”Mov­ing for­ward to­gether, our com­bined of­fer­ing presents a real chance to de­liver ex­cep­tional work and ex­pe­ri­ences that will make a dif­fer­ence to our in­dus­try.”

Camilla d’Abo, man­ag­ing part­ner at Dabo & Co, on the agency’s new fu­ture with Edel­man

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

Sis­ters Camilla and Lucy d’Abo are sit­ting pretty. Not only have they just sold the com­pany they founded to the world’s largest in­de­pen­dently owned public re­la­tions firm, but they’re both on per­sonal highs. And why not af­ter 10 years of hard graft.

In prac­ti­cal terms, the pur­chase of Dabo & Co by Edel­man cre­ates a re­gional op­er­a­tion of 150 em­ploy­ees, 85 of whom al­ready worked for Edel­man across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the 65 staffers from Dabo & Co boost­ing Edel­man’s Mid­dle East pres­ence.

Edel­man is ex­pected to lever­age the value of the Dabo brand, which was one of Asia-Pa­cific’s fastest-grow­ing PR firms in 2014 ac­cord­ing to the World PR Re­port, while a com­bi­na­tion of the Dabo and Edel­man names is ex­pected to be de­vel­oped over the com­ing months. Both sis­ters will re­tain se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions, while the day-to-day op­er­a­tions will con­tinue to be man­aged by Ni­cola McAlpine, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Edel­man UAE, and Ja­son Leavy, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Dabo & Co.

“As part of Edel­man’s vi­sion to suc­cess­fully trans­form its busi­ness into a multi-lay­ered, com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­ing firm, we will be de­vel­op­ing a struc­ture that lever­ages the strengths of both or­gan­i­sa­tions to cre­ate an of­fer­ing that has never been seen in the Mid­dle East be­fore,” says Camilla, who set up Dabo & Co back in 2004 with her sis­ter, hav­ing left her po­si­tion as an ac­count di­rec­tor at Asda’a Bur­son­Marsteller. “Our fo­cus re­mains on con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide our clients with out­stand­ing cam­paigns and ex­pe­ri­ences char­ac­terised by qual­ity, in­tegrity and cre­ativ­ity, un­der­lined by an im­pres­sive award-win­ning track record.”

Months in the plan­ning, the 100 per cent buy­out is a re­gional suc­cess story, with Dabo & Co re­port­ing fee in­come of $3.7 mil­lion in 2013. For Robert Hold­heim, CEO for South Asia, the Mid­dle East and Africa at Edel­man, it is a “clas­sic part­ner­ship where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, with the deal fol­low­ing Edel­man’s re­cent ac­qui­si­tions of De­portivo in Swe­den and Agence Elan in France. But why Dabo & Co?

“A few months ago, we achieved a ma­jor mile­stone with the cel­e­bra­tion of our 10-year an­niver­sary,” ex­plains Camilla. “As we en­tered a new decade, we pur­pose­fully em­barked on a strate­gic path to be­come part of a global net­work. Hav­ing re­viewed the in­dus­try sec­tor, we chose to part­ner with Edel­man who stood out as the clear leader due to their world- class ex­per­tise and syn­ergy with our cul­ture and vi­sion for the fu­ture of the in­dus­try.

“We be­lieve that this part­ner­ship brings to­gether ex­ten­sive syn­er­gies to ben­e­fit our clients. Edel­man’s lead­ing po­si­tion as a full-ser­vice agency com­ple­ments Dabo & Co’s cre­ativ­ity, ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion in con­sumer com­mu­ni­ca­tions and strength in events and ex­pe­ri­en­tial mar­ket­ing. This ac­qui­si­tion will give us in­stant economies of scale across our busi­ness and en­able us to bet­ter lever­age our ex­ist­ing of­fer­ings to­gether with the ex­ten­sive dig­i­tal, re­search ca­pa­bil­i­ties which can be in­stantly lever­aged across the UAE and be­yond.”

Ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease sent out to the in­dus­try fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion, Camilla be­lieves the ac­qui­si­tion will unite “two of the lead­ing play­ers in the mar­ket to cre­ate a re­gional pow­er­house”. “This for us is a real game-changer in the mar­ket,” Hold­heim told The Holmes Re­port. “This is about two of the best firms in the mar­ket com­ing to­gether. Our busi­ness in the Mid­dle East has tra­di­tion­ally been very cor­po­rate-ori­ented — this not only gives us in­stant scale, it re­ally gives us

an even split in the busi­ness and a real plat­form to grow from.”

But in what way will that play out, and to what ex­tent, if at all, will the united en­tity be a re­gional pow­er­house?

“For Edel­man, this in­vest­ment in Dabo & Co is a leap for­ward in its am­bi­tion to grow at scale and depth,” replies Camilla. “For us, it is the op­por­tu­nity to pro­pose to ex­ist­ing clients the ben­e­fit of Edel­man’s global foot­print be­yond the re­gional mar­ket and also give a global fo­cus. This will raise the bar in pro­vid­ing in­te­grated com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port to the clients; our vi­sion is to be a game changer in the strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­ing space.”

It is ex­pected that Edel­man and Dabo & Co will main­tain com­ple­men­tary busi­nesses, al­though the ex­act struc­ture of the new busi­ness is still be­ing de­ter­mined.

“We be­lieve that the com­mu­ni­ca­tions world is evolv­ing and that this part­ner­ship rep­re­sents the fu­ture of the in­dus­try – to be­come an in­te­grated com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­ing firm that helps global busi­nesses evolve, pro­mote and pro­tect their brands and rep­u­ta­tions.

“Over the past 10 years we have been com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing out­stand­ing in­te­grated cam­paigns with award- win­ning re­sults. Mov­ing for­ward to­gether, our com­bined of­fer­ing presents a real chance to de­liver ex­cep­tional work and ex­pe­ri­ences that will make a dif­fer­ence to

our in­dus­try.”

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