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Edelman's digital capabilities have always been a notch above most of their rivals, the consequence of a pioneering approach that saw it invest heavily in social media and community building well ahead of the curve. In the decade since, much of that works has migrated in-house, so Edelman's digital capabilities — which account for around 20% of global revenue — are reorienting themselves towards such areas as influencer engagement, search, video content and paid media. That makes sense, as does a focus on integrating digital across the agency's European operations, rather than operating it as a separate silo.
Much of the firm's best digital work, meanwhile, reflects both the integrated mindset and the blend of capabilities, often brought to life by its Swedish Deportivo unit. Notable campaigns included the 'Give a Beep' cycling safety effort; Tele2's 'Settle For More' in Sweden; 'Jacks150 Barrel Hunt' for Jack Daniel's in Spain; the Grohe 'Senses' content series in Germany; and a string of UK campaigns including Xbox's Halo Wars 2, Janssen's 'Make Blood Cancer Visible' and global engagement for what3words.
And while Edelman's growth dipped across Europe, digital proved to be a bright spot, driving expansion in the UK, Germany (+20%), France, Italy (+20%) and Spain. There were three senior digital hires in the UK — Toby Gunton arriving from OMD as GM, Tristan Sanders named head of performance overseeing paid media across search, social and partnerships, and Matt Cannington transferring from New York to become head of social. In addition, the firm's Edelman Intelligence unit grew 24% across the region, giving clients plenty of realtime social intelligence. — AS
Ketchum (Omnicom Group)
Despite possessing one of the largest agency networks in EMEA, Ketchum's digital capabilities have not always punched at the same weight as its overall operations. That charge is unlikely to hold weight for much longer, given the expansion in both the breadth and depth of the Omnicom PR network's digital efforts in recent years. The firm's Storyworks unit in London delivers realtime content marketing as sophisticated as anything in the market and, under digital director Kate Matlock. The firm's sports and entertainment practice has also emerged since launching in London in 2014, developing a strong influencer marketing capability that sensibly considers the full spectrum of opinion leaders, rather than focusing purely on YouTubers. Ketchum has also developed partnerships with specific influencer tools after reviewing the market, helping it to develop some impressive work for Nikon (moving buyers from awareness to consideration) and Booking.com (a 20-market, tool-agnostic campaign rollout).
In the healthcare space, meanwhile, Ketchum's digital capabilities have also shone, training Pfizer in social media and creating the Miles for Haemophilia and F2 Freestylers campaigns. In eSports, meanwhile, the firm has established a strong influencer positioning on behalf of Gillette. Underpinning this is a methodology that combines resonance and relevance (along with paid amplification) to drive reach, helping Ketchum prevail in the ongoing battle with media agencies for digital media budgets. — AS
Matriochka Influences (France/Independent)
Formed in mid-2014, Matriochka Influences has rapidly marked itself out as one of the brightest public relations firms in France, almost doubling fee income last year to €2.7m. The firm is led by two founding partners Elodie Monchicourt and Charlie Trouillebout, both of whom hail from market leader Elan. Indeed, Monchicourt co-founded Elan and brings 15 years of experience, while Trouillebout is a digital specialist. Together, the duo aims to integrate traditional communications with more modern influencer techniques, resulting in an approach that counts as relatively disruptive not just in France, but in the broader region too, particularly when you consider that much of its digital work is focused on the lifestyle and luxury sectors.
Now numbering 20 staff, Matriochka's services span influencer relations, brand content, social media management, digital marketing and branding, for a blue-chip client list that includes Instagram, Guerlain, Chanel, Johnson&Johnson Beauty, Lancôme, Just Eat, Orangina Suntory, Voyages SNCF, Transavia and Volvo. A new realtime newsjacking strategy has helped many of these brands deliver eye-catching work, including a campaign to recreate brand love among millennials for SNCF's TGV; video content to promote Carte Noire's coffee capsule collection; and a secret Facebook group for Philip Morris' latest cigarette launch. — AS
TVC Group (UK/Economist Group)
TVC Group has a relatively unique ownership status since being acquired by the Economist Group in 2012. This move has certainly reinforced the 19-year-old agency as a group of 51 media relations experts, broadcast specialists, experienced producers and editors, from an eclectic mix of backgrounds. The team works across offices in Camden and New York.
TVC Group grounds itself in five values — curious, smart, vibrant, ambitious, collaborative — that are demonstrated through things like the Curious Fund that gives employees a chance to get funding to chase their aspirations and other rewards for things like collaboration. These values underpin work for clients like Jaguar Land Rover; Peninsula Hotels; easyJet; Eurostar; King.com; Bacardi Group; Red Bull; Royal Voluntary Service; Virgin; Ralph Lauren; and OTIS (new); Cartier (new); IWC (new); Conrad (new); Crohn’s & Colitis (new) and Swarovski (new). For instance, its integrated work for MIB focuses on changing the behaviour of 18-to-35-year-old males, as well as boosting engagement with the police. Making the conversation about safety and protection, the team encouraged people to think beyond car insurance and understand the consequences of driving without insurance with a bold film, “Gone in Seconds” that has 860,000+ views on YouTube and another 160,000 on a dedicated microsite.
While fee income dipped slightly to £8.2m, the team expanded under the leadership of group MD James Myers. The firm also deserves some recognition for DNA, its content hosting and distribution solution which was upgraded in 2016 to include more than 36,000 broadcasters, journalists, web editors and bloggers from around the world. — AaS
Weber Shandwick (Interpublic Group)
Weber Shandwick has been innovating faster and more aggressively than its competition, adding new capabilities from data and analytics to content creation. Its Creation unit has changed the game in terms of multimedia content and its acquisition of Sweden’s Prime gave it management consulting credentials as well as leading-edge creativity. The latest investment is the firm’s “engagement engine,” which brings together analytics, creative, strategy, production and integrated media capabilities to come up with big, insight-led ideas for top-tier clients.
The firm continued to bring in diverse talent like Hugh Baillie, an ad industry veteran who was named head of client service, engagement disciplines; executive VP of analytics Alex Vass, who joined from sister agency Mediabrands; Indy Selvarajah, a new creative director whose résumé includes creating a comedy show for Channel 4; and David Orlic, who has served as a senior advisor to companies like IKEA and Electrolux, as deputy CEO and head of innovation at Prime. And the acquisition of mobile specialist Flipside gave Weber Shandwick a leadership position in one of the most promising growth markets of the next few years.
Among the highlights are In2 SABRE winning campaigns such as the #BrutalCut campaign against female genital mutilation for ActionAid UK; #ParallelBarking, a viral online video featuring dog parking the new Vauxhall Crosa; and the agency’s own activity during Social Media Week London. The firm also hit the mark with creative assignments for FEVE, the European glass packaging industry association, driven by online video and social media; and Sonos, which conducted a social experiment to demonstrate how listening to music at home could change the way families interact. — PH
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