Bell Pottinger Public Relations
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Bell Pottinger Public Relations

Holmes Report

Consumer brands and business-to-business PR with sports and sponsorship expertise


In January of 2006, QBO Bell Pottinger was dissolved and re-established as three distinct units— Bell Pottinger Business & Brand, Bell Pottinger Consumer and Bell Pottinger Sport & Sponsorship—each operating under the Bell Pottinger PR banner and as part of the Bell Pottinger Group, which brings together the majority of the public relations, public affairs and corporate communications operations of Lord Tim Bell’s Chime Communications empire. The new structure is designed to allow the individual units to focus on growth in their respective sectors, while providing a flexible offering to clients who can draw on the resources of as many of the practice areas as they need.

            David Wilson, who had been managing director for QBO took on the same role for the Bell Pottinger PR operations, supported by an experienced team in each operating unit. The business and brand group is led by managing director Kevin Read, former political speech writer and lecturer, and was strengthened with the addition of former Citigate director Christine Johnson and business journalist Mike Yuille during the year. It focuses on clients in the professional services, food and drink, utilities, transport, travel and gambling sectors. Susan McMahon serves as managing director for the sport and sponsorship firm, which provides a range of services including research and auditing, contract negotiation, PR, hospitality, event management and evaluation. The consumer group is led by industry veteran Tricia Moon and currently works with clients in automotive, financial services, retail and home and luxury goods categories.

            Bell Pottinger PR as a whole employs about 50 people, with the business and brand and the sports and sponsorship groups enjoying some growth and the consumer growth holding steady while expanding its automotive and retaining sectors. Major clients include Emirates, the Sector Skills Development Agency, Foxtons, the Food & Drink Federation and Dubai Aerospace in business and brands; Vauxhall, MFI, Fortnum & Mason, Body Shop, and the Energy Retail Association in consumer; and Emirates, Rolex, the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, Castrol and Polo Ralph Lauren in the sports and sponsorship arena. New business successes included gaming operator Aspers, Ultraspeed, and BMW Championships Golf.

            “Bell Pottinger has impressed us with its appreciation of our business and its understanding of the emphasis we place upon working to the highest professional standards,” says Jon Hunt, chief executive of Foxtons. The firm “has demonstrated its understanding of our business, our objectives and the creative ideas to help DAE achieve its goals,” adds Rashid Al Malik, project director at Dubai Aerospace.

            In addition to working closely with other members of the Chime family, which have expertise in public affairs and corporate and financial communications, QBO handles international assignments for several clients, typically developing strategy in-house and then building pan-European and global agency networks—customized to meet specific client needs—to deliver the execution. For Emirates, for example, the firm coordinates 35 agencies in 70 markets, while assignments for Dubai Sports City and Rolex are global in scope. And because QBO isn’t tied into a specific network, it can choose from a roster of firms in each market, depending on sector expertise and practice area experience required.

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