The Swedish public relations market is one of the strongest in Europe: Sweden may be the only country in the world where the largest PR firms are as large as the largest advertising agencies, and considered by potential employees to be as prestigious as management consulting firms. But historically, the dominant firms— Hallvarsson & Halvarsson, JKL, Kreab—have focused primarily on corporate and financial communications and public affairs, rather than on creative, brand-building PR. As a result, the Swedish PR industry has a reputation for being serious, academic, and perhaps even a little dull. Brand PR has the potential to change all that.
The firm specializes in working with senior management on strategic branding, using a proprietary approach it calls The Open Source Brand Process, which aims to involve consumers (using crowdsourcing and other engagement techniques) in building and defining brands.
Founder Pontus Nystrom was formerly European creative director at Edelman and executive vice president in the firm’s digital operation and has won more awards over the course of his career than any other Swedish PR consultant. He has quickly built a team of around 10, many of them veterans of the Edelman UFO office in Stockholm, many of them bringing diverse backgrounds in advertising and branding as well as public relations, and with experience in creating guerrilla marketing, word-of-mouth and digital media driven campaigns. New additions to the team this year include art director Anders Sahlquist and web strategy expert Dennis Elfstrom.
While the firm is still less than a year old, it has enjoyed several notable successes on the new business from, most notably picking up the Svenska Spel (state betting monopoly) account. Other major accounts include Swedish Railways and Finnish gas company ST1, and travel company Apollo/Kuoni, for which BrandPR is managing an integrated brand positioning campaign—it includes advertising, website design and digital and traditional media relations—around the concept of “a better journey,” a concept that includes addressing the social and environmental implications of travel as well as the quality of service.
“Brand PR has demonstrated a high level of strategic understanding for launching a new company and brand in our very tough business environment,” says Jonas Sidena, CEO of ST1, Sweden. “An open and honest relation with the management team, on a peer-to-peer level, has formed an efficient work group with high level of creativity. The capacity to integrate between market positioning and PR has successfully helped us to come through with our message.”
Nystrom’s past experience working on an international level means the firm has a well-developed network of partner agencies in other key markets.