Staff Reporters
Jan 31, 2012

The Upper Storey joins Aegis’ Isobar network

SINGAPORE - Aegis has acquired a minority share in award-winning digital agency The Upper Storey (TUS) which becomes part of Isobar Asia Pacific and rebrands as TUS Isobar.

"Absolutely thrilled" TUS co-founder Prakash Kamdar

This fills an important gap in Isobar’s regional network, which until now has had minimal presence in Singapore. Jean Lin, CEO of Isobar Asia Pacific said this acquisition provides a solid Singapore operation as well as enhancing their scope as a regional player.

Isobar has been beefing up in the region with key hires and new offices across Asia Pacific including the appointment of intergrated business director Howard Smith and the opening of Isobar Indonesia.

TUS is the latest addition to the Isobar network, which has primarily been built by acquisition of strong local digital players. Founded in Singapore in 2001, The Upper Storey is described as a new breed of digitally savvy agencies with through-the-line thinking. 

Welcoming TUS to the fold, Nick Waters, CEO of Aegis Media Asia Pacific said it is extremely important to have a strong representation for the Isobar brand in Singapore, given that it is a vital hub and head office for many international clients.

Asked whether Isobar’s focus on acquiring digital agencies with in-market strength is an indicator that digital is still a local medium, Waters said that digital marketing is still very localised due to client demand - despite being arguably the most globalized medium.

“In many companies, digital still comes under the remit of the local marketing director – hence the local teams are still empowered to select their digital agency domestically,” said Waters.

This is changing, however, albeit slowly. Waters points to Isobar’s appointment as Kellogg’s’ digital agency of record for Asia Pacific, adding that Mattel’s search for a regional digital AOR is still ongoing. “There are signs that MNC’s are looking at regional AORs but it’s still early days and the vast majority of (Isobar Asia Pacific’s) business is still derived locally.”

Waters said the choice of the right agency and ensuring visions and goals are aligned was key to making a network like Isobar work. “There are a lot of strong talented individuals involved, it’s important that everyone buys into the core proposition.”

Asked about the challenges of creating a network from a number of independent assets, Waters said the benefits outweigh the challenges given that many digital agency heads are pioneers and there’s a lot of mutual respect within that community. “Isobar brings together many bright entrepreneurial people (like Prakash and his team) which leads to the sharing of great ideas across the network.”

Prakash Kamdar, co-founder and group CEO of TUS said he was absolutely thrilled to have The Upper Storey join the Isobar and Aegis family.  “With our shared ethos, vision, and commitment to innovation, I am confident that our respective clients will be the biggest winners from this partnership," he said.

TUS has three divisions: The Upper Storey – strategy and creative focused digital marketing, Mofuro – motion graphics, 3D and experience design production, and Studio TUS – the group’s production and technology hub.  Their clients include Microsoft, American Express, Intel, Daimler, Dell, Draeger, UOB, Mediacorp, NOL and Como Hotels and Resorts.

A notable award-winning project from TUS was Dell ‘Swarm’.  A first of its kind platform for PCs, the social commerce website broke new ground in online shopping by tapping into the latent potential of social networks.  Piloted in Singapore in 2009, Dell ‘Swarm’ has since been deployed in Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the UK with most products getting sold out within hours of their ‘Swarms’ going live.

Isobar has 16 offices across 11 markets in Asia Pacific, and a total of 650+ staff.  Through 2011 Isobar Asia Pacific won over 70 new accounts across the region with a turnover growth of over 30 per cent. New business wins included Kellogg’s across the region, P&G, Sony Electronics, Cerebos, City of Dreams, Sony Ericsson, J&J and Korea Telecom.

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