Multispecialist best known for its work with consumer brands and in the entertainment sector
When French holding company Publicis acquired a 50.1 percent stake in Freud Communications earlier this year, U.K. media reports focused on the firm’s connections to the entertainment business—not surprising, given that the firm was handling public relations for the Live8 concert at the time, and counts Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood among its clients. But the reality is that Freud works across multiple disciplines including brand communications and reputation management, and what it does really well—better than anyone else in the market—is to forge alliances between big-name brands and high-profile entertainment icons, in some cases turning the brands themselves into icons.
Founded 20 years ago by Matthew Freud, who must get tired of articles referring to him as the great grandson of Sigmund Freud and the son-in-law of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the firm has grown to become one of the largest in Britain, ranked number five on the PR Week league table last year, with 95 people and fee income of just under £10 million. Growth in 2004 was a very healthy 24 percent, with new clients including Sky Networks, a trio of PepsiCo brand (Quaker, Walkers, and Tropicana) and the City of London, working with the Mayor’s office and City Hall to promote London as a truly global city, diverse in culture and talent, in countries around the world. A major addition to the staff was Fiona Noble, who joined as managing director after accumulating international experience with Hill & Knowlton and others.
Freud himself leads the firm’s strategic consultancy unit, which helps companies identify barriers to the realization of their strategies and provides broad corporate, media, brand and public affairs solutions aimed at multiple stakeholders. Creative director Paul Melody leads the strategic planning and creative development unit, which includes a robust research capability as well as more traditional creative functions. There’s a reputation management group, led by Oliver Wheeler, which focuses on corporate positioning, with a real strength in CSR; a brand communications group led by Nick Mulholland with expertise in sectors such as FMCg, leisure, retail, beauty, and youth marketing; a film and entertainment group led by Kate Lee and Patrick Keegan; and an international communications unit, bolstered by the opening of a New York office this summer.
As usual, Freud worked on a host of high-profile campaigns over the past 12 months, providing PR support to The Orange BAFTA Film Awards for the eighth consecutive year; helping Eurostar build its brand among key travel audiences; helping DaimlerChrysler launch its Maybach to high net worth individuals; and generating PR for Claudia Schiffer. In addition to the work for Live8 and organizer Bob Geldof, highlights included Nescafé generate massive national media coverage for a promotion offering customers a chance to win a £10,000 shopping spree, and creating, planning and executing Visit London’s “A Different City Every Day” tour, featuring a convoy of five specially commissioned black cabs and London cab drivers across the U.S. in September
Freud “has built up a track record of successes that demonstrates its contribution to our business above and beyond its expertise in PR,” says Georgia Field, marketing director at Nescafé. “Its approach is always to start with a strategic insight rather than simply offering tactical solutions to the brief.” Says Geoff Day, director of communications for Mercedes-Benz, “‘In this industry there are a lot of agencies that claim to be able to do it all, but Freud is one of the few to genuinely deliver on its promises.”
And Harvey Weinstein, chairman and chief executive of Miramax Films, says: “They are the best there is.”