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Our 2016 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Following two years of impressive double-digit growth in the challenging Spanish market under the leadership of country chair Rose de la Pascua, Weber Shandwick would be a solid contender for Iberian Consultancy of the Year even without the announcement earlier this year of an affiliate agreement with leading Portuguese independent Lift—itself a past winner of the award and a finalist this year. That will supplement the 55-person Spanish operation with a team of 90 in neighboring Portugal, creating the strongest operation of any of the multinationals with a presence on the peninsula.
The Spanish operation includes an unusually balanced portfolio of business, deriving about 40 percent of its revenues from corporate work (which grew by 20% last year), with the remainder split between consumer (food and travel are strong sectors) and healthcare (diabetes education for AstraZeneca was a particular highlight) clients—but one of the keys to the firm’s recent success is a significant investment in digital and social, which is at the heart of so much of the work. New business in 2015 came from the likes of Evian, Heineken, Motorola, Macallan and Symantec, while Spain is now acting as the hub for multimarket clients such as Laureate University and Porta Ventura (each served in six markets across the region). Also of note, the office celebrated 50 years of work with longtime client the Hong Kong Trade & Development Board. — PH
Some public relations agencies ask “why”; others ask “why not?” Nothing embodies Atrevia’s embrace of the former philosophy than the decision taken by the former Inforpress to jettison a 25-year-old name and adopt the new brand last year, and nothing illustrates its capabilities better than the way the change was communicated internally and externally throughout the Spanish-speaking business world via traditional and social media in a way that made the transition almost seamless.
Núria Vilanova’s firm remains the second largest headquartered in Spain—although its operations on the Iberian peninsula are as large as those of Llorente & Cuenca, which derives much of its strength from Latin America—and one of the 100 largest in the world. Atrevia has offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, and Lisbon and Porto (as well as Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Chile) with 300 people providing full-service corporate communications, public affairs, and consumer marketing capabilities, with specific expertise in change management and employee communications, social media, and content creation, and a new practice that focuses on providing communications consultancy to family-owned businesses.
Highlights of the past 12 months included the “The California Walnuts Cocktail Collection” campaign to position walnuts as a key ingredient in the food industry; the #TwitterFashionWeek initiative to elevate the social media site’s profile in the fashion industry; and road safety education work for Goodyear Dunlop Tires. Growth on the year was 17%—proving that the name change was no distraction—in local currency terms. — PH
Canela Public Relations (Independent)
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Canela was launched as an independent alternative to the local offices of international PR networks in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. The firm describes its offering as “artisanal rather than boutique” to emphasize its approach of customizing work for each client. This approach is proving to be popular. Turnover is up 21% compared to 2014 from both growing existing accounts and winning new clients in new sectors, mainly F&B and healthcare. Fee income is now €644,000 with 16 people across its three offices working key clients like Lenovo, Western Digital, Rakuten, Boston Medical Group, Cafe Royal, among others. New wins in 2015 included Fujitsu, Prestahop, Executive MBA Council, Wonderbox, Lucas Fox, Leef, Finanzerel, Clinica Liberty, Al Dobowi and Easyrecrue. Founder Deborah Gray remains at the helm with office directors Esther Presencio (Madrid), Alba Calvet (Barcelona) and Catarina Sanjuan (Lisbon).
Notable work includes growing Lenovo’s Facebook community from 1K to 100K in two years and launching Cafe Royal’s brand in the Spanish market. In 2015 the firm undertook research into the way digital media is affecting journalism in Spain. The research was launched at an event in Barcelona and coverage of the research was featured in 21 media outlets. — AaS
Lift World (Independent)
Lift World’s rise started in December 1993 with two people in the heart of Lisbon. These days, Lift World is comprised of nine integrated and multidisciplinary companies specializing in key areas of marketing and communication services. This offering exists across a global network that now includes offices in Madrid, Angolan capital Luanda, London, Sao Paulo and its home market of Lisbon.
Despite continued economic strife in the market, Lift grew revenues by an impressive 21% in 2015 to €8.8m, led by such clients as Toshiba, Microsoft, Nestle, Nespresso, L’Oreal, Garner, Fidelity, Schroders, Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas and EasyJet. CEO Salvador da Cunha’s deep experience includes corporate communications, financial communications and crisis management. Beyond this, the firm’s expertise includes consumer marketing across various sectors, with former H+K head Teresa Figueira coming aboard recently to bolster the senior leadership ranks. — AS
Llorente & Cuenca (Independent/MBO Partenaires)
While Llorente & Cuenca has avoided the worst of the recession ravaging much of southern Europe by aggressively expanding its Latin American operations, its business in Spain and Portugal are still formidable, especially after investment from French private equity firm MBO Partenaires enabled its acquisitions of digital innovation consultancy Cink and Impossible Tellers, a boutique offering advice on communication and brand strategy, transmedia storytelling and change management (as well as additional deals in Brazil and the US). The digital and content creation aspects of those acquisition indicate an area of focus for L&C, which remains best known for its work in corporate and financial communications (including M&A), despite expanding its public affairs, consumer marketing, healthcare and technology credentials in recent years.
L&C continues to work with local marker leaders and major multinationals in Spain and Portugal: Coca-Cola, Repsol, Gas Natural Fenosa, Embratur, CaixaBank, Inditex, Panasonic, Mercadona, Bertelsmann, Sonae Sierra, and Banco BPI. New additions over the past 12 months include Indra, Vilamoura World, Telefonica, McDonald´s, Calidad Pascual, Multiopticasm, Pernod Ricard, and MSC. Those wins made a further contribution to growth, with global fee income up by 25 percent to more than €30 million—although the majority of that now comes from Latin America.
The quality of the work, meanwhile, remains high, with five of the firm’s campaigns nominated for EMEA region SABREs, from a safe driving initiative for Gonvarri Steel Services to a campaign to combat youth unemployment for the Exit Foundation to insurance company DKV’s efforts to integrate the disabled into the workforce. — PH
The next EMEA Innnovation Summit will take place on 23 May 2017 in London.
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