Burson-Marsteller first entered the Thai market in 1986, the first major multinational to establish an office in Bangkok, but in 1998, as the firm sought to streamline its sprawling global network, the local operation was acquired by a management team led by managing director Steve Vincent and renamed Aziam Burson-Marsteller, an independent firm that nevertheless retained a close working relationship with Burson that continues to provide a healthy amount of referral business, and continued to provide the kind of strategic communications counsel—characterized by in-depth research and analysis and the confidence to tell clients what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear—for which the U.S.-based agency is well known. In a market crowded with commodity public relations firms focused on publicity, AZM is a premium service provider.
Today, ABM employs a staff of 34, of whom 31 are Thai nationals, led by Vincent; executive director Suvimol Decharkom, a 12-year veteran of the firm who is responsible for the people side of the business—a vital element of success in a market known for high staff turnover—as well as overseeing marketing and corporate reputation client teams; and knowledge director Jeremy Plotnick, who returned to ABM in January 2007 and has expertise in change management and organizational communications, investor relations and financial communications, and crisis communication.
The past 12 months have seen strong growth--revenues and profits for 1007 were almost double their 2006 level—with a particularly good performance in the consumer and marketing PR sector and a surge of interest in corporate social responsibility programs. New business came from blue-chip brand such as Nokia, Pepsi, local energy company Ratchaburi Holdings, eBay, GE Money, Australian airline Jetstar and Wyeth, filling out a client roster that includes a number of Unilever brands; Honda, for which AZM provides communications support for the Asia and Oceania headquarters in Bangkok and for the company’s CSR initiatives. Highlights of the past 12 months include consumer events for Unilever’s Rexona XMen United promotion, and support for eBay’s announcement of a partnership deal with Sanook.com, a Thai website operator, to develop a local-language site.
“ABM provides strategic communications support that is very well thought out, considers all the possibilities and is quite effective,” says Duke Paradai Theerathada, senior vice president at GE Money. “ABM has helped GE Money to communicate successfully with internal stakeholders during a time of considerable change for our business in Thailand, ensuring our workforce continues to focus on meeting our business goals while implementing localised versions of global customer-focused initiatives."