NEW YORK—Hill+Knowlton Strategies has made it first acquisition in almost a decade, buying Latin American specialist The JeffreyGroup and dramatically expanding its capabilities in the region. The addition of JeffreyGroup doubles H+K’s footprint in Latin America.

In a related move, H+K also announced that the firm’s existing Brazilian operation, Ideal is relaunching as an international brand, now focused primarily on disruptive and emergent technology companies.

JeffreyGroup was founded 29 years ago by Burson-Marsteller and Rowland Company alum Jeffrey Sharlach, a Miami-based firm that would help US and international clients position themselves and their products in the Latin American market. It has owned offices in Mexico, Brazil (Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo) and Argentina, but is active in every market throughout Latin America, with slightly more than 300 people across the region and revenues last year of $13.8 million, according to PRovoke Media's Global 250 Ranking.

The firm’s longstanding clients include Airbus (13 years), Amazon (10 years), American Airlines (12 years), Bayer (13 years), Reckitt (11 years), BMW, Disney, GE, Marriott, Mastercard, PepsiCo, and Salesforce. It also works with Citibank, Disney Cruise Line, Dun & Bradstreet, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, and Telefonica.

It was recently named a finalist for our Latin American Consultancy of the Year award and received more nominations for our Latin American SABRE Awards than any other agency.

“Through this transaction, Hill+Knowlton is taking two major steps forward—becoming the preeminent global player in Latin America through the combination of highly complementary, similarly sized businesses, and creating a second growth engine for our largest industrial practice,” said AnnaMaria DeSalva, global chairman and CEO. “Latin America is one of the most dynamic communication markets today, offering a growing scope of talent and innovation.”

JeffreyGroup will continue to operate under its own brand in Latin America as a part of Hill+Knowlton. Brian Burlingame (pictured), who has been JeffreyGroup’s CEO since 2015, will lead H+K’s Latin American operation, encompassing the two legacy businesses. Burlingame will report to H+K’s CEO of the Americas, Richard Millar, and join H+K’s global leadership council. Sharlach will continue to serve as the firm’s chairman.

Brazil-based Grupo Ideal originally was acquired by H+K in 2015. Ricardo Cesar, who has led H+K’s Latin American operations since 2018, has been promoted to global CEO for Ideal, and charged with taking the Ideal brand and business model to a global market. He will report to DeSalva and remains a member of its global leadership council.

Cesar will work closely with Sara Gourlay, H+K’s global chair, technology+telecoms, who will continue to oversee the firm’s end-to-end technology sector growth strategy.