Southeast Asia PR Consultancies of the Year 2019 | Holmes Report
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2019 Southeast Asia PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2019 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 125 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. 

Consultancy of the Year winners are announced and honoured at the 2019 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, which take place on 12 September in Singapore. Analysis of all Finalists and Winners can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below:

Winner: Archetype (Next15)

Archetype’s name might be new, but its pedigree owes much to the impressive heritage of Text100 in Southeast Asia. And while the global merger with Bite may have resulted in various leadership changes in other parts of the world, the firm’s rebranded operations continue to progress in impressive fashion across its Singapore and Malaysia offices.

Singapore, in particular, has been Archetype’s star performer in Asia-Pacific, growing 17% in 2018 to more than S$5m, thanks to continued investment in integrated marketing services. Of note, that growth was accomplished despite the exit of major client Lenovo at the start last year, with Archetype rebounding from that hit to win 21 clients over the following 12 months, including major assignments from Amazon, Subway, Ikea, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIECD), WeWork, Hubspot, Cloudera and JLL. They join an existing client roster that includes Rolls-Royce, Alipay, Zebra Technology, Adobe, Stripe, German National Tourism Board, Red Hat and Property Guru. 

The numbers and new business alone, though, don’t tell the full story of Archetype’s progress. The firm has successfully transformed its offering from core B2B technology work to encompass depth in consumer, creative content, digital marketing, corporate storytelling and employee engagement. That is evidence by the breadth of Archetype’s work across clients including Subway (brand communication), Rolls Royce (web development and content marketing), Zebra (PR and digital), NIECD (web video), Germany’s Tourist Board (social media) and Century Link (internal comms films). 

APAC lead Lee Nugent is based in Singapore, as is client strategy head Marc Ha, while Southeast Asia MD Yeow Mei Ling is located in Kuala Lumpur — an office that grew 8% last year on the back of new business from such clients as Airbnb, Snap, Mattel Fisher Price, SuperPark and McDonald’s. The Singapore, operation, meanwhile is now led by managing consultant Mabel Chiang, who is supported by deputy Owen Waters and ECD Lee Devine. 

Unsurprisingly, the campaign work bears out Archetype’s evolution, including SABRE nominated efforts for Qlik and the NIECD in Singapore, and Airbnb in Malaysia. — AS


Finalists

Eon (Independent)

EON, then known as Events Organizer Network, was founded in Manila in 1998 by diplomat Junie del Mundo, artist and writer Jeannie Javelosa, and ambassador Romeo Manalo. Since then, the proudly Filipino agency has grown beyond its roots to establish itself as the most forward-thinking public relations firm in the Philippines, with four business units: consumer and corporate public relations under EON PR; reputation management and public affairs under Engage; creative technology under Dig; and experiential marketing under Tangerine.

Fee income last year increased by 16%, down on 30% growth the previous year but still impressive. There was new business from clients including Asian Development Bank, logistics company Connected Freight, Ligo sardines, and fintechs Refinitiv and Cashalo, who joined existing clients including Central Bank of the Philippines, FedEx, Samsung Electronics, Total, Spotify and Visa.

Staff numbers rose from 122 to 137, including Teddy Mapa returning as strategic planning lead, Alan Navarra joining as the new group creative director, Sherwin Evangelista joining as HR director and Anjie Ureta taking on the new role of dean of EON University to preserve the company culture and standards of excellence.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Edelman-affiliate EON shared lessons and insights in a publication, Bigger Than Us: The EON Story. The company also launched the EON Foundation, which committed to helping every Filipino reach their full potential, harnessing the agency’s storytelling capabilities to support the development sector.

