PRWeek Global: Global Agency Report Card 2010

PR Week UK, Friday, 29 October 2010 12:00AM

In a year of mixed fortunes for the global PR industry, some agencies have ridden the economic storm better than others. Alex Blyth assesses the key players.

The PRWeek Global Agency Report Card tracks network performance during a 12-month period from August 2009 to July 2010.

Agencies are asked to supply information about their business development, people, network initiatives and cohesion, and external recognition. This is supplemented with qualitative research from PRWeek's editorial team.

Here we offer snapshots of each network's fortunes over this period, including notable client wins and campaigns, new faces and people moves within each network, and internal research, initiatives and developments of note and awards.

The big changes from last year's global report are: Trimedia has been merged into Grayling; Publicis has been folded into the wider MSLGroup; and Bell Pottinger has been allowed in after the criteria were relaxed, meaning agencies need offices in just three global regions to qualify.

As with last year, agencies that have performed exceptionally well have been awarded medals of distinction.

EDELMAN

From 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010, Edelman's worldwide revenue was $495m, up from $443m in the previous 12 months, an impressive 12 per cent growth in organic revenue. Edelman is one of the few global PR agencies to make such figures public. San Francisco was the fastest growing of its 52 wholly-owned offices, with revenues up 59 per cent over the period, closely followed by Buenos Aires, which was up 51 per cent.

For the most part this growth came from increased work and budgets from existing clients such as PepsiCo, Dairy Management, Starbucks, POND'S, eBay, US Airways and the 2010 Winter Olympics. In this period Edelman did not lose a single top-50 client. Its average quality score, based on formal evaluations from 722 clients worldwide, was 8.34 out of ten.

This meant that at a time when other agencies were reducing staff, freezing salaries and eliminating bonuses, Edelman was able to pay approximately 40 per cent of earnings back to its 3,300 employees through bonuses.

Notable work the agency carried out in this period included driving ongoing participation in the Pepsi Refresh Project to fund ideas to 'change the world', and a partnership with the NFL and students across 60,000 schools to help tackle childhood obesity and improve nutrition and physical activity in schools.

Edelman also worked on the launch of Starbucks Via, the largest announcement in the coffee chain's history.

Crisis work carried out by the agency included the US Airways 'miracle on the Hudson', with the agency supporting US Airways during the aftermath of Flight 1549's successful emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of birds during takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

It was an overall performance that attracted fresh talent. Most notable were Michael Slaby, former digital technology and new media adviser on Barack Obama's Presidential campaign, who joined as EVP and global practice chair, and Richard Sambrook, former director of global news at the BBC, who joined as global vice-chairman and chief content officer to establish a dedicated content capability.

Internal initiatives included the global fellows programme, which allows rising stars within Edelman to gain experience in different offices globally for two years.

The agency also released numerous high-profile research projects, including the annual trust barometer and the annual goodpurpose study of people's expectations of corporations, brands and themselves. The agency's annual new media academic summit, held in New York, saw more than 100 leading academics from across the world attend to explore how digital media continue to transform comms and businesses.

The icing on the cake for Edelman was the awards it won. Adweek named Edelman 2009 PR Agency of the Year, as did PRWeek UK, while US title Advertising Age placed it as the top-ranked PR agency of the decade.

BURSON-MARSTELLER

In the first half of 2010, Burson-Marsteller says it achieved near double-digit revenue growth, and it reports that so far all regions are on track to achieve 'substantial' growth in 2010.

B-M admits that revenue was challenging during the first half of 2009, but says a stronger growth trajectory in the latter half of the year set it up well for 2010.

The agency picked up business from Microsoft, Novartis, Sony Ericsson, Lloyds TSB and Pfizer among others. While the UK, US and China operations grew the fastest, the firm continued to build its presence around the globe, taking a 30 per cent stake in Solski Burson-Marsteller in Poland, and re-entering the Malaysian market by partnering with Essence Communications. B-M closed the period with 67 wholly-owned offices.

It was successful at luring staff from other agencies, most notably in Asia from rival Edelman. Bob Pickard joined B-M as CEO and president of Asia Pacific, from his role as president of North Asia for Edelman. Margaret Key joined as market leader for Korea, having been Edelman's MD in Japan.

Initiatives included the Global Social media check-up, a study of how the top 100 companies from the Fortune Global 500 index are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and corporate blogs. The study has been viewed by more than 60,000 people online.

