Argument was established in 2000 by Per Arne Totland, former head of corporate communications for global chemicals company Dyno and former business correspondent for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). In less than five years it has grown to become a top 10 firm in the Norwegian PR market, with 28 consultants in its Oslo operation (the Bergen branch parted ways in 2007 and is now focusing on special events under the Nor PR brand). Argument is now a pure play consulting firm, with all creative services outsourced, and is one of Norway’s major providers of financial and corporate communications as well as public affairs. The firm also offers general public relations and has a particular strong position in public campaigns.
One thing that differentiates the firm from the competition is the quality and experience of its senior management. Totland is Argument’s executive chairman and he also heads the firm’s financial and corporate communications practice. Dag Olav Stokken, a veteran in the Norwegian PR industry, is managing director and head of the public relations practice. The public affairs practice is headed by Eivind Heløe, a seasoned lobbyist and academic researcher. Other key personnel include Lise Boeck-Jakobsen, a former chief of staff at the Department of Trade and Industry and Kathrine Astrup, formerly a financial communications consultant with Citigate in London. Not surprisingly, given this depth of experience, the firm finds itself working directly with CEOs and CFOs at least as often as with communications or marketing clients.
The past 12 months have seen considerable growth across all practices, with fee income up 30 percent to around 16.2 million Norwegian kroner (€2.2 million), with the financial communications and public affairs practices both making a significant contribution. Client include StatoilHydro (one of the world’s largest oil companies), MøllerGruppen (the largest automotive organisation in the Nordic region), Nasdaq OMX, and a number of smaller companies in the oil and gas industry as well as the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the Norwegian Health Directorate.
Highlights of the past 12 months included working on the merger—Norway’s largest ever—between Statoil and Norsk Hydro’s oil and gas division to form StatoilHydro, one of the world’s largest oil companies.