Asia-Pacific Consumer PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
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2016 Asia-Pacific Consumer PR 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:

Consumer PR Consultancy of the Year: AKA Asia (Independent)

Founded by former Grayling directors Kate O’Shea and Amy Wright in 2008, AKA Asia’s expansion since then reflects the agency’s transformation from a creative PR shop to an award-winning integrated comms consultancy, as comfortable competing with digital and advertising agencies as with its traditional rivals in the PR space. Growth has been impressive, driven by an increased focus on design and production, along with broad capabilities across corporate, consumer and digital — and a creative reputation that saw it rank fifth in the 2015 Global Creative Index.

Over the past 12 months, there was new business from Treasury Wine Estates, Disney on Ice, Premier Inn, Collective Works, MeadJohnson, Nutrition Rafferty’s Garden, FOX, Rajah and Tann, FrieslandCampina and DirectAsia, joining a client that includes Unilever, Jetstar, Chic Outlet Shopping, Diageo, Bentley, J&J Acuvue, Singapore EDB, FitnessFirst, LinkedIn and Costa Coffee.

The client roster is impressive enough, but what also catches the eye is AKA’s ability to deliver multi-channel integrated work. For Unilever and Diageo, for example, the firm handles major employee engagement assignments; for Acuvue, AKA has expanded its scope to include influencer engagement and production; for LinkedIn, AKA handles range of dynamic content creation; and for Costa Coffee, the agency develops above-the-line and below-the-line creative work across Asia-Pacific.


Finalists


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


Ruder Finn (Independent)

Celebrating more than 25 years in China last year, Ruder Finn took home our Consumer Consultancy of the Year award, having established itself as a market leader in automotive and luxury goods—two of the market’s most lucrative sectors—and making an increasingly significant contribution to the firm’s global revenues. Over the past 12 months, the firm has grown even stronger, complementing its formidable mainland China capabilities (offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) with a revitalized Hong Kong operation, a burgeoning presence in India, and a healthy pan-Asian network.
 
The firm continues to produce strong work for automotive clients such as Porsche (establishing a digital newsroom), Volkswagen (supporting the growth of soccer in China) and Volvo (sustainability initiatives) and for upscale brands such as Cotton Inc. and Johnnie Walker, while the Hong Kong office now has more than doubled in size over the past 12 months and built up a client roster that includes blue-chip brands such as Emirates, Suntory, Prudential, Jumeirah, Macy's, and the Michelin Guide. Meanwhile, sister agency Thunder and the RFI Studios digital and content capability continue to thrive.
 
Agency leadership—Jean-Michel Dumont, chairman of Ruder Finn Asia, has close to 30 years of experience, 14 at Ruder Finn; Elan Shou, senior VP and managing director for Greater China has 15 years of experience, 11 at Ruder Finn; Hong Kong-based senior VP Charles Lankester is another veteran of the region—remains strong, as does thought leadership, with the latest edition of the firm’s Luxury Forecast providing insight into the continuing strength of the Chinese market. — PH


Sinclair Communications (Independent)

Kiri Sinclair  founded the eponymous firm in 2009 to deliver integrated campaigns from its office in Hong Kong across Asia. This year, the firm opened a second location in Shanghai so it’s no surprise business has been good. Revenues increased 21% from July 2015 to June 2016 to $1.7m with 19 full-time employees. The growth was largely fueled by new clients like the Singapore Tourism Board, Tourism Australia, Art Central 2016, Swarovski and Massimo De Carlo, among others. Specializing in lifestyle industries, Sinclair works across travel & tourism, art & culture, luxury brands, property, wine and hospitality sectors.

This year, Sinclair commissioned a digital newsroom that allows media convenient access to press materials and high-res images. Notable work includes being called in to develop an integrated campaign (including positioning/messaging, stakeholder management and media relations) for the most extensive public art project ever installed in Hong Kong, Event Horizon. — AaS