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Our 2019 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.
Didier Lagae founded Marco de Comunicación in 2002, after a career that included senior roles at progressive icons Body Shop and Levi Strauss and global agencies Edelman and Weber Shandwick, and it is fair to say that his ambition was apparent from the new firm’s early days, when it was a scrappy newcomer disrupting Spain’s established market leaders. That spirit of disruption has not dissipated, and MdC has continued to grow faster than the market, adding both capabilities (it is a leader in sustainability communications and one of the most digitally and socially savvy firms in the region) and geographic reach (it opened offices in Mexico City, Bogota and Lima last year)—with the promise of more aggressive moves in the year ahead.
Fee income was up by about 18% last year, and MdC ended 2018 with fees slightly above $10 million and 120 people across two continents. A surge in new business was turbocharged by the decision to pursue several pieces of European Union business, with assignments from DG Comm (the Communication Directorate of the EU, a €95 million framework contract over the next five years for a consortium led by Marco), EUIPO (the European Intellectual Property Rights Office), EEA (The European Environmental Agency), DG Connect. Other wins included glass recycling association FEVE (Friends of Glass), the World Advocado Organization, BIRD, DAZN, Spotify, Beabloo, OpenTable, Uberall, JUUL, Danone, Mattel, Grundig, Ikea Centers, supermarkets Lidl, XPO Logistics, Mountpark, Rumbo.es and B The Travel Brand.
In addition, Marco works pro bono for the Climate Reality Project and Lagae serves as a “climate leader” for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, just two examples of the firm’s leadership in the industry and beyond. Another interesting move in 2018 was the acquisition of Ejecutivos, a leading Spanish-language business magazine and organiser of Spain’s most sought-after business awards. Finally, the expansion of the firm’s MAS Consulting unit—focused on public affairs—into the Brussels market is a signal of its broader regional ambitions.
Award-winning work included using World Water Day as a catalyst to position the World Water Council as the global leader on water security and resources, a multi-country effort that gave the Council dominant share of voice. The #ActivateYourWellbeing campaign, developed for furniture retailer Conforama, used a multi-channel strategy to link Conforama with exercise and mindfulness, focusing on a yoga masterclass influencer engagement effort. MdC also partnered on the #IChooseGlass for an #EndlessOcean campaign, developed for Friends of Glass, and provided pan-European campaigns for the European Union Intellectual Property Office.—PH
Our 2018 Iberian PR Consultancy of the Year, Atrevia continues to build on its 30-year history in Iberia, having expanded to 16 countries over the past few years — the largest concentration of which are in Latin America. The former Inforpress continues to derive the majority of its revenues from the Iberian markets: more than to €21.3m of its €23.1 in fee income last year (up from €19.5m in 2017)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 a 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 Meetic, Iberdrola, Burger King, PepsiCo and Samsung helped to drive growth, joining a roster that includes C&A, Twitter, Lily, Ubisoft and California Walnuts.
Under the leadership of founder and president Núria Vilanova, the firm continued to innovate in 2018. Keeping pace with larger industry changes, Atrevia changed its business model to create three new operating areas: agency, which includes PR, digital, marketing and advertising; consultancy, focusing on positioning, public affairs and transformation; and technology, covering innovation and digitalization. The agency also reaffirmed its commitment to work/life balance. A year or so after becoming the first Spanish communications consultancy to receive the EFR certificate for being a family-focused company, Atrevia was recognized with the EJE&CON prize for encouraging and promoting female talent and furthering the professional development of the youngest generation through its training program, #MovimientoATREVIA. — DM
Canela celebrates its 13th birthday this year by breaking fee income of well over €1m. Founder Deborah Gray has grown a team of 30 consultants in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon around a culture that led to it being named as the only agency in Southern Europe to make our 2018 Best Agency to Work For ranking. Fee income grew by 48%, the overall team grew by nearly a third, and in Portugal both team and fee income doubled.
In 2018 Canela came out of its technology comfort zone and started to work with lifestyle clients. The firm reorganised its business units from geography to three core practice areas: consumer technology, B2B and lifestyle, to acknowledge its client base (and its team) broadening from a pure technology background to embrace creative comms campaigns, including influencer work for brands.
The agency’s five-year relationship with its biggest client, Lenovo Motorola, recently shifted from a retainer to a project basis but Gray says this has also enabled Canela to take on a wider variety of clients and significantly improve margins. Key clients including Ricoh, Sony (for which it took journalists on a helicopter ride to try out the new noise-cancelling headphones) and language learning specialists Babbel were joined by new accounts from the likes of Kone, online tailor-made travel agents Evaneos and audiobook company Storytel.
Part of Canela’s appeal is not just its strength in the Spanish and Portuguese market, but also its active membership of the global Brands2Life network of independent consultancies, including hosting the network’s Global Training Summit. On the agenda for this year is strengthening its in-house design capabilities, as well as bringing in a crisis and issues expert. In the meantime, 100% of Canela’s clients said that they would happily recommend the agency, and it has started its own Canela Forest in Spain, planting one tree for every client and team member. — MPS
Evercom numbers nearly 70 people across Iberia, emerging from 2018 as a nearly €6m business. With offices in Madrid and Barcelona, 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.
Evercom has attracted an impressive list of clients including Mondelez, Deutsche Bank, Canon, Liberty Seguros, Estrella Galicia and Vodafone. The agency’s work supporting Coca-Cola’s launch of Honest teas in Spain is a testament to Evercom’s all-in approach to driving change, which in this case involved increasing consumer interest in organic products. The result: The Honest House, a 100% environmentally friendly space (complete with cardboard furniture) where, over the course of a weekend, consumers attended workshops on how to live greener lives. — DM
Lift World (Portugal/Independent)
Portugal’s Lift World is the umbrella group for seven 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” — 78 employees work for a holding company that grew 14% in 2018 to €9.5m after a rare off-year in 2017.
Under the leadership of Salvador da Cunha, Lift has always benefited from a diversified approach. Key clients include Microsoft,:´Oréal, Nestlé, Rock In Rio, SLBenfica, The Navigator Company, Vodafone, Groupement Les Mousquetaires, Sonae Sierra, EDP and Samsung while there was notable new business from WEDO, Worten, Credit Suisse, Sacoor and Innowave.
Much of Lift’s activity in 2018 involved re-investment in key areas, specifically social media, content and video, with the firm hiring Pedro Vieira to lead social and community, Campaign highlights included helping Samsung through two successful smartphone launches, and partnering with the Portugese Child Support Institute for Sonae Sierra’s Christmas solidarity campaign. — AS
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