JOHANNESBURG—Burson-Marsteller has inked a series of deals with its affiliates to take its brand name into 24 African countries, reflecting the agency's bullish stance on the region.
After buying Arcay in South Africa and launching Engage Burson-Marsteller in Kenya and Tanzania over the past three years, the Burson-Marsteller brand will now be adopted by 12 of its affiliates on the continent, giving it a total reach of 27 countries.
The network will continue to be overseen by Africa chairman and CEO Robin Arcay, who sold her South African firm to Burson in 2011. Arcay, which built the affiliate network over the past two decades, is also dropping its identity to be known as Burson-Marsteller South Africa.
Burson-Marsteller EMEA CEO Jeremy Galbraith told the Holmes Report that the firm will also consider turning its affiliations into equity stakes, mirroring the deal it struck with Kenya's Engage last year.
“When we announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Arcay Communications in 2011, I said that the next decade would bring immense growth in the PR industry across Africa and that we were committed to growing our business there," said Galbraith.
"Two years on, with Arcay Burson-Marsteller having increased revenue by over a third, referred more than 35% in additional revenue to our network partners in Africa and having doubled profit in 2013 in the midst of one of the worst ever global economic downturns I am more than ever convinced of this view."
Galbraith added that demand for PR support is rising, from global clients across all sectors. Existing Burson clients in Africa include CNN and Nestle.
"If you have markets that are growing at the rate they are, I see it as an opportunity rather than as a challenge," said Galbraith. "As we take more equity we will want to put in more infrastructure.
Partner agencies that gave signed up to the deal include Infocus Burson-Marsteller in Ghana and Sierra Leone, Mali, Gabon and Burkina Faso; Prime Media Burson-Marsteller in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; Prime Media Burson-Marsteller in Benin; Media Link Burson-Marsteller in Liberia; Premium Burson-Marsteller in Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Conakry; and, Icon Burson-Marsteller in Cameroon and Niger.
In addition, the deal includes Optimum Burson-Marsteller in the DRC and Congo Brazzaville; Digital One Burson-Marsteller in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia; Cactus Burson-Marsteller in Ethiopia and Djibouti, Majestic Ventures Burson-Marsteller in Rwanda and Burundi; Vivid Burson-Marsteller in Zimbabwe; and, Rikhozi Burson-Marsteller in Mozambique.