Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jan 6, 2016

Mcgarrybowen launches in Hong Kong, 3 years after China

HONG KONG - Mcgarrybowen has expanded its Greater China footprint with a new Hong Kong office, a move driven by increased client demand for the boutique-agency experience.

L-R: Tam and Gamble
L-R: Tam and Gamble

The new office opens officially next Tuesday (12 January) and will be headed by current Greater China CEO Simone Tam and chief creative officer Jeffry Gamble, both of whom previously held top leadership posts at DDB Group Hong Kong before joining Mcgarrybowen to oversee the Shanghai office early last year.

Since then, they have landed clients including Intel, Estée Lauder, The Cheesecake Factory and Kangshifu Juice.

The Hong Kong launch continues the agency's strategy of growing its international network. Last year, Mcgarrybowen, in partnership with parent company Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), acquired Same Same But Different and Manghamgaxiola.

Evidently, the network is building on Tam and Gamble's background in the Hong Kong market. "We are so familiar with HK already due to our career and industry roots here while at DDB and Tribal," Tam told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "We needed at least a year [in 2015] to focus on China and familiarise ourselves with the market. We can now devote more time to HK."

The new Mcgarrybowen Hong Kong office will launch with a roster of clients in the food and beverage, consumer products, and financial services sectors, said Tam, who was unable to name them individually.

"We have seen that clients are somewhat getting a bit tired of the way big agencies work, and are using small shops," said Tam. "Big agencies are still very good at strategic planning but lacking the know-how to execute digitally, so clients complain about non-integration in the big agencies. Small shops are not getting involved in the strategy and ideation process they need to do great work. But we are positioning ourselves as being able to bring the best of both worlds together and hand pick talent whom we believe meets both ends of the stick".

A lot of 4A agencies have legacy issues so it is harder for integration to happen, added Gamble, who envisioned that the agency will never become too huge—always under 100 people in Asia.

The resources of DAN will set Mcgarrybowen apart in the scramble for new business, Tam asserted. "What I'm observing is that clients will typically choose two big agencies and one boutique one to throw in the mix for pitches," she said.

In the first year in Hong Kong, the aim is to recruit 30 to 40 employees to service four to five clients. "We want people who are wired for digital, because a full-service boutique agency like us means that digital solutions needs to be at the forefront of creativity," said Gamble.
When asked about business and revenue targets for the new office, the duo said there is "no set plan right now" but "we're going with the flow". 

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