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The 2020 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 125 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region.
Consultancy of the Year winners are announced and honoured at the 2020 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, which takes place virtually on 24 September. Analysis of all Finalists and Winners can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:
Rather than retrench, Value 360 responded to India’s economic slowdown during the last year by doubling down — and expanding — on what it does best: boosting the visibility and viability of clients with a future-facing approach based on optimizing the moment, and the future. Over the last year, the 12-year-old firm grew its regional capabilities, expanding to Pune, Chennai and Chandigarh while also building out its expansive Delhi HQ. All of which included expanding a technology-based infrastructure that enabled Value 360 to offer the likes of real-time consumer insights, fully map and measure influencer campaigns under the watch of a tech-savvy team that grew to 250 in 2019, up 40 staffers from the year before.
Value 360’s strategies appear to be working. 2019 saw the firm’s fee income rise to $3.7 million from $3.5 million the previous year despite economic challenges — which are not a new phenomenon for the agency. Launched in midst of the global economic meltdown, Value 360 built its success by serving the specific needs of the startups and entrepreneurs emerging in India at that time, delivering communications that boosted their visibility and brand awareness. The firm capitalized on the need for PR expertise, and practitioners, that could grew with the burgeoning companies, through an integrated and measurable approach to communications. Although India has weathered financial instability over the last few years, Value 360 has emerged ahead by focusing its efforts on clients in underserved categories with an eye on growth.
The firm’s proven experience working with startups, tech companies (with an emphasis on fintech) and the automotive sector is a draw. The year’s new clients included Lufthansa, Pogo Channel, Union Bank of India, Falken Autotech, realme Smartphones, Infinix Mobiles, LogMeIn, Angel Broking, realme PaySa and Oppo Kash, adding to a roster already populated by the likes of, MG Motor India, Limelight Networks, Konica Minolta, Saavn, Qlik, ASUS, Oriflame, Cleartrip, Paytm and Comic Con. The agency has made its name on notable work, which has resulted in plenty of industry recognition. Value 360’s multi-dimensional campaign created to help MG break into the crowded Indian auto market led to a 2019 sellout. — DM
After 24 years in the region, Hoffman can lay claim to being more of an Asian consultancy than an American one, not least because it makes around twice as much revenue in this region as it does in the rest of the world. And that is largely down to the profound transformation of Hoffman’s Asian fortunes under ex-Google veteran Caroline Hsu, who helped the firm land Tech Consultancy of the Year honours in 2019. That progress continued in 2019, with Hoffman growing 10% to $10m, opening a third China office in Shenzhen to supplement an existing offering that features 113 people across operations in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan.
After an overhaul of Hoffman’s regional leadership team under Hsu, there was further change over the past 12 months, with China GM Jason Cao and Hong Kong head Marc Sparrow departing. Regardless, Hsu’s team includes longterm executive Lydia Lau, who was promoted to global operations EVP, along with Singapore GM Maureen Tseng, China deputy GM Frank Zhang, regional digital head Nicholas Chan, Taiwan deputy GM Stephanie Yang and Indonesia GM Thomas Franky. Of note, there was 10% growth in its Greater China operations, with Taiwan in particular surging to 19 staff in 12 months.
As a global agency with Asia as its epicentre, Hoffman’s evolution reflects the need to deliver the full range of marketing services, helping it expand business with many of its major clients, which include Blackberry, Nutanix, Lenovo Datacentre Group, LAM Research, Johnson Controls, Amazon Web Services, Crypto.com, CES Asia, Avast and JOS. There was also notable new business, including complex assignments for Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, TikTok and Zoom, along with mandates from Twitch, Shopline, Align Technology, and Alibaba. Significantly, much of the business is now multi-market, with nine client now supported in three or more markets, compared to two in 2017.
While Hoffman’s employee base reflects its focus on being an APAC agency staffed by Asians, its product development also underscores its ability to meet local needs. There are specific integrated modules for startups, along with new services that address CMOs, martech and design. All of which helped fuel standout campaigns for LCY Chemical, Crypto.com and Philips Signify. — AS
Five years since its inception, Influence Matters remains focused on the fast-paced world of startups and technologies looking to wield influence in China and beyond. With a business model that’s focused on flexibility, agility and results, the firm, the agency brings international best practices and expertise to the mix, resulting in the kind of support needed by fast-growing businesses in a vibrant economy.
