Arun Sudhaman 22 Aug 2017 // 1:11AM GMT
Industry veteran and former Edelman APACMEA CEO David Brain will be honoured with the Individual Achievement SABRE Award in Hong Kong on 14 September, at the seventh edition of the Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards.
Brain receives the award after serving as one of the key architects of Edelman's emergence as the world's biggest PR firm, before stepping down earlier this year. He initially joined Edelman in 2004 to oversee Europe, before taking on Asia-Pacific leadership in 2012 and then adding the Middle East and Africa to his remit.
Described by Richard Edelman as "a singular contributor to the rise of Edelman to top rank," Brain played a pivotal role in turning the agency towards a more integrated positioning that thought in terms of CMOs as much as communications clients. "He was early in understanding the possibility of PR firms competing for broader marketing assignments, and helped us to attract creatives and planners," said Edelman.
That was likely a result of Brain's earlier stint as a planner at iconic advertising agency Batey in Singapore, which gave him a more broader disciplinary viewpoint than many of his peers in the PR industry. Brain worked as an MD at Burson-Marsteller after Batey, before returning to London for UK leadership roles at BSMG Worldwide and Weber Shandwick.
"Back in the late 1980s, I could, and indeed did, predict that David would rise to the very top of his profession," said Tim Sutton, who worked with Brain at Paragon Communications. "It was not just his warm and easy empathy with people whatever their backgrounds. Nor was it just his instinctive understanding of the dynamics of any developing scenario. Nor was it just that he had a mind which I would describe best as 'supremely quick and agile'. Above all, David had, and has, the ability to cut through to the absolute essentials of any situation in which he finds himself. Discarding bombast, rhetoric and posturing."
Sutton points to Brain's agency leadership skills — memorably brought to life via a presentation entitled 'The ruthless application of common sense or how to run a PR firm', as an example of Brain's ability to "identify quickly what is the core reality and, therefore, what needs to be done."
Edelman, for his part, characterises Brain as a "top class manager who understood the local markets under his direction but let the managers get on with the job...or be managed out if unable." The Edelman CEO also described Brain as "passionate about digital" and "a global thinker who loved to present on Trust in various countries, to debate the issues of immigration or globalization."