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January 2024 PR Pitches and M&A Review

Welcome to our January 2024 Review of PR Pitches and mergers & acquisitions in the UK PR scene with Andrew Bloch, where we will discuss the biggest, most seismic pitch wins and mergers and acquisitions that the PR sector has seen in 2023.

Andrew is the lead consultant - PR, Social, Content and Influencer at the new business consultancy firm AAR and a partner at PCB Partners, where he advises on buying and selling marketing services agencies.

Before we start, a plug for our latest webinar launch; the topic for this one is “How to track the success of an earned media campaign." tickets are free and we’re putting this one on in partnership with our good friends at Carma. The event is promoted on the homepage of PRmoment.

Thanks also so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

2 mins We kick off with some thoughts from Andrew and I on WPP’s merger of BCW and Hill&Knowlton

“It’s really nice that they are honouring Harold Burson.”

“It’s potentially going to be the biggest PR agency in the UK… taking them ahead of Brunswick.”

“You rarely merge two firms together because they are doing so well.”

“It's been reported that both of these firms had a tougher time in America; they’ve had a better time of it in the UK.”

“It just makes sense. You don’t need that many agencies in one group, especially when they have that much overlap.”

7 mins A discussion of January’s biggest PR pitch wins:

The Dept for Science, Innovation and Tech appointed Unlimited and Pablo as lead creative and strategic partners, with Nelson Bostock Unlimited providing the PR support.

Andrew pays tribute to Nelson Bostock co-founder Roger Nelson, who passed away recently.

Iceland appoints Tangerine for creative consumer, corporate, sustainability, crisis and social.

“A massive win for Tangerine.”

The Savoy hires the PR agency Fox Communications to handle media relations, digital media, and influencers.

“A lot of specialist agencies have done extremely well in the last few years.”

Sudocrem appoints Brazen.

Kidney Cancer and UK Reflo, the sustainable performance wear brand, appoint PHA

Oatley appointed Blurred for consumer, corporate and public affairs work following a 6-way pitch.

Nest - Britain's largest pension scheme backed by govt - hires Blurred.

Henkel appoints BCW (soon to be Burson!)

The Ministry of Justice appoint Kindred on £1.3m

Luke “The Nuke” Littner -the teenage dart sensation who reached the final of the world championships, has appointed Soapbox London.

Airbnb appoints The Romans. Previously Hope&Glory has held the Airbnb account for nine years and Andrew and Ben pay tribute to that body of work.

Giff Gaff appoint Splendid for a strategic and creative comms brief.

Stonegate Group - Pitch. The UK's largest pub company, operating nearly 5,000 pubs, includes brands like Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout.

“It’s busy, and this time of year is always busy. We’re still facing some of the challenges we saw last year...which is delaying decisions.”

"Whenever there is a lack of confidence in the economy, there is a lack of confidence in making appointment decisions.”

30 mins A round-up of PR’s January’s M&A activity

“2024 is going to be a lot stronger than 2023.”

“There is a need for M&A in the market.”

US-based advisory firm Morrow Sodali, which acquired Powerscourt last year, has bought Australian corp comms firm Domestique. Morrow Sodali is majority-owned by TPG Growth.

Bully Pulpit Interactive acquires Boldt. Boldt was founded in 2017 by former Burson Marsteller EMEA CEO Jeremy Galbraith. Boldt had a team of 50 across 6 euro offices in London, Brussels, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Oslo and Zurich. The combined firm will have 250+ full-time employees. The deal has a 5-year earn-out.

Edelman parent DJE Holdings acquires Pacific, a German marketing agency. Clients include BMW, Spotify, and Adobe.

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