Bluedog Group acquires travel retail PR agency Essential Communications

By Faye Bartle |

Bluedog Group

Pictured from left to right: Andrew Machin – Bluedog Group Operations Director; Rowena Holland – Essential Communications MD; Ollie Potter – Bluedog Group Technical Director; Nick King – Bluedog Group CEO; and Ben Holland – Essential Communications Media Coordinator.

Global event, retail and creative specialist The Bluedog Group has announced the acquisition of travel retail PR agency Essential Communications.

The move meets ‘increasing levels of client interest in PR alignment’ with Bluedog’s wider group service offer, according to the company.

The enhanced Bluedog Group model is live now, with the 100% acquisition of Essential Communications being completed today (28 April 2023).

“Shared clients, a shared ‘extra mile ethos’, and shared ambitions to give clients creativity fuelled by common sense and layers of channels working smartly alongside each other is at the core of this new acquisition,” said Bluedog Group CEO Nick King.

“We are seeing clients asking us not just about the where, what, and why of a campaign or activation, but increasingly about how we get the fame factor and engagement flowing through media and wider comms channels too.

“There is a pinch point we are being asked to advise on, a desire for clarity and alignment in tough times, and I’m proud to say that trust in our Group is helping to answer those questions.

“In Rowena and her team, we have a kindred spirit, and across the group we now have a complimentary set of experts to bounce off each other, and the deepest set of industry knowledge and experience you could wish for in one place. This means we can answer client questions with real rounded value and rigour.”

Rowena Holland will continue in her role as Managing Director of Essential Communications as the business runs with autonomy alongside Bluedog’s other agencies.

“With nearly 30 years under our belt, we’ve seen massive changes in industry needs, challenges, and opportunities, not least the move towards 360-degree service providers that can land a proper campaign differential,” said Holland.

“We saw a gap in the market when we launched our agencies, and in collectively listening and responding to our clients, we are now seeing and answering another one.

“These are two sets of agencies with strong positive reputations for doing things the right way, coming together to make that right way even clearer for the travel retail and domestic retail sectors.”Bluedog Group

The deal builds on Bluedog Group’s successful 2021 reshaping that saw the launch of Kounter, doplr and HEX as agencies under the group banner to focus respectively on international retail campaigns and activations, live experiences and digital, design and content solutions.

Since then, growth has accelerated for the company, which counts clients including Dufry, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Ritter Sport, Lindt and Wella as long-term partners.

Following a career in travel retail journalism, Rowena Holland founded specialist travel retail agency Essential Communications in 1994.

Nestlé International Travel Retail was a founding client and remains on the agency’s high-profile roster today, alongside Accolade Wines, Imperial Brands, Champagne Lanson, Mars Wrigley ITR, Molton Brown and William Grant & Sons, among others.

“It’s never the time to stand still as an agency, as fresh challenges, tough economic considerations and changing audience needs are a constant,” summarised King.

“Expect to see more from us moving forward in terms of fresh partnerships and acquisitions that can tackle these and help clients succeed in new ways.”


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