Eight days after formalising the acquisition of profit-making entity M&C Saatchi Indonesia and buying out 55% of the group’s equity, chief executive and president director Anish Daryani has announced the rebranding of the agency to Moonfolks on its sixth anniversary.
The new agency signals an era of independence and innovation. It will be led by the same co-founders, including Daryani (president director and CEO), Dami Sidharta (chief creative officer) and Elki Hendria (chief strategy and digital officer).
Leaving behind the financial and operational turbulence of the M&C network that outshone its creative output, Moonfolks enters with a purpose, “Make Audacious Possible.” The agency aims to transcend conventional advertising with an “accelerated commerce” for clients and deliver higher ROAS (return on ad spend) via the full spectrum of advertising and marketing offerings. Specialties include Traditional, Digital, Shopex, Production and PR.
M&C Saatchi’s Performance vertical in Indonesia is not a part of this and continues to operate under a separate legal entity. In 2022, it was the fastest growing sector for the agency, adding 24% revenue to the earnings, with key business wins such as Asana, Asics, Julo, Noice and Jobstreet. It’s helmed by Singapore-based global CEO Kabeer Chaudhary and APAC managing director Roshat Adnani who oversees the P&L for the region.
In an exclusive conversation with Campaign from the agency’s Jakarta office, Daryani sheds light on the agency’s vision and goal of “becoming the most effective agency” in the world.
“In an AI-driven world, we want to create an environment where creativity thrives and Moonfolks can take brands to new heights. Our guiding model hinges on accelerated commerce so clients get the maximum return on ad spend for every service.”
“We are like a bunch of astronauts that make crazy things happen. We won’t just deliver out-of-the-box ideas but out-of-this-world ideas for client growth and measurable results,” he adds. That’s also the inspiration behind the name of the agency.
Appointments and verticals
Moonfolks founders: Anish Daryani (president director and CEO), Dami Sidharta (CCO) and Elki Hendria (chief strategy & digital officer) Photo: Moonfolks
On the leadership front, the advertising services will be co-led by business directors Dyah Ariani and Femmy Cowell, alongside Dami Sidharta and ECD Yogi Tara.
Elki Hendria, who led the digital services at the former agency, continues to operate in the chief strategy and digital officer capacity.
After managing director of the Shopex unit, Mike Forster quit the role in August 2023, roughly a year after being in position, business director Aji Harsono has been overseeing the vertical. Harsono continues to operate in the same capacity.
A head for the PR services has been hired; in the interim, Daryani will take charge.
New verticals at Moonfolks include a production arm, Goosebump Pictures, led by executive producer Irma Rahmawaty, and an Authentic Intelligence accelerator to ride on the generative AI wave.
Daryani tells Campaign that Goosebump Pictures will produce content for all formats: Long, short, social and digital. “We’ve had the infrastructure for this before, but have branded as a new vertical only now. Indonesia is a highly digitally-driven market and while there is saturation, few can successfully bridge the gap between supply-side challenges and client-side expectations,” Daryani points out.
A team of talented creatives with filmmaking ambitions and an understanding of brands and nuanced creative expression band together to churn high-quality production content. With Goosebump and the Authentic Intelligence unit, Moonfolks can compete on both production bids as well as create high volumes of content with a distinct cost advantage for clients.
From network to independent
The decision to go independent and break away from the network wasn’t made lightly or in haste. Daryani acknowledged the learnings gained from being part of the M&C Network, which provides a strong foundation for Moonfolks’ growth. Campaign learns that earlier in January 2023, Daryani expressed his desire to take the entrepreneurial route to then-global chief executive Moray McLennan. Upon understanding Daryani’s need for growth and movement, former Asia CEO Richard Morewood created a new role adding additional duties of Southeast Asia’s growth and development to Daryani’s hat.
However, with the ongoing consolidation efforts and structural changes at the network: Its retreat from key Asian markets like Singapore, a shift in regional leadership to CEO Justin Graham in Sydney, a 7% decline in global revenue, and a $10.23 million drop in operating profit in H1 2023, combined with a shift in focus from loss-making entities like Hong Kong, prompted Daryani to initiate the independent route back in October 2023.
The negotiation process was amicable, with both parties recognising the need for Moonfolks to be independent.
Daryani is grateful for the “good times” and intermin global CEO Zila Byng-Thorne’s keenness to agree to a deal that allows him to race towards entrepreneurial ambitions.
He added: “For M&C Saatchi Group, I will continue to be a reliable friend. As we take our second first step, we wish to continue serving our clients with the same passion and integrity and setting higher benchmarks in the industry.” Meanwhile, Bing-Thorne said, “We have enjoyed our relationship with Anish and wish him and (his) colleagues all the very best for their new venture.”
“I am ecstatic to be able to take the business risks and operate with greater agility, adapt swiftly to market demands,” he says. A few key clients were taken into confidence prior to the public announcement in January 2024, the initial reaction was “ nothing but congratulatory and celebratory.”
Co-founder and CCO, Dami Sidharta adds, “We’re taking our second-first step. But unlike our first-first, it won’t just be the three of us. We have some of the brightest minds in the industry with us this time around and we’ll get to where we want to be a lot sooner. It’ll be very exciting every step of the way.”
Elki Hendria echoes the sentiment, “Our goal is clear: not only do we curate compelling ideas and content, but we're committed to crafting narratives that not only captivate but also catalyse commerce. We are here to redefine the boundaries of possibility, making audacious goals strategically achievable in an AI driven world”.
Following the acquisition, the agency’s holding company in Singapore has also undergone a name change from M&C Saatchi Holdings Asia Pte. Ltd. to Mirabilia Media Holdings Pte. Ltd. The agency’s legal entity in Indonesia has been renamed from PT. MCS Saatchi Indonesia to PT. Mirabilia Media Indonesia.
The company retains all business licenses and tax papers, in line with the acquisition and there is complete continuity of business, where the agency retains all client, talent and partner contracts.
Moonfolks has retained all of M&C’s clientele, barring the founding account of Tempo Scan Group. Tempo Scan and Daryani parted ways at the end of 2023 after a six-year retainer because of an internal policy at the company that requires refreshing agency partners every six years.
The current client list includes PermataBank, Bytedance, Sampoerna-Phillip Morris, Unilever, Kimia Pharma, Mandi Pharma, Mastercard, Grab, LG, Pertamina, Kemenperekraf (Wonderful Indonesia), Asian Paints, Adaro Energy, Ismaya Group and Astra Credit Company, among others.
Moonfolks is already profitable. Going forward, Daryani aims to tap clients from the healthcare and automobile sectors—unexplored at M&C Saatchi. He has set an ambitious 30% year-on-year growth target in net revenue and profitability for 2024. The bulk of which, nearly 70%, will come from advertising and digital, Shopex and PR will contribute 12.5% each and Goosebump will add the remaining. That’s a tall ask, but Daryani says it’s in line with current growth and market conditions.
Trivia: Moonfolks might be the first agency to have an office on the moon. The agency has acquired land on the moon through the Cosmic Register.