Creative PR Consultancies of the Year, EMEA 2015 | Holmes Report
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2015 EMEA Creative Consultancies of the Year

Our 2015 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 100 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the region.

Winners will receive their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 19 May. Analysis of all Winners and Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below.

Creative Consultancy of the Year — Trigger (Norway)

No independent firm in Europe garnered more SABRE Award nominations this year than Norway’s Trigger: it was recognized for its #StoptheWedding child-bride awareness campaign for Plan Norway; its marketing efforts for the Norwegian Air Shuttle; a wonderful video series for Jordan Painting Tools; “The Ham Destination” for Nortura; and an education initiative for The Norwegian School of Information Technology—a truly impressive variety of work, made all the more impressive by the fact that Trigger is still less than five years old. Last year, furthermore,Trigger bested more celebrated rivals to rank third in the Holmes Report's Global Creative Index.

The firm was launched in 2010 by founder and managing director Preben Carlsen, whose youth (he is 33) belies his experience, which includes time at leading local independent PR-operatørene and as communication manager at IKEA Norway. It sought to challenge a local industry that still revolved around traditional media relations, and it has demonstrated that a focus on engagement—supported by audience analysis tools and content creation capabilities—rather than coverage can lead to great work and healthy growth.

The firm now has a team of 28 and fees of more than €3 million, up by 44 percent last year. Trigger works with IKEA, adidas, Norwegian, H&M, Telenor, Stabburet, Plantasjen, The Ministry of Climate & Environment, NHO, Statoil Fuel & Retail, Sony Playstation and The Norwegian Public Roads, with new additions last year including DNB (the largest bank in Norway), Synsam, Rom Eiendom, KLP, Westerdals School of Communications, Den lille nøttefabrikken, Slettvoll, NITH, Active Against Cancer, and the Norwegian Association for Blind People.—PH​

Finalists

All Channels (Bulgaria/Independent)

Bulgaria’s All Channels is one of a handful of Eastern European firms that have earned a reputation for bold risk-taking, as evidenced by one of the firm’s three SABRE Award nominated campaigns this year: an anti-domestic violence initiative on behalf of Avon, which took an edgy approach: unveiling a new brand of makeup especially developed to cover bruises caused by abuse before eventually revealing that the new “product” was in reality part of a “Speak Out Against Domestic Violence” effort.

That’s the kind of courageous creativity that has helped All Channels grow over 14 years into one of the largest—60-plus employees and fees of more than €3 million in 2014—and most awarded PR agencies. Fees were up by close to 12 percent last year, with ongoing work for local and international companies including Raiffeisenbank, Philips, AVON, Mtel (Austria Telecom), BASF, Tishman International, LG, Discovery Networks, H&M, Durex, Coca Cola, EKO Bulgaria, and AstraZeneca. The firm also works with the European Commission in Bulgaria, the European Parliament, UNICEF, and seveal leading NGOs. Other SABRE nominated campaigns included a Facebook gamification campaign for Mentina jelly bonbons and creating a “Soundtrack of the City” to help market Philips’ headphones.—PH

 
Manifest (UK/Independent)

Manifest likes to describe itself as a small consultancy that delivers 'bold, brilliant and beautiful campaigns.' And that, when you consider some of the UK agency's work, may not be your usual agency rhetoric. In particular, Manifest's partnership with upstart beer brand Brewdog has helped it develop some of the most audacious PR campaigns in recent years, perhaps none more so than 'Hello My Name is Vladimir', a 'protest beer' that highlighted Russia's anti-gay policies in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, boosted the brand's sales and helped heighten its global awareness.

Work like that is developed by a relatively young team led by former Kaizo exec Alex Myers, who has clearly put a considerable amount of thought into how a small PR firm (or 'creative collective' as he would call it) should be best structured. There is a strong focus on innovation and experimentation, along with a flair for risk-taking that is clearly helped by working with such clients as Brewdog, Hailo, Viber, Zopa and GumTree. There is also a dedicated content division that has helped grow overall fee income by 90% over the past 12 months to more than £1m, generated by its 18-person London office.— AS


Kaper
(UK/Karmarama)

Kaper, the firm set up by former MySpace comms director Chris McCafferty in 2009, is not creative for the sake of it. The firm prides itself on delivering commercial goals rather than just coverage, and has distinguished itself from many of the its London consumer peers by developing a strong capabilitiy across traditional and digital PR, experiential and content creation.

Being part of the broader Karmarama Group clearly helps Kaper when it comes to insight and creativity, but the firm's focus on developing 'cultural currency' is a pivotal part of this mix, helping it develop some groundbreaking video work for the Fairtrade Foundation, along with eye-catching creative work for Unilever Foods, Unilever Foundry, Ladbrokes, English Heritage and Maille.

More than 50% of Kaper's revenue now comes from digital, largely content and video, reflecting its ability to develop cutting-edge digital content platforms for Unilever Foods and Maille. For the latter brand, the firm also dreamed up the 'Le Drunch' marketing campaign, involving a pop-up restaurant, online content and social engagement, in-store retailer activation, above-the-line print advertising, traditional PR and Google Ad Words to create a trend that gripped the high-end foodie scene.

The agency also developed the Native Age project for Huffington Post, generating $175k in revenue, and some thought-provoking campaigns for British Gas and the WWF. All of which helps to explain how Kaper grew by 60% in 2014 to almost £2m, reflecting its emergence as one of the market's more interesting firms.  — AS


Unity (UK/Independent)

From its earliest days as a scrappy start-up, Unity has demonstrated impressive creativity, providing clients—many of them charities—with high-impact campaigns thanks to an approach that balanced “left brain” reliance on data and analytics with “right brain” creativity, generating unique insights that helped clients connect with consumers and other stakeholders. Just as important as the creative process is the belief system: founders Nik Govier and Gerry Hopkinson say they want to create campaigns that “increase human happiness,” a reflection of the need for companies to build mutually-beneficial relationships with their stakeholders.

Now coming up on its 10th anniversary, Unity is now attracting larger clients with bigger budgets: Amazon, Ebico, Lucozade, Post Office, IWF, Direct Line and PizzaExpress joined the firm’s portfolio last year and there were expanded remits from the likes of Butlins, while M&S, Netmums and Ribena continue to rely on the firm for high-profile work. Those clients helped the firm grow by 27% last year and Unity now has a headcount of 30; it even launched a conflict brand, last year (Tin Man, itself nominated for two SABRE Awards this year). Govier and Hopkinson have been joined at the helm by Davnet Doran, a longtime employee who was promoted to managing director last year, and brought in Katy Stolliday (formerly of W and Frank) as director.

High-profile work included a continuation of the firm’s “schwopping” campaign for M&S, marketing Butlins as a family-friendly destination, and educating teens about the danger of sunbeds for Liverpool City Council.—PH