Middle East PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
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2016 Middle East PR Consultancies of the Year

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.

Winners will receive their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in Berlin on 25 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here.

Middle East PR Consultancy of the Year: Memac Ogilvy (WPP)

Memac Ogilvy’s flair for creativity is hardly a secret anymore, after a number of years of SABRE Award winning efforts — for the likes of Grohe, Coca-Cola and King Khalid Foundation — that has marked the firm out as one best campaign shops in the region. But its regional footprint and overall business growth probably deserves just as much recognition — it now has 130 people across 14 offices across MENA, generating an estimated $10m in revenue after another year of double-digit growth. Indeed growth over the past five years as seen the firm more than double in size, and there was another rich new business haul in 2015, led by such clients as the Suez Canal, Qatar Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Coca-Cola, Huawei, Ikea, Muntajat and VW.

The firm’s ability to drive cutting-edge integrated work owes much its positioning within the broader Memac family, but PR head Saada Hammad now oversees leadership team that also includes genuine strength in public affairs (under Jeff Chertack) and technology (under Mark Jackson). It has struck a good balance between global and local clients, critical across MENA, and now ranks within the top four in all of its markets. And, of course, there were plenty of eye-catching campaigns, resulting in 28 award wins in 2015 and seven SABRE nominations this year — led by Coca-Cola (Ramadan Iftar); Aster Medical Centre (#sharehappyhearts); Roche Lebanon (Breast Cancer Awareness); Grohe, Amex and the Suez Canal. — AS

Finalists

ASDAA Burson-Marsteller (WPP)

Over the past 12 months, the Middle East has been the source of some of Burson-Marsteller’s most important new business wins (the Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Company, the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, Kuwait Public Authority for Housing Welfare, and GEMS Education); the site of some of the firm’s most important and innovative work (its crisis communications counsel to allay the security concerns that threatened to cripple Egypt’s tourism business); and the source of one of its most important pieces of intellectual property (the Arab Youth Survey, now in its eighth year challenging western misconceptions about the region’s younger generation and generating headlines in publications from the FT to the Washington Post to Huffington Post).

The firm has wholly-owned offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Kuwait City, Manama, Muscat, Cairo, Beirut, and Amman, and affiliates in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine. Turkey, Pakistan, and Sudan, with expertise in public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, digital strategy, advertising and subsidiaries including research firm PSB Middle East and digital marketing business Proof Integrated Communications. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, it has 160 people in the region serving clients such as Emaar Properties, Etisalat, Ford, General Electric, Beiersdorf, McDonald’s and new additions Aster DM Healthcare, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Qatar Airways, and Msheireb Properties, which contributed to healthy double-digit growth in 2015. — PH

Edelman (Independent)

Once best-known for an Abu Dhabi operation that handles global work for Mubadala, Edelman’s Middle East presence received a shot in the arm a couple of years ago when it acquired one of Dubai’s leading independent firms — Dabo & Co. That deal not only helped Edelman land the coveted Dubai Tourism business, but also gave it scale in the region — to the tune of 150 people across the two markets, reporting fee income of more than $16m, making it perhaps the Middle East’s largest PR firm.

Indeed two of the firm’s top three clients across the broader APACMEA region (Mubadala and Dubai Tourism) now hail from the Middle East, helping regional chief Robert Holdheim implement a new structure that has split the firm into brand and corporate units, each headed by newly-appointed leadership in 2015. All of that is underpinned by investment into newer services such as digital and creative, helping drive new business from Dubai Design District, Yas Island, L’Occitane, Facebook, Xdubai, Dubai Properties and Xylem. Campaign highlights included influencer marketing work for Windows 10; Nike’s NTC Tour; the Abu Dhabi Festival; Jetman Dubai; and Lululemon’s launch in Dubai. — AS

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (WPP)

At 30 years old, H+K is the oldest international PR firm in the Middle East and remains one of the best, five years into the leadership reign of Sconaid McGeachin, who oversees more than 130 consultants across eight Middle Eastern markets and five countries in Africa. Last year, there was specific growth in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, following a regional leadership reshuffle that saw new heads Lucy Harvey promoted to regional director, and new leadership named in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Nairobi.

There was regional new business last year from Twitter, Alcatel and the British Council, along with several new Saudi clients and the Economic Development Conference in Egypt. The firm also launched a specific financial offering, to go with a client roster that features Boursa Kuwait, Gulf International Bank, Old Mutual and Ithmaar Bank. Indeed there are few rival that can compete with the breadth and depth of H+K’s regional offering in the Middle East, which also includes technology, sports/entertainment and healthcare expertise, to go with corporate and public affairs capabilities. Consequently, the work deserves as much recognition — evidenced by campaigns for Injaz Al-Arab and the Qatar Olympic Commission — and a new Reputation Index that helpis to understand C-suite drivers of reputation management in the Middle East. — AS

TRACCS (Independent)

It’s one thing to start a public relations firm in an emerging market in the hope of building a strong, successful, sustainable business; it’s another thing entirely to start a public relations firm with the ambition to change the perception of the profession, and ultimately the status of the PR business in the market—which is what TRACCS did 18 years ago. A deep understanding of the social, economic, religious, and psychological dimensions of the region has been one key to the firm’s emergence as the region’s leading independent, but just as critical is its commitment to advancing professional standards through its involvement in regional events and its own training efforts. The payoff is steady, consistent growth, to the point that TRACCS now has 275 professionals serving more than 200 clients across 15 markets (Jeddah, Riyadh, Dubai, Kuwait City, Muscat, Doha, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Damascus, Manama are wholly-owned offices) and ranking just outside the 100 largest PR agencies in the world.

New business in 2015 came from MasterCard (agency of record in MENA), Dubai Tourism (extending and expanding a 10-year relationship), Mercedes Benz, the Oman Government Investment & Development Arm, and the Economic Cities Authority (Saudi Arabia). They join a roster that includes Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Dubai Mercantile Exchange, Google (Egypt), AbbVie, Toyota, and Samsung. There was a key addition to the team too, with Stephen Marney joining as vice president of strategy and development to work alongside president Mohamed Al Ayed and his team. In addition to expanding government work (the Ministry of Labour, Economic Cities Authority, and the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia, and the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center in the UAE), TRACCS is now working on three key regional initiatives that support entrepreneurs: Jeddah Entrepreneurs Meet, an annual competition for female entrepreneurs backed by the Saudi government; Tamkeen in Bahrain; and Riyada, an Omani based NGO. — PH