Five years ago, Shaun Tay and Ong Shi-Ping bought out FCB’s operations in Malaysia and become 100% local owners and operators. Now, both Tay and Shi-Ping, who serve as CEO and CCO respectively, have a new holding company under which to operate FCB.
The Shout Group will house the newly rebranded FCB Shout, boutique agency Ignite which will refocus as a branding arm, as well as activation practice MDWActivation. FCB Shout will remain the group’s primary creative agency that handles the bulk of advertising clients.
“Operationally we remain the same,” Tay told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “Commitment wise, we’re doubling down, as this change in name signals our intent to clients we are here for the long run. The rebrand also opens additional opportunities for us beyond just Malaysia.”
When Tay and Ong completed the buy-out, they had a measured approach in mind to leverage FCB’s equity in Malaysia, while injecting their own “no plan B attitude and feisty personalities”. The pair planned to reshape the business—client by client and talent by talent—to achieve the agency’s goal of becoming a challenger firm in Malaysia.
“It was a complete revamp,” said Tay. “Our four largest local clients had exited the agency before the buy-out and our largest network client, Nivea, was resigned by FCB the year after the buy-out. It was stressful, but it provided a much-needed clean slate and allowed us the opportunity to be selective on the type of client we chose to work with.”
While challenger brands such as Touch n Go, RHB Bank, and RedOne were brought in, the agency also works with legacy category leaders such as Resorts World Genting, Mamee, Marigold, McCain, Domino’s, Darlie, Twinings, and Quaker Oats.
Ong added: “We had put ourselves in a very unfamiliar place when we took ownership of the agency. Even though we decided to keep the FCB name, we became very much a start-up company overnight, where everything had to be rebuilt from the ground up.”
Despite independent ownership, FCB Shout continues to benefit from FCB’s regional tools and thinking. The network’s international team regularly supports the Malaysia agency in sharing knowledge, data, best practice, case studies, and more. Tay and Ong also get the chance to tap into the network’s clients that are present in Malaysia.
“Shi-ping and I are in complete control and call the shots on business and creativity. In return, FCB Worldwide has a dynamic partner in this region that is a significant contributor to its plans for regional growth. It’s a win-win for both parties,” said Tay. “As seasoned operators who own the business and aren’t in a rush to sell out, we have our industry’s greatest asset—we have time.”
FCB Shout is a 45-strong team and aims to grow to 60 by year-end.