Jessica Goodfellow
Oct 8, 2020

Happiness Saigon evolves into creative consultancy

Vietnam agency says it has identified a "gap in the middle" between creative/digital agencies that focus on communication, and consultancies that focus on business and marketing.

Happiness Saigon's core management team from left to right: Alan Cerutti, Greg Titeca (represented by the dog), Son Nguyen, Nhat Qui.
Happiness Saigon's core management team from left to right: Alan Cerutti, Greg Titeca (represented by the dog), Son Nguyen, Nhat Qui.

Happiness Saigon is going through its second evolution. From creative agency in 2015 to 'creative connectivity agency' in 2016, it is now becoming a 'creative consultancy agency' organised into four divisions that it claims will offer end-to-end services across business, marketing and communications.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based agency was founded five years by Alan Cerutti, Thuy Tran and Karen Corrigan with anchor clients Nivea and Oreo. It is part of Brussels-based Happiness Group and an affiliate of FCB.

The agency was set up with a "flat structure" from the outset—putting digital, strategy and creative together rather than operating in siloes. Its mantra is 'everything and everyone is media'.

In 2016, it changed its identity to a 'creative connectivity agency' with a new advertising approach that transitioned from "consumer-centric thinking" to "consumer-journey centric thinking", it said. The data-driven strategy was adopted for campaigns with some of Vietnam’s top brands including Sunlight For Men, Pepsi PepCoin, Pepsi Dragon Dance, Nivea Tailored Care and Tuborg Open.

Happiness Saigon was awarded gold in Campaign Asia's Vietnam Creative Agency of the Year awards in 2019 after recording business growth of mor than 100% in the year. It hopes to win the regional Southeast Asia Creative Agency of the Year title in 2022.

Now the agency is switching identity again. It believes it has identified a "gap in the middle" between creative/digital agencies that focus on communication, and consultancies that focus on business and marketing.

"The marketing industry in Asia has gone through a significant evolution over the last few years with the rise of short-termism to the detriment of brand building. All of this is taking place while performance marketing and data-driven marketing strategies are used to drive short-term business results," the agency wrote.

As a ‘creative consultancy agency’, it claims to offer integrated marketing communications and business solutions.

The 48-person agency will now be organised into four divisions: Happiness Consults, which will offer business and growth strategy, brand strategy (including positioning, purpose) and data strategies; Happiness Connects, which will offer communication and connectivity strategies; Happiness Works, which will offer media-buying, data analytics, performance/optimisation and dashboarding; and Bliss Makes, which will offer online and offline production.

Co-founder and CEO Cerutti will now add head of creative consultancy to his remit. He leads the agency together with ECD Greg Titeca, head of clients Son Nguyen and head of performance Nhat Qui.

Titeca said: "The advertising world is changing fast, very fast. Brands are looking for solutions that drive successes both in business, marketing, and communications, creatives are looking for radically new ways of demonstrating the power of creativity. Both aspirations meet at Happiness."

Cerutti added: "Today more than ever in Asia, businesses are starting to realise that it’s important to cut-through in an effort to grab more market share. At Happiness, we want to be the one-stop reliable and accountable business partner taking care of the business, marketing and communication needs of our clients to grow their business. We believe that in a world of ‘experience’ and integrated solutions, it is 'creative thinking' that will make businesses rise beyond commodity to drive exponential and sustainable growth."

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