SOFIA — European public affairs and communications consultancy Rud Pedersen Group has opened in a fifth new market this year, with an office in Bulgarian capital Sofia. The Nordic-founded group has already opened in London, Paris, Warsaw, and Riga. The new office is led by Gergana Aneva (pictured, with Morten Rud Pedersen), former head of the cabinet of the deputy prime minister of Bulgaria for demographic and social policies and years of experience in the European Parliament in Brussels. Most recently, Aneva was a director at the state administration in Bulgaria dealing with modernisation, digital transformation and e-governance.

LONDON — S4Capital, the digital advertising and marketing services group founded by Sir Martin Sorrell, has entered into a conditional agreement to buy Los Angeles social media and influencer content marketing agency XX Artists and merge it with existing agency Media.Monks, to expand its digital content capabilities. XX Artists was founded in 2018 by Kyle Kuhns and has a majority-female, majority-diverse team of 125 globally, working with clients including Google, YouTube, Logitech and

BARCELONA — Communications and public affairs agency Roman, which has offices in Barcelona, Madrid and London, has acquired Spanish design studio La Casa de Carlota, thought to be the first in the world to fully incorporate creatives with autism and Down’s syndrome in its design team. The team from La Casa de Carlota will expand Roman’s creative department, which will be led by studio founder José María Batalla. Roman and La Casa de Carlota were the first communications agency and design studio respectively to obtain the B Corp accreditation in Spain and will be the first two B Corp companies to sign an acquisition deal. La Casa de Carlota has worked on projects for brands such as Nike, Nestlé, Veritas, Ecoalf and LaLiga, while Roman’s clients include CaixaBank, Coca-Cola European Partners, Danone, Ferrero, Philip Morris, Mahou San Miguel, Mango, Mobile World Capital Barcelona and Randstad.

LONDON — Pagefield has signed a strategic partnership with Hanway Associates, an advisory firm specialising in strategy, research and M&A for the cannabis sector. The agreement will offer full service consultancy to businesses looking to operate in this emerging, heavily-regulated sector, including PR, public affairs and regulatory engagement, business consultancy and M&A support. The partnership has already worked with leading cannabis businesses Grow Group and Sana Life Science. Pagefield will also be providing PR support for this summer’s Cannabis Europa conference. Pagefield has also supported Hanway Associates’ venture arm, The Hanway Company, which is working with Clerkenwell Health to open the UK’s first commercial facility for psychedelic drug trials.

LONDON — Pitch Marketing Group, which marks its 20-year anniversary this year, has launched a specialist digital division, Pitch Platforms. The division will be spearheaded by new head of digital, Ed Brittain, who joins Pitch from MSL and previously worked in the global digital intelligence in-house team at Electronic Arts. Pitch Platforms will cover social media and gaming, owned web channels, influencer marketing and web3, and builds on the digital work already being carried out by Pitch’s PR, partnerships and productions divisions. The new division has launched with a proprietary Digital Health Check diagnostics tool, which maps content and platform efficiency against a competitive set to help clients understand channel strategy and ensure media and creative production spend is weighted correctly.

GLASGOW — Aura, the Scottish strategic business and communication advisory founded by Laura Sutherland, which runs the PRFest community, has relaunched with a specific focus to help future-proof businesses and organisations by working towards a sustainable future. The consultancy has also launched its Synergy Framework, which aims to bring businesses’ and organisations’ strategies, policies and decision-making, into alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals through research, collaboration, integration and strategic communication. Aura has worked in the climate and sustainability communications field for over a decade.

DUBAI — Communications agency Houbara, founded by Loretta Ahmed, has entered into a strategic partnership with Elementsix, a Dubai-based carbon management and climate change solutions consultancy, to support clients in developing and communicating ESG strategies.

