Latin American PR Agencies of the Year | Holmes Report
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2015 Latin American PR Agencies of the Year

Latin American Regional Agency of the Year

Winner 

Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller opened its first office in Latin America—Sao Paulo, 1976—almost 40 years ago, and has the largest regional presence of any US-based multinational with 350 people spread across 13 offices (including the regional headquarters in Miami) under the leadership of 24-year BM veteran Ramiro Prudencio. In a part of the world where most of the competition is still at the individual country level, local strength is critical and Burson is a top five player in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, and one of the leading multinationals in Brazil. The firm has a good balance of consumer (strengthened by the launch of the firm’s Studio B content offer)and corporate capabilities (including strength in crisis and an impressive public affairs practice in Brazil) and expertise in industry sectors from energy to healthcare to tech. Clients include a range of multinationals (Accenture, Coca-Cola, Ford, Huawei, Ikea, Intel, Sony, Unilever) and regional giants (steel company Gerdau, Brazilian sugar producer group UNICA, Vale, Belcorp of Peru, Televisa in Mexico), with new business in 2015 coming from the government of Honduras, Diageo, McDonald’s, Oracle, SAB Miller, Tecnologico de Monterrey and more. Highlights of the past year’s work include work on behalf of the COP 20 climate change conference in Lima; country branding for Honduras; internal communications for Ford in Mexico; and a public affairs and social media initiative for Medtronic, pressing the health system in Chile to include the company’s insulin pump.

Finalists

Llorente & Cuenca
With 15 campaigns among the finalists in our first Latin American SABRE Awards, Llorente & Cuenca has confirmed its position as not only one of the largest public relations firms in the region—almost two-thirds of its €25 million revenue comes from Latin American offices—but also one of the best. Perhaps best known for its work in the corporate and financial space (it is part of the AMO partnership of international M&A specialists), the firm has expanded its offer in Latin America to include a broad range of work, and its SABRE nominated campaigns range from support for BUPA Sanitas as it entered the Chilean market via acquisition to a responsible drinking initiative for SAB Miller to corporate reputation for Petrobras to building an online community of healthy moms for Abbott Labs’ Similac brand. Other clients include international Latin American companies with regional operations such as Organización Cisneros; US companies with investments in the region such as Coca-Cola; and Spanish multinationals like Telefónica. The firm entered Latin America in 1998 and growth has been impressive, with fee income up by about 16 percent last year. Its footprint now includes offices in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico, Miami, Panama, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Santo Domingo and Sao Paulo (supported by affiliates in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In June of last year, L&C sold a 22 percent stake to a French private equity firm, and is already drawing on that relationship to fund acquisitions in Spain and in Latin America.
 
Porter Novelli
Porter Novelli has taken full advantage of its unusually collaborative culture to build a network of highly-entrepreneurial operations across 16 offices in Latin America. Operating under the In Press Porter Novelli brand in Brazil, Compass Porter Novelli in Colombia, Publico Porter Novelli in Chile, and CentroAmerica Porter Novelli in several Central American markets, the firm employs 550 professionals in its various partner agencies, drawing on deep local market knowledge and close working relationships to provide regional services to clients such as Arcos Dorados (McDonald’s), Dow, HP, Microsoft, Qualcomm and UPS among others. The region is led by president Karen Ovseyevitz, whose Mexican PR firm Martec became Porter Novelli in 1998 and managing director Sandra Kleinburg, another Martec veteran who also serves as global client relationship leader for P&G, while In Press founder and CEO Kiki Moretti leads the flagship Brazilian operation, with offices in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. The firm has expertise in health and wellness, food and nutrition, consumer marketing, and public affairs, with new products and services in the past year expanding its social media and analytics capabilities in particular. Interesting assignments last year ranged from work with Microsoft on a new measurement and evaluation system and the “Windows XP Farewell Letter” campaign; J&J’s “life after cancer” initiative; and McDonald’s on its FIFA World Cup activities. New business in 2015 included regional business from American Express, Pfiler, and Red Hat, as well as Pfizer, which expanded its relationship with PN to additional markets.

Argentina Agency of the Year

URBAN Grupo de Comunicación

With a 20-year heritage and fee income of close to $9 million, URBAN Grupo de Comunicación is one of the oldest and largest independent firms in the Spanish-speaking markets of Latin America, with its headquarters in Buenos Aires and additional operations in Chile, Colombia and Paraguay (as well as an alliance with Golin, which extends its reach throughout the region and beyond). The firm has a good balance of consumer business—with experience in entertainment, fashion and beauty, health, sport, and technology—and corporate expertise, particularly in the sustainability arena, where it has partnered with Sustainable Brands to organize SB Buenos Aires over the past two years. The latter capabilities were strengthened in 2014 with the acquisition of corporate reputation and crisis management consultancy Mora y Araujo. Key clients include Unilever (for its Sedal, Rexona, Dove, Ala, Skip, TRESemmé, Knorr, Lux, Hellmann’s brands); Coca-Cola; American Express; Grupo Cepas (for Gancia, Martini & Bacardi). New business in 2015 came from Mercadolibre, Instagram, Facebook, Nespresso, Holcim, Chevron, Mars and more. Highlights of the firm’s work last year included sustainability efforts for Unilever, the relaunch of Powerade for Coca-Cola; and building the Sustainable Brands profile in Argentina.

