2024 Consumer Consultancies of the Year | PRovoke Media

2024 Consumer PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2024 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the UK, Europe the Middle East and Africa. Analysis of each of the Winners and finalists across 20 geographic and specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners are unveiled at the 2024 EMEA SABRE Awards, which take place in London on 17 April. Tickets and tables are available here.

You can find the 2024 SABRE Awards EMEA finalists here.

Finalists

The Academy (UK/Independent)

aoy-backstory-iconBackstory

The Academy’s 10th anniversary year was a record one for the business, with the highest revenue and profit margin to date, thanks to organic growth and its best-ever pitch conversion rate. The independent consumer-focused PR agency was founded by Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover with a mission to bring the brightest minds together to create work that “gets noticed, makes a difference and passes into popular culture”. Its work is also objectively beautiful and impactful, balancing spirited ideas and an obsession about real-world impact. Thanks to its unique column structure, the team’s scope – and opportunity for career progression – is broad, covering PR and advertising, film, design and branding, digital and live experiences and events. 

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The Academy based in London and works with clients across the UK, EMEA and globally.

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The agency reported strong financial performance in 2023, with a total PR fee income of £6.5 million – up 8.9% from the previous year. The Academy also expanded its team from 51 to 56 full-time PR employees. Long-time clients include Amazon, Disney, and Mastercard, as well as Canary Wharf, Holland & Barrett, Lucozade, Morrisons, Peroni and Southern Comfort. New account wins over the year included Checkatrade, Epson, Marie Curie, Warners, Westfield, Decathlon and Disney+. 

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

The Academy has a stated commitment to ‘Staying Human’ for its teams, and the leadership aims for it to be not just a workplace but a sanctuary, with support for every aspect of its people’s lives. In 2023, the Academy doubled its ‘Community and Wellbeing’ budget, to support physical and mental health, as well as bringing people together. On mandated midweek office days, the agency serves free breakfasts and a drinks trolley marks the end of play on Thursday. The Academy also reviewed and enhanced staff policies and benefits, including enhanced maternity and paternity leave, compassionate leave, a menopause policy and an adoption policy, as well as 31 days’ annual leave, gym subsidies, healthcare, bonuses, and a ‘learn something new’ fund. The CEO holds regular peer group forums, there are monthly lunch-and-learn sessions and a regular series of Academy Lectures, plus monthly company meetings with transparency on how the business is doing are followed by a team night out. D&I work includes training on areas such as bias, micro-aggressions and the importance of language, as well as building diversity into the speaker programme and creative outings. 10% of our agency are currently people of colour, with a target of 15% by the end of 2024, and 20% as a longer-term objective. Key hires over the year included director Nick Albrow and creative Elle Bellwood.

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

For Amazon, the team leveraged every Amazon retail ‘moment’ as an opportunity to demonstrate brand warmth, from kicking off the Spring Sale with a nature-inspired TV show featuring chicks, rabbits and lambs, to handing out Prime Day Experiences to random buyers and creating a celebrity quiz show to mark 25 years of Amazon in the UK. The programme hit every PR and marketing metric, from coverage to customer sales. The team also helped BT Business demonstrate cybersecurity leadership through the True Cybercrime Stories podcast series, and made Holland & Barrett the first high street retailer to put endometriosis in the shop window for Endometriosis Awareness Month, as well as offering free multi-language menopause consultations to close the ethnicity gap in menopause advice. For Marie Curie, the team dressed singer Alexandra Burke in a dress made of daffodils to launch the charity’s Great Daffodil Appeal, but perhaps The Academy’s most significant campaign was partnering with travel brand Rough Guides to create the first guidebook to the end of life, giving practical information for the end-of-life journey; it quickly became the charity’s most-downloaded piece of content. 

Maja Pawinska Sims


Manifest (Independent)

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Describing itself as ‘the most effective agency on the planet’, Manifest has been ambitiously purpose-driven since its inception 13 years ago, when CEO Alex Myers founded the firm with a mission to develop a creative communications agency that would “build brands that change the world”. In recent years, Manifest has evolved its offer to reflect not only an obsession with marketing analytics, but also a willingness to test and build new technology on behalf of its clients, helping to deliver sustained growth for several eye-catching brands. 

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Headquartered in the UK, where it has offices in London and Manchester, Manifest’s EMEA presence also includes Stockholm, while there are offices further afield in the USA and Australia. 

