BBDO Group fulfilled its vision to develop the world’s most compelling creative content in 2015 by vigorously adapting and improving the way it operates in the face of the following challenges. As its clients’ needs intensify and diversify across the region, each BBDO office is now required to be, simultaneously, more centralised and more localised; more strategic and more responsive; and to master the ever-growing range of digital media options. The network claims it has been reengineering its creative processes to be more agile and advanced.
Jean-Paul Burge, who took the reigns of BBDO’s leadership from Chris Thomas in the first quarter of 2015, led a large part of this change. Burge drove the development of an initiative the agency calls ‘dynamic leadership’, structured around leadership, centres of creative excellence, growth and creativity.
Under this programme, BBDO placed a new generation of agency leaders in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. It redefined its Creative Council and introduced new creative leadership in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The network also developed and improved its expertise in specialist creative fields such as social and mobile; built up capabilities in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore hub offices; and developed new creative development processes.
On the back of its BBDO hubs, the network won regional accounts for Midea and Arnott’s Biscuits. It also picked up significant local clients including TAL Insurance Australia, Shanghai Disney Resort China and Smirnoff Singapore and Thailand. Its creative prowess was showcased at award shows with the metal tally this year amounting to more than 30 Cannes Lions, over 60 Spikes and more than 40 awards at the AMES.
Media Network of the Year
The media network describes the past year as one of “incredible risks, but huge potential rewards”. The slowing economy and economic uncertainty—especially in its largest market, China—meant that clients were more cautious. With consumers outstripping clients in the rush to new technology adoption and habits, Mindshare’s planning approach, tool and tech needed to be refreshed; and it needed a better talent strategy.
Finally, 2015 was the ‘mediapalooza’ year with US$10 billion dollars of billings on the line including its biggest global and Asia client, Unilever.
Mindshare decided to tackle this set of problems by focusing on the ability to adapt. It focused on building an adaptive marketing framework planning process. This was achieved by training more than 200 strategists on its new strategic planning process and installed real-time marketing ‘Loop Room’ data centres in Singapore, Jakarta, Sydney, Mumbai, Delhi and Shanghai.
These rooms are now used for almost all clients including NAB Australia, PepsiCo and Yum. The network also focused on ramping up its digital performance teams, engineering its service offering to be mobile-first, and rebooting its content offer through partnerships.
The results speak for themselves. Mindshare Asia-Pacific won more than 300 awards across global, regional and local competitions in the past year. It even picked up the Global Agency of the Year in Mobile at the MMA Smarties, an award normally dominated by digital, not media, agencies.
The network also won General Mills, Wyeth, GSK and KangShiFu beverages in China. Mindshare also topped RECMA’s Asia league table in terms of billings.
Digital Network of the Year
Leading globally out of Asia-Pacific, Isobar’s continued vision for 2015 has been to deliver ideas without limits to its clients by focusing on digital marketing in the era of brand commerce.
It achieved this in the past year by leading through innovation. Recognised by Forrester as one of the top 10 innovation agencies in its end-of-year 2014 report, Isobar’s network of Nowlabs has turned employee ideas to client solutions.
Successful examples include CoDriver, a commercial application of Oculus Rift for General Motors that allowed consumers to take cars for a virtual test drive. There was also Iso-patch through which parents could monitor and record their temperature of their children via smartphone, and ReOS, a product reordering platform that drives efficiency for SMS retailers.
The network also advanced its work in brand commerce by creating a new strategy and experience design framework which marries dynamic creative with media buying and responsive design, to help clients turn a point of customer engagement into a point of transaction.
Isobar also built a market-leading commerce through the acquisition of global ecommerce agency eCommera.
As a result, Isobar has increased its organic revenue by 21 per cent and RECMA has named Isobar as the number one digital agency when it comes to consultancy work. The network’s new business grew by 97 per cent last year with top wins including Nippon Paint China, Gloria Jean’s Australia and Estée Lauder China. Isobar also netted more than 200 major awards in the past year.
