Agency of the Year: Public Relations Agency of the Year - Best of the rest

While 2004 undoubtedly saw some big business change hands, no single agency took all the spoils. In October alone, Freud Communications won a contract from PepsiCo UK covering the Walkers Crisps, Tropicana and Quaker brands, while Munro & Forster poached the lion's share of Kellogg's UK PR from incumbent Hill & Knowlton. An added difficulty in selecting the Public Relations Agency of the Year was that the final quarter of 2004 saw several key PR accounts put out for pitch, including Heinz, Mercedes-Benz, BSkyB and British Airways - none of which had been decided as Marketing went to print.

Despite this, there were some strong contenders for the title, including Frank PR, which put in an impressive performance in the consumer arena. It is predicting fee income of £1.47m this year, a hike of 32% on 2003.

The agency added the Extreme Sports Channel, Channel 4, Mount Gay Rum and to its client list in the past 12 months.

In April it sealed a deal to license its award-winning UK Nicktoons TV Family campaign. This saw a cartoon inspired by a real-life family aired on the childrens' channel in territories including Scandinavia, Australia, Spain and Holland.

And only last month, it launched a fashion division, headed by Peter Matthews, former director of UK operations for ethical clothing manufacturer American Apparel.

Further creative work over the past year included a catwalk show for London Fashion Week, repositioning the Ellesse sports brand through a partnership with fashion designer Eley Kishomoto.

With consumer education a major theme in the financial services sector, Lansons Communications successfully launched a cross-industry fund-raising programme for the Personal Financial Education Group and a new educational qualification from the Institute of Financial Services.

The agency also helped the Post Office roll out its financial services offering, while work on led to a 300% increase in the number of consumers who use the independent advisory service to change gas, electricity and home phone supplier.

In the healthcare arena, Virgo Health, set up by former Shire Health and Cohn & Wolfe Healthcare managing directors Sarah Matthew and Angie Wiles in July 2003, prospered.

Chalking up another 12 months of year-on-year growth, Red Door Communications increased income by 27% to a predicted £2.4m in 2004. Now in its fourth year of trading, the agency won 10 pieces of business, including a cardiovascular medicine for AstraZenecca, a healthcare campaign for the British Coffee Association and a portfolio of treatments from GlaxoSmithKline.

Red Door also picked up four Communique awards, including Consultancy of the Year and a gong for Best Media Relations. The latter was for a campaign promoting Roche Diagnostic's CoaguChek S, a device that allows patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy to self-test their blood clotting times.

As confidence in stock market tech firms returned during the year, those specialising in telecoms, IT software and services, and high-tech solutions for the public sector fared well.

B2B specialist Brands2Life had a good year, growing fee income by a predicted 23% to £2.2m. It scooped Cisco Systems - the biggest UK high-tech account up for tender in 2004 - as well as film special effects company Double Negative and enterprise software firm PeopleSoft UK.

Major projects for the agency have included promoting T-Mobile's sponsorship of Euro 2004, featuring former England footballer Tony Adams, and a campaign to combat software piracy for the Business Software Alliance.

Other notable performers this year include Four Communications, which, having doubled its fee income in each of the past two years, is forecasting a rise of 45% for 2004 to £2.7m.

Key business wins in the past 12 months included the Association for Payment Clearing Services, Noddy and Fujitsu Siemens computers, while a campaign for car company Kia encouraged children to form a 'walking bus' on their way to school.

This spring Four linked up with the Gritti Partnership to expand its offer to cover design, marketing, advertising and digital services. Offering services across corporate reputation, issues management, crisis, consumer marketing and public affairs, corporate social responsibility and internal communications, 2004 saw Four establish a property PR team.


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