At the end of 2009, B-M launched evidence-based comms, which it describes as a new scientific approach to comms driven by data. The firm held a worldwide evidence-based comms day in its offices across the globe.

Awards included Best Media Relations Campaign, Best Marcoms Campaign and Best Social Media Campaign at the PRSA Renaissance Awards. The UK operation has just crowned this raft of accolades with Best International Consultancy in the 2010 PRWeek UK Awards.

WEBER SHANDWICK

In spite of difficult economic conditions, Weber Shandwick says it enjoyed growth among the top 40 clients worldwide and across all practice areas. In the first half of 2010, a stream of new business from Bank of America, PepsiCo and Samsung, as well as work from existing clients such as General Motors, Microsoft and Unilever, resulted in annual growth of more than seven per cent.

In this period Weber Shandwick became the first UK PR agency to win a Cannes Lion two years in a row, and the only UK PR agency ever to have received the International Consultancy of the Year award from both the PRCA and PRWeek UK in the same year. It also won nine Gold European SABRE Awards.

With 81 offices in 40 countries and affiliates that expand the network to 121 offices in 76 countries, Weber Shandwick operates in virtually every major media, government and business centre on six continents.

It has made several senior hires, including Lisa Sepulveda as president of global consumer marketing, Greg Power as president, Canada, and Kim Hoang as European digital comms practice leader. It also launched INLINE Communications, which it describes as 'an exciting new marketing platform designed to integrate digital and traditional activity in a strategic and consistent manner'.

Elsewhere, the firm surveyed nearly 5,000 consumers in Europe about purchasing goods and services, and how influential various information sources are in helping to make decisions. This helped the agency create a profile for the target audience, mapping how and where they are influenced, which has become the template for the agency's comms activity.

The agency lists among its highlights the growth of digital innovation in-house. There are now more than 250 strategists, producers, designers, developers, bloggers, syndication and analytics experts in the agency's offices worldwide.

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER ...

APCO

APCO is on the rise. Five years on from its 2004 management buy-out, APCO Worldwide reports that it has now doubled turnover. More than half of revenue comes from clients using five or more of its offices around the world, and in this period it brought its tally of offices to 30 with the opening of the Kuala Lumpur office.

Robert Ardelt joined as director in Berlin from his job as marketing and comms manager at Booz & Co; Tim Cost joined as global chair healthcare and executive VP from Wyeth, where he was SVP external affairs, and Greg Gilligan became MD of the Beijing office from McDonald's China.

Perhaps the most significant appointment, however, was that of Carlos Gutierrez, former US secretary of commerce and chairman of Kellogg's, as chairman of the newly launched global political strategies division.

BELL POTTINGER

Bell Pottinger makes its debut appearance in PRWeek's Global Agency Report Card after the criteria were relaxed slightly to incorporate networks with offices in just three regions. The network is made up of 50 agencies and more than 1,100 people in the UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Czech Republic, US, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, South Africa, India, Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Major internal developments in this period were the merging of Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial with Pelham PR to form financial PR agency Pelham Bell Pottinger, the return of internal comms expert Liam FitzPatrick from running his own agency Working Communications, and the appointment of former Conservative Party shadow cabinet member Tim Collins as MD of the UK public affairs practice.

In October, the agency lost the O2 public affairs account, but there were wins to provide consolation. At the end of 2009, the agency announced it had delivered the best pre-tax profit in its history.

BRUNSWICK

Although the overwhelming majority of its staff and 16 offices are in Europe or North America, Brunswick does have outposts in Johannesburg, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beijing and Hong Kong.

It is best known as a financial PR agency, and once again topped the global M&A by value league table in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, with 106 deals worth US$321.7bn (£199.7bn). It was boosted by work on Pfizer's US$63.3bn takeover of Wyeth, and Kraft Foods' takeover of Cadbury.

There was significant strengthening of the US offices with Susan Gilchrist, senior partner in Brunswick's London office, relocating to New York, and several major hires. In a year of mixed fortunes for Brunswick, UK fashion retailer New Look ditched it in favour of Tulchan Communications, and client BP did little to enhance the firm's reputation for crisis comms advice.

CITIGATE DEWE ROGERSON

Financial PR specialist CDR used the revival of the IPO market among Chinese and Russian companies to build business in Asia. CDR HK advised on the first two US listings in Hong Kong - Wynn Macau and Sands China - and brought in Alphae Chen as director and head of the Shanghai office.