 

Brazilian Agency of the Year

Winner

S2 Publicom Weber Shandwick
Compared to some of its multinational peers, Weber Shandwick came relatively late to the Latin American region, but its 2011 acquisition of Brazilian form S2 Public announced it as a major player in the region’s largest market. Under the leadership of Latin America chair Laura Schoen and Brazilian CEO Ze Schiavoni, the deal has clearly been a success for both parties, with the firm’s operations growing 20 percent each year and expanding from 110 people then to 250 today, spread across offices in São Paulo, Alphaville and Rio de Janeiro (with affiliates in 24 local markets), and establishing itself as a center of innovation, with strong digital, social and content creation capabilities (via the firm’s specialized Mediaco unit). Key clients include Novartis, Bayer CropScience, Kroton Educational, Netflix, Hoteis.com, Electronic Arts, Honda, Solazyme, Warner Games, Warner Home, and Merck, with new business over the past 12 months from Turner, Samsung, Unilever, TIM, Siemens, and EAD (the national communication project of the switch-over from analog to Digital TV). The firm’s work in 2015 included the launch of a new virtual reality product for Beenoculus Tecnologia Beenoculus Tecnologia, a Brazilian startup, and the Still Alice campaign for Novartis and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Finalists

​Imagem Corporativa
Founded in 2001 by former journalist Ciro Dias Reis, Imagem Corporativa has nevertheless distinguished itself from its early days through its focus on consultancy services rather than traditional media relations. It offers an impressive suite of integrated communications services, with particular expertise in sustainability, corporate and financial communications, crisis, and—increasingly—digital and social media, and serves an impressive roster of international clients, including Google, PwC, BASF, BP Biofuels, Audi, Roche, Embraer, Intel, Deustche Bank, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, the European Trade Comission and Singapore Airlines. In the past 12 months, it has picked up new business from Uber and Honeywell, helping the firm achieve 10 percent growth and exceed $5 million in fee income for the first time, despite challenging economic conditions in the Brazilian market. It also added management depth, hiring Ediana Balleroni—a veteran of in-house roles at Pepsico and Telefônica—as partner. That addition means that IC now has a team of 88 across offices in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (as well as a network of professionals in second tier cities). Highlights of the past year ranged from helping BASF open a new complex in Camaçari to launching controversial ride-sharing service Uber to introducing a new crisis communications system for various clients.
 
Textual Serviços de Comunicação
Founded 20 years ago by sisters Carina and Adryana Almeida—both veterans with leading Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Brasil—Textual has developed into one of the top 20 PR firms in the region’s largest marketplace, with more than 80 employees in its Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. But the firm punches above its weight in terms of its strategic services, which range from risk assessment to key message development to influencer relations to content development—working across sectors as varied as financial services, energy, health, beauty, real estate, media, entertainment and sports. That blend of capabilities has helped Textual build a client list that includes Coca-Cola Brazil, banking leader Itaú, TV Globo, the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Abbott Brazil, cosmetics brand Natura, and anti-piracy group BSA. Its work in the sporting arena (it has worked on the past five Olympic Games and the past six World Cups) helped it to a particularly successful year, with a team of more than 30 working with Coca-Cola, Itaú and five other clients on crisis preparedness, digital communications, and event management around the World Cup, and—having helped Rio secure the next Olympics—being named official corporate agency for Rio 2016.
 

Mexico Agency of the Year

Porter Novelli
Founded in 1993 as a technology public relations specialist, the former Martec was acquired by Omnicom’s Porter Novelli four years later. It has been operating under the Porter Novelli brand—and under the leadership of founding partners Karen Ovseyevitz and Sandra Kleinburg—since then, growing into a full-service firm that has drawn on its tech heritage to develop market-leading capabilities in data and analytics and digital and social media. Key clients include a host of multinationals: Avaya, Bayer Latin America, BMW, British Airways, Dannon, Dow, Expedia, Goodyear, Hershey's, HP, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, Kingston, Microsoft Latin America, Qualcomm, Pfizer Latin America, P&G (Ariel, Gillette, Herbal Essences, Venus, brands), Salesforce.com, The Home Depot, and UPS. New business in 2015 came from American Express Mexico and American Express Latin America, BMC Software, Endless Mobile, Lasserfiche, ASCHOCO (National Chocolate Association), Praxair, Red Hat, and WAP (World Animal Protection), contributing to health 10 percent growth—the firm ended last year with fee income of 67.4 million pesos (about $4 million) and a team of more than 90. Its work over the past year included a breast implant education campaign for J&J, the development of a news center for Microsoft, and a digital influencer campaign for Gillette.
 

Latin American Agency of the Year (excl. Argentina, Brazil, Mexico)

Extend Communications
The military dictatorship in Chile came to an end in 1990; a little over a year later, Extend Communications was founded, and in the 25 years since the firm has benefited from and contributed to the growth of a more tolerant and open society in its native market, using communication to build consensus between media and business, employers and workers, civic institutions and government. Today the firm has a team of 85—one of the largest in Chile—drawn from diverse backgrounds and led by founding partners Marilú Velasco and Pilar Velasco and an additional 13 partners. The firm prides itself on impressive client retention—13 years with Agrosuper, the largest agribusiness holding in the country; 20 years with Tresmontes Luchetti, one of the largest food companies in Chile—and also works with companies such as Aramark, home improvement retailer Sodimac, telecommunications leader Entel, and healthcare clients Indisa and Grupo BUPA. New clients last year included Nike, Uber, and Ocean Spray. Extend is ISO certified for quality management, a member of Chile Transparente (the Chilean chapter of Transparency International), and last year was certified as a B Corporation (for companies that benefit society as well as their shareholders). The firm has been Weber Shandwick’s Chilean partner since 2001 and recently signed a collaboration agreement with Interel, the global public affairs consultancy.