Influence Matters supports primarily B2B high-tech industries including semiconductors, industry 4.0, AI, machine learning, IoT, cybersecurity, fintech, blockchain, adtech, deeptech, big data, gaming, software and VR/AR among many others, driven be the goal of increasing the success of those businesses in China through communications. The idea is working; In 2019, Influence Matter’s revenue grew 50% in 2019 to just under $1 million. The growth was fueled by new business from tech companies from around the world including Everledger, Ampere, Winbond, SOI Industry Consortium, Riskified, JLL, Xcalibyte, Eco Counter, Iconiq and more, which add to existing clients including Harting, Soitec, Freeman Company, Mackevision and Adjust.
Influence Matters also abides by another mission established at launch: “To break the Chinese PR habit of working day and night.” The agency continues to promote that by emphasizing the value of work-life balance, enabling once-givens like clocking out early and taking time off when feasible. During the year, the firm doubled down on that ideal by implemented training and development programs to promote work-life balance and individual growth. When the late-year economic slowdown and Covid outbreak started hurting employee morale, agency leaders rallied optimism by keeping in constant contact with their team and individual support, so that staffers could focus on their own safety before client needs. In May of this year, the agency activated an aggressive six-month post-COVID19 business recovery plan, including employee incentives based on success. — DM
No longer the new kid on the block after nine years of remarkable progress, IN.FOM continues to bring plenty of energy to an offering that has already been won multiple Agency of the Year Awards from PRovoke. And while the headline story of the past 18 months was the firm’s decision to part ways with anchor client Microsoft there is little to suggest that its independent status and entrepreneurial hunger cannot overcome this particular obstacle. Despite the loss of 40% of its revenue from Microsoft, the firm’s revenue grew 3% to S$5.8m in 2019, while net profit was up 8%. More importantly, perhaps, IN.FOM took the opportunity to reinvent its offering — rebalancing its client portfolio, establishing clearer leadership pathways for the next generation and bridging the gap between innovation and products.
From a new business perspective, that meant rebuilding the firm’s portfolio, which it handled with some aplomb, bringing in major assignments for Grab, Poly, Fujitsu, Panasonic, Ensign InfoSecurity and SAP Concur, along with newer remits for Samsung Southeast Asia and Tata Communications. Other key clients include Intel, Expedia, Herbalife, UnionPay, Parallels, SGInnovate and Marina Bay Sands. The exit of Microsoft has also given IN.FOM an invaluable opportunity to evolve its client servicing — for example, the firm’s BASF and Fujitsu assignment are purely social media focused, while its work for a number of clients has become increasingly data-driven. All told, IN.FOM counts 45% of its revenue as ‘non-traditional’ — fees derived through production of collaterals (video, infographics and other visual communications), social and digital media programmes and commercial sponsorships.
IN.FOM’s strongest element may well be its lack of scale and bureaucracy, with the agency instead prizing sustainable employee and client relationships. That focus has been elevated by the launch of new staff training and evaluation programs, including twice-yearly pay adjustments and bonuses to convince the market’s best talent that IN.FOM is the best place to build their careers. The leadership team includes managing partners Wong Voal Voal and Mike Liew, supported by junior partner Lien Xiuwen. And there continues to be considerable investment in talent and training. — AS
On the heels of a successful run in the US, Wachsman opened its doors in Singapore in 2018, working exclusively with firms in the blockchain industry off the back of the global crypto boom. Six months later, managing director Danny Phan diversified the business into parallel businesses, enabling the office to grow clients across a range of emerging technology, as well as traditional industries like finance, and thrive despite the decline of the cryptocurrency business at the end of the year.
Today, Wachsman’s Singapore office is a vibrant operation, working with clients across a wider range of emerging technologies, traditional finance, insurtech, consumer tech and fintech. The numbers speak to the surge in business: fee income rose to $1.6 million in 2019, up from $365,000 the year before. New business from impressive clients drove the lift. Wachsman serves as agency of record for the internet company and tech unicorn Sea Group and insurtech company Singlife. Other key clients include R3, Zilliqa, Digix, Coolbitx, NUS Crystal Centre, NGC Ventures, CoinDCX, Aqilliz and Two Prime. All of which are supported with regional talent, thanks to Wachsman expanding its footprint into Myanmar, India and Taiwan.
Hallmark campaigns of the year included Making CoolbitX the Voice of the Crypto Compliance Revolution to raise CoolBitX’s visibility ahead of its new line of regulatory technology solutions, Sygna. The firm also worked with Singlife, a digital insurer, and its leaders on an aggressive go-to market strategy. — DM
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