The 2016 Agency Network of the Year Awards were presented last night in Singapore. Here are Campaign's summaries of the winners' accomplishments.
Creative Network of the Year: Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific
Change has become the driving philosophy at Ogilvy & Mather in the past year as the network has instigated a sweeping overhaul of corporate culture and thinking patterns to enable it to “deliver the transformative modern marketing” brands now expect as a matter of course.
“Survival rests on an ability to not just adapt, but to embrace a constant state of transformation,” the network said in its Agency of the Year submission. To achieve this, Ogilvy has been working to break down silos and introduce new, open relationships between departments. There has also been an ambitious ramping up of training initiatives, such as in Japan, where Ogilvy has paired younger local hires with experienced international creatives in part of a series of measures aimed at “championing women, multiculturalism and diversity”.
This far-reaching shakeup has clearly paid off with the network’s performance in Campaign’s Creative Agency of the Year category, edging out last year’s winner, BBDO, to take back the Asia-Pacific award it last won in 2014. Ogilvy & Mather struck Gold in the category in Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia, and took the South Asian title on the back of Silvers in Pakistan and India, and Bronze in Sri Lanka. The network chalked up a further two Silvers — China and the Philippines — and Bronzes in Japan and Thailand.
Ogilvy’s digital agencies across the region also performed well, earning the runner-up place in Digital Network of the Year on the back of Gold in Singapore, Silvers in China, Pakistan, Malaysia and Taiwan, and a Bronze in Hong Kong. Ogilvy PR picked up Gold in China and Bronze in Singapore, while Lorraine Martin’s team in India won the South Asia Corporate Communications Team of the Year. Five other members of Ogilvy’s staff earned individual runner-up places in India and Japan.
Media Network of the Year: Mindshare Asia-Pacific
Mindshare has been making strides in multiple markets as it rolled out its ‘adaptive marketing’ approach to the media business, and worked to redefine the role of the media agency across the region. Its agencies have set up ‘Loop’ rooms to enable real-time managing of campaigns on multiple social streams simultaneously.
The network believes in staying in what it calls a “constant state of beta” by challenging its own and clients’ preconceived ideas in order to keep evolving to the needs of the market.
Mindshare held onto the Asia-Pacific Media Network of the Year with a strong showing across the entire region. It secured both the Southeast Asia and South Asia regional titles with Golds in Indonesia, Malaysia (tied with Vizeum Media) and Vietnam, and India and Sri Lanka, Silvers in Bangladesh and Thailand and Bronze in Singapore. The network’s agencies also took Gold in Japan, Silver in China and Bronze in Hong Kong.
In the past 12 months, Mindshare celebrated winning 120 pitches in 15 Asian markets, including some of the biggest accounts in the industry, such as Indofoods in Indonesia, Pepsi Suntory and Friesland Campina in Vietnam, and Master Kong in China. Billings for the year reached almost US$430 million, with year-on-year growth at an impressive 18 percent.
Mindshare also performed strongly in digital, netting regional wins in Southeast Asia and South Asia on the back of Golds in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam. In the individual categories, Mindshare India made its presence felt by grabbing four winner slots and three runners-up in South Asia, while the network’s rising star Chaojie Miao also earned Greater China Young Achiever of Year.
Digital Network of the Year: Isobar Asia-Pacific
Celebrating 2016 as its most successful year to date in the Asia-Pacific region, Isobar has seen big data and device proliferation result in renewed focus on digital marketing — both in terms of energy and revenue. The network believes the industry is at “a critical but exciting time in the history of how agencies and businesses create value” as the digital revolution gets into full swing.
To keep up with the pace of development, Isobar has committed to significant investment in R&D — in China, for example, the level is currently set at 5 percent of agency profits with a target set for that to reach 10 percent by 2018. One key aspect of that research is on developing new technology to help brands improve customer experience in ecommerce and in “reimagining the last mile” to boost conversion rates.
Isobar’s selection as Asia-Pacific Digital Network of the Year — for the third year in a row — is as a result of four Golds in China, Hong Kong, India and Malaysia, plus Silver in Japan and Bronzes in Australia, Korea and Singapore.
Isobar reports steady expansion across multiple markets. The Australia team grew to over 300 people this year, while the Singapore office reports 52 percent new business growth and 42 percent organic revenue growth. Across the region, the network reports revenue growth of 22 percent.
