Edelman remains the star performer of the big agencies with a sixth year of steady growth, impressive hires and forward-thinking approach.
To take advantage of the trend towards evidence-based consulting, the agency set up a research division – Edelman Berland – with "25 pointy-headed statistical geniuses" as UK CEO Ed Williams calls them. A real-time newsroom called ‘i’ was created to help the agency respond quickly to media developments. It is also about to launch a central creative function under the leadership of former Virgin Group’s creative director Chris Harrison.
Client wins included multi-practice accounts from Disney, Virgin Galactic and Ericsson.
Hires included Anji Hunter, former BP comms chief and ‘gatekeeper’ to ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair; Carat’s Jay Gallagher as head of strategic planning; CNBC’s head of creative solutions, Niaz Samadizadeh, as Edelman’s first head of sponsored content and media partnerships, and the FT’s Ben Fenton, who launched a creative industries offering.
McKinsey’s global comms director Michael Stewart replaced Robert Phillips as CEO of Edelman Europe.
The only blip was in the agency’s public affairs division. The MD, Chris Rumfitt, left to set up his own agency; his replacement, Stephen Lotinga, joined but left to become the Liberal Democrats’ comms director. Edelman has now hired Bell Pottinger’s Gurpreet Brar as MD of public affairs.
One of Edelman’s most notable campaigns last year was its pro bono handling of the press for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigns for girls’ education.