SAN FRANCISCO — Opera Software has hired Ruder Finn for US PR support as it strives to gain traction in the region’s mobile browser space. 

Ruder Finn won the six-figure business following a competitive review, shortly after hiring Dushka Zapata as MD of the West Coast to rebuild its San Francisco office. The agency has been hired mostly to work on Opera’s US media efforts towards consumers, and B2B audiences on its mobile advertising platform, mobile payment offering, cross-device and TV app store.

Considered a pioneer in the browser space, Opera has struggled to find its footing in the US, holding about 2 percent of the region’s desktop market. To gain relevance in the US, Opera plans to focus on its products related to smartphones and tablets and promote its innovations around mobile browsing said Falguni Bhuta, senior communications manager at Opera. Last month, Opera garnered buzz around a sneak preview of "Ice," a visual mobile browser that is still in development.  

Bhuta expects the PR program to reflect Opera’s “edgy” marketing style, using humor and pop culture to humanize its interactions. For example, efforts similar to its 2011 campaign in which emails that Opera mistakenly received for Oprah Winfrey were published on its blog on the talk show’s last broadcast.

Opera plans to use in-house resources for most of its community management, enlisting the agency as needed and for strategic counsel. Bhuta said she selected Ruder Finn largely because it has an international network and full-service offering, but is also structured similar to a startup in its San Francisco office.  

Last year, Opera ended its relationship with Weber Shandwick after hiring the agency in 2011. Before this, it handled communications internally and prior to that worked with Blanc & Otus.  

Currently, Opera’s strongest markets exist in emerging countries, including Russia, India and Brazil, largely around its Mini browser. Its mobile browsers have 16 percent marketshare worldwide, approximiately 229 million users.  

Headquartered in Norway, Opera is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and has about 800 employees globally.