2016 Agency Report Card
Intro, methodology and report card gallery
Detailed analysis: Creative agencies | Media agencies | Digital agencies
|ADK||J Walter Thompson|
|Bates CHI & Partners||Leo Burnett|
|DDB||Ogilvy & Mather|
|FCB||Saatchi & Saatchi|
|Hakuhodo||Wieden + Kennedy|
ADK began the year with a move intended to show it is serious about international growth, with the launch of ADK Global. Based in Singapore, the division was created to foster closer ties and better collaboration between ADK’s offices outside Japan. ADK Global’s leaders — Rob Sherlock, Hiroshi Nakazato and Kenichiro Omori — still have a big challenge on their hands aligning international operations with ADK’s Japan headquarters, but the intent is right and much needed for the network to become a more credible player abroad.
Taiwan is still ADK’s strongest office outside Japan and a benchmark that the others are working towards. The highlight of the year creatively was ADK Taiwan’s Gold and Silver Lions at Cannes, for Uni-President’s ‘House of little moments’ films. The work also won awards at Spikes Asia and One Show.
ADK’s partnership with WPP is limited, but has its advantages. Last year, pitching alongside Ogilvy helped win business from a major fast-food brand.
In Japan, ADK worked to upgrade recruitment, introducing a programme that partners new joiners with a ‘buddy’ to learn more about the agency.
Bates CHI started 2016 with not quite a bang, but at least with a fresh win, adding AIA Singapore as a key client. It’s ended the year with a whimper, picking up creative work from Xploree in India, but notably absent from R3’s New Business League rankings. Even Bates’ Asia website has gone offline.
Agency chief David Mayo, meanwhile, keeps piling on more responsibilities. In February he took on regional role of CMO of Ogilvy APAC, pledging to improve its competitive edge in all markets. Most recently, Mayo jumped over to head up Ogilvy’s Malaysian operations.
But the small collaboration agency has also been spreading its reach. In February, it formed a partnership with independent communications firm Interflow to expand its reach to Pakistan. In June, Bates CHI bolstered its ASEAN leadership, bringing over Ramanathan Balasubramanian to be its new CEO and promoting Hendra Lesmono to the new role of creative chairman. But there have been departures too, including Singapore MD Christina Chong and India CSO Sourabh Mishra.
BBDO has long prided itself on creative effectiveness, and in his second year leading the region, Jean-Paul Burge emphasised delivering the level of work the network is known for, but in a more efficient way for clients facing an economic slowdown: a mantra of ‘better work in less time’.
This means the network is emphasising client retention, pitch efficiency and other operational tactics. For results it points to improving client-satisfaction scores and organic revenue increases from 68 percent of its top 25 existing clients.
BBDO did not end the year in the top 10 in R3’s New Business League, trailing competitors in 18th place, and reports overall new-business revenue growth of 10 per cent. Bright spots included Hong Kong (40 percent revenue increase), Indonesia (20 percent) and Japan (nearly 100 percent). Notable new-business wins included MetLife in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Australia, and Mercedes-Benz digital in Greater China.
BBDO ran a series of ‘Golden briefs’, in which it brings creative firepower from across the region to bear in a “hothouse” environment on behalf of a single client brief. It also continues to invent in its Flare content division and Voices research, as well as centres of innovation that have spun out product-based solutions for clients such as Snickers and Anchor.
The network promoted Richard Fraser to president in Southeast Asia and made creative leadership appointments in Malaysia, India, Beijing and Vietnam. Employee retention across the region notched upward after extending a suite of training programmes to more employees at local and regional levels.
As a smaller player in the region, BBH prefers not to be compared to larger networks, and once again declined to submit information to us. Seeing itself as a different animal — dare we say ‘black sheep’ — it also opts out of major agency awards shows and the monthly New Business League (though R3 still recorded US$800,000 in win revenue, placing 25th). The win-list includes global work from Shangri-La and the addition of Snapdeal in India. In the other column, BBH’s global business with AkzoNobel was reviewed this year and Asia lost Dulux Australia.
