”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
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