Parsonage is the former managing director of Jack Morton Hong Kong. His appointment coincides with Fluid’s rebranding as a company that offers ‘Insight-driven creative’. Parsonage will be responsible for leading the firm’s 35 staff along with managing director Andrew Au. He said that after 12 years at Jack Morton, he was looking for a new challenge.
Big data and research will be a major part of Fluid’s new direction, according to founder and chairman Simon Squibb—hence Parsonage’s hire. Squibb said he believed that the majority of agencies, both independent and network, were still failing to exploit the potential of big data from a creative perspective.
He admitted that there were clear challenges to mastering big data, which he described as a “moving target”. But he said that Fluid had developed an effective formula to break down the use of it and “build creative solutions around it to generate ROI for clients”. Parsonage will draw on his experience in the research world to scale Fluid’s service in that area, Squibb said.
He noted that Fluid would be looking to expand internationally. He did not specify which markets were slated for the launch of new operations, but said they would be predominantly in Asia. He added that Fluid had ambitious growth targets and would be pursuing “Ogilvy-type business”.
One of Fluid’s indirect aims is to spur Hong Kong towards becoming a creative hub once more through the application of data. Au said that the marketing industry as a whole was still split between creative companies and data and research companies, with few players in between who understood how to take data and use it for creative goals. “Insights remove subjectivity from the discussion,” added Parsonage.
Squibb explained that Fluid’s approach to big data would be akin to moving a mountain “one small rock at a time”. He claimed the agency had an advantage over bigger competitors due to its nimbleness and flexibility, but conceded that large networks still had distinct strengths.
“Our ambition is to be the best of both worlds,” Squibb said. “Big data will be part of [our strategy to disrupt the agency model]. We didn’t invent big data, but we’re going to take advantage of it for our clients... Big agencies will be scared.” However, the management team did not rule out the possibility of working with larger firms such as Jack Morton in the future, describing their services as complementary.
Fluid’s client portfolio includes Estée Lauder, for which it helped develop a China-market focused brand; Li & Fung, InvestHK, BT and DFS. Parsonage’s role will take effect on 20 May.