THE TOP EUROPEAN PR CONSULTANCIES 2001: Netherlands - While caution is still the watchword, communications professionals remain upbeat

After a period of economic prosperity, business in the Netherlands

remains buoyant, but progressing with steady optimism. Official

unemployment for the country remains particularly low at 2.5 per cent.

But, since the end of last year, inflation has become an impending

threat, leaping from 3.2 per cent to 4.9 per cent.

Then there is the impact of the US economic downturn. For years, the

country has been one of the largest foreign investors in the US, with

many leading Dutch companies making trans-Atlantic forays for


Likewise, many US-owned companies have invested in the Netherlands -

currently there are rumours that ING Bank will be the next big foreign


'Everybody is wondering how far the economic slowdown in the US will

bite here,' says Hollander van der Mey/MS&L MD Bart de Vries. 'But so

far, it has not affected us too much.' Indeed, it seems that the

disaster-mongers' worst predictions for the Dutch economy are far from

being realised.

Most industry sectors, from consumer to healthcare, seem to be

progressing well and while caution is still the watchword, PROs remain

upbeat. 'There is less economic growth than was predicted, but at two

per cent, it's still growth,' says Hill & Knowlton Nederland CEO Frans

van der Grint.

While the current situation is not ideal, it is presenting plenty of

opportunities for the industry. 'One of the mainstays in complex

business areas is strategic advice,' says de Vries. 'So agencies that

have the ability to advise in the right areas can be of sustainable

benefit to clients.'

Happily, it seems that there is a general trend by both agencies and

client organisations alike to embrace this strategic approach to


'It's becoming more and more about consultancy work and implementation -

looking at strategy and analysis first - and less about media

relations,' says Bennis Porter Novelli managing director Simon van den


To ensure that PR retains its high profile within corporate culture,

most PROs see the development of specialised skills as the key to


'The right directions for the future will be financial comms, crisis

comms, the integration of on and offline comms and maybe change

management,' says van der Grint. 'If agencies are able to be strong in

these and keep profits at an acceptable level, then there is a high

chance of them being a winner.'

The issue of corporate reputation is becoming a hot topic for the Dutch,

affecting everything from public perceptions through to share price.

'There are even discussions in parliament about judging companies on

their social responsibility records,' adds van den Ende. However, the

most vulnerable PR players in the Dutch market are those whose interests

are focused on the technology sector. Besides the downturn and

the fiasco surrounding the flotation of Rotterdam-based internet

provider World Online, the hi-tech specialists are also having to

weather the larger technology organisations, such as Hewlett-Packard and

Ericsson, laying off staff and slashing communications budgets. As a

result, some of the smaller consultancies are experiencing tough


These troubles aside, the old economy players are becoming increasingly

interested in marrying their traditional communications with sustainable

programmes online. According to the Gartner Group, the Netherlands will

be Europe's most advanced e-commerce country by 2005, generating almost

nine per cent of its gross domestic product online. For the West's most

densely populated country, this is already causing headaches, in terms

of both space and infrastructure. However, business and government alike

are embracing the wired world as a more efficient way to sell goods,

collect taxes and build relations with target audiences.

Eighteen months ago, Euro RSCG snapped up top agency Bikker

Communication Group, while last May, technology network Brodeur

Worldwide, took a majority holding in Schoep and Van der Toorn, to

create a new Brodeur Worldwide Netherlands brand. Adding to the

impression that the Netherlands' US-friendly culture and influence in

Benelux is tempting large groups to invest in the territory. , Incepta's

Citigate network bought financial PR and IR firm First Financial

Communications in a deal worth up to pounds 7.3m, in April.

Dorothee van Vredenburch, MD of the Amsterdam-based agency, says: 'This

will enable us to meet the growing needs of our clients for seamless

cross-border service.' Meanwhile, many expect the two remaining

acquisition targets in the Top 10 - Winkelman & Van Hessen (which has

enjoyed an unofficial relationship with Ogilvy for many years) and Van

Sluis Communications - to become part of international networks within

the next 12 months to two years.

