Weber Shandwick H&M Billion Dollar

The Showcase 2022

Redefining PR With An Integrated Approach: Weber Shandwick's 2022

It's been a year of rebirth as the agency enters its next stage of growth

By Creative Salon

We are living in such interesting times that there's just no excuse for being neither interesting nor relevant. Perhaps that was the brief last March when Weber Shandwick announced Michael Frohlich as its EMEA CEO. He joined from Ogilvy, where he was the UK CEO and oversaw the restructuring of several disparate business units into a consolidated marketing network.

Michael has since been on a mission to make Weber Shandwick both interesting and relevant - all in the service of commercial creativity that challenges the status quo, whatever the area of marketing, and embrace change where clients are demanding more and consumers are expecting a lot more of their brands.

New hires, a new offering and capabilities, and unexpected award-winning creative work has meant that Michael also now has the title of global chief transformation officer.

We caught up with Michael Frohlich to talk about the year and, below, give Creative Salon's perspective on the agency's performance.

Michael Frohlich, global chief transformation officer and EMEA CEO of Weber Shandwick, on his agency's 2022

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

• Integration

• Momentum

• Valued + valuable

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

The main focus for this year was to build our EMEA leadership team and operations to reconfirm the region’s contribution to Weber Shandwick as a global powerhouse. In my first full year in role, I am proud of the work we have achieved collectively, supporting our clients with our integrated offering.

I’m thrilled with the extraordinary campaigns we delivered across EMEA, many of which were awarded multiple industry awards, including a Cannes Lion for the outstanding Billion Dollar Collection for H&M Foundation. Some impressive wins across the region - both net new and organic - have ensured we’ve continued to grow, even as the economy starts to slow.

On the people front, we launched our new agency wide values: Curiosity, Inclusion, Courage and Impact. They are embedded in everything we do, from the way we collaborate with one another, to the work we make for our clients.

I’m also delighted to have launched our new partnership with mental health charity This Can Happen, which we’re calling Open Minds. Open Minds gives all of our people across EMEA access to wellbeing resources, including talks, seminars, workshops and online resources. I am unequivocal that our people are our greatest asset and prioritising mental wellbeing is key to the ongoing health of our people and of our business.

Most recently we launched our new employee mobility scheme, Access All Areas, giving our people new, exciting opportunities to work flexibly abroad. We’re rolling out exchange programmes across EMEA and APAC and there are more people initiatives in the pipeline.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

The last year has not been easy but 2022 was the year of change. At the start of the year, we were proud to announce the creation of our global enterprise brand, The Weber Shandwick Collective – a network of specialist creative, marketing, communications and consulting firms. It’s been hugely gratifying to see the creative and inspiring people within The Weber Shandwick Collective come together across EMEA and collaborate more than we’ve ever done. We’re inspiring one another and inspiring our clients, and that is no more evident in our creative product.

Above all else, I am deeply proud of the work that we have delivered this year. From our campaign The Uncover supporting breastfeeding mothers, which has forced a debate in French parliament around breastfeeding laws, to our fully integrated campaign for the Greater London Authority which included a complete takeover of London’s Piccadilly Circus, our Cannes Lion award winning Billion Dollar collection for H&M Foundation which raised 4.5m euros to further fund sustainable fashion, to our brilliant work across our corporate and health practices. Highly creative work that has delivered true business, societal and cultural value.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

It’s no secret that many of the external factors facing our industry at the moment have a huge effect on the way we run our businesses. We’re seeing seismic shifts throughout the world on many different fronts, be that the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis or the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond causing changes in the economy and our industry, these events affect our people. In this respect our biggest challenge, yet simultaneously our biggest opportunity, is giving our people the best possible support we can, and the platform to do the best work of their lives. Looking after our people’s wellbeing is our top priority for now and the future, and more than ever we’re committed to doing all we can to support each other.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

The turn of a new year always presents an opportunity for fresh starts, and for growth. A lot has changed this year within Weber Shandwick, and I’m thrilled to be going into 2023 with a full EMEA leadership team, all equally inspired and determined to deliver industry leading work for our clients.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world, we have the opportunity to provide stability for our clients and drive real impact in creative communications.

We’re lucky to have incredibly clever people working at Weber Shandwick, providing our clients with expertise at the intersections of technology, society, policy and media. I can’t wait to see us use these skills to solve our clients’ most complex problems and show the potential that brands truly have to bring about positive change in society.

What one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

As we continue to feel the effects of the pandemic and changing geopolitical and business landscapes, I believe as leaders we still all have more to do in offering our clients a modern and relevant picture of work.

We can no longer expect our clients’ customers to see value in bought messages alone. There is a demand for the full spectrum of tools and experiences that earn value through our clients’ contribution to business, society and culture. This recognition of what really drives immediate impact and sustainable value will elevate what we do as an industry.

Creative Salon on Weber Shandwick's 2022

Michael Frohlich's big ambition is to reposition the agency to help brands think more broadly about how they fit into culture. To make that happen, one of the first tasks has been to make some significant hires.

Earlier this year the agency bolstered its executive leadership team in EMEA with the promotion of Charlotte Witte - previously head of global client strategies and former head of marketing communications at Prime Weber Shandwick in Stockholm - to the newly-created role of chief client and growth officer for EMEA. Also, the well-respected Jane Douglas joined the agency at the same time as executive vice president of marketing and communications in EMEA, a new role which includes business development, marketing and communications for the region. Another heavy hitter, Gen Kobayashi - former chief strategy officer at Engine Creative - was appointed as its EMEA chief strategy officer this summer.

Also across the region, Weber Shandwick and its specialty shops were all merged into one and called The Weber Shandwick Collective, part of a move that will showcase the collective power of the agency to deliver integrated campaigns.

This year, expanding its efforts to address the mental health crisis, Weber Shandwick rolled out a program aimed at protecting and promoting employees’ mental health at work, called Open Minds, and a new employee mobility scheme, Access All Areas, giving our people opportunities to work flexibly abroad.

Importantly, the work this year from Weber Shandwick has been more than noteworthy. From the OOH and print media campaign called 'The Uncover' in France to de-stigmatise breastfeeding in public spaces to the Cannes Lion award winning Billion Dollar collection for H&M Foundation, the agency is investing in creative thinking that is becoming part of culture and driving measurable business growth.

Creative Salon Says: There's always a sense of velocity with Michael Frohlich. After the hard work of laying impressive new foundations for a more dynamic Weber Shandwick, 2023 is set to be the year when his team, the new positioning, the shared ambitions, and the work demonstrate a powerful impact on culture and agency growth.


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