Australasian PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
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2016 Australasian Consultancies of the Year

The 2016 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 100 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. Consultancy of the Year winners are announced and honoured at the 2016 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, taking place on 28 September in Hong Kong. Analysis of all Finalists (and Winners from 29 September) can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:

Australasian PR Consultancy of the Year: Eleven (Whybin\TBWA)

Firmly ensconced as one of the most creative agencies in one of the world’s most creative PR regions, Eleven shows little sign of resting on its considerable array of laurels, netting another 10 awards over the past 12 months, including being named Mumbrella’s PR Agency of the Year . The firm retains a core belief in the power of public relations to drive conversations and cultural relevance, and continues to develop cutting-edge products and campaigns to support this vision, in particular the Disruption Live methodology of insights mining, open briefing and audience planning  that has helped return some tremendous work for MJ Bale, Krispy Kreme and Virgin Mobile.

Over the past year, revenue increased by 52% and profit by 102%, propelled in part by Eleven’s ability to leverage its parent TBWA network to better effect, and by a stellar new business haul — including flagship account wins of McDonald’s and Virgin Mobile. There was also new business from Krispy Kreme, Philips Lighting, Presto, Carousell, Nissan and David Jones, joining a client roster that already features MJ Bale, Gatorade, Tourism NZ and Heritage Bank.

Roberto Pace has served as MD of the firm’s three offices (Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland) since mid-2015, helping to renew the firm’s reputation for innovation, alongside group account director Fiona Milliken and creative director Russ Tucker. There is a strong focus on training and development, to immerse staff in relevant cultural trends, while a trainer was hired to shape bespoke programmes for individual staffers.

All of that paid off with some inspiring work. MJ Bale’s ‘Unsuitable Journey’, netted two Silver Lions at Cannes, along with gold at the Global Facebook Awards, and helped to increase sales and exposure; Krispy Kreme’s ‘American Classics’ turned doughnut boxes into jukeboxes drove sales to an all-time high; and, Virgin Mobile’s ‘Data Auction’ put on a unique spin on a difficult business challenge, spurring sales and awareness. — AS


Finalists


Cannings Purple
(Independent)

Cannings Purple (then Purple Communications) started in 2004 as a two-person startup that has now grown to 34 consultants working on more than 120 active clients. In 2012, the publicly-listed STW Group purchased a 49% stake in the company through its corporate and financial public relations firm, Cannings Corporate Communications. This year, the firm’s global network grew again with a merger between STW Group and WPP AUNZ. The firm’s central office is located in Perth and supported by offices in Sydney and Canberra.

Generally speaking, 2016 has been a challenging year for Australia as the effects of the global downturn hit the country hard with a number of major resources projects cancelled or put on hold, corporate and government budgets cut and unemployment rates rising. Yet Cannings Purple — thanks to years of diversifying its business — has weathered the economic headwinds. Fee income for the fiscal year ending June 2016 was nearly $6m — a 52% growth YOY. Overall in FY2016, the firm completed  24 equity capital markets transactions and managed 19 M&A deals. Headcount increased from 27 to 34 from July 2015 to June 2016.

Key clients include Deloitte (client for 12 years), Gold Industry Group (formerly Gold Royalties Response Group),Perth Markets Limited and Aeris Resources, K+S (the world’s largest salt producer) and CEOs for Gender Equity. This year, Annette Ellis has stepped into the role of acting managing director while incumbent Warrick Hazeldine takes extended long service leave. Canning Purple has also launched a successful sub-brand, Investor Insight - a business news and investment update product, including an online news portal, media distribution service, and an integrated weekly newsletter and social media element. — AaS

N2N Communications (Independent)

N2N’s business is built around five pillars that seem intuitive enough — passionate talent, game-changing clients, challenging work, an agile approach and a healthy culture. Whether these pillars withstand the pressures of agency life depend on their execution and this is where the 20-year-old firm delivers on the promise. Financial performance reports are made available to the entire organization enabling everyone, at all levels, to participate in the direction of the business.

Last year, this meant diversifying into new sectors — consumer, travel, government and finance —  and growing its digital and social offering. This was demonstrated in the details:  the firm secured its first Cannes Lions for its work with Airbnb in 2015; N2N collaborated with Airbnb and ING Direct around an agency-wide measurement and evaluation pilot; the firm won new strategy projects for Tabcorp, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Reserve Bank of Australia and Department of Health; and built an equity partnership scheme in mid-2015.

Between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, N2N exceeded its revenue target of $4.1m by 8.5% to achieve $4.45m revenue. The firm also picked $1.1m in new business and grew its clients base from 19 to 28, with 11% growth in travel clients, 8% growth in technology clients and 21% growth in projects. The Sydney-based agency works across Australia and New Zealand and taps into a network for coverage across APAC, the UK, the US and New Zealand.

In addition to Airbnb, N2N’s big name clients include, Facebook, American Express, Schneider Electric, ING Direct, Open Table and Fox Studios. — AaS


Ogilvy PR (WPP)

With fee income estimated at almost $150 million 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. While China attracts the lion’s share of attention, Ogilvy remains a leader in the Australian public relations market, which is noted for its fragmentation—one reason that OPR presents itself there as a confederation of specialist boutiques rather than a single giant entity.

The impressive components of the overall offer include the self-explanatory Ogilvy PR Health; corporate and business-to-business technology specialist Howorth; employee engagement boutique Ogilvy Impact; brand marketing agency Pulse; market leading public affairs business Parker & Partners; and [email protected] The leadership team is equally deep, with former Howorth managing director Kieran Moore serving as CEO in addition to a new role leading WPP in Australia and New Zealand, and longtime employees Graham White (15 years) and Leon Beswick (eight years) leading Howorth and Health respectively, while relative newcomer Richard Brett (a veteran of UK creative boutique Shine) breathing new life into Pulse.

Great work includes a project to quantify Australia’s digital experience gap for SAP, which successfully fuelled business leads, and a smart project for Ebay to create the world’s first virtual reality department store. — AS


Weber Shandwick (Interpublic Group)

Australia is one of those markets—along with Hong Kong and Singapore—that occasionally gets referred to as “old Asia,” a designation that (quite apart from being geographically imprecise) implies slower growth and less excitement. Don’t tell that to Weber Shandwick, which saw revenues increase by a very healthy 24 percent last year, with new clients such as Facebook, Lenovo, Amazon Kindle, American Airlines, ServiceNow, and B&O Play join longstanding relationships with the likes of Ocean Spray, Nespresso, MasterCard, Shire, and Astra Zeneca and demonstrate plenty of momentum in the market.
 
While Weber Shandwick is still not quite the size of some market leaders, it now has 50 people in Australia, a new office in Melbourne, and a presence in arguably the region’s most sophisticated public affairs market through its Powell Tate subsidiary. Under the leadership of Text 100 veteran Ava Lawler—who joined three years ago and has engineered much of the turnaround—the firm has added plenty of fresh talent too, adding a digital designer to its Sydney office last year and bringing in Min Chow from Lewis to head accounts in the new Melbourne office.
 
And the firm is certainly producing its share of great work, from helping Ibis Hotels reach the youth market by aligning the brand with live music to helping healthcare client Shire educate the market about ADHD. Community involvement has been another priority. The firm is doing pro bono work for the Sydney Convicts, Australia's first gay and inclusive rugby club on a campaign tackling bullying in sport, and with United Way on its literacy program.—PH