The role of communications in this crucial pocket is growing


However, there is evidence that some of the leading Dutch PR consultants

are beginning to take a more holistic approach and position themselves

as one-stop shops. 'There is a trend for PR consultancies to re-format

their business and offer more than just PR, looking at other comms

skills such as advertising and media sponsorship,' says Van Hulzen PR

managing partner Huib Bannier.

For a nation that prizes consensus and continuity there is a still a

rich furrow for PROs to plough.


Rank Company Fee income (pounds) Growth

2000 2000 1999 %

1 Bikker Euro RSCG * 4,448,000 2,108,000 111

2 Winkleman & van Hessen 4,300,000 3,940,000 9

3 Brodeur Schoep & Toorn(1) ** 3,541,000 3,223,881 10

4 Bennis Porter Novelli* ** 3,291,625 3,348,978 -2

5 Hill & Knowlton Nederland* 2,232,000 1,686,000 32

6 Burson-Marsteller* 1,865,933 1,914,000 -3

7 Bex van der Schans* ** 1,698,623 1,293,114 31

8 Adequaat Communicatie* ** 1,508,001 1,208,584 25

9 VD&L Communicatie(2) 1,500,000 1,500,000 0

10 Van Luyken* ** 1,461,202 1,791,045 -18

11 The European Mktg Group** 1,370,000 1,250,000 10

12 Van Hulzen PR* 1,155,000 925,000 25

13 Paul Kok Consultants* 1,100,000 800,000 38

14 Hollander van der Mey/MS&L* ** 750,000 750,000 0

15 Shandwick Nederland** 736,000 532,000 38

16 BB Communicatie* (3) ** 720,000 630,000 14

17 Peterink & Partners** 662,175 518,224 28

18 GCI Holland(4) ** 626,000 2,110,000 -70

19 Lubbers & de Jong 600,000 400,000 50

20 Text 100** 515,052 401,997 28

21 Groot, Haar & Orth** 238,000 189,000 26

22 DSP Communicatie** 210,646 201,763 4

23 Nolles PR 200,000 160,000 25

24 Effect Adviesgrope 174,481 - -

25 Write Media PR** 172,910 121,037 43

Rank Company Location Status


1 Bikker Euro RSCG * Rotterdam Euro RSCG subsidiary

2 Winkleman & van Hessen The Hague Independent

3 Brodeur Schoep & Toorn1 ** Amsterdam Brodeur network

4 Bennis Porter Novelli* ** Amsterdam PNI subsidiary

5 Hill & Knowlton Nederland* Amsterdam H&K subsidiary

6 Burson-Marsteller* The Hague B-M subsidiary

7 Bex van der Schans* ** Eindhoven ECCO network

8 Adequaat Communicatie* ** De Lier Independent

9 VD&L Communicatie(2) Gouda Independent

10 Van Luyken* ** Haarlem Independent

11 The European Mktg Group** Berg Op Zo Independent

12 Van Hulzen PR* Voorschoten Independent

13 Paul Kok Consultants* Groenekan Independent

14 Hollander van der Mey/MS&L* ** The Hague MS&L subsidiary

15 Shandwick Nederland** The Hague Weber Shandwick sub

16 BB Communicatie* (3) ** Nijmegen Independent

17 Peterink & Partners** Venray Independent

18 GCI Holland(4) ** Amsterdam GCI subsidiary

19 Lubbers & de Jong Amsterdam Fireworks member

20 Text 100** Amsterdam Text 100 subsidiary

21 Groot, Haar & Orth** Leeuwarden Independent

22 DSP Communicatie** Rotterdam Independent

23 Nolles PR Ridderkirk Independent

24 Effect Adviesgrope Heemstede Euro PR member

25 Write Media PR** Amsterdam Independent

All figures relate to the year ended December 2000.

Fee income = PR fees * denotes Precom member

** denotes VPRA member

(1) Formerly called Schoep & Van der Toorn

(2) Last year included figures for GCI Holland

(3) Formerly called Bureau Broekman

(4) Last year included figures for VD&L

** 1999 fee income as submitted for 2000 European Consultancies tables

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