If the walls at BBH could talk, they’d likely gush over the creative work, the shop’s core strength. A heartwrenching short film for China’s Child Safety Emergency Response earned the Shanghai office a Silver at Spikes, while its inventive anti-bacterial red packet campaign for Unilever’s Lifebuoy nabbed a Bronze Lion at Cannes. Notable work in India includes its ‘Move forward’ campaign for Uber. India was a target for expansion this year, with BBH opening a new office in Delhi.
The Singapore team has been turning heads too, winning a Silver Lion with a touching six-minute film on family sacrifice for NTUC Income. Its ‘Unlimited stadium’ campaign for Nike, that took over an entire city block in Manila as a sole-shaped running track, won the Gong CCA Grand Prix this year. BBH’s worldwide chief creative officer, Pelle Sjoenell, who took up the post to kick-off 2016, should be pleased.
The work bodes well for a hub office that’s seen some important staff additions, including Faraaz Marghoob as head of brand consultancy ZAG, Dillah Zakhbah rejoining as creative technologist, and Joakim ‘Jab’ Borgström from London as ECD after Scott McClelland headed back to Australia.
BBH may be a small and likes its black sheep ethos, but it could have a bigger industry impact. It produces really good work, leading us to wish that it could lead more initiatives, even by zagging.
As an agency that counts Samsung as a permanent client, things are never going to get too troublesome for Cheil — even when Samsung has a huge crisis like the Galaxy Note 7. For Cheil Worldwide, this scandal actually created more business as existing ads were shredded and new ones ordered double-quick.
That said, it was less a gangbuster year for Cheil, more one of steady growth. The agency derived most of its revenue from Korea and Samsung, although China came next with a significant contribution. Overall, APAC revenue growth was in the high single digits, although Southeast Asia saw double-digit growth. Social wins also came in thanks to Cheil Pulse in India.
WeBank in China and 11Street in Thailand were big wins, and the agency netted three further China wins. This chimes with Cheil’s desire to grow beyond Samsung, but the agency also handled more Samsung work in 2016 than 2015, which suggests the strategy is not wholly working.
The agency’s ambitions were visible in its acquisition of B2B agency Founded in April, plus its new partnerships with Google Korea, Facebook Korea, and the Korea Cable TV Association.
DDB was outwardly quiet this year, as behind the scenes David Tang worked to re-energise the network, cutting its regional leadership team from 12 to five.
The agency clocked some US$65 million in new business from some impressive clients, regaining fourth place in R3’s New Business League at the close of 2016. Brands included SC Johnson, American Express and Samsung.
Singapore, Tang’s home market recorded 23 percent new business revenue growth and made a number of senior hires, including Chris Chiu as creative head. While commendable, it appears to be receiving more attention from the top than DDB’s other markets. Hong Kong had a surprisingly active year under the recently-hired Carol Lam and Leo Tsui. However, China has been subdued, and DDB’s presence in Japan is reduced to a partnership with Tokyu Group to support Japanese clients internationally.
DDB has bright patches but not enough to stop a second straight downgrade.
Dentsu’s year has been overshadowed by negative news in Japan: an overbilling scandal affecting multiple clients in the digital space, and a ruling of culpability in an overworked employee’s suicide. Both are extremely serious, and the reputational impact has been considerable, but it is important to note they relate to a single division and should not be seen as representative of the company as a whole.
Dentsu’s newly appointed CEO, Toshihiro Yamamoto, must now put stringent measures in place to ensure similar incidents do not happen again. This will be critical to the success of Dentsu Digital, a standalone company Dentsu launched in July. Increased transparency was a big reason for the launch, and the company must now maintain the highest standards in order to reassure clients and attract the specialist talent it needs.
Clearly, though, Dentsu remains the powerhouse of Japan’s marketing industry and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Parts of the company are highly innovative and industry-leading in their application of technology. The long-term challenge, which Dentsu has acknowledged, is spreading that across the entire company, much of which is still understandably TV-centric.