Isobar China Group also claimed Gold for Greater China Integrated Agency of the Year. Isobar’s staff in China and Japan had a strong showing in the personal awards, with Chris Chen taking Greater China Agency Head of the Year and the Dentsu Isobar social media marketing team earning the Japan/Korea New Business Development Team of the Year gong, plus a further six placing as runners-up.
Programmatic Agency of the Year: Xaxis Asia-Pacific
The largest programmatic agency not just in the region but the world romped home to hold onto its crown in the category known last year as Asia-Pacific Trading Desk of the Year.
The agency has been operating in Asia since 2012 — just a year after it was first formed — under the watchful eye of CEO Michel de Rjik.
Often the first programmatic player to enter new markets when it moves into virgin territory, Xaxis sees industry education as a crucial part of its role — what de Rjik sees as the agency’s “responsibility”. As such, the team works closely with publishers, agencies and advertisers to open their eyes to the exciting world of possibilities programmatic offers.
In response to calls from the industry for greater specialisation, Xaxis this year launched three specialist programmatic brands and implemented an ambitious round of acquisitions and rebranding.
Xaxis’ own research had shown that programmatic buying had grown by 45 percent across Asia in 2015. The number of Xaxis’ key clients operating programmatic in two or more APAC markets grew by a similar number this year, 44 percent.
Xaxis’ client development team also received mention in the judging, named runner-up in the Asia-Pacific New Business Development Team of the Year award.
Asia-Pacific Account Person of the Year
Natalie Vander Vorst, Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore
Saatchi & Saatchi’s regional director for Asia-Pacific, Natalie Vander Vorst leads the agency’s Mead Johnson Nutrition business. While Saatchi & Saatchi has been the brand’s agency of record for over 13 years, the relationship went through a significant expansion and development in May following an extensive review. The agency describes this as a “transformative year” and the “client-agency dynamic shifted from a typical, steady maintenance relationship” to a considerably more dynamic one with a digital focus and featuring close collaboration with Nurun. Vander Vorst has risen to this challenge admirably, and has taken the change as an opportunity to try out a series of new communication strategies, fresh creative approaches and innovative operating models. Her focus has been to drive value by improving customer experience in online engagements and pushing up contact with the brand beyond a single intervention.
Runner-up: Carbo Yu, WE Communications
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Creative)
Philip Brett, TBWA Asia
After six years as TBWA president for South Asia and Southeast Asia, Philip Brett’s remit expanded in March, 2015, to cover the whole of Asia-Pacific — 16 offices across 13 markets, home to some 2,500 staff. For 2016, Brett set out to instill greater collaboration and integration across the group and a renewed focus on creative excellence. Towards that latter goal, Brett went about restructuring and solidifying creative talent across Asia, appointing the agency’s first regional creative president and 13 other key hires and promotions. Brett also took steps to strengthen diversity in the agency’s workforce and build a more inclusive workplace. He brought in a team of 12 industry experts to review HR policy with a remit to “build a stronger pipeline of female talent”. The new approach is paying immediate dividends, and this year, TBWA added 74 new brands in Asia-Pacific.
Runner-up: Jean-Paul Burge, BBDO Asia
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Media)
Sean O’Brien, Carat Asia-Pacific
Sean O’Brien has been Carat Asia-Pacific’s CEO since 2012, overseeing a period of rapid growth at a consistently quicker pace than the market. The past year alone has seen the agency capture US$85 million in new business. O’Brien has transformed the network’s approach to client leadership and data, resulting in a more dynamic relationship with brands, and proactive and innovative attitude towards content creation. He has been keen to build a consistent culture across the network’s offices in the region, and implemented an organisational structure that is designed to “deliver both deep specialisation and integration” for Carat’s clients. With moves towards greater global integration, O’Brien has steered his Asia-Pacific team to taking on a key international role for the entire network, particularly in the areas of data and ecommerce. A charismatic leader who carries himself with an apparently easy-going, approachable air, O’Brien has a people-first management style — and that has helped Carat maintain 100 percent staff retention on a regional level this year, and over 88 percent retention across the whole of Asia-Pacific.
Runner-up: Susanna Tsui, PHD APAC
Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Digital)
Ruth Stubbs, iProspect Asia-Pacific
Ruth Stubbs ascended to global president of iProspect in October, but this award recognises her efforts as the agency’s Asia-Pacific CEO since 2011. In her five years in charge of the region, Stubbs has been devising the agency’s strategy for development around three core concepts people, product and growth.
