European Consultancies of the Year 2005
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

European Consultancies of the Year 2005

Edelman is the only independent among the top tier firms, and so it’s the only one that releases financial information, and that information looked pretty good last year, with the firm ending its financial year in June with regional revenues of €44.8 million.

Paul Holmes

Pan European Consultancy of the Year

Edelman is the only independent among the top tier firms, and so it’s the only one that releases financial information, and that information looked pretty good last year, with the firm ending its financial year in June with regional revenues of €44.8 million, up about 22 percent over the year before. Major wins included Agfa, for public affairs and corporate communications; Diageo (for the Budweiser brand in Germany); and Samsung, for its sponsorship of the 2006 Turin winter Olympics; and Nutricia, which retained both Edelman U.K. and JCPR.

Edelman now has 400 people in Europe, making it one of the strongest of the U.S.-based multinationals, and it has critical mass in most of the major markets. The U.K. operation, with 170 people, ranks third in the PR Week league table. In Germany, the firm has about 50 people in three offices (Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich), which puts Edelman just outside the top 15, but makes it one of the stronger U.S. multinationals in the market. There are 40 people each in Italy and Spain, and the Brussels office, while not yet in top tier, has about 15 people and a client list that includes the toy industry trade association, Chiquita, and UPS.

Edelman is growing in both size and reputation. It has strength in every major European market. And the firm’s intellectual leadership—including its annual trust survey, which compares trust levels of corporate, NGO and government brands across regions—is impressive.

Consumer Consultancy of the Year
Lexis Public Relations

Founded in 1992, Lexis had 2004 fee income of £4.7 million—up about 16 percent over last year—putting it just outside the top 10 of the post-Sarbanes Oxley league tables. But the firm has been able to hold on to its image as a creative hot shop despite its growth and maturity—earning PR Week Awards this year for Campaign of the Year, Consumer Marketing Campaign of the Year, and Corporate Marketing Campaign of the Year—and has clearly answered any questions about whether Hugh Birley and his young management team would be able to sustain the momentum built by founders Bill Jones and Tim Adams, who departed in 2002. In fact, they’ve built on that momentum, and the past 12 months have seen 23 new business wins, including Birdseye (healthcare and nutrition and product marketing), Sprite and Persil in the consumer practice; the Rugby Football Union and in the sports sector; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a sponsorship project; Rentokil; and Esselte, the world’s biggest office supplies company, in the business communications arena.

Corporate Consultancy of the Year

CNC was founded in 2001 as a management consultancy specializing in communications, working with clients on issues at the nexus between corporate strategy and reputation, focused on three main audiences: financial, political, and the general public. It has built up a team of senior counsellors with expertise that includes investor relations and financial communications, public affairs and social responsibility, employee communications and change management, led by Christoph Walther, who trained as a lawyer before becoming global head of corporate communications at DaimlerChrysler, and partner Roland Klein, who was head global communications and investor relations for Ericsson. For about half of its clients, CNC works directly with the CEO, and for many of them, it works so closely with the senior leadership team that it has been called on to provide interim leadership for the in-house communications team and to help in the search for permanent in-house PR leadership.

Healthcare Consultancy of the Year
Chandler Chicco Agency

America’s leading independent healthcare public relations firm, ChandlerChicco Agency opened its U.K. office in 1998, and has grown to become one of the largest healthcare specialists in the market, with revenues climbing from less than £500,000 in 1999 to £3.3 million last year (and an anticipated £4.2 million by the end of 2005), and a well-rounded offering that includes a growing medical education practice—branded as Litmus—to supplement its traditional public relations offering. Highlights of a busy year in 2004-5 included new business from Merck KgA (the oncology treatment Erbitux, formerly represented by Burson-Marsteller); Novartis (for asthma drug Xolair); and Pfizer (for its smoking cessation drug Varenicline). They join a client roster than includes Allergan’s Botox (for U.K. and European PR); Amgen (internal, product and corporate communications); AstraZeneca’s Arimidex and Exanta; three Novartis products, all handled on a global basis; Pfizer’s Viagra, and its pain franchise; and three UCB brands.

