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Holmes Report

For most of its 50 years, the European Union has been regarded—not without justification—as one of the worst communicators among the world’s major institutions. But if the EU has never been particularly effective when it comes to explaining its mission and value to citizens, it has steadily improved as a marketer of social and health-related messaging, in part because of its increasing willingness to work with sophisticated outside agencies, of which Brussels-based Mostra is one of the most prominent. 

Mostra was created in 1998, the merger of two Belgian marketing companies—Tango (a specialist in institutional communications for Belgian organizations) and AVC Rainbow (which focused primarily on audio-visual communication)—both founded in the mid 80s. At the time, the merged firm had about 15 people; today it has more than 150—including nationals of every EU member state—and a broad range of capabilities arranged into five divisions: audiovisual production and media relations (headed by Elena Linczenyiova); publications, web and events (Tobias Schafler); EU and the world (Luc Dumoulin); DG Employment (Emmanuelle Pros-Dawson); and Europarl TV (Erik Morren). What the firm does best, however, is large-scale, integrated public education and social marketing campaigns on behalf of EU institutions, working to bridge the gap between the EU and its citizens and other stakeholders. 

That’s a business that has been eschewed by most of the large multinational agencies, who rarely have offices in all EU markets and find coordinating campaigns across 27 countries difficult, and who have been known to complain that the EU is less than generous with its budgets and often expects little more than tactical execution—translation, production, distribution—from outside agencies. But by focusing on this niche, taking the time to understand the complex bidding process that accompanies such campaigns, and providing both strategic thinking and flawless implementation, Mostra has managed to turn it into a lucrative business: public relations fees last year were in excess of €7 million, up by better than 40 percent and enough to earn the firm a place in the top 100 on our annual Holmes Report 250 list of the world’s largest public relations consultancies. 

Mostra provides campaign planning and execution, helping clients identify target populations, create key messages, select the appropriate channels and tools, and evaluate success; it provides media relations support and creates communications tools (including printed and electronic publications, promotional materials, information stands—everything except paid advertising, in fact); manages events; produces audiovisual materials (for traditional broadcast media and increasingly in the digital realm as well, creating and managing the content of websites and incorporating multimedia elements into campaigns.  

The firm’s clients include a host of the European Commission’s directorates general, including Agriculture & Rural Development, Trade, Communication, Development, Education & Culture, Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities, Energy & Transport, Enterprise & Industry, Environment, EuropeAid, External Relations, Fisheries & Maritime Affairs, Health & Consumer Protection, Internal Market, Regional Policy, and Research; the Committee of the Regions; the European Commission delegations to Bosnia & Herzegovina and China; CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization); EACI (Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation); and ERC (European Research Council), with the European Parliament a key addition this year. 

High-profile assignments included support for the EU’s pan-European anti-discrimination campaign, which included a roadshow in 10 EU countries, supplemented by events in all 27 member states, an Internet portal in 23 languages, video reports, brand and logo development, publications and other promotional materials, and media relations. The firm also worked for the European delegation to

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