NEW YORK — Samsung Electronics is parting ways with Edelman for its US digital marketing activity, worth an estimated $20m, PRovoke Media has learned.

The business, which is housed in Edelman's New York offices, covers social and digital marketing for Samsung's mobile unit. Sources familiar with the situation told PRovoke Media that Samsung may put the business up for pitch or shift it directly to another agency.

The timing of the decision, coming during the Covid-19 pandemic, is understood to have stunned senior executives at the world's largest PR agency. However, the firm declined to comment on the development.

"Edelman is proud to continue our 30-year global relationship with Samsung in multiple geographies and business units all over the world," said an Edelman spokesperson. "However, we do not comment on specific aspects of that relationship."

The decision is not thought to affect Edelman's status as the Korean electronics giant's key PR agency, handling corporate duties in many markets, including at an HQ level in Seoul, along with communications assignments for specific units.

At its peak, it is understood that the Samsung relationship was worth more than $30m, making it one of Edelman's biggest global clients. In the US, for example, Edelman oversees corporate communications while sharing mobile PR duties with FleishmanHillard, which has taken on increasing work from Samsung in recent years.

According to sources, the Samsung assignment helped underpin the growth of Edelman Digital into the world's largest digital PR unit, clocking in at upwards of $200m.  

The decision follows the arrival of Wanda Young as Samsung Electronics America CMO in December 2019. Young, who joined after senior marketing roles at Disney, ESPN and Walmart, succeeded Marc Mathieu, now at Salesforce.

The move also comes a year after Samsung decided to continue using Edelman for its mobile unit’s PR business following a competitive agency review. Edelman has handled Samsung mobile’s global PR duties since early 2016.

Samsung did not respond to requests for comment as this story went live.