‘Momentum’ is the mot du jour at FCB in Asia-Pacific. Having spent time and effort reshaping its offering in the region over the past few years, 2016 saw that begin to bear fruit, with around 13 percent year-on-year growth.
After years of struggle in China, last year saw a 10 percent revenue hike, with 11 new business wins and profitability up sharply. FCB’s renowned strength in New Zealand continues, dominating its awards haul, but begs a familiar question of why similar success is taking so long to embed elsewhere across APAC.
Thanks to investment in talent and leadership, FCB has made progress in Malaysia and Vietnam. For Malaysia, moving Shaun Tay to CEO and hiring creative leader Ong Shi-Ping led to winning regional brands Sunsweet and Meizan and a 150 percent jump in new business revenue. Vietnam was a key focus market for FCB, and headcount shot from 29 in 2015 to 42 this year, with a projected 140 percent revenue increase for 2016.
Big improvements for sure, but there remains a way to go for FCB.
Grey did a few things to raise its standing in 2016. Unfortunately, it also walked into trouble that damaged its standing significantly.
To start with the positive, Grey made two logical acquisitions early in the year: Vinyl-i, a “technology solutions” agency in Korea, and social agency EasyCom in China. The latter seems especially useful as the 10-year-old agency has attractive clients including L’Oréal and boasts capabilities ranging from key-opinion-leader management to social-to-offline event activation. Grey also boosted investment in staff development by 20 percent.
The network recorded double-digit growth, but finished the year in 15th position on R3’s New Business League, with a mere US$11 million in estimated win revenue and having failed to crack the top 10 at any point. For comparison, Grey finished in 12th in 2015 and 11th in 2014. GMHBA in Australia and Danone in Japan were among the most notable wins last year.
We liked some Grey work this year, particularly for the HKTB and HSBC, and Grey Hong Kong won high honours in the HK4A’s Kam Fan Awards.
However, most of the work the agency boasts about is charitable in nature, rather than commercial. Some is commendable, such as 2016’s ‘This bike has MS’ project from Melbourne and a literacy campaign from India that won a Spikes Grand Prix. Sadly, the agency’s ‘Grey For Good’ unit reached too far in 2016 with ‘I-Sea’, an app that did not — and could not possibly — help to save refugees as claimed. The resulting storm of criticism, exacerbated by the agency’s global communications team, stained Grey’s credibility in a way that will take a long time to wash away.
Leadership appointments in Singapore in early 2017 (not factored into this report card) are a positive sign, especially considering regional head Nirvik Singh had the Middle East and Africa added to his purview in late 2016.
Hakuhodo’s main point of difference is in the lengths it goes to to understand consumers, which it refers to as sei-katsu-sha — internationally as well as in Japan. In 2016, it continued to develop its services in this area, building out a data-management platform to help identify prospective customers from a wide pool not limited to owned media. It also initiated the Sei-katsu-sha Academy to train staff how to best apply consumer insights, and established a unit to use insights from what are determined as forward-looking consumers for corporate innovation and co-creation.
Hakuhodo ranks highly as a place to work in Japan, and it offers good incentives to staff including a range of training options and opportunities to spend time in other countries. One move that seems especially worthwhile is the investment in training staff to partner more effectively with CMOs. Hakuhodo credits this with contibuting to an annual rise in billings of more than 5 percent.
In addition to services, Hakuhodo is active in original product development. In 2016, these included The Lyric Speaker, a device to turn song lyrics into motion graphics; and Pachat, which enables parents to talk to their children through plush toys. Experimentation with products as solutions to marketing challenges is to be encouraged, but as novel as these are, their contribution to either Hakuhodo’s or its clients’ business remains unclear. As Japan’s second-largest agency, Hakuhodo’s core creative product is much less visible than Dentsu’s, and recognition in terms of major awards was quite low.