One of Stubbs’ key achievements in the role has been the championing of diversity across the region, particularly in boosting the position of women in the industry. She played a key role in setting up One @ Dentsu Aegis Network to promote diversity within the network in Asia-Pacific, which has led to DAN committing to launch and fund The Female Foundry Accelerator Programme, which began its first round of mentorships in October. Stubbs has also demonstrated her commitment to Asia-Pacific in her new global role, by remaining based in Singapore and plans to expand the team by some 3,000 staff as a result.
Asia-Pacific Creative of the Year
Nils Andersson, TBWA Asia
Just over a year after joining TBWA as president and creative chairman for China, Nils Andersson was promoted in June to become the network’s first regional creative president, taking responsibility for creativity across all Asia. Andersson now heads up TBWA’s ‘Creative Collective’, which brings together all the network’s 17 CCOs in the region with an aim to raise the bar in the quality of creative content it produces across all markets. Andersson is also taking steps to bolster TBWA’s position as a driver for gender diversity in the industry — the network currently has five female heads of creative departments across Asia, but he sees room for improvement and has instigated “more progressive HR policies” aimed at building “a stronger pipeline of female talent”.
Runner-up: Marcus Rebeschini, Y&R Asia
Asia-Pacific Programmatic Agency Person of the Year
Stefan Priemer, Omnicom Media Group
As data and insights manager of Accuen, Stefan Priemer takes the lead for all Omnicom Media Group’s programmatic activities in Asia-Pacific. Since taking on the role in May, 2015, Priemer has shaken up the agency’s planning and accounts teams, redefining the approach to reporting to ensure a clear focus on insights and actions. He has also introduced a number of quality initiatives and new metrics, raising the OMD’s ability to reassure clients about viewability, ad fraud and on-target delivery. Training has been a key plank in Priemer’s approach, and he runs internal workshops on the latest developments in data-driven marketing.
Runner-up: Jona Mari Oboza, OmnicomMediaGroup Philippines
Asia-Pacific Strategic/Brand Planner of the Year
Hari Ramanathan, Y&R Asia
Hari Ramanathan is a firm believer that a leader’s job is not to acquire followers but to nurture more leaders. Y&R’s chief strategy officer for Asia, Ramanathan plots a course for the network’s 21 offices in 13 countries. He tackles that task with an approach colleagues describe as “visionary” and which focuses on hard data and results. He has worked to build an internal structure and environment that encourages the free-flow of ideas and collaboration between planners, creatives and account managers across markets. His team has undertaken studie this year include the largest ever survey of connected Asians — 32,000 individuals in 10 countries — and the first international consumer studies in Myanmar and Mongolia.
Runner-up: Josh Gallagher, Havas Media
Asia-Pacific New Business Development Team of the Year
Giri Jadhav and Jennifer Pena, Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific
While undergoing a year of significant restructuring and transition, Ogilvy & Mather set a US$55.6 million target for new business in 2016 — a target which the agency has managed to exceed by 6.3 percent. The new business development team boasts of having effected a 78-percent success rate in pitches this year, with new wins including Coca-Cola and Huawei for the whole of Asia, and Unilever in the Philippines. Ogilvy & Mather prides itself in having held the No. 1 spot in R3’s new business league table for the past seven years. To retain that position has a team of head-hunted new business leaders in each market — known internally as the agency’s ‘hunters’ — tasked with a clear agenda of seeking out potential fresh accounts.
Runner-up: Xaxis client engagement team, Xaxis Asia-Pacific
Asia-Pacific Corporate Communications Team of the Year
David Mayo, Greg Carton, Sarah Edwards and Natalie Lyall, Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific
The past year has been one of significant change and adaptation for Ogilvy & Mather, as the network sought to reposition its branding and undertake a full restructuring of its approach. David Mayo joined the team as CMO in January, and he moved quickly to implement a new marketing plan across the region. That presented the communications division with the challenge of conveying that new vision across the entire region — more than 8,000 members of staff in 37 different offices across 18 countries. The team — split between Hong Kong and Singapore — worked hard to ensure that stakeholders felt their voices were heard as well.
Runner-up: marketing and communications team, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia-Pacific