Regional Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year 2015 | Holmes Report
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2015 Asia-Pacific Regional Consultancies of the Year

Our 2015 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 100 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the region.

Winners were announced at the Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards in Hong Kong on 23 September. Analysis of all firms across geographic and specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below.

Asia-Pacific Consultancy of the Year — Ogilvy PR (WPP)

With fee income estimated at around $130 million as the result of 12 percent growth last year, Ogilvy Public Relations is still the number one multinational in the Asia-Pacific region, and Asia is still the number one region for the WPP-owned agency. With 29 offices in 23 cities, the firm has the largest footprint across the region, with its greatest strength in the Greater China market.

The longtime market leader is also distinguished by a veteran leadership team that includes 30-year China hand Scott Kronick, now regional president and CEO; Debby Cheung, president of the Shanghai market for all of Ogilvy; and Southeast Asia president Andrew Thomas.

Beyond that, the firm has a close working relationship with sister agencies Ogilvy & Mather and Ogilvy One, allowing it to offer genuinely integrated programs, and a formidable digital and social media practice under the [email protected] banner.

The client list includes the likes of Intel, Nestle, Ford, IHG, Twitter, IBM, American Express, Netflix, Caterpillar, UPS, Mars-Wrigley, and Johnson & Johnson as well as Asian multinationals such as a campaign for Visit Britain in China to youth marketing work for Reckitt Benckiser in Thailand—PH

Finalists

Edelman (Independent)

Now that more than a year has passed since the strange sequence of events that culminated in the disappearance—and resurfacing 10 weeks later—of China CEO Steven Cao, it is safe to say that the controversy, while troubling, has had minimal impact on Edelman’s business in the region. That business grew by 11 percent last year, with the China operation, now under the leadership of acting CEO Bob Grove, up by 12 percent. That leaves Edelman just shy of $100 million in the region, with 1,500 people serving a client list that includes Tata, Samsung, BMW, HP, Shell, Microsoft, Mars, Symantec, eBay, and Unilever. Almost all of those clients are now being served across multiple markets—Shell (13), Samsung (12), HP (11), Samsung (10)—in the region. Many of the new business successes last year were multi-market assignments too, including Bosch, EDB Singapore, and PayPal, while others included Manchester City FC in Japan, Deppon in China, Microsoft and Taj Hotels in India, and Audi in Australia. The firm also has a well-balanced portfolio across practices, a strong commitment to both professional development (382 training courses across the region) and thought leadership (from the Trust Barometer to the Words of a Generation film series). David Brain, who took over regional leadership in 2011, has built a strong and stable leadership team including Grove in North Asia, Robert Holdheim in South Asia (and the Middle East and Africa, which also reports to Brain), and Iain Twine in Southeast Asia and Australia. New additions last year included many from diverse backgrounds: Carol Potter, formerly of BBDO, as executive vice chairman; Tim Riches from FutureBrand as Australia CEO; Robert Kay from Leo Burnett as Malaysia managing director; and Catriona Muspratt-Williams, former head of insights for Mediacom, as head of the Edelman Berland research operation in Singapore. The creative work remains strong too, with two In2 SABRE wins and 18 SABRE nominations for clients such as Adobe, HP and Samsung.—PH

FleishmanHillard (Omnicom)

FleishmanHillard is on a mission to become “the world’s most complete global communications firm,” reflected in the big bets it has made in areas such as data and digital, public affairs (especially through the Vox brand) and paid media. The firm celebrated 20 years in Asia last year with healthy growth: Thailand and the Philippines were top performers, with double-digit growth in Hong Kong and Malaysia too, while India has doubled in size in the last five years and China and Japan continue to be among the leaders in their respective markets. A strong stable management team is spearheaded by regional president Lynne Anne Davis, managing director of client service Joanne Wong, and marked leaders like Shin Tanaka in Japan and Li Hong in China (notably, 16 of 18 GMs in the region are natives), all of whom have been in their positions at least 15 years. That helps to ensure a strong spirit of collaboration between offices—80 percent of the top 20 clients work with more than one office—and impressively low turnover rates across the region. The firm has established relationships with a mix of western multinationals and local companies: SAP, HP, P&G, Emerson, Huawei, Philips, Li Ning, Melco Crown Entertainment, Nestle, Schindler Holding. And it has picked up new business from Alibaba, Yamaha, Nexon, Wemakeprice, China CNR Corporation, Wencheng, Gongzhu International Foundation, CR Beverage, Sparx Group, Marsh Japan, Mengniu, and Carlton Mansfield. Great work ranged from the CFA Institute Global Market Sentiment Survey, showcasing the firm’s research and planning capabilities, to a couple of award-worthy campaigns on behalf of Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, to a major healthcare initiative on behalf of SAP.—PH

MSLGroup (Publicis Groupe)

Publcicis-owned MSLGroup has been the fastest-growing western firm in Asia over the past five or six years, with a series of major acquisitions in China and India giving it perhaps the largest headcount in the region, and bringing it level with longer established firms like Ogilvy in terms of revenue. And while growth gets more difficult to sustain once an agency hits that kind of level, MSL does not appear to have taken its foot off the accelerator: digital revenue this year is particularly impressive, up by better than 50 percent, and revenue per head is also increasing as MSL takes on bigger, broader and more strategic assignments. The firm’s largest clients in the region include P&G, United Technologies, Hyundai, Huawei, IKEA and Nissan, and over the past 12 months the firm has picked up assignments in China from Ping An Bank, New Balance, Keppel Land China, AXA, Westland Milk Products, and Siemens, and in India from Coca-Cola, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vibrant Gujarat, DHL, and more. The firm’s 13 Asia-Pacific SABRE Award nominations ranges from consumer work like the Dongfeng Citroën New Elysee Journey to Mount Everest to public affairs campaigns such as the Global CEO Conclave for the Government of Gujarat and Gujarat Gas to technology work like the Huawei Fan Celebration. In all of this, the firm has been aided by its i3 (insight, integration, impact) strategy and its iQube planning methodology, which ensures a robust, data-driven approach and a focus on real results. Equally important is the “Have Heart” initiative to nurture and develop talent in a market where turnover is still a major challenge.—PH

Weber Shandwick (Independent)

After seeing Asia-Pacific revenues triple since 2009—fee income in the region was up by better than 25 percent again in 2014—Weber Shandwick will hit the $100 million level in 2015, solidifying is position as one of the market leaders in Asia. Revenue growth was impressive in most major markets—China, in particular, but better than 20 percent in Thailand, Korea, India, and Malaysia—and across disciplines, with digital not surprisingly leading the way thanks to the launch of Mediaco, which manages content creation across platforms and channels. One key is a stable leadership team, the return of regional chairman Tim Sutton to London notwithstanding: Baxter Jolly was appointed chief executive offer, Asia Pacific in July 2015, after a decade with the firm, while Tyler Kim continues to lead Korea and the corporate and crisis practice, and Darren Burns is head of the China operations, while Valerie Pinto took over leadership of the India operations last November. The firm continues to work with an impressive client list that includesAbbott Laboratories, Facebook/Instagram, General Motors, MasterCard, McDonalds, Mundipharma, Nestle (Nespresso), Network Appliance (NetApp), Ocean Spray, Pfizer, Temasek and Unilever and picked up new business from Crayola, Dolby, Japan Science & Technology (JST), London School of Business, Motorola Solutions, Peelports, 28th SEA Games, SONOS and Spotify in 2014 (as well as the successful Beijing Olympic bid) and Amazon, Delphi, Eaton, Goldman Sachs, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle, Olympus, Prudential Financial, and Samsung so far in 2015.—PH