Hill+Knowlton acquires JeffreyGroup in Latin America, strengthens technology offering with global expansion of the Ideal brand

by | Sep 23, 2022

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K), one of the world’s leading communications companies, announced two related strategic moves: the acquisition of JeffreyGroup, one of the most respected independent corporate communications, public affairs, and marketing consulting firms in Latin America, making H+K the preeminent global communication agency in the region; and the global launch of the firm’s Brazil-based Ideal company as an international brand, now focused primarily on disruptive and emergent technology companies.

“Through this transaction, Hill+Knowlton is taking two major steps forward – becoming the preeminent global player in Latin America through the combination of highly complementary, similarly sized businesses, and creating a second growth engine for our largest industrial practice,” said AnnaMaria DeSalva, Global Chairman and CEO. “We are benefitting from significant momentum in our business globally. Both of these actions further manifest our strategy and open up new avenues for growth.”

Creating the Leading Global Network in Latin America

The addition of JeffreyGroup builds on the eminence of Hill+Knowlton’s international network, doubling the firm’s footprint in Latin America and creating the largest global agency presence in the region. Headquartered in Miami, with offices in Mexico City, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires, JeffreyGroup has been a dominant force in Latin America for nearly three decades, developing innovative, award-winning brand and corporate communications programs and public affairs strategies for clients across a broad range of industry sectors. Recently, JeffreyGroup earned more nominations than any other agency in PRovoke Media’s upcoming 2022 Latin America SABRE Awards.

JeffreyGroup will continue to operate its distinct brand in Latin America as a part of Hill+Knowlton. Brian Burlingame, who has been JeffreyGroup’s CEO since 2015, will lead H+K’s total Latin American operation, encompassing the two legacy businesses, which have similar net sales and numbers of employees, but distributed differently across Latin American markets. Burlingame, who is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, has spent more than 25 years building businesses and advising a wide variety of multinational companies across Latin America and the Caribbean. He will report to H+K’s CEO of the Americas, Richard Millar, and join H+K’s Global Leadership Council. Jeffrey Sharlach, JeffreyGroup’s founder, will continue to serve as its Chairman.

“JeffreyGroup has grown steadily over the course of decades, with a distinctive and exclusive focus on Latin America, serving the world’s most admired companies and global brands. JeffreyGroup and Hill+Knowlton are highly complementary companies, making it possible to optimize the strengths of both brands to form the leading global network in the region,” said Burlingame. “Hill+Knowlton today is a growth story, and we are excited to be a part of it, tapping into tools, capabilities and relationships that will benefit our clients and our people as we continue to grow our business.”

“I’ve admired the JeffreyGroup since my early days as one of their clients, and I’m delighted to welcome them into the Hill+Knowlton and WPP family,” added DeSalva. “Latin America is one of the most dynamic communication markets today, offering a growing scope of talent and innovation. Our combination with JeffreyGroup creates step change opportunities. I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do together.”

Launching a New Global Brand to Serve the Technology Industry

In a directly related move, Hill+Knowlton announced the global expansion of its Ideal brand, now focused on the growing market need for strategic communications advisory services supporting disruptive technology companies and those seeking a highly agile communications partner. Ideal will operate as a global H+K subsidiary.

Brazil-based Grupo Ideal originally was acquired by H+K in 2015, serving some of the region’s most notable brands. Ricardo Cesar, who has led H+K’s Latin American operations since 2018, has been promoted to Global CEO, Ideal, and charged with taking the Ideal brand and business model to a global market. Cesar will report to H+K’s Global Chairman and CEO and remains a member of its Global Leadership Council.

“Ricardo has led consistent and strikingly profitable growth, delivering innovation and creativity to a loyal and growing group of clients,” said DeSalva. “We are thrilled to extend the Ideal brand globally under his leadership to form a second growth engine for our largest industrial practice. It’s a unique opportunity to position H+K as the technology communications partner of choice.”

Cesar will work closely with Sara Gourlay, H+K’s Global Chair, Technology+Telecoms, who will continue to oversee the firm’s end-to-end technology sector growth strategy, making H+K well-positioned to serve a full continuum of tech clients, from disruptive start-ups to established global companies accelerating their digital transformations.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have built with Ideal in Brazil, and I am excited for the opportunity to expand this concept globally,” said Cesar. “We have seen an appetite in the marketplace for specialized agencies, and the time is right for Ideal to assert its unique experience in digital and content for our growing portfolio of emerging and disruptive tech clients. Working with Sara and the global tech team, Ideal will help amplify H+K’s already impressive technology communications reputation globally.”

Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is an international communications consultancy, providing services to local, multinational, and global clients. H+K operates more than 70 offices in nearly 40 countries worldwide, as well as an extensive associate network, delivering award-winning campaigns to clients across all sectors and disciplines and with a focus on continued innovation for the industry. Headquartered in New York, the firm is part of WPP, one of the world’s largest communications services groups.

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JeffreyGroup is the leading independent corporate communications, public affairs and marketing consulting firm in Latin America, with a successful 29-year track record advising multinational companies and global brands across a broad range of industry sectors. Headquartered in Miami and with more than 330 employees, JeffreyGroup has offices in Mexico City, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires, supported by a network of local agency partners providing capabilities across the entire region. JeffreyGroup is proud to serve some of the world’s largest companies and best-known brands, including Amazon, American Airlines, AstraZeneca, Bacardí, Bayer, BlackRock, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International, Salesforce, TikTok, and Walt Disney World Resorts, among others. www.jeffreygroup.com

Bulldog Reporter
Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.


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