Clearly, Hakuhodo’s position in Japan remains strong. But for it to really step up, it needs to forge ahead in terms of international growth. The challenge appears to be an organisational one more than anything. Hakuhodo has good people and resources; fulfilling its potential means bringing them together to work towards a common goal.
Havas Worldwide today is quite a different beast to the unruly company we saw just two years ago. It continues to rebuild itself into a cohesive network and is making good progress in that regard.
The agency has at last found a single leader for the region — and based in the region — in Mike Amour, who was formerly at Starcom. It is too early to judge his impact, but the structure should help further unify operations across markets, something that is at the core of the agency’s proposition.
Havas’ main point of difference is its global ‘village’ concept alongside Havas Media, which aims to bring creative and media services back together as marketing services everywhere continue to fragment. Most offices in Asia now operate according to this model, but implementing it fully across the region will be a priority for 2017.
In terms of business, the departure of longstanding client Hershey’s in China was a major loss. But Havas did register 9 percent revenue growth for the year, with the regional win of Netflix a highlight. The business is led from Singapore. That office, and the recently formed Havas Riverorchid across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, performed particularly well. The network also began to pick up more awards recognition, winning accolades at Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia, D&AD and One Show.
It also launched Havas Cognitive, using IBM Watson’s technology in an effort to capitalise on growing demand for AI consulting and services. While in its early days, it’s encouraging to see Asia taking the lead in a field that is set to become a much bigger part of marketing.
Havas also put emphasis on training. Its NextGen programme aims to equip selected staff with leadership skills through intensive hands-on sessions in different countries. Such initiatives are woefully lacking in this industry, so the investment could pay off for Havas in the longer term.
This has been a year of rebuilding for JWT as it regroups under new leadership. The departure of global CEO Gustavo Martinez in March under a cloud of lawsuits over alleged racist and sexist remarks has not helped JWT’s global brand, leaving new chief Tamara Ingram to contain the damage. In Asia, the agency lost its CEO and noted China expert Tom Doctoroff, who returned to the US after 22 years in this region. New APAC leader John Gutteridge was promoted from Australia halfway through the year.
In a self-described “baptism by fire”, Gutteridge has been spending much of his time travelling the region, meeting clients and key leaders. One notable “fire” has been the Korean business, restructured into a new partnership with sister agency Y&R, following the arrest of its former managing director Junghwan Kim over bribery charges.
Revenue growth overall in the region has been modest for JWT this year, though the Shanghai office performed well, chalking up local wins with Dicos, Huawei Honor and Weiquan. Singapore scored the global digital account for Lux at Unilever, with Jetstar in Australia and BMW in Japan rounding out the key wins. Notable losses included Ford in Japan, Yamaha in Indonesia, Halls (Mondelez) in Thailand, while the Beijing office parted ways with COFCO Jindi, Yi Li Dairy and Gome.
JWT’s creative juices continue to flow, as evidenced by its ‘Touchable ink’ campaign for Samsung in Thailand. A special ink allowing home printers to turn text into braille earned six Cannes Lions and three Grand Prix at Spikes among other accolades in a solid awards year.
Unfortunately, far less innovation was applied to internal operations at JWT, resulting in a dearth of new initiatives. That may change next year as Gutteridge makes his mark. With Carter Chow filling some of Chinese leadership void this January, Gutteridge will be able to concentrate more heavily on other regions.
Although it saw strong growth in some markets, Leo Burnett overall struggled in 2016. After finishing 2015 in fifth position on R3’s New Business League table, the network failed to crack the top 10 even once during the year, finishing at 11th position with a mere US$28 million in estimated win revenue.
The agency did record wins, though: China Mobile, Huawei Enterprise Group, Chung Hwa Telecom and Dream Cruises in China; Maybank and Sony in Singapore; and Amazon Prime and Google in India.
Leo Burnett points to integration as a strong point, both within the network and especially as part of the larger Publicis Communications family. For example, a 2016 Diageo win in Australia involved Leo Burnett, Sapient (now SapientRazorfish), MercerBell and Publicis Media. In Japan, Beacon, Saatchi & Saatchi and MSL worked together to win work from Keurig.
