Category: Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year
Key clients: AXA, Colgate-Palmolive, DoorDash, Honor, Huawei, L’Oréal, Meituan, Mondelez, Netflix, Perfetti Van Melle, Pernod Ricard, Under Armour, Xiaohongshu
New clients this year: Audible, Danone, Foodpanda, Leapmotor, TikTok, relationship extensions and geographical expansions of current clients e.g. L’Oréal into China Travel Retail and Indonesia performance, Mondelez’s regional win
Highlights: Triumph over adversity has been a key theme in the industry over the last few years and Wavemaker Asia-Pacific is no different. In fact, the agency might have overcome more than most given that the challenge to foster and maintain relationships was exacerbated by CEO Gordon Domlija being locked down in Shanghai while the rest of the world began its return to some level of pre-Covid normality.
Still, Domlija and his Wavemaker APAC team learned that it is through adversity that depth of relationships is built and they ended the year toasting a number of successes, including several industry awards with huge success in local, regional and global arenas.
Wavemaker Asia-Pacific had begun the year with the task of maintaining momentum on the desire to ‘positively provoke’ the industry. It is now also on track to becoming the world’s most-wanted agency partner for clients, the most-wanted place to work for people in the industry, and the most-wanted collaborator for other agencies and platforms.
Domlija and his team looked at this the three pillars of people, product and growth under a microscope. The goal was to improve on each and drive the agency further forward. He delivered on his top responsibility “to provide an environment across the region that encourages and empowers our people to safely challenge, learn, and grow,”. His latest passion project is Wavemaker APAC’s Mobility Programme, aimed at helping talents who are seeking fresh career opportunities in different countries to move between markets, agencies and departments smoothly. This successful programme has helped 21 people seek career opportunities in new countries with another 58 in process (and counting!).
Wavemaker Asia-Pacific delivered on their people, product and growth objectives. This was evidenced in perfect scores for both Performance & Likelihood to Recommend categories from 86 clients on the annual client satisfaction survey, alongside +US$1.1 billion in new and retained billings (Oct 2021 – Sept 2022 alone), and ranked #2 in the region in both new business and media agencies billings, rankings & market shares.1
On the product front, off the back of a consistent global approach through Wavemaker’s OS enabled Provocative Planning suite of tools and resources, Gordon has ensured continual focus on scaling and developing products and services that really deliver for their clients in APAC. Recent successes include a regional Wavemaker Addressability hub, headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, set up to help brands use data to personalise messaging and content, gather insight on what consumers like, and apply that loop perpetually. It is currently serving 6 markets in APAC alone.
Growth has been a keyword. Take Colgate-Palmolive, a longstanding Wavemaker client that tasked the agency with ripping up the script this year. It resulted in a brand new hub that met the client’s need for agility and the ability to respond to changing circumstances.
To maintain a better feedback loop Gordon created an APAC Challenger ExCo, comprising HiPo and diverse individuals from eight countries that acts as a ‘shadow’ ExCo, contributing to key business planning meetings. This highly successful initiative is currently in its second cohort, Challenger ExCo 2.0.
Wavemaker believes there is always a better way to grow and Domlija’s APAC team in 31 offices over 17 countries have helped over 500 clients to do just that.
Judges say: Domlija’s success in new business growth and employee satisfaction surveys was “all the more impressive” for being achieved from lockdown in Shanghai. “He’s a solid regional leader, driving strong double-digit growth, good award-winning output and strong marketer testimonials,” the panel said. “Metal winner.”