LONDON — Sport and entertainment reputation advisors Scott Bowers and Richard Conway have joined forces to launch Spectacle Partners, a global advisory firm focused on supporting the reputations of organisations, brands and individuals operating in the sport and entertainment industries. Bowers, is currently chief corporate affairs officer at The Jockey Club and was previously head of sport at Weber Shandwick, where he worked on Olympic bids, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League Finals, UEFA Euros, Rugby World Cup and for major brands including Mastercard, L’Oréal and Coca-Cola. Conway spent close to two decades as a journalist, most recently as the BBC’s Sport News Correspondent. Since 2019 he has provided reputation counsel and support to a range of sports industry clients, including the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Spectacle will be chaired by sports, media and music industry veteran Simon Bazalgette, whose management advisory and investment firm, Global Venue Services (GVS), is backing the new venture.

LONDON — APCO Worldwide is partnered with global philanthropists’ network Nexus, which has more than 6,000 entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropist members across 70 countries, as part of the agency’s plans to expand its work in helping clients develop and execute philanthropic and corporate responsibility programs. Nexus director of impact David Dietz will work from APCO’s London office and lead the effort to expand the network’s operations in Europe, with support from APCO advisers.

DUBAI — The Audience Collective group of specialist marketing and communications agencies has expanded into the Middle East with a new division in Dubai. The group, whose members cover branding, research, strategy, data analytics, PR, social media, events, search, digital media buying and web design, currently has 220 specialists in 12 offices and works with clients including Amazon, BMW, BP, Debenhams, Kodak, Nestle, Rolls Royce, Vodafone and Waitrose. The Dubai expansion will be led by Jess Hickman, formerly MD of higher education marketing agency Unicom, working with the local team headed by UAE marketing and sales director Marija Al Raisi.

MANCHESTER — Consumer PR agency Brazen has carried out a management restructure, with board directors Sasha Marks and Peter Burling being promoted to MD and client director respectively. Marks will lead the 45-strong agency and focus on growth of the business and team, while Burling will focus on client service. Founder and CEO Nina Webb will focus on leadership and company culture at the 21-year-old agency, which grew by 78% last year and is set to top £5 million in fees for the first time, after client wins including Butlins, Silentnight and Greene King. The restructure also sees the agency divided into three multidisciplinary practices, run by a new sub-board of three associate directors. Former journalist Adam Moss will head up a newsroom, while associate directors Corey Kitchener and Sophia Stewart will each run client portfolios of £1 million.

DUBAI — The Conscious Consultancy, founded by Khyara Ranaweera last year as a female-owned impact and change-driven communications agency, has announced the UK launch of sister agency The Hungry Consultancy, which will focus on the hospitality industry, in particular supporting minority-owned restaurants, lesser-known culinary traditions and products, and eliminating food and packaging waste.

LONDON — Specialist food and drink marketing consultancy Salt has become the first food and drink consultancy to launch in global food metaverse OneRare. The agency has opened an office and an event space housed within a British pub – The Salt Arms – to offer its marketing services to global food businesses in the specialist metaverse, including through virtual meetings and events. The space also includes a gallery, media hub and theatre-style screen for SALT to showcase content.

LONDON — Milk & Honey PR has launched a new podcast, Untick The Box, with the aim of giving a platform to underrepresented voices and inspiring people from diverse backgrounds to enter and succeed in new industries. The podcast’s first guests include Sheeraz Gulsher, co-founder of People Like Us, Alex Kolawole from Snap Inc’s UK communications team and Sarah Waddington CBE, co-founder of Socially Mobile. Untick the Box, which is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, is hosted by Eloise Clarke and Maz Chowdhury at Milk & Honey.

LONDON — Independent healthcare specialist Road has restructured and rebranded as EatMoreFruit Communications. The agency specialises in advising innovators in health tech, pharma, and clinical services how to tell their brand and corporate stories, with research, digital, public affairs and media planning services as well as PR. The rebrand follows a period of growth with new client wins including ophthalmic firm Bausch & Lomb; Italian pharmaceutical group Menarini; medical device manufacturer, Smith+Nephew; Amwell’s digital mental health service SilverCloud Health; and psychedelic innovators Awakn Life Sciences. The agency’s leadership team includes ex-MSL London director Sarah Winterbottom, Beth Lowes (ex-GlaxoSmithKline) and Rachel Sabo (ex-BMI Hospital group). Founder Paul Jarman will take up the new role of CEO.