While the agency's biggest win in the period - the Qatar Financial Centre Authority - was a global campaign, the remainder of the top ten were restricted to just one market.

In the UK it maintained its 21-year relationship with Associated British Foods, as well as its association with Talk Talk and Investec. The agency still has just 14 offices, all in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Its healthcare team produced a campaign for Lloydspharmacy to promote online sexual health testing. 'Sex Degrees of Separation' triumphed in the Consumer Healthcare category at Sabre EMEA and in the Best PR Campaign for a Non-Medicine category at the OTC Marketing Awards.

COHN & WOLFE

In this period Cohn & Wolfe added more than 50 accounts including 2K Play, 3M, American Girl, Axa Insurance, Bang & Olufsen, Bayer Oncology, FLO TV, Friends Provident, Genzyme, Lloyds of London, Mattel, Quaker and Turner Broadcasting. It describes it as the best stretch of new business in 40 years.

Senior additions included Chad Latz as global digital media leader, Mike Kan as global healthcare practice leader, Scott Wilson as CEO, London, and Michael Bayer as US corporate practice leader.

The major acquisition was Cohn & Wolfe's technology comms firm, AxiCom, buying Enfatico's PR division in the US. This created a 100-strong US and European agency that counts Dell, Cisco Consumer Products, Intelligent Energy and Red Hat among its clients.

It also picked up Technology Campaign of the Year from PRWeek US for its launch of SanDisk Extreme Pro. Cohn & Wolfe's biggest win was the consumer account for Walmart in the US, and it picked up pharmaceutical business from Allergan, Genzyme, Sanofi, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Merck.

EURO RSCG WORLDWIDE PR

Euro RSCG added to its stable of multinational clients such as Sanofi-Aventis, Sears and Reckitt Benckiser in a strong year for new business. It picked up global accounts from the French town Annecy, which is bidding to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, Australian Wool Innovations, Chivas, IBM and the International Monetary Fund.

It was also a good year for hires and awards. The poaching of Nor Badron from Intel to head up the South East Asia operation was a major coup, as was luring Michel Bettan from his role as comms director at UMP, the majority party in France, to become COO at Havas Worldwide Public Affairs.

Euro RSCG Worldwide PR North America picked up Adweek's Healthcare Agency of the Year award as well as Medical Marketing & Media's 2010 All-Star Network of the Year award.

However, what really stood out for the agency was its progress in social media and the youth market, with the launch of showcases for social media work and a blog for and by teenage girls.

FLEISHMAN-HILLARD

Two major themes for Fleishman-Hillard were integration with other marketing channels and growth in emerging regions. Integration has occurred through OneVoice, a partnership with other Omnicom companies, which helped secure and now maintains the global Philips account.

Stephanie Marchesi, former president, Cohn & Wolfe New York, was appointed to the newly created role of MD of global integrated marketing comms.

This focus on integration resulted in several awards. The agency's work with ad agency TBWA for Gatorade won a 2010 Grand Prix award at Cannes.

It also picked up a Gold PR Lion for Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR for its work with Papa John's.

Growth came from the opening of offices in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Dubai, Jakarta and New Delhi.

To longstanding clients such as AT&T, Boy Scouts of America and Procter & Gamble, Fleishman-Hillard has added consumer PR and social media briefs from British Airways across EMEA and Asia-Pacific, from General Motors in the US, and from Match.com in Asia-Pacific and the US.

FD

For the ninth year in a row FD topped the global M&A league tables, aided by the acquisition of new M&A business from Shell Petrochina in APAC and Babcock in the UK, and underpinned by the retention of the Ford M&A account.

Private Equity News made FD its PR firm of the year, and PRWeek UK awarded the agency City Campaign of the Year 2009 for its work with INEOS.

Its crisis comms division also had a good year, winning the Transocean, Dubai World and Government of Iceland accounts. Top billing clients were Nycomed in the UK, Dow Chemicals in the Americas, Ireland and Australia, Ford in the UK, and Coca-Cola globally.

There were several new faces at the agency. Former Sunday Times City editor John Waples joined as MD in London and former MD of Edelman Europe, Pamela Fieldhouse, took on the new role of MD international corporate comms.

The opening of a Berlin office, together with new offices in Toronto and New Delhi, brought FD's global tally to 30.

GOLINHARRIS

While GolinHarris fell short of its double-digit growth rate of the past three years, it ended 2009 the same size as it was at the start of the year, and grew its bottom line, year-on-year, by what it describes as a significant percentage.

