AOY Insights is a new content series celebrating some of the top wins from Campaign Asia-Pacific's Agency of the Year awards. Join us as we take a closer look at the entries that struck gold this year.
Categories: Best Culture – Southeast Asia, Young Business Leader of the Year – Southeast Asia
Key clients: Procter & Gamble, San Miguel, Panasonic, Otsuka, Mayora, Toyota
New clients this year: Bayer, Nestlé, Globe Telecom
Highlights: Manila-based IdeasXMachina Group of Hakuhodo has seen the third year of the pandemic as another chance to prove that culture is stronger than any virus. Built on parent group Hakuhodo’s core philosophy of ‘sei-katsu-sha’ (‘living person’), IXM sees consumers, clients, and employees in a people-centric way. Rather than cutting costs in response to the pandemic, IXM did all it could to protect its staff with several new people-forward initiatives.
For instance: IXM’s ‘Third Week’ programme, an intensive cultural onboarding boot camp to ensure new hires can determine if the company is a good fit, as soon as possible. The culture is shared with the world via “Vook” — an inspirational video book that captures work from every member of staff, from how things are done to how they might be improved.
Remote working has been fuelled by free high-speed internet and the company’s “Work From Wherever” policy, which expanded the talent pool beyond Metro Manila, as well as leveraging the Hakuhodo network. Collaboration and team chemistry has been kept on track with regular “rhythm meetings” — including a Tuesday all-staffer that’s “more like a weekly catch-up than a regular town hall” — while the Better Normal Fund has helped team members outfit home offices and purchase fitness equipment.
Such innovative employee perks are a point of pride at IXM from longstanding Love Life Benefits (which offer date allowances, break-up leaves, and other relationship-related subsidies) and Date Your Parents to Mental Strength Benefits and Undertime Pay. These policies are non-discriminatory and contribute to the safe space IXM offers all staff.
New innovations in 2022 included a monthly Mental Strength Day for all employees, an education fund for children, and Caregiver Leave to help families who contracted Covid. Such policies played a key part in attrition being down 12% year on year.
The agency’s strong track record of promoting based on merit continued apace and 90% of the senior members promoted in the last year are under the age of 28. It is a spirit embodied by Jade “Jedd” Ilagan, who at 31 is managing director of two verticals that contribute over 20% of IXM’s total company operating profit — research agency BRAND-Y and digital and mobile solutions agency SOCIALIXM.
As well as winning new business and delivering for existing clients, Ilagan was the youngest to be entered into IXM’s innovative Acting President Programme. He was also key to pushing new employee benefits, thought leadership, and support for local charities.
Case studies: IXM’s Downy “Bye Bye, Bahayrus” campaign saw the fabric conditioner repositioned as essential to fighting the pandemic at home, transforming usage from “just for outside clothes” to “vital even for pambahays (house clothes).” The award-winning campaign saw Downy’s biggest-ever brand share (74.8%) and brand penetration (76.3%) values.
“It’s a hell of a time to be alive now” helped win Ginebra San Miguel’s Primera Light Brandy IXM’s “Salamats, Pri” campaign saw a 90% increase in daily sales and 48% growth — and ultimately earned the agency the brand’s brown spirits portfolio.
Judges say: IXM’s Vook and Acting President Programme were lauded for their capacity to manage talent, while the highest praise was bestowed on the agency’s “impressive initiatives to shape culture and create a healthy workplace.” Ilagan’s leadership was seen as key to IXM’s ongoing success.
IXM also won silver for ‘Talent Development Program of the Year – Southeast Asia’ and a bronze trophy for ‘Production Company of the Year – Southeast Asia’ for its production unit FART: Visible & Final Art Production.