Publicis now evaluates P&L at a country level, aiming to get all its assets within each market working together, and that may be a solid approach. However, one has to ask whether lacking a regional identity or a regional head of its own (Loris Nold’s remit is oversight of all Publicis Communications APAC, Middle East and Africa properties) works to Leo Burnett’s detriment. Judging by 2016 performance across Asia, the answer would be ‘yes’.
Creative output of late also seems merely adequate rather than outstanding. At Spikes, for example, Leo Burnett won mostly Silver and Bronze awards, but took enough of them that it managed to finish third in the Network of the Year running. At the Agency of the Year awards, Leo Burnett won Gold in Korea, Vietnam and South Asia (excepting India and Pakistan), and the Malaysia office won Southeast Asia Specialist Agency of the Year. But Leo Burnett wasn’t even in the running at the agency-network level.
M&C Saatchi operates more as a collection of individual companies than a network in the standard sense. This autonomy is a good thing, but the arrival of Richard Morewood as CEO for Asia could facilitate knowledge- and resource-sharing that can help benefit the newer offices in particular. Australia is by far the strongest operation and needs to function as something of a benchmark for the likes of China, India and Singapore. In 2016, Australia took on Woolworths and eBay, and won a D&AD White Pencil for its ‘Clever Buoy’ initiative for Optus.
Malaysia also stands out in the network globally, having won Creative Agency of the Year for its market at Campaign’s Agency of the Year awards. Things appear steady in Singapore, a market that did not work out for the agency the first time round. China took on business from Baojun, a car brand owned by a joint-venture between General Motors and SAIC Motor; Joma, a sporting apparel brand; and American Standard.
A few years ago, M&C Saatchi’s future in the region looked uncertain. That critical stage has now passed, but becoming a more joined-up network will help.
McCann’s year was marked by two significant moves. The first saw Charles Cadell’s relocation to Japan in April with an expanded remit to run the region from Tokyo along with the domestic market — an IPG setup that has yet to be proven effective. McCann is the most significant multinational agency active in Japan, and is investing and looking for serious growth from the market.
The second important move was the loss of the OCBC account to Govt, forcing a difficult decision to significantly reduce network headcount. Shortly afterward, McCann announced a restructuring that combined McCann Singapore and MRM under Nick Handel as CEO, as Rob Doswell moved to focus exclusively on Craft, the group's production and adaptation unit. The agency said it was doing everything it could to reassign people who had been working on OCBC.
McCann says innovation was its core theme for the year. The network’s Millennials programme — begun in Japan and now active in several markets — flips age-based hierarchy on its head, putting young people firmly in charge of certain projects. The highest-profile outcome of this was the Japan office’s AI creative director, which earned global media coverage. Meanwhile, a digital training programme called PXL has made 2,300 people more technically conversant.
The agency achieved a 68 percent pitch-success rate (a metric that has improved steadily over the past three years), and hovered near second position in R3’s New Business League. Major wins included Celcom in Malaysia, Yum Brands in China and Thermos in Japan. Australia, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and China delivered double-digit growth.
McCann hired Antony Cundy as chief client officer in Japan and Tian It Ng as chief creative officer in Shanghai. Jean-Michel Wu, former chief talent officer, also left to join headhunting agency Grace Blue, which will have McCann as a client.
Growth, but not lots of it, was the takeaway for MullenLowe Group in 2016. Heavy investment in its digital media offering across the region played a big role in this, and to that end growth was impressive: around half of the agency’s total global digital revenue came from Asia, which is no doubt promising for the future. However, that contributed to just single-digit growth in APAC overall.
MullenLowe’s ‘hyperbundled’ model started gaining traction in 2016, with four large business wins coming as a result, including Harley Davidson, F&N100 Plus and Western Union. This, plus other pitch wins, such as Cerebos and Honda Cars, helped reduce the group’s dependence on Unilever.
