Brand PR and hi-tech appear to offer the most potential in this relatively static market

Brand PR and hi-tech appear to offer the most potential in this

relatively static market

The continuing trough in which the Swiss economy is languishing has made

life hard for the country’s consultancies. The BPRA - the Swiss

equivalent of the PRCA, which numbers most of the country’s leading

consultancies among its members - predicted growth in turnover for 1995

of 7.2 per cent. In actuality, turnover dropped 0.6 per cent.

The performance at the upper echelon of the league table was static.

Trimedia Communications and Agenturgruppe Jaggi both trod water, while

Dr Rudolph Farner saw a fall in net fees of 11.76 per cent. Only Wirz PR

and Dr Hans Balmer, among the top five agencies, showed any growth. So

is the BPRA’s prediction of a growth of eight per cent for its member

agencies for 1996 unduly optimistic?

‘Several agencies have had problems because of reduced budgets,’ says

Fritz Frischknecht, managing director of Lauffer Hensch & Partner. ‘Our

budgets were more or less the same than the year before.’

Part of the blame for Switzerland’s poor economic position may be

attributed to its refusal to join the European Community. Its companies

are missing out on the competitive advantages of the single market, a

situation that clearly has ramifications for consultancies looking to

pick up business.

‘The pharmaceutical and financial sectors in Switzerland are quite

dynamic at the moment,’ says Syntagme managing director Luc Giacobino.

‘But the rest of the market is rather stagnant. There’s more work for

lower budgets.’

Many of the small one or two-man agencies that sprung up over the last five years have disappeared, finding market conditions too tough to make

a crust. Several others, however, have prospered.

Frei und Leinert, which is only four years old, has already made it into

the top 10 consultancies - although last year its fee income remained

static. ‘We have a smaller market at the moment but there’s still the

possibility of growth,’ says managing partner Urs Lienert.

New business for Frei und Lienert last year included public affairs work

for Interpharma, a financial relations brief for Devco Trade, corporate

communications for Leica and marketing communications for Atlas


Giacobino, meanwhile, thinks Syntagme has been able to grow while many

others have struggled because of its concentration on areas such as

crisis management and corporate communications. He notes a number of

trends, including the opportunity for hi-tech specialist agencies to

latch on to some of the young technology companies which are

establishing themselves in the country.

The BPRA’s research among its members showed that last year 44 per cent

of their turnover in 1995 came from corporate communications.

Lobbying/public affairs work was the next biggest contributor,

accounting for 20 per cent (up from 16 per cent in 1994).

Marcoms/product PR came in just behind at 19 per cent and

financial/investor relations was the final significant category at nine

per cent of turnover.

Robert Gubler, managing director of Zurich-based Pi.AR, identifies

‘location marketing and inward investment’ as a potential growth area.

Four or five years ago, he claims, the Swiss felt little need to spend

money marketing themselves as a relocation option.

Now, in more straitened times, the attitude has changed. Gubler gives as

an example his agency’s win last year of the account to promote the

Greater Zurich Area.

Another area of potential growth is in brand/product PR. ‘I think we

have more product communications on the public relations side than

before because many clients have discovered how cheap and effective it

can be,’ says Dr Rudolf Farner chief executive officer Christian Konig.

There is evidence to suggest that advertising agencies have been losing

out to PR consultancies on product promotion campaigns - indeed many

Swiss ad agencies have been hit by revenue falls of 25 per cent or so

and some are looking to move into public relations as a way of

bolstering their overall marketing offer. The fact that, despite trying

market circumstances, the public relations industry seems to be holding

its own is one sound reason for optimism.

‘The public relations sector will still grow in the next few years,’

says Frischnecht. ‘Not every company has realised yet that public

relations is cheaper and more effective than advertising. I think

advertising agencies will lose some budgets to PR.’

Another likely trend will be the emergence of more specialist agencies.

Hitherto, because of the country’s size, nearly all agencies are

generalist in nature. As clients are becoming more demanding of sector

expertise, more niche players are likely to spring up.

Given the unfavourable economic climate, there have been few start-up

consultancies of note, although Bern-based Zoebeli Communications AG was

formed as a break-away from Zug-based top 20 agency Dr Peter P Knobel



Euro Consultancies: Switzerland (part one)


Rank  Company                     Fee income (pounds)     Location

                                    95            94

 1    Trimedia Comms            4,300,000     4,300,000    Zurich

 2    Jaggi Communications      4,235,135     4,235,135    Bern

 3    Wirz PR                   3,960,000     3,080,000    Zurich

 4    Dr Rudolf Farner          3,957,783     4,485,488    Zurich

 5    Dr Hans Balmer            1,900,000     1,700,000    Zurich

 6    Lauffer Hensch & Prtnr    1,088,000     1,160,200    Zurich

 7    Frei und Lienert            879,121       879,121    Zurich

 8    Dr Erwin Bischof AG         778,816       778,816

 9    Euro RSCG                   684,000       555,000    Zurich

10    Rowland Company             632,911                  Zurich

11    Pi AR                       600,000       550,000    Zurich

12    L&W Marcom                  512,820       276,932    Zurich

13    Karl F Schneider            410,000       380,000    Zurich

14    Forum/Wirtschaft            400,000                  Bern

15    Syntagme                    360,000       320,000    Geneva

16    Qualimat                    350,000       300,000    Basel

17    Cabinet Etienne Nussle      308,000                  Geneva

18    Toby E Rodes Consltnts      195,147       196,727    Basel

*Figures not available.The following top 10 agencies from the BPRA and

1995 PR Week ranking did not submit figures in time for inclusion: Aloha

Communications, Peter Butikofer (umlaut over u); MACH, Rebeli Husemann,

Hugo Schmidt,Wenger Communications.



Euro Consultancies: Switzerland (part two)


Rank  Company                       Status

 1    Trimedia Comms                Trimedia subs

 2    Jaggi Communications          Independent

 3    Wirz PR                       Shandwick affiliate

 4    Dr Rudolf Farner              Independent

 5    Dr Hans Balmer                USP Worldnet mbr

 6    Lauffer Hensch & Prtnr        Independent

 7    Frei und Lienert              Porter/Novelli Assc

 8    Dr Erwin Bischof AG           Pinnacle Europe mbr

 9    Euro RSCG                     Euro RSCG subs

10    Rowland Company               Rowland subs

11    Pi AR                         Independent

12    L&W Marcom                    Globalink mbr

13    Karl F Schneider              PROI mbr

14    Forum/Wirtschaft              ECCO mbr

15    Syntagme                      MS&L subs

16    Qualimat                      Independent

17    Cabinet Etienne Nussle        Shandwick affiliate

18    Toby E Rodes Consltnts        Independent

*Figures not available.The following top 10 agencies from the BPRA and

1995 PR Week ranking did not submit figures in time for inclusion: Aloha

Communications, Peter Butikofer (umlaut over u); MACH, Rebeli Husemann,

Hugo Schmidt,Wenger Communications.


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