agency of the Year six out of eight years since the award was firm presented (by the publication Byråprofil) in 2014.
Trigger is headquartered in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
After a spectacular 2021, during which the firm grew by 44%, there was a consolidation in 2022: a more modest growth number for sure, at 23%) but enough for Trigger to hold on to its leadership position in Norway with fee income of NOK83.1 million (a little over €8 million), while headcount increased from 38 to 46. Key clients are a mix of corporate leaders, public sector accounts and not-for-profits, names like Samsung, Visit Norway / Innovation Norway, the Norwegian Directorate for Children Youth & Family Affairs, Polestar, The National Museum of Art, the grocery chain KIWI (largest advertiser in Norway), Google and Coca-Cola. New clients last year included the hotel chain Scandic, Hurtigruta Svalbard, Sparebanken Vest (large bank), Vipps MobilePay (employee communication for an employer of choice in Norway), PEAB (a major construction company), MESTA, and the Norwegian Cancer Foundation.
From its inception, and now under the leadership of CEO, Bente Kvam Kristoffersen, Trigger has been a values-driven business and is now a partner-owned business, which means the firm is selective about the clients it represents and often turns away businesses that don’t fit its underlying vision and philosophy. It also means an egalitarian, merit-driven culture with little hierarchy. Key talent includes creative leaders, Magdalena Kamøy and Bjørnar Thorsen (both who have been with us for more than 10 years), who work closely with the management team and develop new talent. There is also a keen commitment to sustainability—Trigger was one of the first Norwegian firms to be certified—that reflects much of its work in that arena.
For more than a decade, Trigger has described what it does as “engaging communications,” an approach that seeks to mobilize the target audience to become part of the campaign, spreading the messaging through social media and participation. It’s an approach that is evident in the firm’s consistent award-winning work, which energizes stakeholders and builds social movements around pressing issues. Highlights of the past year include a vaccine-education campaign developed together with minority youngsters, a “Hate with no name” campaign that discussed prejudice against people with disabilities. The firm also worked on “The Period Act” with grocery chain KIWI, which sought to make pads and tampons free and accessible in Norwegian schools. For another major corporate client, Samsung, the firm produced “For the love of sound,” releasing a song that focused attention of hearing impairment. The firm was once again nominated for six EMEA SABRE awards and won two Innovation SABRE trophies.
— Paul Holmes
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