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Our 2017 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.
When fast-growing Spanish agency Marco de Comunicación beat out a number of multinational agencies—as well as independent firms from across Europe—to handle communications for COP22, the UN Climate Change Summit in Marrakech, it was vindication of founder Didier Lagae’s aggressive growth strategy over the past couple of years, which has seen the firm double-down on its expertise in Africa and its ability to deliver (often through its affiliation with MSLGroup) international reach. For COP22, MdC engaged more than 200 journalists from all over Africa in a set of unprecedented press trips and generated more than 44,000 news pieces globally, underscoring the event’s key messages.
With offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Casablanca and Miami and a team of close to 100 professionals, MdC offers a full range of services including publicity, events, audiovisual and design, as well as online communications, public affairs (including a new EU affairs offer), social media, and influencer campaigns. It has been growing by about 25% a year over the past three years, with 28% growth in 2016 thanks to new assignments from COP22, the Union for the Mediterranean, Kaiserwetter, World Water Council, SMC, the International Monetary Fund, Ivanhoe, Springfield, Idealo and Herbalife, and continuing assignments for Netflix (which helped drive the firm’s expansion into the Portuguese market), Unilever, Etihad Airways, Springfield (Cortefiel Group), Conforama, Mexican Tourism Board, and AFEVI / Friends of Glass.
MdC was a pioneer in digital and social in the Iberian region, and quickly realized that new media knew no geographic boundaries. As a result, the firm has built a team multilingual consultants from 17 different nationalities. It has also launched a dedicated digital marketing agency, Influencia. And last year it introduced another innovation, an “experience room” located in Madrid’s barrio Salamanca that serves as a showcase for consumer clients. — PH
While Atrevia has (like its Spanish rival Llorente & Cuenca) expanded its operations into Latin America over the past few years, the former Inforpress (unlike L&C) continues to derive the majority of its revenues from the Iberian markets: close to €17 million of its €18 million in fee income last year was derived from its extensive Spanish network (offices Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Málaga, Sevilla, Valladolid) and its Portuguese operations (Lisbon, Porto). That’s enough to make it the clear market leader on the peninsula, as well as one of the leading independent firms in Europe.
The other thing that continues to set Atrevia apart from its competitors in Spain is the diversity of its operations. While others have carved out niches in corporate and financial communications or consumer PR, Atrevia is genuinely full-service, with genuine strength in consumer, corporate, financial, healthcare, technology, and digital, and with market leading expertise in areas such as employee communications. The firm has a newer public affairs capability that has been expanding internationally (including a small Brussels office) and expanding advertising capabilities. New clients such as Metro de Madrid, Hipódromo de la Zarzuela, C&A, Mahou-San Miguel, Nissan, and Europcar helped to drive growth of close to 9% in 2016, joining a roster that includes California Walnuts, Renova, Enagas, TOUS, Pfizer, Twitter, Lidl and more.
Under the leadership of founder and president Núria Vilanova, the firm continued to innovate in 2016, launching a new brand communications service built around its concept of "spherical brands"; collaborated with a leading business school on research into Generation Z; published a report on “Values and Communication in Family-Owned Businesses,” )having carved out a niche working with such companies); and staged the latest Forum for Good Governance and Shareholders, urging best practices in transparency in investor relations. — PH
H+K Strategies (WPP)
Following the acquisition of Portugese corporate/PA firm FXT Communications, Hill+Knowlton Strategies now numbers 70 people across Iberia, growing more than 15% last year and by more than 50% over the last three years. The firm's Spanish operation has long possessed strength across corporate, public affairs and brand marketing, and this has been complemented in recent years by growing capabilities in healthcare, technology and food and beverage.
New clients include Desigual and Aldi, while there was also significant existing client expansion from such accounts as Danone and Huawei. In particular, H+K has brought a more creative positioning to its efforts in Iberia, integrating the firm's global 'creative strategy' approach to develop its services in content, creative, publishing strategies, and marketing influencer. A major thought leadership initiative — the Orbita creative event — showcases this approach, helping H+K distinguish itself from its rivals in the market. — AS
Lift World (Independent)
The Portuguese-based Lift World is the umbrella group for eight integrated agencies that focus on a wide array of marketing and communications services, from the established to the emerging. It seems fitting that its tagline is “Great Together” — 120 employees work for holding company that is inching towards €10m (revenues were up nearly 14% in 2016 to €9.9m).
In early 2016, Lift World launched Big Fish, a specialist brand activation shop. The agency also expanded its capabilities with a new video division, by presenting webinars through the Gorkana platform and by producing papers around inbound marketing for the MORE Digital Culture marketing brand. Amid this growth, the firm is focusing on scaling sustainably while most of Portugal is still suffering through a financial crisis.
Key clients include Microsoft, L´Oréal, Nestlé, Rock In Rio, Bosch, Mylan, Merck, Nespresso, Fox, SLBenfica, including new wins Vodafone, EDP, Abbott, Avis, GEFCO, Emmys, AON, Klepierre, Easypay and Galp. CEO Salvador da Cunha remains at the helm. — AaS
Torres y Carrerra (Independent)
14 years ago Torres y Carrera was founded on two beliefs: organisations must be strongly committed to the environment in which they operate and public relations should be in the constant state of innovation to maintain relevancy.
The boutique firm is about €2m in revenue with 25 employees working on existing clients like Coca-Cola, Cepsa, Iberia Express, Mahou, Lafarge-Holciml, Enterprise, Primark, Astic – Asociación del Trasporte Internacional por Carretera, Gilead Science, Fundación Española para la Diabetes and new wins including Turismo de Tenerife, FCC, H&M, FEIQUE – Federación Empresarial de la Industria Química Española, Borgwarner, Serunion and Fundación Española de la Nutrición. The agency has also joined the UN Global Compact and took on a leadership position around CSR.
Notable work includes the “Your bones, your second skin” campaign with Fundación Hispana de Osteoporosis y Enfermedades Óseas to raise awareness of bone health among seniors. The team conducted a roadshow across 10 Spanish cities, in which 6,125 densitometry scans were performed and direct information was given to more than 8,000 people.
The firm has also developed several projects related to the impact of communication on social development. For instance, “Message in the Bottle” is an experiment designed to empirically demonstrate the theory of the “Six degrees of separation.” The firm’s “Writing a Novel” initiative invited Internet followers to contribute to the evolution of a story. Last year, Torres y Carrera launched COMbyCOM — an Iberian Transmedia communication group that includes public relations, advertising, marketing, digital and big data firms and has plans to expand to Latin America in 2017. — AaS
The next EMEA Innnovation Summit will take place on 23 May 2017 in London.
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