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Creative)
Charles Cadell, McCann Worldgroup
As president of McCann Worldgroup, IPG’s largest operation in Asia-Pacific with a headcount of 3,400 people across 19 markets, Cadell is responsible for driving the overall strategic vision of the business. He has 15 market leads and seven regional leads reporting to him.
In the past year Cadell has pioneered a more aggressive focus on ‘pitch and win’ with pitch conversion rates increasing from 53.3 per cent to 65.2 per cent. Also, key talent has been promoted to new positions and 20 senior leaders have been hired, while a heightened focus on integration contributed to 18 pieces of integrated business wins, adding an additional 20 per cent of the year-on-year growth target. Overall, new business wins equated to an incremental US$25 million in revenue, and the network is posting robust digital revenue growth of 23 per cent.
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Media)
Cheuk Chiang, Omnicom Media Group Asia-Pacific
Chiang believes that innovation delivers a disproportionate and transformational ROI for clients and insists that media is no longer just about spaces for ads. Instead, it is now more about platforms for ideas and innovation.
This has led to a total overhaul of the business to drive innovation, including the launch of the Reinvention Initiative, which heralded a move away from offering mainly planning and buying services towards a wider business solutions approach.
This helped the business deliver a double-digit profit increase year-on-year and achieved a 96-per cent client retention rate.
The group also won additional business from existing clients of Unilever (Australia), Apple (new SEA markets), GSK (Australia, APAC planning and search) and SC Johnson (all media buying).
2015 also saw the full rollout of two new planning approaches — Source and Vision — aimed at delivering innovative communications and business solutions. Chiang’s strategy has helped Omnicom win 315 new business assignments in 2015.
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Digital)
Ruth Stubbs, iProspect Asia-Pacific (Dentsu Aegis Network)
Three ‘top-down’ objectives around people, products and growth helped iProspect achieve a 45-per cent increase in 2015 revenue. She oversaw improvements in recruitment, retention and global training. Product objectives achieved included greater consistency, investment in bespoke technology and the creation of community hubs, while growth improvements were met by focusing on larger markets and improving its commercial model. This helped the firm secure five new wins in 2015, including PayPal and L’Oréal.
It’s the number-one spender with Google APAC and worked with them to beta-test 500 joint research projects over the past year. It is also the region’s second-highest spender on Facebook, growing 40 per cent in 2014 and 200 per cent this year.
Asia-Pacific Account Person of the Year
Yashaswini Samat, Grey Group Asia-Pacific
Samat leads the P&G business for Grey Group in Asia-Pacific. The account spans 12 markets and comprises eight brands; Pantene, Gillette, Downy-Lenor, Febreze-Ambi Pur, Joy, Hair Recipe, Clairol, Wella and CoverGirl.
She heads a regional team of 80 people with 10 direct reports, while influencing and guiding another 100 people who work on various P&G brands in local markets.
Grey Group has been taking on additional duties from P&G across multiple discplines as a result of Samat’s broad business knowledge, her restructuring of the team and the expansion of its digital and shopper insights skills.
In July P&G moved its digital business for Pantene in Japan to Grey and did the same for the ASEAN region and India in October.
Both decisions were taken without a pitch and were testimony to Samat’s efforts in getting digital expertise in-house.
Asia-Pacific New Business Development Team of the Year
Gerry Boyle, Christopher Harrison, Gareth Mulryan, Harpreet Kaintal, ZenithOptimedia Asia-Pacific
They had two targets this year: to win at least one headline-grabbing business and export it globally; and to improve on its new business conversion rate. These were both met thanks to 123 new deals and by securing the global planning, buying and digital account for Singapore Airlines. The latter caused some industry heads to turn, but the deal has been a long-term target for the team. They started working on it two years before a pitch was called, on the back of its performance market arm, Performics, winning the airline’s search business in October 2013. The firm also won its fair share of new digital business in India by carefully selecting the startup firms it wanted to target.
