France PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2016 French PR Consultancies of the Year

Our 2016 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Winners will receive their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in Berlin on 25 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here.

French PR Consultancy of the Year: APCO Worldwide (Independent)

APCO is not as large as most of its multinational peers in Paris (or anywhere else in Europe for that matter) but it does have a unique offer built around public affairs and broader strategic counsel, and it also has momentum, having doubled in size over the past five years to around 4m euros in fee income. The firm’s current good run of form began under Claire Boussagol (now running the Brussels office) and has continued under Nicolas Bouvier, who serves as chairman of Europe as well as managing director in Paris, where he leads a team of more than 30 including new additions Victor Cohen (who joined from Hill+Knowlton Strategies last year) and Floriane Delandre (from Publicis Consultants).

Clients include Bayer, ebay, KFC, Ferrero Coca-Cola and Uber, with new business in 2015 from Kingfisher and Akon. Campaign highlights included a successful effort to modernise the legal status of animals, along with securing a historic debt restructuring deal for Ukraine. —AS


Finalists

Edelman-Elan (Independent)

The September 2014 merger between Edelman and Agence Elan created a French powerhouse, one of the largest western-style public relations firms in a market dominated by locally-based agencies built on a distinctly French model. Marion Darrieutort, who left Edelman in 2008 to launch Elan, had built a very modern firm that challenged the conventions of the market, blending expertise in corporate and marketing communications, supplemented by research and planning and expertise in influencer outreach and social media.

By the time of the merger, Elan had overtaken the local Edelman office and had fees in excess of €8 million. More important, from the acquirer’s point of view, Darrieutort’s firm had done a great job of attracting French multinationals—its client list included Danone, L'Oreal, Sofitel and Suez—that often eschew the US-based companies in the market. Importantly, the Elan management team remained in place post-integration with Darrieutort running the combined offer (which has fees of €14 million and about 160 people) and her business partner Nicolas Narcisse taking on the role of vice-president. There was new business from M&S, L’Occitane, EasyJet and Renault Nissan, along with a 2016 SABRE nominations for campaign work on behalf of Mission Baleine Bleu. — AS

Kingcom (Independent)

Kingcom’s age (the firm launched in 1990), belies a relatively youthful approach to its offering, thanks to a significant leadership reshuffle a few years ago that saw CEO/founder Isabelle Wolf pivot the agency to the more digitally minded aspirations of MD Pascale Azria. Since then, the firm has expanded its scope and services, covering media relations, digital, events, public affairs and content development, for a client base that demonstrates specific strength in the food and beauty sectors.

The firm now numbers 40 consultants, reporting more than €2m in fee income. And Kingcom’s claim that it is an agency which can cover such disparate areas as sardines, premature ejacultation and judicial mediation is well founded,  thanks to a client list that includes the French Food Federation, Andros, SEB Group, FBD Group, Grandvision, E.Leclerc, Menarini Laboratories, Merisant Group and 3M. Kingcom also plays a visible role in the market, via the efforts of Wolf in Azria, and has developed some interesting thought leadership initiatives around the food and beauty industries. Last, but not least, the firm’s creative credentials are worth noting — resulting in some eye-catching sustainability work for Groupe SEB; consumer activity for Le Syndicat Du Petit Dejeuner; and addressing the taboo around premature ejaculation for Menarini’s Priligy drug.

Thomas Marko & Associés (Independent)

Founded in 1987, Thomas Marko’s eponymous PR firm has recently expanded beyond its traditional capabilities to better reflect shifts in the overall communications landscape. This means the the firm now possesses a growing public affairs capability, to go with existing strength in media relations, content, digital and experiential. Now numbering 36 consultants, the firm reported turnover of €6m in 2015, along with gross margin of €3.7m, from a client roster that covers entertainment (Parc Astérix); consumer (Puma, Bigben); corporate (Scania); alcohol (Carlsberg, Jack Daniels); agriculture and agro-food (Ministry of Agriculture, French Refreshing Beverage Association, Barilla); and healthcare (3M Santé).

Much of the firm’s work, moreover, reflects an ability to think beyond media relations, into such areas as corporate and brand strategy for Bigben; crisis communications for Parc Asterix; sustainability work for a several companies and eco-organisations; and sophisticated public affairs work — including preventing a ‘sugar tax’ by successfully positioning French Refreshing Beverage Association members (including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Orangina Suntory, Danone Eaux and Nestle Waters) as French companies with French employees.  — AS

Wellcom (Independent)

Wellcom has already made big moves this year by joining forces with La Maison Link — which expands its expertise into the  lifestyle and consumer arena and addresses its overall mission for creating brand preferences across its sectors. The firm enjoyed gross margins rising to €10m (from €9m in the previous year) and employee count has grow from 95 to 110. But the Paris-based agency (which was last year’s winner in this category) has faced tumult in the last 12 months. For instance, Wellcom faced reduced budgets compelling the firm to to take in charge tasks like compiling reports and updating databases.  

Even so, its client portfolio remains strong with new clients like TOTAL, EA Games, Europacity, Sony, Tarket, SML joining existing clients Logitech, Mutualité Française, M.Meuble, Intersport and Carglass, among others. Notable work includes helping Ultimate Ears — a brand relatively unknown in France — become a must-have accessory for music fans via an influencer engagement and event campaign in France. Last year, the firm developed a social media guide that showcased the best examples the firm’s work from the past 12 months. The chapters are arranged as though you’re following the thought pathways required to develop a successful digital strategy. So far, the guide has garnered more 70 hits in the French media and has been downloaded more than 3,100 times. The firm also strategic approach, called Origami, is focused on reconciling the company image with public perceptions.

Founder Thierry Wellhoff launched Wellcom in 1981 after working at Agence France-Presse and Eurocom. — AaS