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

2015 French 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 received 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.

French Consultancy of the Year — Wellcom (Independent)

Wellcom has long been recognized as one of the premier independent public relations firms in the French market, both for its focus on client satisfaction and for its innovative strategic approach, with its emphasis on values-driven management and positioning—a subject on which agency founder Thierry Wellhoff quite literally wrote the book, having published The Values in early 2009.

That provides the foundation for Wellcom’s work in change management and crisis communications, and provides strategic direction to the firm’s more traditional PR work, which includes internal and external communications, and is supplemented expertise in events—a dedicated practice was launched in 2012—and online communications. It also underpins a strategic approach a strategic approach called Origami, which is focused on reconciling the company image with public perceptions.

Wellhoff launched Wellcom in 1981 after working at Agence France-Presse and Eurocom. The firm now employs more than 90 consultants and is worth around 9m Euros, after growing by an impressive 10% in 2014, led by new business from such clients as Assu 2000, Astera, Exco, FHP-MCO, GR Total, INRA, Lepetitjournal.com, Point S, Rockwool, Square and Tel4Expat. That haul adds to an existing client roster that already features major players across all sectors, including EA Sports, GDF Suez, Ikea, Janssen, Volkswagen and Travelcar.

Much of this success is down to Wellcom's ability to diversify across sectors and specialist services areas, into proprietary research, digital monitoring and content production. Key new hires included digital specialist Olivier Cimelière and corporate specialist François Belz, joining a leadership team that is one of the best in the market. —AS

Finalists

APCO Worldwide (Independent)

APCO is not as large as most of its multinational peers in Paris (or anywhere else in Europe for that matter) but it does have a unique offer built around public affairs and broader strategic counsel, and it also has momentum, having doubled in size over the past four years and seen fee income increase by 14% in difficult conditions last year. The firm’s current good run of form began under Claire Boussagol (now running the Brussels office) and has continued under Nicolas Bouvier, who serves as chairman of Europe as well as managing director in Paris, where he leads a team of more than 30 including new additions Victor Cohen (who joined from Hill+Knowlton Strategies last year) and Floriane Delandre (from Publicis Consultants).

Clients include Bayer, ebay, Elsevier, and Facebook, with new business in 2014 from Disney Cruises, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Uber. Expertise ranges from the ability to stage major events, like the Institute’s conference in Paris, featuring speakers like Thomas Picketty and Joseph Stiglitz. The team also helped France with its image overseas, making a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and serve as leads for APCO work in northern and sub-Saharan Africa.—PH

Agence Elan (Edelman)

The September 2014 merger between Edelman and Agence Elan created a French powerhouse, one of the largest western-style public relations firms in a market dominated by locally-based agencies built on a distinctly French model. Marion Darrieutort, who left Edelman in 2008 to launch Elan, had built a very modern firm that challenged the conventions of the market, blending expertise in corporate and marketing communications, supplemented by research and planning and expertise in influencer outreach and social media.

By the time of the merger, Elan had overtaken the local Edelman office and had fees in excess of €8 million. More important, from the acquirer’s point of view, Darrieutort’s firm had done a great job of attracting French multinationals—its client list included Danone, L'Oreal, Sofitel and Suez—that often eschew the US-based companies in the market.

Importantly, the Elan management team remained in place post-integration with Darrieutort running the combined offer (which has fees of €16 million and about 160 people) and her business partner Nicolas Narcisse taking on the role of vice-president. Having won several SABRE Awards in the past, including best in show for its work celebrating L’Oreal’s anniversary, the firm’s work is nominated for two this year: for its “Badoit Express” campaign for Danone Eaux, which saw waiters serving water to drivers on the Rue Rivoli, and its “Herbiers en Scene” series of education workshops for Klorane Institute.— PH


Hopscotch Paris

It has been quite a journey over the past decade for Hoscotch, which began life in 2002 as a challenger brand-focused primarily on the technology sector, and a pioneer in the digital realm; was acquired in 2010 by Le Public Systeme, one of the leading events and communications groups in France, and became the centerpiece of its public relations offer. Earlier this year Hopscotch was adopted as the group name, an umbrella brand for 550 consultants providing integrated branding, communications and events services. As a result of the rebranding, Hopscotch (the French public relations operation) became Hopscotch Paris, and the group's events business, Le Public Systeme PCO, became Hopscotch Congres.

Group revenues were flat in 2014, but but the firm continues to work with a formidable client list, including brands like Microsoft, Renault, Sony, Accor, Samsung Mobile, and Safran, and to produce some truly impressive work: its social media and Facebook campaign for Sofitel, and a campaign to ensure confidence in ground meat for Fleury Michon in the wake of the "horsegate" scandal. In addition to the full-service, integrated offer in Paris, Hopscotch Group also includes a Hopscotch Europe service-an office in Dublin with a multilingual staff that serves as a press office for the whole of continental Europe, Hopscotch Africa, Hopscotch Américas and Hopscotch Asia.— PH