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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.
Omnicom PR Group was launched in Italy in 2017 by combining the domestic operations of FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli. While the new brand represented something of a controversial step, the reasoning remains sound — a bid to achieve scale in a market that had typically resisted the midsize appeal of global networks. And, under the leadership of GM and MD Massimo Moriconi, OPRG has emerged as one of the biggest players in Italy, numbering 115 staffers with strength across corporate, digital, food/beverage and healthcare.
Indeed, since the merger, OPRG’s new business record has impressed, adding assignments from Viacom (MTV, Spike, Paramount), OVH, CNHI, UNHCR, Generali, Almond Board of California, Novartis, Roche and Starbucks. They join an existing client roster that features Prada, VF Corporation, Vueling, ABInbev, Bayer, Whirlpool, Norwegian Seafood Council and the European Leagues.
All of which underpinned revenue and headcount growth of 5% and 10%, respectively, in 2018, led by the firm’s reputation management (including a new litigation PR service) and digital transformation capabilities, and bolstered by a thought leadership offering that featured the launch of Fleishman’s Authenticity Gap research in Italy. OPRG’s work also demonstrates a more integrated flair than most, thanks to the presence of three creative directors. That helped the firm secure numerous awards for Clementoni’s ‘Serious at Play’ campaign, while there were also campaign highlights for Prada, Corona and Estra Energia. — AS
Barabino & Partners (Independent)
Barabino & Partners is not only the dominant force in Italy, but it is becoming an increasingly credible player beyond the country’s borders, a difficult feat that has enabled it to distinguish itself from its homegrown rivals. The agency now has offices in London, New York, Berlin, Brussels and Sao Paulo
and continues to serve a range of leading ‘brand Italia’ companies overseas. And its core financial practice remains in fine fettle, with Barabino ranking first in Italy for deal count, making it the only Italian PR firm among the world's top 20 for volume of transactions handled.
Now worth around €17.8m after growing 3% in 2018, the firm employs more than 100 consultants, serving such clients as Intel, Blackrock, Fujitsu, Allianz Global Investors, Dell EMC, Fineco, Unipol, Suning Commerce Group, Brunello Cucinelli, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Last year, furthermore, there was new business from DAZN, Magnetar Capital, Lufthansa, Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), Mercer, Muzinich & Co., Sirti, Piaggio Aerospace, Latham & Watkins and Nexi.
Consistent growth over the past two years has come after founder and CEO Luca Barabino oversaw the development of a range of new services to complement its corporate and financial strength. The most notable of these is the launch of bDigital in 2018 under the leadership of Luca Sirianni, providing solutions to a wide range of digital communication needs from B2B and B2C clients.
And that mindset is evident in the best of its work, including counselling Autostrate per l’Italia after the tragic collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa; advising sports streaming service DAZN Italy on crisis management following technical failures; supporting Brunello Cucinelli’s ‘Project for Beauty’ event in Umbria; and, serving as communications advisor for the Vicenzaoro gold and jewellery show. — AS
The merger of Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller in Italy last year brought two businesses of the same size together to create a BCW team of around 90 consultants in Milan and Rome that seems to now be operating as very much more than the sum of its parts. It’s the only market within the firm’s Europe and Africa region where joint leadership is in place: Fabio Caporizzi previously led Burson-Marsteller and Elena Silva was managing director at Cohn & Wolfe.
Both agencies had a rich heritage of representing often family-owned Italian brands that export globally, including Lavazza (for which it operates as the international PR hub), Maserati (where BCW is the global hub, handling everything from social media to influencers and digital content) and Campari. Global brands operating in Italy, including Coca-Cola and Heineken, have also chosen BCW to create cross-channel programs designed for the local market.
The team picked up more than 25 new clients during merger year, as well as showing strong organic growth for clients, from consumer brand work to reputation management. In fact, it turned in operating profits up 50% on the previous year. Growth for the C&W part of the business (BCW only moved to one P&L at the start of this year) came close to 11%, in a tough market economy. — MPS
MSL Italia (Publicis Groupe)
MSL’s Italian operation is regarded within the Publicis-owned network as one of its most consistently creative, and most integrated, offers, with a record of showing breakthrough work at Cannes and other competitions around the world. Among the team’s stand-out work during 2018 was the SABRE-nominated Frequency of Love campaign for Huawei with WWF Italia, picking up the love song of humpback whales with an app for its new smartphone.
With 56 people across offices in Milan and Rome, last year MSL had revenue of between €7.5-€8.5m under the leadership of CEO Daniela Canegallo, has worked for the firm for 18 years and is also country leader of Publicis Communications, overseeing all of Publicis’ creative agency brands in Italy. Her team services a broad range of clients including Hyundai, Facebook, Instagram, Coty, McDonald’s, Lockheed Martin, Roche, Uber and 3M.
New accounts in 2018 came from Netflix, Ferrero, Ikea, Novartis and LG, and the team has started 2019 on an equally strong footing, including winning Air Italy, Poste Italiane and mineral water company Ferrerelle. — MPS
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