Financial Consultancy of the Year
Financial Dynamics

If 2003 was, as chief executive Charles Watson says, “a year of liberation” for Financial Dynamics, which bought itself back from Cordiant with the assistance of global private equity firm Advent International, enabling the firm to offer ownership of about 40 percent of the business to senior FD employees, then 2004 was a year in which all the hoped-for benefits of the firm’s new ownership structure—greater cooperation across geographies, more multi-office business—began to be realized. In the past 12 months, the firm has won or grown more than 30 pieces of business that are now served on both sides of the Atlantic and 15 percent of the firm’s revenue is now derived from cross-border business. It also returned to the top of the mergermarket rankings for M&A activity in the U.K, was number one in Germany, and number three in France.

Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year
APCO Europe

APCO’s European operations have been growing steadily—and becoming more profitable—for the past several years, and 2004 continued the trend, with revenues of €14.6 million, up a little more than 10 percent over the previous year. The firm is projecting even stronger growth in 2005, and expects to finish the year with European revenues of around €16.3 million—about 30 percent of the group’s worldwide fees. The business has been growing organically—long-time clients like Microsoft, GML, Dow Corning, Borealis, and Coca-Cola are being served in new markets or with additional disciplines—and with new business, including CIAA, the Business Software Alliance, Time Warner (for policy analysis and crisis counsel), the World Customs Organisation (for media relations), and pharmaceutical industry group EFPIA.

Technology Consultancy of the Year

Hotwire revenues were up 30 percent to £2.9 million in 2004, and the firm’s performance in the first half of 2005 was even more impressive, as it grew by around 70 percent—on track for more than £4 million this year. The firm has signed an impressive 31 new clients in the past 12 months (21 in the U.K, five each in France and Germany) with highlights including Intellect, Chordiant, MYOB, Pantone, Singapore Economic Development Board, Internet Watch Foundation, Logic 3, ALK and Blinkx and the new financial services practice adding Mosaic Software, Thales e-Transactions and ClarityBlue are the practices first clients. Just as important, the firm is handling an increasing volume of pan-European business. More than half of the clients in the French and German offices use Hotwire’s European network, which includes partners in other countries handpicked for the task at hand, and those two offices are also driving business into the network, so that firm is not dependent on the U.K. to drive new business. Typical is Hotwire’s work for RIM, helping to establish Blackberry as one of the powerhouse tech brands across Europe, an assignment that draws on all three of the consultancy’s offices and partners in Italy and Spain.

Benelux Consultancy of the Year
Euro RSCG Bikker

Euro RSCG Bikker has about 36 people in its Rotterdam headquarters and a small office in Utrecht, which puts it in the top five in the Dutch market and describes what it does in three words: Identity, Reputation, Communications. That expresses the firm’s philosophy clearly and succinctly: Bikker works with clients to build a robust and durable identity, to enhance their reputation among all their key stakeholders, and to communicate their positioning creatively and credibly. The ideal Bikker client comes to the firm at a time of change—a merger, perhaps—and is reconsidering not only its image but its core values, and Bikker has a unique process that helps companies think through their missions, their brands, and their approach to telling their stories.

French Consultancy of the Year
Publicis Consultants

Publicis Groupe has become a major player in Europe in little more than a decade (it was founded in 1993), with rapid growth over the past five years. The French operation remains the most formidable, with 300 employees (two-thirds of them consultants) out of the group’s 450-plus people. The firm focuses in three broad areas: reputation management (which includes media relations, corporate citizenship, employee communications, crisis and issues management, and public affairs); financial image (shareholder communications, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions); and positioning and identity (corporate identity and website design).  And three capabilities stand-out, particularly when comparing Publicis to its Anglo-Saxon competitors: its strength in financial transactions, particularly in the French market; its corporate advertising capabilities, now strengthened internationally through the integration of masius; and its design expertise.

