Founded in 2002 by Ogilvy Public Relations veterans Ong Hock Chuan and Lita Soenardi, Maverick has quickly established itself as one of the most dynamic young public relations firms in South East Asia, living up to its name by delivering highly strategic, boldly creative campaigns for clients who need what the firm’s principals describe as “industrial strength PR.” The firm is best known for its work in crisis and issues management, litigation public relations, and corporate social leadership, employing a take-no-prisoners approach to advocating on its clients’ behalf while helping them deal with high-stakes business issues.
So in the past 12 months, Maverick has worked on a host of high-profile business stories: a national confrontation between the Business Competition Supervisory Commission and the Temasek group of companies, a case pitting one of the major investors in Malaysia against the nation’s anti-monopolistic practices body; the controversial launch of National Condom Week in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country; and a groundbreaking communications program for Unilever that eschews traditional television advertising in favor of a social activation approach designed to create brand advocates.
Ong Hock Chuan spent 14 years as a journalist for 14 years in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia before moving into public relations and leading Ogilvy PR in Indonesia and Singapore, specializing in crisis and issues management, while partner Soenardi was a vice president with Ogilvy PR Jakarta and is an expert in corporate leadership and CSR programs, providing counsel to clients such as Citi, Bayer and Pfizer. Their team includes associates Nur Shilla Christianto, who led the Citi Indonesia account—Maverick’s largest retainer client—before taking on her new management role, and Crivenica Alam, formerly marketing manager for a personal care and spa products company and now head of the firm’s new media tracking department. A third associate, Lia Marpaung, joined last year after seven years in development work for organizations including The Asia Foundation and UNICEF.
Maverick has doubled in size over the past four years, but growth last year was a modest 4 percent, due to the end of a massive two-year project which saw 25 full-time staff managing a media center in Aceh to mark the first anniversary commemoration of the Asian tsunami. Nevertheless, the firm added new business from Unilver (for its Sariwangi tea brand) as well as several issues management projects for local and regional clients, and the firm continues its work for major clients including Airbus Industrie , Carrefour, Citi Indonesia, Sampoerna, Coca-Cola Indonesia.
Just as significant, the firm has been investing in new products and new practices. In 2007, Maverick introduced Gauge, our online media monitoring and PR measurement service, which provides English-language summaries of media coverage, stored in a database that enables clients to analyze trends and measure their share of voice in editorial space. That’s just one example of the way Maverick is embracing social media.