The firm’s best work included the launch of retained client Uniqlo’s flagship store in the Philippines, the biggest in Southeast Asia, through media and influencer relations, as well as guest relations with launch attendees including government leaders and the diplomatic corps. Successful campaigns for Spotify included EON’s its experiential marketing arm leading the Philippines’ first Spotify Digital Day to shows brands how to leverage Spotify’s streaming intelligence to reach audiences. — MPS


Mutant Communications
(Independent)

Launched in 2012, Mutant has emerged as one of the best of a new generation of Southeast Asian PR firms, led by former journalist and communications consultant Joseph Barratt. Now numbering 28 people, across offices in Singapore and Malaysia, Mutant’s leadership team also includes MD Lina Marican, who has risen to MD after previously working in-house and at agencies. And there have been some notable hires too: Rebecca Lewis as strategic director Byravee Iyer as managing editor, and Shereen Gill to lead the new KL office — exemplifying the firm’s focus on turning content marketing into lead generation and real business outcomes.

While probably best known for its technology prowess — the firm represents 90Seconds, Meltware, Beam, Hmlet and Monster.com, along with a number of major social networking platforms — Mutant’s offering extends beyond the typical B2B heartland into consumer and corporate for such companies as Pure Group and Reed Exhibitions. An impressive new business haul saw the business almost double its revenues for the second consecutive year in 2018 by reaching S$2.4m. In particular, the firm landed several major brands in 2018, including Lazada, M1, Kimberly Clark, PropertyGuru, ZenDesk, Minor Food Group, RGF Recruitment and Michael Page — with fast-growing content marketing capabilities helping to underpin a range of services that focus on lead generation and real business outcomes. 

Campaign highlights included the SABRE-nominated ‘She Makes it Work’ campaign for Monster.com, which has helped the company increase web traffic and share of voice, while there were also notable initiatives for Lazada, Holey Moley Gold Club and Meltwater. — AS


PRecious Communications
(Independent)

Lars Voedisch launched PRecious in 2012, at a time when several new Southeast Asian consultancies were springing up. Voedisch’s background, however, from senior roles at DHL, FleishmanHillard and H+K Strategies, marked PRecious out as one to watch, as did his expertise from running analytics consultancy Commetric. Unsurprisingly, then, PRecious has grown at a steady clip to more than 45people across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand, with revenues up 60% to S$4m. 

The firm organises itself across three practice units: PRecious Inc is led by Melinda Illagan and focuses on global B2B enterprises across APAC; PRecious Life works with consumer brands; and its Sparks arm under Prayaank Gupta collaborates with numerous startups. Having started life as a classic media relations firm, PRecious has since broadened its approach considerably across crisis, influencer marketing and digital, underpinned by an evaluation focus on conversion and lead generation. 

The firm’s client roster includes numerous startups, including Capillary Technologies, Electrify Asia, Hedera Hashgraph, Qualtrics, Travelstop, and Zilingo, along with consumer companies such as Bundesliga, German National Tourism Office, Lufthansa and Yotel, and B2B players like Experian, CrowdStrike, Kone, Qualtrics, McAfee, Outsystems and Software AG. Significantly, 80% of PRecious’ work comes from recommendations. 

Campaign highlights, meanwhile, include supporting SABRE nominated campaigns such as the Munich Treasure Hunt for Lufthansa, and helping to drive Electrify Asia’s record token sale. — AS


Vero (Independent)

In the 12 years since it was set up, Vero has had sustained growth by focusing on region-specific work and by being an early adopter of marketing technology and digital platforms, and investing in digital experts. Vero owns offices in Bangkok, Yangon, Ho Chi Minh and Jakarta, and manages campaigns in every major market in Southeast Asia. It’s still tinkering with getting its latest offer in Vietnam just right, as it has a bet on the country becoming the best economic performer in the region over the next five years.

Vero’s client list across its offices is impressive, featuring leading brands in electronics, technology, sport, travel, food and drink, beauty and entertainment. And the agency now attributes 75% of its $2.3 million fee income (up 21% on 2017) from those clients to digital marketing, social media marketing and influencer marketing: its digital team accounts for nearly half of its staff, across creative, planning, account management and paid media. This robust digital capability has given Vero access to larger, regional budgets, resulting in Vero nearly doubling its team across the region to almost 70 in 2018.

Thought leadership over the year included a study on millennial and Gen Z consumers’ interactions with influencers, and client work highlights included the SABRE-shortlisted “6 months mother’s milk is all you need” campaign for Save the Children and UNICEF. — MPS