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Manifest’s income for 2023 was £5.9m, an impressive 13% increase over 2022, despite a challenging economic environment for consumer players. The agency also expanded its workforce to 60 from 47, adding 17 new clients including Daiya Foods, Beam Suntory (Ardray), SC Johnson (method), Reckitt Benckiser (Air Wick), Clarks, Arizona Hard, Skin Proud, Hair Proud and Crossfire Hurricane Rum. The firm’s long-term global agency of record roster also features Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Babyganics, method, Daiya and Lysol — with several clients appointing Manifest to deliver across multiple service offerings. 

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Manifest's culture starts with its leadership team, which, in addition to Myers, also features COO Helen Kenny and managing partner Jessica Becker, while DEI industry pioneer Julian Obubo was elevated to group brand strategist. The firm focuses considerable investment on helping team members create ‘dream careers for life’, supported by a bespoke diploma programme to upskill its employees. Manifest’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is rooted in the concept of ‘cultural competence’, developing an environment where staffers can bring their full selves to the work they produce. Manifest also achieved B-Corp certification earlier this year. 

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Manifest's focus on innovation includes a number of tools that aim to drive client and agency growth. The Loop reports business audience and impact across channels, while there are also proprietary platforms aimed at enhancing influencer management and thought leadership. Notable client campaigns include Buillet’s ‘Pioneer Project’, Daiya’s ‘Pizza Pyramid Scheme’, Hair Proud’s ‘A Cut Above’, and Tommee Tippee's The Social Feed initiative.

Arun Sudhaman

Smarts (MSQ) 

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Approaching its 35th anniversary, Smarts is a sprawling operation whose footprint got even bigger in 2023 when it expanded into mainland Europe with an office in Amsterdam. Part of the MSQ network, Smarts’ offerings in addition to PR include strategy, creative, influencer, events, media relations and media buying, a slate of services that last year reaped the consumer agency £16.3 million in fee income. 

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Headquartered in London, Smarts has offices in Belfast, Glasgow, New York and, as of 2023, Amsterdam. 

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2023 was a seminal year for Smarts that included investing £1 million in a new ‘creator hub’ division and expanding to continental Europe with an Amsterdam office. The addition of the hub, dedicated to influencer and talent work, created 10 new jobs to bolster the existing team’s work with brands, creators and talent from Melissa McCarthy to Dua Lipa. Smarts’ 131-person staff handled new business from the likes of Lululemon and Lynk & Co as well as existing clients Booking.com, BSH Home Appliances (Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff), BT, Diageo and Zalando. Smarts’ 2023 fee income was £16.3 million, a 19% year-over-year lift.

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

As part of MSQ, Smarts is a proud B Corp. Some 10% of staffers are trained as Mental Health First Aiders (they are trained to spot signs and symptoms of mental health issues), and smart is working with the group Action Mental Health to triple that number. Smarts also is working to fast-track building a more diverse and inclusive team by working with the likes of Creative Access and People Like to Us to ensure jobs are accessible and applicants are supported throughout. Other initiatives include Smarts donating £500,000 in time to local communities and reducing its environmental impact.  Pippa Arlow runs Smarts as global CEO. Key leaders include European CEO Greg Jones, New York head Mike DaRe and Amsterdam lead Leanne Scott.

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Smarts was on the road last year,  traveling to São Paulo for the global finals of Diageo's World Class bartender competition; and across South Africa to showcase the power of Doing Good Whilst You Travel as part of Booking.com's partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Key work included Zalando launch their inclusive-sized footwear collection by showcasing personal stories in top-tier fashion press, on social and with an experiential launch in Brazil. Smarts’ also executed one of ASICS’ first TikTok campaign and helped the UK’s national meteorological service raise awareness of the link between extreme weather and human induced climate change.

Diana Marszalek

Splendid Communications (UK/Independent)

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Founded in 2004 by CEO Alec Samways, Splendid Communications’ progress against a triple bottom line of profit, people and planet has reaped rich dividends in recent years, culminating in last year’s selection as EMEA Consumer Consultancy of the Year. The firm’s commitment to cutting-edge creative saw it expand into streetwear fashion and action sports in 2023, via the acquisition of DIY Creative, adding to previous deals that bolstered its cultural comms capabilities. These moves have given Splendid a broader footprint beyond consumer brands into fashion, music, arts and literature — cementing its ability to connect brands with real people to make a positive cultural impact. 

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The firm primarily operates within the UK market.

