Burson Cohn & Wolfe Korea engulfed under H+K brand, SEA market will not follow suit

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) is merging operations with BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) in Korea from August 2020. The combined business will operate under the H+K Korea brand and be led by HS Chung, president, H+K Asia. 

According to H+K, the decision to integrate was made due to clear synergies between the agencies across corporate and marketing communications, government and public affairs, issues management and consumer technologies. The combined business will also offer in-house social and content teams, and a production and studio function. It has been in discussion for some time and follows the integration of H+K and Ogilvy, Public Relations & Influence into BCW operations in Japan in January 2020.  Under this combined strategy, both the H+K and BCW brands will be retained.

“H+K and BCW have a rich and successful history of working together, and this collaboration will continue in Korea,” said Chung. “This strategic move is about continuing growth in Korea and across Asia, and with this expanded operation we are bringing together the skills of two highly complementary agencies to better service our clients and win more business in the region.”

“Korea is a critical market for many of our clients in Asia and globally, and we are confident this move will be as successful as our recent integration under BCW in Japan, where BCW created an unrivalled one-stop communications shop for clients,” said Matt Stafford, president, BCW APAC. “Together, BCW and H+K will continue to deliver clients the outstanding integrated communications service and support they have come to expect from us.”

A spokesperson added that while the integration of the WPP PR firms made a lot of sense in Japan and Korea, H+K don’t see this happening in any other market in the Asia region. “One of the main reasons for this new H+K operation is to bring together the skills of two highly complementary agencies to better service our clients and win more business in the region. This is about growth and creating a successful sustainable business that will hopefully see more roles created as we win more business. Under H+K Korea, BCW clients will continue to receive the outstanding service and support they have come to expect. Should there be any conflicts between the former BCW Korea and H+K Korea, we will review and secure structures to remove any competitive conflicts," she said.  

Separately, H+K integrated with LUMOS PR to form Hill+Knowlton LUMOS last year, led by Justin Then, founder and managing director of LUMOS PR. Then was previously the managing director of H+K Malaysia from 2013 to 2017 before joining WeR1 Communications.

Additionally, in April this year, H+K broke into the Indonesia market with the launch of its Indonesia office, led by CEO Marianne Admardatine, former CEO of Wunderman Thompson Indonesia. In a statement to Marketing, Chung, Asia president at H+K explained that by entering the market with seasoned local leadership, the agency would have a foundation in place to serve existing clients and capture more market share.

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