NEW YORK—US consumer powerhouse PainePR, UK agencies Band & Brown and Brando, and Canadian firm Optimum—all owned by international holding company Vision7—are joining forces under the Citizen Relations brand.
While the firms will maintain their own identities—operating as Citizen Paine in the US, Citizen Brando in the UK, and Citizen Optimum in Canada—they will form a combined firm with about 200 employees around the world and the ability to serve clients both regionally and globally. The member agencies will be bolstered by strategic alliances in Asia Pacific, Latin America and India.
Daryl McCullough (pictured), chief executive of PainePR and now chairman of Citizen Relations, says the firms have been working together for the past five years, particularly in areas such as digital and social media and corporate responsibility, and that “we feel there’s a massive opportunity for a midsize global firm.”
Bryan McCleary, director of external relations responsible for Procter & Gamble’s $10 billion baby care division, agrees. He says the absence of different cost centers in different offices is a strong selling point, because many larger global agencies find it difficult to access talent that resides in disparate markets.
McClearly also likes the positioning suggested by the name Citizen Relations. “I think the name is symbolic because it’s about people rather than about the founders of the firm. At P&G, we are trying to move away from thinking about people as consumers, to start to think about them as citizens and human beings, and the name really speaks to that need.”
Adds McCullough: “Citizen Relations reflects the democratization of communication and the changing landscape of how people receive and share information.” He says the new firm will leverage “the full suite of assets available to modern communications professionals, from traditional media and influencers to social media and digital offerings.”
The four founding agencies are all members of the EDC Communications group of companies—a unit of Vision7—that also includes digital agency Dare and integrated marketing agency Elvis Communications.