Asia-Pacific Strategic/Brand Planner of the Year
Andy Wilson, BBDO and Proximity Asia
Wilson leads the planning function across 21 offices and 60 planners in the region. He also heads the planning for the Singapore office and oversees key accounts such as Visa, Fonterra, Johnson & Johnson, HP and FedEx.
The role became more difficult in 2015 as the economic pressures on consumers mounted, traditional media inflation increased and the number of available non-traditional media choices exploded.
Nevertheless, this year he oversaw three key projects which helped clients better target their audience. For FedEx, Wilson helped close the empathy gap between the firm and SMEs with a campaign around growth; successfully repositioned high-calcium milk Anlene for a younger audience; and worked on a new social strategy for Visa to appeal to millennials.
He’s also been spearheading the network’s media planning thinking around its MomentWork tool, which helps planners and clients identify key moments of truth when and where an audience will be most responsive to a brand experience.
Asia-Pacific Talent Management Person/Team of the Year
Jean-Michel Wu, Rachel Earhard, Nikhita Cyriac, Alok Bhatia, Makarand Tare, McCann Worldgroup
Since October 2014 the regional talent team at McCann Worldgroup has hired over 20 senior positions without reliance on a recruitment company, thereby saving US$600,000 in fees. This has been aided by a social-sourcing partnership with LinkedIn to find candidates, a new applicant tracking system and a fully automated reference checking system.
The team has also devised a bespoke system for identifying high performers, created a talent mobility programme to allow people to move across the region and has benefited from global technology solutions for payroll, HR and talent management. All of this ensured that turnover remained stable and contributed to an employee satisfaction index of 74.3 per cent.
Crucially, the team is always looking for new ways to improve and recently launched a talent audit programme to thoroughly review its operations across the region.
Asia-Pacific Trading Desk of the Year
Xaxis’ performance speaks for itself. The network manages over 800 campaigns a week for 500 clients and is active in 13 markets manned by a team of 220 employees. Its ability to deliver performance at this scale across the region, claimed the network, is a result of its investment in specialists and its understanding that smart people are the best in decisioning programmatic technologies, strategies, trading and supply sources.
With this in mind, Xaxis has split its business into five teams of experts that focus their energies on key areas of the programmatic ecosystem: Strategy, Analytics, Trading, Products and Supply.
Developments led by these teams in the past year include the launch of Turbine (Xaxis’ proprietary data management platform); Viewpoint (guaranteed viewable impressions); Triggers (data-driven advertising based on real world events); and Synch (which syncs mobile and TV advertising).
The teams also developed a new metric for client GSK which measured cost per impacted reach.
All this has contribute to massive growth between 2013 and 2014 of 130 per cent and a forcasted growth of 37 per cent in 2015. It is currently a “nine-figure revenue business”.
Its clients range from blue-chip clients like GE, Ford, JLR, Shell, PepsiCo to large local advertisers like Milkana in China and Hero MotoCorp in India. With regional alignment, it has doubled the number of clients working in more than one market from 47 in 2013 to over 100 in 2015.
Asia-Pacific Trading Desk Person of the Year
Roopal Julka, Accuen (Omnicom Media Group) and Jack McLaren, OMD
Accuen Malaysia was set up in February 2015 with a goal to simplify, educate and help brands grow their business using programmatic buying. Julka sought to introduce programmatic trading across all of Omnicom Media Group clients and create new revenue streams around programmatic buys, audience insights, media analytics and strategy consulting. In 2015, she and her team of three has grown the client base by over 50 per cent — the highest in the SEA region. The revenue numbers against Accuen Malaysia in her command went overachieved by 1692%.
McLaren, meanwhile, has played a leading role on OMD’s Telstra account. He managed 104 brand and awareness campaigns with increasing investment in programmatically traded media. He succeeded in growing programmatic investment three-fold year-on-year with a forecast of it hitting 64 per cent of all digital media by 2016. 2015 also saw him launch Telstra’s affiliates programme, which now delivers 9 per cent of all online sales, as well as activating over six-million CRM records through the ‘always-on’ digital acquisition strategy.
(This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com)