Southeast Asia PR Consultancies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2017 Southeast Asia PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2017 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 2017 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, taking place on 14 September in Hong Kong. Analysis of all Finalists (and Winners from 15 September) can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:

Vero (Independent)

Now in its 10th year, Vero eye towards being the most future-oriented PR agency in ASEAN seems to be working as the firm now has offices across the region in Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar and Vietnam. 


It was two years ago the firm made a pivot to expand its services to include “hard-core digital” offerings, and now, this segment of the business — which includes paid media, analytics and digital lead generation — makes up half of its revenue stream. Next the firm is preparing a virtual reality lab for clients. Vero has 40 professionals across the ASEAN region and grew 30 percent in both 2015 and 2016.

Additions to its client roster include Netflix, LG, Booking.com, Dell and Visa, among others, in addition to local companies in all of its markets. Notable work includes handling Dell’s social and digital responsibilities that resulted in a significant boost in engagement with audiences and Dell expanding the remit to include paid media.Following a crisis, Johnson Controls asked Vero to roll out a campaign to generate positive momentum, for their York brand resulting in a social campaign that expanded engagement in a notable fashion. This year, the firm is releasing research on Myanmar — specifically on the media habits of people in Yangon. — AaS  

Finalists

Fortune PR (Independent)
Since 2011, Fortune PR—already one of the largest and most respected independent PR firms in South-East Asia—has transformed itself into a well-rounded 21st century communications firm, supplementing its traditional media relations and events expertise with capabilities in digital and social media, advertising, and brand strategy, while staying true to its mission: “to improve quality of life and bring value through impactful communications” in the Indonesian market.
 
With a team of 60, and following 10% growth in 2016—despite continuing budget pressure in the market as a whole—the firm represents major multinationals such as Lenovo, Oracle, Syngenta, Royal Enfield and Hankook Tire, while new business last year came from VuClip, Mundipharma, Amadeus, Akamai, British Telecom and more.
 
Interesting work included raising public awareness of the lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of cancer on behalf of Mundipharma, with a Jakarta running event that emphasized the “courage and strength” of cancer survivors. — PH

Ketchum (Omnicom Group)
Ketchum’s progress in Singapore since acquiring aviation specialist Icon has been largely under-the-radar, but after 27% growth in 2016, the firm’s performance in the market certainly warrants greater visibility. Icon founder John Bailey oversees an operation that now number 30 people, which has expanded beyond aviation into travel and leisure, CPG, food, technology and, perhaps most notably, science communications — bolstered by what must be one of the market’s strongest issues and crisis capabilities. 

Underpinning that growth has been considerable investment in a senior talent team that no includes creative & digital ECD Renee Bender, science communications director Rebecca Kan and deputy GM Judith Knight. Much of the expansion has been powered by P&G, for whom the science comms angle is an obvious fit, but there has also been new business from HomeAway, Hilton, Leprino and Syngenta. 

Campaign highlights included the #NeverFade effort for P&G’s Downy, an idea built for a longer-lasting fragrance innovation, and which has since been exported globally. — AS

Spark Communications (Independent)
Managing director Tom Athey started Spark Communications 16 years ago without, he says, much of a business plan and a Thai market that at the time had very little history of or demand for public relations. An ex-pat from the Northeast of England with journalism experience in the region, Athey built the firm organically, through personal relationships and word-of-mouth, gaining a reputation for delivering on promises and operating with transparency and integrity.
 
As a result he has built a firm with $2 million in fees (headquartered in Thailand but with operations in neighboring Myanmar) that remains, as he says, “independent but connected.” Clients include Visa, Emirates, Lenovo, and Under Armour, with new additions in 2016 such as Roche, Swarovski, and Asics. Highlights of the work over the past 12 months included the launch of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer in South-East Asia, Swarovski’s “Brilliance for All” event, and the League of Champions 2017 e-sports event.
 
With key strengths in consumer products, technology and healthcare, the firm has supplemented its expertise over the past few years with digital and social media capabilities—a search engine optimization expertise was added last year—and the launch of a new company focused on recruitment needs in the region. — PH

Weber Shandwick
 (IPG)
While Southeast Asia may only account for 15% of Weber Shandwick’s regional revenue, that still adds up to more than $15m across offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, with each of the operations demonstrating impressive growth in 2016. 
 
Singapore, the largest office with 76 people, registered topline growth of 11.5%, marking its 13th consecutive year of double-digit expansion. Much of that came from existing clients, thanks to an impressive top 20 client list that includes its biggest regional client MasterCard along with 25-year partner Emirates. But there was also new business from Netflix, Ericsson, AStar, DSMA, BNP Paribas WTA and Stanchart to go with an existing client roster that also features GM, Exxon, Facebook, Lend Lease, Spotify, Abbott and ION Orchard. 
 
In Indonesia, a team of 28 generated growth of 15%, fuelled by a top 16 retainer list that works across multiple practices, and includes such names as Temasek, SIA, GM, MasterCard, Facebook and Citibank. There was new business from 3M, Grab, QNB and Instagram, along with expansion into design, paid media, events and talent management. 

Malaysia (23 people) and Thailand (18 people) continued to register more modest growth. In Malaysia, the firm won two large pieces of business — Prasarana and Alliance Bank, while Thailand’s new business haul included Samsung, Royal Enfield, FedEx, Hotels.com, Skyscanner and Beko. — AS