German Consultancy of the Year

Still less than a year old, Pleon (created by the merger of Omnicom’s ECC and Brodeur units across Europe) has made impressive progress through its first 250 days. It has created both a brand and the infrastructure to support it and it has started to win and serve pan-European business. In Germany, of course, it has a head start, since predecessor firm Kohtes & Klewes was the market leader, with nine offices—supplemented by another five in Austria. The firm also picked up a handful of awards, most notably earning eight nominations and four Gold awards during the inaugural European SABRE competition, for clients as varied as Microsoft and the German Ministry of Defence.

Italian Consultancy of the Year
Barabino & Partners

Italy’s largest public relations firm, Barabino & Partners has offices in Milan, Rome, Genoa (and a public affairs operation in Brussels), 75 people, revenues of around € 11.5 million in 2004, and 20 years of experience as a leader in the Italian market, where it is particularly well known for its corporate and financial communications prowess, having handled 11 privatizations, 85 share issues, and 80 mergers and acquisitions. The firm is probably best known for its work in the financial communications sector, handling more M&A and IPO work than any of its local competitors—more than a dozen deals in the first half of 2005, according to the mergermarket rankings—as well as ongoing financial communications for many major Italian companies.

New Europe Consultancy of the Year
Partner of Promotion

It’s a measure of how far public relations in Eastern European has come, and how fast, that independent firms such as Partner of Promotion can produce work worthy of competing against the best from markets with a much longer history of corporate capitalism. But compete they can, as Partner of Promotion demonstrated in winning the European SABRE Award for best crisis management campaign of last year (for its work on behalf of banking client Inteligo Financial Services) and being named as one of five finalists for the best public relations programme in Europe. Partner of Promotion now employs 29 consultants and enjoys long-term relationships with clients such as Motorola (corporate and product PR, including the launch of new GSM handsets), PKO BP and the Ministry of Finance (public education), Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Inteligo; Philips (product PR); Procter & Gamble; Statoil; 3M; and the German Embassy in Poland (public affairs and issues management)

Nordic Consultancy of the Year

Geelmuyden-Kiese, with 75 people in three Scandinavian offices is one of only a couple of independent PR firms that can credibly claim to cover the entire region. It is strongest, of course, in its home market of Norway, where it has revenues of around €5.2 million (making it the market leader), but it has a substantial operation in Denmark and is beginning to establish itself in the much more competitive Swedish market, obviously a priority if the firm wants to handle regional projects for multinational clients. The firm focuses on communications strategy first, with practice groups offering media relations, public affairs, financial communications, crisis communications and advertising and design capabilities. It has sector experience in oil and energy, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, technology and telecom and consumer products, as well as with public sector clients.

Spanish Consultancy of the Year

Ketchum’s Spanish operation, with 80 people in Madrid, is the second largest in the European network and one of the top two or three in the Spanish market, with capabilities in consumer, corporate, healthcare, and technology. It also acts as the centre of the firm’s mobile marketing expertise and offers a strong special events capability. Clients include 3com, Burger King, and Kodak. The leadership team of Tony Noel and Teresa Garcia has influence beyond their home market. Noel is leader is Ketchum Personalised Media in Europe, one of the first specialty groups focused on digital channels of one-to-one communications, including the fast-growing area of mobile marketing.

U.K. Consultancy of the Year

When founders Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales left Hill & Knowlton to launch Brands2Life in 2000, the tech sector was booming. They quickly went to work providing corporate, business-to-business and consumer public relations support to technology-driven brands. Within a few months, however, the market had flattened out and B2L found itself operating in a very different environment from the one it had anticipated, but the focus on brand-building paid off, however, and B2L has quickly established itself as one of the hottest consultancies. And the firm’s impressive growth has continued over the past 12 months, up 11 percent in 2004—to around £2.3 million in fee income—and on track for a 25 percent increase this year—with new business from Motorola; Borland; Cable & Wireless subsidiary Bulldog; SunGard; RS Components; and the Natural History Museum, a consumer assignment promoting the recent diamonds exhibition.

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