According to Prashant Kumar, president IPG Mediabrands, world markets Asia, Rally was actually soft-launched in Malaysia three years ago as a bit of an experiment. "We were experimenting with what Rally could bring to clients," Kumar told Campaign Asia-Pacific in a phone interview. "We knew that there was a demand for community management and crisis management, but Rally was designed to be more than that."
Rally's performance, added Kumar, has seen marketers invest increasing resources, and the unit has featured with growing importance in the marketing ecosystem. "What makes Rally unique is that it goes beyond online and beyond social media and rather brings a social approach to marketing," Kumar said. "It's not just about community and crisis management; it's everything about mainstream marketing—product innovation, communication, content, media and commerce."
The new agency falls under IPG Mediabrands and works closely with UM and its clients. The team in Malaysia, which will lead the launch across Asia-Pacific, is jointly headed by Neeraj Gulati, director of UM Malaysia's digital initiatives, and Derek Tan, head of community and strategy at Mediabrands.
The pair leads a team that includes social strategists and conversation planners as well as recently recruited blogger Joyce Wong (aka KinkyBlueFairy) and Twitterati Joshua Ong.
The new office launches will repurporse existing talent and also look to make new hires. "Conversations have started with key clients, and we hope to develop at an accelerated pace," Kumar said. The hub in Malaysia, he added, will work closely with the new offices to ensure client satisfaction.
Some of Rally's clients in Malaysia have included Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, F&N and Yum Brands (holding company for KFC and Pizza Hut). Its campaigns include Johnson's Baby Room Makeover
in February and Virtual Ramadan social game last year, which engaged more than 5 million Malaysians with 60,000 open-houses held inside the game.
"Another campaign Rally has worked on is the Dutch Lady Milk Election last May, which crowdsourced product innovation, getting consumers to 'elect' a new milk flavour," Kumar said. "Beyond online, the campaign was built up on the ground with live candidates, in costume, representing each nominated flavour. For the record, Sweet Corn won
Rally's aim is to deliver at least two-thirds of an integrated campaign's media value via earned media, Kumar continued. "It is unique as a media offering that positions itself more earned than paid media. So far it's been successful in doing so for the majority of its campaigns."
Commenting on the launch, Mauricio Sabogal, global CEO, world markets, IPG Mediabrands, said, "We believe Asia has an opportunity to leapfrog traditional thinking and design marketing around Social. I am really excited about the launch of Rally and how it could help our clients in Asia create competitive advantage via us."