India in particular saw success with the launch of its creative unit MullenLowe Lintas adding nine new clients. But digital spend in India remains very low, so investment there is laying ground for the future. China was a struggle, with four client losses and the economic slowdown affecting budgets, but MullenLowe did double its tech team and open a Chengdu office.
It was all change at the top of Ogilvy last year, with Kent Wertime and Chris Reitermann taking over from Paul Heath as co-CEOs. Heath, who remains Asia-Pacific chairman, achieved a great deal and is not an easy leader to replace. However, Wertime and Reitermann are highly experienced with an understanding of technology uncommon among major creative network heads in the region. But we’ll need more evidence before we deem the split CEO model a real success.
Last year, we noted that momentum had slowed; 2016 saw a return to form, with the agency once again winning Creative Network of the Year in Campaign’s Agency of the Year awards. Much of Ogilvy’s strength comes from the ease with which its different departments are able to work together. Ogilvy has positioned itself well as an agency to support Asian brands with global ambitions, and being able to combine disciplines such as brand strategy with public affairs has been an important draw for major brands such as Huawei. Consulting services also showed encouraging growth.
Business was strong, both from new and existing clients, and Ogilvy dominated R3’s New Business League throughout the year.
Publicis in 2016 continued to build on the momentum it built the previous year. From 14th on R3’s year-end New Business League in 2014, the network climbed to ninth spot last year and rose as high as second in 2016 before ending the year in fifth, with estimated win-revenue hitting US$63 million, a 75 percent increase over 2015’s $36 million. The network attained double-digit growth in all its key markets in 2016, with Australia and Singapore particular bright spots.
Significant wins included the Health Promotion Board and OCBC (social) in Singapore; Tiger Beer (globally); Cartier, Huawei retail globally, China Industrial Bank in China; and Heineken in India. The agency lost China Mobile due to pricing. Key hires included Scott Huebscher as ECD in Australia, Oliver Xu as CEO and Nuno Wu as ECD in Beijing.
Digital makes up an increasingly significant share of revenue, with the 2015 appointment of David Gompel as CEO in Greater China a driving factor. Gompel had COO of Publicis Communications added to his duties in 2016.
A new Saatchi & Saatchi began to emerge this year in Asia, shaped by the Publicis restructuring. The results so far have been positive, following a quiet year for wins in 2015. Saatchis has pulled its way back into the top 10 of R3’s New Business League, by more than tripling its revenue from new wins thanks to additions like Porsche (China, and Macan global), H&R Block (Australia) Mead Johnson (digital SEA) and Reliance Petroleum (India).
The top brass at Publicis will say Saatchis is benefiting from the group’s new unsiloed structure with a shared P&L in each market between its brand siblings. One could argue Saatchis has for too long relied on its brand equity and heritage in a complex marketing world where clients need multi-faceted strategies and technological solutions.
With fewer integrated capabilities of its own, the agency can now, in theory, more easily tap retail marketing expertise and resources within its extended family, satisfying its clients while upselling them in the process. One of the most disruptive innovations for Saatchis this year was launching Publicis’ ‘Drugstore’ programme in India, tapping startups to build apps and new prototypes for their clients.
But the agency might also have the most to lose. Sharing resources and peddling business solutions isn’t exactly a sparkplug for the bold creative work the brand is known for. There were signs of it of this year from Australia, winning innovation awards at Cannes and Spikes for its Toyota LandCruiser emergency network. The creative culture of the South China office, led by Alexis Chiu, has also been attracting accolades along with new business.
Setting aside the Kevin Roberts debacle, Saatchis’ strong brand equity has ensured low staff turnover in much of Asia-Pacific. But with no strong regional leader to preach the ‘bold creative’ mantra, it may be left to incoming global president Magnus Djaba to fully restore its mojo.
For a self-styled ‘disruption’ agency, 2016 was more about augmenting TBWA’s existing strengths, than starting afresh. Organic growth was a central plank in boosting the agency’s bottom line across APAC, drawing more from the wallets of key clients, including Airbnb, MasterCard, Nissan and Apple.