In autumn 2009, the agency launched the gold standard, its formalised approach to client service, which received an Iron SABRE Certificate of Excellence for Employee Programmes.

The agency continues to be dominated by its US business - its three biggest clients are The Dow Chemical Company, McDonald's Corporation and Nintendo of America.

It did continue to develop its global offering, with ten offices in EMEA and the opening of a Seoul office taking its Asia-Pacific tally to eight. It also picked up PR Consultancy of the Year 2009 in the Asia Pacific PR Awards, just one of the 75 industry awards it won in 2009. This year started in a similar vein when GolinHarris was named PRWeek US' Large PR Agency of the Year.

GRAYLING

Grayling has 900 staff in 70 offices in 40 countries across the US, Western and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific. In this period it became the first international network firm to have an incorporated and full-time presence in Belarus. It also strengthened its Stateside offering with the acquisition of Dutko's ten offices.

The Brussels office appointed a new MD, Katarina De Meulder, and launched Grayling public policy communications.

The network also launched a live comms business, Grayling Live. Internally, sector heads now cover energy, environment and industry, financial & professional services, technology, media & telecoms, consumer brands, and government & public sector.

It won the Consumer PR category at the 2010 SABRE awards for work with Skype in Poland, Russia and Turkey. It also topped PRWeek UK's Not-for-Profit category in 2009 for work with the Parkinson's Disease Society.

Grayling's largest new client win in this period was APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association.

HILL & KNOWLTON

During this period, Hill & Knowlton continued to extend its geographic reach, opening an office in Chengdu, adding to existing operations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and launching a Colombian office.

Transnational assignments now account for more than 60 per cent of H&K's global revenues, and four out of ten clients are transnational. In recognition of this the firm launched a major training programme, betterconnected, to improve its global transnational client service.

The agency also launched project December, a training programme designed to encourage staff engagement with digital channels.

It won business from American Airlines, Tourism New Zealand and the General Authority for Investment.

KETCHUM PLEON

Ketchum and Pleon made their merger official on 1 January 2010. With more than 2,000 employees, the merged agency spans now 70 countries.

This year Ketchum announced a joint venture to create the Ketchum Raad Middle East network, consisting of 14 offices and affiliates in the Middle East and North Africa. New clients included Sony and Adecco in the US and several new government clients such as the German Federal Ministry of Finance and the US Department of Agriculture.

It also picked up senior staff from rivals. Don Foley joined as director North American public affairs from Prism Public Affairs, and Fiona Jolly joined as director, brand practice London from Lexis PR.

In anticipation of growth in the energy market, the agency launched Ketchum Energy and, like many agencies, Ketchum continued to build its digital capabilities.

All this work was recognised with awards including North America's Large Agency of the Year in April from The Holmes Report.

KREAB GAVIN ANDERSON

After the excitement of the previous 12 months - when Kreab merged with Gavin Anderson & Co, and the new entity bought 20:20 Communications to strengthen its Scandinavian presence, hired Tom Grimmer to head up the China operation, and opened two new offices in Saudi Arabia - the past 12 months have fallen a little flat.

KGA picked up the Morrisons account alongside Omnicom stablemate Porter Novelli, and was hired by the Portuguese government to help communicate the action it is taking to tackle its deficit, but other than that it has been a quiet time for the network.

LEWIS PR

Two of the offices Lewis PR launched last year - Bristol and Tokyo - have been the fastest growing of its 40 worldwide. In October 2009 the agency acquired Antwerp-based agency Leads United.

It also brought in some new faces. Paul Charles arrived as chief operating officer in January 2010 from Virgin Atlantic, and launched the agency's consumer and travel division. With the arrival of Clarence Mitchell, the former director of the UK Government's media monitoring unit, Lewis PR was also able to create a crisis management division.

Top billing clients over the year to 31 July 2010 were printer manufacturers Lexmark, IT consultancy Avanade and enterprise software provider Progress Software.

Its two biggest wins were the German account for Telefonica O2 and Panasonic's business in UK, Germany, Italy, France & Spain.

MSLGROUP

The Publicis Groupe has pulled together its two former PR networks, MS&L Worldwide and Publicis Consultants, to form one new global network: MSLGroup.

It is little surprise that this was a period of change. The CEOs of MS&L Worldwide and Publicis Consultants Worldwide moved on, and Olivier Fleurot took the reins as CEO of the new group. Four regional presidents were appointed: Jim Tsokanos in the Americas, Anders Kempe in Europe excluding France, Glenn Osaki in Asia, and Fabries Fries in France.

