Top European Agencies 1997: NETHERLANDS - The Netherlands’ model economy has created a mood of optimism in business and PR

Last year was another boom year for the home-grown independents in Dutch PR. Four of the top five PR operators in 1996 were independents, with the outsider, Burson-Marsteller, slipping two places to number four.

Last year was another boom year for the home-grown independents in

Dutch PR. Four of the top five PR operators in 1996 were independents,

with the outsider, Burson-Marsteller, slipping two places to number


Ton Winkelman, co-founder of top agency Winkelman and Van Hessen puts

this continuing trend down to his countrymen’s ’indirect’ approach.

’Dutch agencies are not formulaic,’ he says. ’We look at each project as

something new.’

Holland’s prevailing political and economic calm benefited many


Dutch unemployment averaged at just 6.6 per cent, inflation at 1.6 per

cent and growth at 2.5 per cent.

According to Winkelman, things can only get better. ’Everyone is very

optimistic, including Dutch captains of industry,’ he says. ’This year’s

growth forecasts are the highest for more than 10 years, the guilder is

strong and the Dutch economic model is internationally applauded. This

is all leading to high hopes for the future.’

Growth encouraged several leading players to plan, or implement,

expansion plans. The Bikker Communication Group, which last year picked

up such clients as Virgin, Samsonite and Digital, continued its branch


It opened an office in The Hague, launched a new media offshoot in

Rotterdam, Bikker Interactive Media, and saw staff numbers rise by

around 25 per cent.

In contrast, Winkelman and van Hessen continued to resist a national

network, although its part-ownership of other agencies, including its 75

per cent stake in the pounds 1m-turnover Schuttelaar and Partners,

continued to pay off. Winkelman says: ’We don’t think that small

satellite offices are right for us. We believe in combining all our

strength in one building, so that people have the opportunity to speak

and learn from each other.

’ Winkelman is beefing up its seven practices with senior consultants,

with two recent recruits coming from client Unilever. It is also

investing heavily in research, with a report on social security, the

first of a series of papers, due out soon.

Agencies foresee similar areas of growth. Bikker managing director

Leendert Bikker, who estimates that 1997 will see his agency profits

rise by a further 20 per cent, predicts that the market’s key growth

will be in areas such as transport, hi-tech and telecommunications.

Fridie van Loon, chief executive of Harlon Communicatie Independent,

highlights telecommunications and hi-tech PR, but also flags up

privatisation-related work as a potential growth market, as does Marieke

van der Werf, a partner with Van Sluis Communicatie. Despite the

thriving economy, certain key players point to a need to broaden their

service offering. Van Loon says: ’There is still growth in the market

but there must be an end to it.We intend to move into other areas, such

as contract publishing, rather than just concentrating on PR.’

Leendert Bikker also predicts a broadening of PR agency services, into

areas such as advertising. As proof of this, he points to the recent

relaunch of the Dutch advertising trade body as the cross-marketing

Association of Communication Consultancies (VEA). The defection of PR

agencies like Bikker to the VEA presaged this month’s dissolution of the

Netherlands’ PR trade body, the 37-member VPRA.

Fridie van Loon, who has been president of the VPRA for the last two

years, says: ’The necessity for such an organisation was becoming less

and less and the differences between the agencies were becoming


It was hard to find a common ground, whether in size, goals or views on


Apart from the VEA initiative, van Loon says at least two attempts are

underway to launch another Dutch trade body. Several large agencies are

holding informal discussions about establishing a new, as yet unnamed

body, while, with input from the NPRC - a body which represents smaller

agencies - a new VPRA is being created for smaller concerns.

Van Loon is convinced that the need for a recognised quality standard

means a new body for larger agencies will arise. Ton Winkelman, who

launched his agency in 1979, questions whether Dutch clients see

membership of a professional body as the main quality hallmark. He says:

’PR is a very young profession in this country and few Dutch companies

have existed for longer than we have. Because we have grown over the

years and have good clients on our list, we have become a guarantee of

quality in ourselves.’

An increasingly disparate approach to communications presaged this

month’s dissolution of the Netherland’s PR trade body the VPRA

(Vereniging van Public Relations Advies bureaus).

Euro Consultancies: Netherlands

Rk  Company        Fee income (pounds)   Location                Status

                          96         95

1   Winkelman &

    van Hessen     3,481,481  3,148,148  The Hague          Independent

2   Bikker Comm

    Group          3,201,104  2,038,527  Rotterdam          Independent

3   Harlon         2,459,629  2,076,666  Nijmegen           Independent

4   Burson-

    Marsteller     2,406,000  2,335,000  The Hague       B-M subsidiary

5   Van Rossum &

    Partners       2,250,000  2,000,000  Amsterdam          Independent

6   Bennis Porter  2,226,000  2,105,000  Amsterdam      Porter Novelli,

    Novelli                                                   group mbr

7   Van Sluis

    Communicatie   2,125,000  1,700,000  Amsterdam          Independent

8   Jos van den

    Berg/AKC       1,550,000  1,500,000  The Hague     Ind/Worldcom mbr

9   Hill &

    Knowlton       1,188,000    863,000  Amsterdam       H&K subsidiary

10  Hollander/

    V.der Mey/MSL  1,002,384    886,860  The Hague       MS&L affiliate

11  Schoep & Van     925,000    700,000  Amsterdam    Euro Plus network

    der Toorn                                                      ptnr

12  Van & Van

    Publiciteit      827,000    927,000  Maarssen           Independent

13  Van Hulzen PR

    Adviseurs        815,000    778,883  Voorschoten  Ind/F-H affiliate

14  HPR/Horticom     789,630    797,037  De Lier     Reed Elsevier subs

15  Van Dantzig &

    Lichtenveldt     748,800    765,185  Gouda              Independent

16  Shandwick

    Nederland        723,000    746,000  The Hague       Shandwick subs

17  Zwart &

    Partners         697,000  1,240,000  Alphen             Independent

18  De Joode Kok     670,000    650,000  Amsterdam         Indepdendent

19  GCI Holland      499,000    537,300  Amsterdam       GCI Group subs

20  Bakker PR        492,592    407,407  Beverwijk          Independent

21  DSP              453,000    388,000  Rotterdam    Euro Comm Net mbr

22  Bureau

    Broekman         400,000    325,000  Nijmegen  Ind/PR Partners Euro

23  Lammers van

    Toorenburg       397,000    300,000  Utrecht            Independent

24  Blum &

    Partners         331,000    304,000  Amsterdam          Independent

25  Beta Public

    Relations        255,000    220,000  The Hague          Independent

26  Verkroost &

    Partners         240,000    255,000  Bilthoven    Ind/PROI/IPRN mbr

27  Nolles Public

    Relations        220,000    210,000  Ridderkerk  Ind/Comm Group mbr

28  Text 100         179,000     27,000  Amsterdam  Text 100 subsidiary

29  EPB PR           150,000    130,000  Emmeloord          Independent

30  Presstige


    Relations        104,670    131,300  Bunschoten         Independent

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