TOP EUROPEAN AGENCIES 1998: SWITZERLAND - The number of big businesses has increased and so has their investment in communications

Switzerland occupies a unique position in Europe, remaining solidly outside the EU, but geographically surrounded by Union members. Having enjoyed a coalition of the same four political parties since 1943, Switzerland is also one of the most stable countries in western Europe.

Switzerland occupies a unique position in Europe, remaining solidly

outside the EU, but geographically surrounded by Union members. Having

enjoyed a coalition of the same four political parties since 1943,

Switzerland is also one of the most stable countries in western


Traditionally, the Swiss market has proved hard for the major

international owned groups to break into and local players have

dominated. But, in April last year, Burson-Marsteller entered the market

by acquiring a majority stake in leading agency Agenturgruppe Jaggi, now

renamed Jaggi Burson-Marsteller. However, the agency is still very Swiss

oriented, focusing primarily on the domestic market with Dieter Jaggi

still firmly at the helm. Jean-Marc Hensch, vice-president of the Swiss

consultancies association BPRA says: ’Unlike advertising which can be

very centralised, local contacts and knowing local culture is the

absolute key to Swiss PR.’

But the big news for Switzerland in 1997 was the recovery of the economy

from the long period of stagnation that started in 1990. ’We have had to

wait a long time’, says Frei Lienert joint managing partner of Urs

Lienert. ’Now, after seven years there is a belief in the future,

exports are better and consumers are spending more.’

In common with the rest of Europe, hi-tech, healthcare and telecoms

companies are doing well. With telecommunications company Swisscom’s

partial privatisation later this year and new telecom operators on the

market ahead of full telecoms liberalisation in January 1999, there are

plenty of opportunities for PR agencies. ’People don’t know a lot about

the new free market operators so need to find confidence in them’, says

Wenger Kommunications proprietor Walter Wenger.

But Switzerland’s traditional strength, banking, is temporarily under

some strain. The merger between the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) and

Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) last year resulted in serious job

losses. Trimedia Zurich president Werner Madre says: ’In the short term

this has reduced the opportunities in banking, but in the medium term it

will be better.’

Last year saw greater activity on the stock exchange with a growing

number of companies going public. The BPRA’s Hensch says: ’Previously,

only the really big companies were listed, but we have seen a huge

number of IPOs this year and next year there will be more.’ There is a

general consensus among Swiss agencies that as a result, investor and

financial relations are becoming more important. In turn, many expect

this to cause an increase in private lobbying.

But as the number of big businesses has increased, so has their

investment in communications. Hensch reports that the development in the

economy has seen his members’ fee income increase by eight per cent on

last year.

Likewise, PR budgets have also grown. However, clients are now demanding

more value for money, so productivity has also risen. In 1995, average

fee income per capita for BPRA members was 190,000 SFr, in 1997 this

rose to over 214,000 SFr.

Another trend identified by Hensch is the growing gap in terms of

turnover and manpower between the five big agencies and the smaller

owner-oriented players. He thinks that the additional level of

management required by the larger agencies to handle their greater

number of accounts will keep this marked difference in place.

But as the overall size of the Swiss PR industry is so limited, agencies

are still happy to exploit their strengths, rather than focus on niche

sectors. However this tight market means that for career development,

senior level staff increasingly have to crossover between agency

positions and working in-house. The upshot is that clients are showing

signs of maturity. Trimedia’s Madre says: ’Now the bigger companies have

their own capabilities to handle the day to day business of media

relations themselves. The tendency over the last few years has been a

demand for more strategic consulting and more integration in the

marketing mix.’

This view is echoed by Hensch. ’Clients understand more about what

agencies can do and don’t ask us for things they should do themselves.’

In terms of the future, all Swiss agencies are anticipating a huge boost

when Lucerne plays host to the first ICO World congress in the autumn of



Rank Company                              Fee income (pounds)

97                                            97             96

1    Trimedia Holding*                 3,600,000      3,500,000

2    Farner PR*                        3,248,945      2,953,586

3    Peter Butikofer                   3,164,557      2,236,287

4    Wirz PR Group*                    2,953,586      2,405,063

5    Jaggi Burson-Marsteller*1         2,700,422      3,248,945

6    Lauffer, Hensch & Part*           1,097,046        928,270

7    Hugo Schmidt*                     1,054,852      1,012,658

8    Rochat, Delacretaz &Part          1,012,658        843,882

9    Frei and Lienert Comm*              970,464        843,882

9    Aloha Communications*               970,464        759,494

11   Wenger Kommunikation*               928,270        843,882

12   apr AG fur PR*                      886,076        759,494

12   CR Kommunikation*                   886,076        759,494

14   Weigelt& AG fur Kommur              759,494        713,300

15   BPR Communications*                 717,300        713,300

15   MACH                                717,300        801,688

17   Dr Peter P Knobel*                  632,911        506,329

18   Messmer and Partner                 590,717        464,135

18   Rubeli Hausermann PR                590,717        717,300

20   PRW PR and Werbe*                   548,523        548,523

21   Senarclens, Leu and Part            506,329        421,941

22*                              464,135        464,135

23   Plelken and Partners*               421,941        506,329

23   Forum der Wirtschaft                421,941        421,941

25   Karl F Schneider*                   337,553        337,553

25   CIPR Communication                  337,553        337,553

25   Linder Kommunikation                337,553        337,553

28   Toby Rodes Consultants              295,359        253,165

Rank Company                        Location    Status


1    Trimedia Holding*              Zurich      Trimedia/Key Comm UK

2    Farner PR*                     Zurich      GFC

3    Peter Butikofer                Zurich      Shire Hall Int

4    Wirz PR Group*                 Zurich      Independent

5    Jaggi Burson-Marsteller*1      Zurich      Burson-Marsteller

6    Lauffer, Hensch & Part*        Zurich      Independent

7    Hugo Schmidt*                  Lucerne     Independent

8    Rochat, Delacretaz &Part       Lausanne    IPAN

9    Frei and Lienert Comm*         Zurich      Porter Novelli

9    Aloha Communications*          Baar        IPRN

11   Wenger Kommunikation*          Rumligen    ecco

12   apr AG fur PR*                 Zurich      Independent

12   CR Kommunikation*              Zurich      DDB

14   Weigelt& AG fur Kommur         St Gallen   EAPC

15   BPR Communications*            St Gallen   Independent

15   MACH                           Baden       Independent

17   Dr Peter P Knobel*             Zug         Hill and Knowlton

18   Messmer and Partner            Basel       Independent

18   Rubeli Hausermann PR           Zurich      Independent

20   PRW PR and Werbe*              Zurich      Europe On Line

21   Senarclens, Leu and Part       Zurich      Independent

22*                         Zurich      Independent

23   Plelken and Partners*          Gland       Gavin Anderson and Co

23   Forum der Wirtschaft           Bern        Independent

25   Karl F Schneider*              Schlieren   PROI

25   CIPR Communication             Genf        Independent

25   Linder Kommunikation           Zurich      Independent

28   Toby Rodes Consultants         Basel       Independent

* Denotes BPRA membership

1 Figures supplied by BPRA

- The Swiss PR consultancies association BPRA commissions an

independently audited annual ranking of national agencies, adhering to

fee income only. Member agencies must have been in the market for five

years and have at least five staff

- Two banks - UBS and Credit Suisse Group are in negotiations - over

returning Jewish assets after the Second World War. There is a general

feeling in Switzerland that the affair is threatening outside investment

in the country’s economy

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