Perhaps the greatest challenge with any merger of this scale is keeping and growing existing client accounts. MSL reports that it has done this successfully.

There was also significant progress in the digital field, with the launch of the digital PR practice in Europe, the PRWeek/MSLGroup social media survey and the May 2010 announcement of an exclusive contract with research firm linkfluence.

OGILVY PR

This was a period of change for Ogilvy, as Chris Graves took the reins as CEO. The agency grew its multi-office client base by more than 15 per cent.

Asia-Pacific was again a region of key focus. Ogilvy opened offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Karachi and Melbourne. The investor relations team in Beijing handled 74 IPOs, including three of the top four best performing Chinese IPOs listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ in 2010. The agency represented more than 15 clients at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Ogilvy also moved into the potentially lucrative Muslim market with the launch of Ogilvy Noor. But it was the US offices - San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington, DC - that grew the fastest.

New clients included the US Department of Health and Human Services, and more traditional campaigns for Grohe, Bayer and VTech.

Ogilvy retains a strong pharmaceutical base with four of its top ten billing clients in that sector - Boehringer-Ingelheim, Pfizer, Novartis and Bayer.

PORTER NOVELLI

During this period Porter Novelli picked up business from America's Natural Gas Alliance, Avocent, Bayer, BrainLAB, BT, the Consumer Electronics Association, Monster Worldwide, Novartis and Yahoo. But it was the triumph in the hotly contested six-way pitch for UK supermarket chain Morrisons that the team picks out as the highlight.

Elsewhere the agency launched Porter Novelli University, an off-site training programme led by Harvard Business School professors, and real-time reputation specialty, a crisis management offering that operates both online and offline to rapidly restore a company's reputation. Porter Novelli also completed the global roll-out of PNPoint Insights, its audience insight tool. The agency now has more than 300 insight specialists, and this was central to the MRSA campaign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RUDER FINN

It was a good year for new business at Ruder Finn. The agency won briefs from PepsiCo, Pfizer and McKinsey. Other new clients included Bloomberg, L'Oreal and the MAC Aids Fund.

The two largest billing clients were APEX Brazil and Audi, both in China. Alongside New York, the agency's fastest-growing offices were Beijing and Shanghai. There were important hires in this region with the arrival of Ng Chip Keng as MD Hong Kong & Singapore, and Leon Liu as general manager, Beijing. It also picked up a Golden Award from CIPRA (China) for its long-term CSR work with L'Oreal China.

Judith Cranford joined as MD healthcare from MS&L, and Ruder Finn remains strong in the pharmaceutical sector - four of its top ten clients were Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Novartis and Pfizer.

Finally, Ruder Finn Innovation Studios, the agency's digital business, introduced crowdsite, a social media aggregating tool to monitor online chatter.

TEXT 100

Following a brand refresh in August 2009, the agency embarked on a restructure in June 2010. It split the globe into five regions, appointed new leaders for four of these through internal promotions, and refreshed local leadership in its key growth markets: the UK, China and India.

It also appointed industry veteran, Sarah Howe, as global leader for campaign innovation.

Alongside this, there was 40 per cent growth in demand for social media, both as part of current client retainers and from new clients such as British Airways and Facebook. Text 100 invested heavily in this area, doubling its training budget to train all staff in social media skills.

It picked up social media work from Schneider Electric in Norway and the US, Yahoo in Australia and India and Anadigics in Shanghai, Boston, and New York. All ten of its top billing clients were tech companies including IBM, Lenovo, Cisco and Nokia.

WAGGENER EDSTROM

The agency hired Eddie Rehfeldt, VP of experience design, to lead its video efforts, promoted Jen Houston to a newly created role of president of its digital division, WE Studio D, and hired social media and digital expert Jon Silk in the UK.

Externally, it launched WE twendz pro, a Twitter sentiment and influence monitoring and measurement tool. This move into the digital arena should be a good fit for an agency so well grounded in technology PR. In this period The Holmes Report cited Waggener Edstrom as its Technology Agency of the Decade, and the agency won an EMEA Technology PR Campaign of the Year SABRE award for the work it did with BMC Software.

The firm also launched a new practice, analyst relations, and there were two important hires in Washington: Jean-Louis Robadey as VP global development in the social innovation practice, and Suzanne Zurn as VP digital advocacy.

This article was first published on PR Week UK

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