Even the agency’s most impactful creative work stemmed from ideas of using what’s already around us. ‘A different Paris’, its film for Airbnb used old-school 3D zoetrope technology to tell the story of how one traveller explores a new side of the city. Viewed 273 million times, earning two Cannes Lions and three Bronze Spikes, it shared the awards spotlight along with a clever environmental campaign for ABS CBN creating artworks from pigment found in Manila’s most polluted rivers.
Perhaps more encouraging than the 16 Cannes Lions and 33 Spikes earned this year was the even spread of awards throughout the region, signalling a healthy network. TBWA Hakuhodo continues to be a creative powerhouse in Japan, reinvigorated by the rise of Kazoo Sato to chief creative officer. This year the agency patented and commercialised its award-winning ‘Giga-selfie’ initiative.
The newly installed CEO of the Japanese JV, Akihiko Imai, is likely to need to chalk up bigger business wins next year, as will China CEO Joanne Lao. Singapore and Australia did much of the heavy-lifting, with the most new business coming from the 2015 win of the Singapore Tourism Board, dwarfing smaller client losses like EDB Singapore and Tigerair. Across APAC, revenue grew 11 percent, year on year. Meanwhile, there’s still lots of work to do in India, where Adidas moved its work over to DDB Mudra. But TBWA is making positive moves, such as opening a new office in Delhi and bringing in Govind Pandey as CEO from McCann.
Finally, TBWA continues to top many agencies in cultivating female creative talent thanks to new HR policies and partnerships.
Although opposed to pursuing growth at the expense of quality, Wieden+Kennedy recorded 22 percent revenue growth in APAC for the year. The resolutely talent-focused agency also grew its staff by nearly 15 percent in the region, to reach a total of 201. W+K believes recent investments in placing top talent in leadership positions is paying off. Sidharth Loyal re-joined as MD in Delhi during 2016, taking over from interim MD Patrick Cahill and joining MDs John Rowe in Tokyo and Bryan Tilson in Shanghai — both in their second year. On the creative level, key hires or promotions included Hiroshi Kuyama as CD in Tokyo, CD Azsa West moving from Shanghai to Tokyo and the appointment of co-ECDs Shuchi Thakur and Molona Wati Longchar in India.
W+K won new business from AB InBev and Milka in China, Indigo Airlines and Delhi tourism in India, and Spotify in Japan. Its only client loss was Tiffany in China, after the relationship “ran its course”.
Impactful work from W+K during 2016 included not only standout campaigns for Nike (‘Da da ding’ in India and ‘Minohodoshirazu’ in Japan) but also memorable campaigns for Spotify and Booking.com.
Y&R continues to reap dividends from a long-term growth strategy focused on building digital capabilities and strong creative work, bolstered by staffing investments. Digital now comprises 60-percent of Y&R’s business in Asia, with VML revenue doubling in Asia. The digital focus helped to solidify overall business growth to a healthy 20-percent year-on-year in the region, well above the industry average.
Despite a more challenging environment in China, the market became a bright spot for new business last year, up 40 percent thanks to wins including China Southern Airlines and Pepsi Nutrition, alongside new work from clients such as Alibaba and Burger King. Y&R was among Asia-Pacific’s most-awarded agencies at Cannes and the second-most at Spikes Asia, while riding the long wave of success from New Zealand’s 2015 McWhopper campaign.
The agency had to part ways with ‘Happy’, the pre-paid brand of Thai telco DTAC, after building it up over the past 15 years with campaigns that included ‘The Power of Love’, one of Asia-Pacific’s most viral ads in 2014. Other client losses included Revlon in Australia and Robinson’s Land in the Philippines.
A blow to creative came this summer when Vietnam’s CCO Kit Ong left to join an independent. Y&R’s new Indochina CEO, Peter Skalberg, took over the task of trying to build sustained profits in the emerging region, adding Red Bull to the client base.