Innovator 25 EMEA 2018 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations
Our fourth Innovator 25 class in EMEA provides a valuable glimpse of our industry’s future, shining a spotlight on the individuals who are reshaping influence and engagement in an era of dramatic marketing and communications disruption.

The people recognised here come from various corners of the industry — social media strategy, creative, digital execution, reputation management, employer branding — but together they represent a compelling picture of what marketing and communications looks like today, and where it is heading tomorrow. 

This year’s Innovator 25 in EMEA come from backgrounds as varied as advertising, science, politics, technology, retail, sports marketing and publishing, but the one thing they all have in common is their ability to innovate ahead of the curve.

Unsurprisingly, the highest proportion of our inaugural class are based in the UK (40%), followed by Germany and the UAE. Other markets represented are Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Russia, Bulgaria, Italy, Nigeria and South Africa.

The Innovator 25 profiles explore each individual’s view of the state of innovation in the PR and communications industry, and also give us a glimpse of the habits and learnings that drive our innovators.

As well as asking our EMEA cohort what innovation means to them, this year we asked them how they get out of a creativity rut. The responses varied widely, from physical exercise (swimming, running, walking, climbing and surfing all make an appearance) to getting together with other people and seeking inspiration from external sources such as TED talks or a good book.

I read every chance I get.Abey Mokgwatsane

Spend time with brilliant people. From brainstorms with the team to meeting industry colleagues, a good conversation always does the trick.” Akanksha Goel

Take off the pressure, change the approach, inject some different thinking, change the channel. And perhaps lastly, check the insight. If it's a compelling and true insight, creativity flows.” Ali Gee

I swim in the wonderful (cold) Brockwell Lido.” Amelia Torode

Have a good chat, whether the commuter sitting next to you, the grocer around the corner, your kids’ teacher: never lose touch with reality.” Annick Boyen

One of the best ways I'm able to break from creative block is by stepping away from some of the larger, more strategic issues and challenges that I'm working to help solve and taking time to dig into the day-to-day with my teams and clients. This often provides me with not only immediate inspiration, but also the much-needed context and perspective that leads to insights generation and new breakthroughs. Feeling like I was impactful and ending the day with some hard, productive work under my belt always makes me feel good, and that leads to more space for creativity. I hit the rut head on.” David Kyne

Always being alert and open to looking at fresh ideas. For example, I get a lot of creative ideas simply by watching TED bites from time to time.” Hala Badri

Go for a run/swim, or gather a couple of colleagues together to help dig me out of it.” Hugh Baillie

Go out and get inspired by others. Talk to journalists and PR peers. You can derive so much creativity from it and many valuable insights.” Jessica Baxmann

Do something different. Meet new people. Take a risk.” Jim Hawker

 “I need to get inspiration from the real world, so I need to walk around outside, surround myself with life, then walk around until the idea usually hits me.” Nim Haas

Go climbing or surfing.” Richard Walker 

I actively stop thinking about the challenge on hand and start doing something where every step is totally predefined, like cleaning the house or crocheting a scarf. Thoughts will start to flow automatically then.” Sabine Hückmann

First, I shut down completely. Then, I ponder on a few good things that excite me, engage in conversation with peers about current happenings in politics and governance and I get pumped up, knowing that the audience/citizens deserves more. Then, I show up fully.” Timilehin Bello

Press the pause button and get offline. I’m lucky enough to have at least 40 minutes per day of total disconnection, when I ride my Vespa (I know, it sounds very Italian) from home to work and back home. This is the moment the brain blinks!Lorenzo Petracco


Innovator 25 EMEA Gender There are slightly more agencies (56%) than in-house innovators on the list this year, and there are more women on the list than men: 14 versus 11.

When it comes to where marketing and PR should innovate in EMEA, 70% of our innovators say analytics and measurement, reflecting both rapid strides made in these areas by the marketing communications sector and the need for more to be done with data at both ends of the campaign process. Meanwhile, 40% say the industry could innovate more in terms of creativity, and there’s also room for more innovation in the areas of paid (20%), integration (25%), diversity (15%) and social media (15%).

In an unwelcome reversal of last year's findings, only 16% think communications is ahead of other marketing disciplines in terms of innovation, while 37% now think the PR industry is lagging behind.

Innovator 25 EMEA Who most influences a brand's marketing and PR When asked who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is, it’s a different story to last year, when the CMO reigned supreme, with 56% of the vote. This year, reflecting the growing influence of vocal leaders, the CEO and the CMO have equal influence, with 37.5% each. PR and marketing agencies are seen as much more influential than last year, with 25% of the vote, up from just 12% in 2017.

Innovator 25 EMEA Brands Which brands and agencies do our EMEA Innovators find most innovative? Some familiar names crop up, including Ikea, Netflix, adidas, Nike, Red Bull and Apple, along with more niche brands such as Brewdog, Maserati, Rapha and SunGod sunglasses. 

Some of the brands cited as innovative last year, however, are notably absent, including Airbnb, Spotify, Sonos and Facebook.

You can read all the Innovator 25 Profiles, and explore their inspiration and advice, using the navigation menu on this page.