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Splendid followed up an excellent 2022 performance, by growing 17% in 2023 to £6.8m, bolstered by the acquisition of DIY Creative. The agency's client portfolio remains impressive, with key additions over the past year including Amazon Publishing, Associated British Foods, DC, Converse, Durex, giffgaff, Movember, Nero Book Awards, Royal Mint and Santa Cruz. These join an existing roster that features Big Yellow Self Storage, Burger King, Doritos, Ginsters, Naked Juices, PepsiCo, Tesco, Twinings, Whitley Neill, and William Grant. 


aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Samways’ leadership team also features creative director Fran Langdon and wellbeing head Jane Latham, while director Jess Proudfoot has helped create a thriving consumer tech team, and Kylie Griffiths-Wilson came aboard as founder of DIY Creative. Splendid continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion, which is intertwined with wellbeing to ensure that staff are supported through a range of measres. The agency's culture encourages growth and development, with 75% of senior account managers having begun their careers as interns at the agency, demonstrating Splendid's commitment to fostering internal talent. High levels of staff satisfaction further emphasize the supportive and inclusive atmosphere that the agency has successfully established.


aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Splendid Communications’ thought leadership includes an insights and research product that helps brands such as Doctor Marten, Relentless and Burn Energy understand audiences and creative cultural platforms that connect. The firm is also engaged in internal testing and learning of generative AI within a proper ethical and legal framework. Campaign highlights include Movember’s Sport the Signs campaign, the Doritos x BK Flaming Billboard, the Coronation Pub campaign for Tesco, the Durex Orgasm Gap initiative, and the Walkers Cropvert project.

Arun Sudhaman

Tin Man (UK/Independent)

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Tin Man celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year by almost hitting the £5m revenue mark; the agency founded ten years ago by ambitious consumer PR wizard Mandy Sharp has had an enduring focus on creating “communications with heart” over that time, even as it has expanded from its consumer brand heartland to digital and corporate work. Tin Man’s work is grounded in its own evidence – from its Heart Score measurement and evaluation tool – that the power of emotional connections can change behaviour and make a real commercial impact. The agency continues to innovate with its proprietary tools, from the Tin Science behaviour change model, to data-led influencer marketing tool Tinfluence, and film and production unit Oh My!, which now produces content for all Tin Man clients as well as its own. Tin Man works across sectors including entertainment, education, travel and leisure, healthcare, technology, and food and drink, devising campaigns across earned, shared, owned and paid media. 

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Tin Man is based London and works with clients across Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, India, China, Turkey and the US.

aoy-performance-iconPerformance

The 50-strong agency reported strong financial performance in 2023, with a total PR fee income of very slightly shy of £5m, representing 12% growth and margins of 20%. Despite the challenging economic climate, the agency secured over £1m of new client work, with the agency’s innovative approach – including behaviour change model Tin Science and data-led influencer marketing tool, Tinfluence – contributing substantially to new business. New clients included Versuni (the parent company of Philips Domestic Appliances), Tourism New Zealand, Royal Canin and Yeo Valley Organic, who joined Virgin Atlantic, Vodafone, Mondelez International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Unilever, London Luton Airport, Gumtree, Plenty of Fish, Guide Dogs and Warner Bros Studio Tour in the agency’s enviable portfolio.


aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

In 2023, rebuilt its ED&I programme, DANDI, around four key pillars: continuous learning, diversifying the industry from the bottom up, visible, relatable role models, and holding itself accountable. Ethnic diversity increased to 15% and is on target for 20% this year, with no ethnic pay gap. The team is 15% neurodivergent and 10% LGBTQ+. Initiatives include the PRosper outreach programme to schools and colleges with a high proportion of students from diverse backgrounds, leading to three placements at the agency, plus partnerships with the Taylor Bennett Foundation and The Industry Club’s Marketing Debuts BAME apprenticeship scheme. The agency is working towards Blueprint diversity mark status, and the latest staff survey shows 100% feel the agency has an inclusive culture, 87% feel they belong at Tin Man, and 100% feel comfortable being their true selves at work. The agency excels at female representation, with an 80% female board, and a full suite of policies and including miscarriage, fertility and parental leave to support through divorce, menopause and gender transition. Founder Mandy Sharp also brought together senior female clients for the inaugural Tin Women Collective event to network, share learnings, and listen to inspirational speakers. Sharp is also a Women in PR mentor.


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The agency secured six SABRE nominations for clients including Luton Airport, Oreo, Gumtree and Smart Energy GB, as well as the 'High Flying Hounds' campaign for Virgin Atlantic and Guide Dogs to make the airline a pioneer in inclusive travel – which led to increased brand recognition and an ulift in search – and a campaign for Cadbury Fingers to bring British Sign Language to the world of football through its sponsorship of Chelsea FC, which garnered 100% positive sentiment for the brand.— 

Maja Pawinska Sims