DACH PR Consultancies of the Year, EMEA 2015 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2015 DACH 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.

DACH Consultancy of the Year — Farner (Switzerland/Independent)

For more than six decades, Farner has built connections across all sections of business and society in Switzerland—and beyond—and earned its status as the market leader, both in terms of size and stature.

With more than 80 people and fees of €16.2 million, the firm is the largest in its market—almost twice the size of its closest competitors—and continued its growth in 2014, with fees up by a healthy 15%. It works with established clients UBS, Allianz, Adobe, Xerox, Barilla, Heineken, Nestlé, Novartis Pfizer, Aldi, Monsanto, and the Birgit Nilsson Prize, with new business last year from Holcim-Lafarge, Mobiliar, LG, Axpo, Swisselectric, and Elektrolux.

Burson-Marsteller veteran Roman Geiser took over as CEO in 2012, but his predecessor Christian Koenig remains in the chairman role and with the support of fellow partners Daniel Heller, Jacqueline Moeri, Michel Grinder, and Urs Knapp, the transition has been seamless.

Historically best known for its work in the corporate and financial realm, the firm has progressed in areas both expected (the increasing use of data and analytics) and more surprising (social media and community management, visual storytelling) with the addition of chief creative officer Philipp Skrabal last year.

The firm’s work for the Birgit Nilsson Prize 2014 is a finalist in this year’s SABRE competition, as are a diabetes education campaign for Roche and economic development efforts on behalf of the Canton of Fribourg.

In addition to its own offices (Zurich, Berne, Lausanne, Geneva and Lugano) Farner is the exclusive affiliate of FleishmanHillard in the Swiss market, and also partners with Porter Novelli and Brussels-based public affairs firm Interel, crisis communications firm Regester Larkin, and financial communications network GFC/Net.—PH​

Finalists

FischerAppelt (Germany/Independent)

Germany’s largest independent public relations consultancy, in recent years FischerAppelt has transcended its roots as a fairly traditional PR firm and emerged as FischerAppelt Creative Content Group, an integrated agency with a team that includes authors, editors, copy-writers, format developers, film-makers, designers, presenters, producers, programmers, and consultants producing content for paid, owned and earned media.

The firm now employs close to 400 people across its offices in Hamburg, Berlin, Köln, Frankfurt, München and Stuttgart, as well as a newer operation in Doha, serving clients such as T-Systems, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler, Lego, KfW Bankengruppe, TUI, Deutsche Post, Postbank, KPMG, Mondelēz Deutschland, Coca-Cola, WWF, and Yahoo! It is best known for its work in the consumer space, but also leads the market in the healthcare and non-profit sectors and in public affairs and internal communications. The firm reached out to young people via celebrity videos on YouTube to help health insurance company Techniker Krankenkasse personalize health issues for a hard-to-reach audience, and worked with Coca-Cola on its online strategy “On A Journey To Content 2020,” re-launching the corporate website as a multi-channel online magazine.

While growth was modest in 2014—fees increased by single digits to €39.5m—the firm made another significant acquisition, buying moving image specialist Atkon and its clients, includingDeutsche Bahn and Bayer.—PH


Ketchum
(Omnicom Group)

The merger of Ketchum and German market leader Pleon four years ago did not go quite as smoothly as the two Omnicom agencies might have hoped, but 2014 suggests that the firm has returned to stability—at least if the quality of the creative work coming out of Ketchum branded agencies in the DACH region is anything to go by. The firm has a host of SABRE Awards nominations, for its “White Wedding” of milk and art for the Bavarian Dairy Association; for its “Simply Saxony” campaign on behalf of the chancellery; and for the creation of the “Mystery Scent Oasis” at one of the nation’s smelliest subway stations by Austrian agency Ketchum Publico on behalf of Bolton and its new deodorant.

The firm strengthened its branding capabilities in 2013 with the acquisition of well-regarded creative shop Brandzeichen, which is being integrated into the broader operation, and in the past 12 months has been strengthening its digital and social capabilities, adding Patrick Lithander from Burda Interactive as head of digital and Susanne Lämmer (former head of strategy at TLGG as senior advisor, digital strategy, and picking up new business from Bosch, Zeiss, and East German Universities, for whom it created the first What’s App campaign in the German market. Fees were up by about 2.5% (in a year when many German firms struggled to grow) and Ketchum ended the year at around €50 million in Germany, with the Austrian operation giving the firm a leadership position in the German-speaking nations.—PH


Media Consulta
(Germany/Independent)

Media Consulta’s roots go back to 1993 when the firm started as sports marketing firm. When the agency, however, won a contract with the German Bundestag in 1998, it expanded into the political arena. MC is now the only German-led global agency network, consisting of more than 80 network consultancies on all continents. In addition to its HQ in Berlin, the wholly-owned hubs include Brussels, Moscow, New York City, Rio de Janeiro and Bahrain.

The firm’s in-house offerings allow it to provide a truly integrated approach that includes: public relations, advertising, media planning, corporate publishing, digital, sport, youth, music marketing, event management and TV production. In the public sector, MC considers its niche to be nation branding, having worked with more than 30 governments in the fields of public diplomacy; tourism; investment promotion, and export promotion.

Under the direction of CEO Harald Zulauf, global fee income was €439.6m in 2014, compared to €385m the previous year. In Germany, MC grew by about 4% to € 52.4m. Key clients in political communications and nation branding include the European Commission, the German federal government, the German Bundestag and various foreign governmental authorities in countries such as the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Israel. Business won over the past 12 months include the European Year for Development 2015, the European Development Days and tourism campaigns for Israel, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the Emirate of Sharjah. In the brand sector, MC’s clients include Electrolux, Lidl, Generali Investments, LC Waikiki, Werner & Mertz and Goodyear. — AaS


Schwartz PR
(Germany/Independent)

Schwartz PR was founded as a one-man-show in a home office in 1994. The firm now has more than 20 employees and supports more than 40 clients across offices in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin. Amid this growth, founder Christoph Schwartz has prioritized maintaining a family culture rather than a corporate one.

The B2B and technology-focused firm grew around 10% from €2.3m in 2013 to €2.5m in 2014. Clients include Kabel Deutschland (a Vodafone Company), Yelp, Honeywell, Denon & Marantz, Messe Frankfurt, AppDynamics, Amba Hotels, Homejoy and Honeywell, among others.  Apart from the owner and managing director Christoph Schwartz, the firm’s management also includes Dieter Niewierra, Jörg Stelzer and Sven Kersten-Reichherzer.

Notable work includes, raising awareness for the trade fair ISH which is organized by client Messe Frankfurtz. Schwartz achieved this with a tailored campaign that integrated classical PR, media relations and social media activities including live reporting via various channels during the trade fair, and accompanying marketing measures. Another interesting example of work is for ReWalk that includes lobbying and PR activities for raising awareness of the technology. — AaS