Consumer Consultancy of the Year: Weber Shandwick

For all of its strengths as one of the world’s leading corporate PR firms, one of the most eye-catching features of Weber Shandwick’s Asia-Pacific growth has been the development of a consumer capability that must now be ranked as one of the region’s strongest.

Key to this growth has been the agency’s continued selection as Procter & Gamble’s preferred PR partner in several Asian markets, most notably China. In the Middle Kingdom, Weber Shandwick works for a number of P&G brands and has developed a range of innovative campaigns for urban and rural consumers alike.

Also in China, Weber Shandwick consolidated its hold on McDonald’s consumer PR in 2010 while there was also plenty of Shanghai Expo work. The firm also impressed through its investment in integrating digital into its consumer offering.

Financial Consultancy of the Year: Strategic Public Relations Group

The recent arrival in Hong Kong of global firms FD has increased the level of competition, but if Strategic Public Relations Group founder and chairman Richard Tsang is intimidated, it doesn’t show. Tsang is confident that his firm can continue to compete in the financial space by offering a combination of international experience (Tsang was head of Burson-Marsteller’s financial practice before striking out on his own), local expertise (the firm has been handling M&A, IPOs and IR assignments in Asia since 1995), and geographic reach: SPRG has seven offices spanning Greater China, Singapore and Malaysia.

And 2010 was something of a watershed year for SPRG, with the firm taking winning 12 awards, including the coveted Asia-Pacific Network of the Year honor at the Asia-Pacific PR Awards. The agency handled 18 new listings in 2010, eschewing its traditional focus on volume for a more discerning approach that favored landmark IPOs: the first Russian listing in Hong Kong (UC Rusal), the first Mongolian IPO (Mongolian Mining Corporation), the first Brazilian HDR (Vale), and the largest private Chinese enterprise IPO (Rongsheng).

It celebrated its 15th anniversary by ringing in a record $17.8 million in fee income, and SPRG continues to provide ongoing counsel to more than 150 listed companies and financial institutions.

Technology Consultancy of the Year: Bite Communications

In October of 2009, Upstream Asia—a leading independent network focused primarily on the technology and business-to-business sectors—was acquired by Bite Communications. The deal provided the Next Fifteen-owned agency a significant footprint in the Asia-Pacific region to complement its established presence in the North America and Europe and a blue-chip client list in the region, including longtime Upstream accounts such as HTC, Linksys, Siemens PLM, Skype, and SWIFT.

Bite’s Asia-Pacific presence now numbers more than 70, led by its Hong Kong and Singapore offices but also counting a presence in Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. And the firm grew by 11 percent in Asia-Pacific in 2010, putting it in the $2 million range in terms of fee income.

The firm increased its existing business with HP and HTC, and also saw an upturn from its integration of new digital marketing services into its portfolio. New clients included Adobe, Caterpillar, China Telecom, HDS, Jawbone, Lexar Media, Stride Rite, Sino Land and Turner.

Digital Consultancy of the Year: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

With 1,000 people across 38 offices in 16 countries, Ogilvy remains by far the dominant player in the Asia-Pacific market, by most measures twice the size of its closest competitors. That makes it difficult to maintain the same rate of growth as smaller agencies, but one reason Ogilvy continues to expand is a commitment to innovation, underscored by the rapid development of its digital influence business, which more than doubled in size last year.

Top quality digital and social media work is supplemented by a commitment to thought leadership. Regional practice leader Thomas Crampton maintains one of the best blogs in the region, and is a frequent speaker at local events, and the firm has produced Asia-specific content focused on the growing importance of digital and social media in the region

Key additions in 2010 included a trio of digital leaders—Tim Ho, Xie Qing, and Andrea Fenn—in markets across the region, ensuring that digital and social media elements are seamless integrated into local programming.

The Agency of the Year award winners will be presented with their trophies at our first annual Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards dinner, to be held in Hong Kong this August.