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Part of the new generation of Asian PR firms that launched around five years ago, In.Fom has benefited considerably from its leaders’ mix of local market insight and big agency credibility. Managing partners Wong Voal Voal and Mike Liew both count impressive agency pedigrees with H+K and Burson-Marsteller, respectively, and have put that experience to good use by building a firm that has flourished amid the transformation of marketing and technology.
Like many big agency veterans who launch their own firms, Wong and Liew have eschewed scale and bureaucracy for an approach that prizes quality, longevity and talent management. The model appears to be paying off; In.Fom now numbers 17 employees, and doubled its billings in 2014 to $1.6m, with the firm expecting to crack the $2m barrier this year. The firm’s client roster demonstrates its ability to prevail over bigger rivals, including major regional and local mandates for Microsoft, CA Technologies, FCI Worldwide, Intel, Herbalife and Parallels/Odin. And In.Fom’s work is similarly impressive, particularly for Microsoft, resulting in several 2015 Asia-Pacific SABRE nominations.—AS
The Hoffman Agency (Independent)
The Hoffman Agency was the first Silicon Valley PR firm to set up operations in Asia, opening a Singapore office in 1996, and following that with additional operations in Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai, and quickly reaching a point where the Asian operations contributed at least as much to the agency’s identity and growth as its US headquarters. Now closing in on two decades in Asia, the past year has been one of transition. In September of last year, the firm hired Cassandra Cheong from Burson-Marsteller as its new Asia-Pacific managing director, and since then has brought in new general managers in Hong Kong (Jenny Yip, formerly of Paypal) and Shanghai (Esther Kuang, a veteran of Edelman, Golin, and Text 100). That change seems to have given the firm some new momentum: it has picked up new clients including Waters, a global laboratory analytical instrument and software company, in China; mobile advertising measurement platform AppsFlyer, for regional work; Piaggio Asia-Pacific, hubbed out of Singapore; FiftyThree, a maker of mobile tools, for a multimarket assignment; and TeamQuest, a leader in IT capacity planning and management solutions,. It also retained the Brother business after a repitch. And Hoffman continues to do good work, picking up five SABRE nominations for campaigns ranging from the Cyberport Youth Coding Jam in Hong Kong to the launch of the Lego Star Wars Miniland in Malaysia, to an initiative for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.—PH
With fee income estimated at around $130 million as the result of 12 percent growth last year, Ogilvy Public Relations is still the number one multinational in the Asia-Pacific region, and Asia is still the number one region for the WPP-owned agency. And with about a third of its revenues coming from the technology sector, it is also the tech leader in the region—considerably largest than even the largest tech specialists. In addition to a leadership team that includes veterans Stephen Turner and Joe Yu in Beijing and Graham White in Australia, the firm added Howard Jones—formerly of Juniper Networks—to its Hong Kong office. There is notable tech strength in China, where Ogilvy’s sister brand H-Line is focused on technology (working with clients such as Microsoft) and in Australia, where the Howorth brand specializes in business-to-business, corporate and technology PR for clients such as Alcatel Lucent, Canon and SAP. Regionally, a number of the firm’s top clients—Intel, Twitter, IBM—are tech-driven, as well as a number of its locally-based companies, such as Huawei, Rakuten and new addition BOE Technology. Several of the firm’s technology campaigns this year made it to the shortlist for our SABRE Awards, including Microsoft’s “Joined Up Innovation” corporate image campaign in Australia, work for Canon in both Australia and China, and media relations efforts for Ancestry.com.—PH
Rice Communications (Singapore, Independent)
Another year of better than 30 percent growth saw Singapore-based Rice Communications—the firm also has an office Myanmar—cement its position as one of the most interesting of a new generation of technology-focused PR firms in the region. Founded in 2009 by Sonya Madeira and managed today by a trio of partners—Madeira has been joined by Grace Eio and former Lewis managing director James Brasher—the firm has grown to a staff of 24, generating fee income of $1.7 million and working for a roster of clients that includes Inmarsat, National Instruments, Palo Alto Networks, DBS Bank, Subaru (Tan Chong International), Bosch, FICO, Hughes Network Systems. The firm continues to focus on the tech arnea—ad tech and media are areas of particular strength—but in recent years, Rice has begun to diversify into the consumer space, and has picked up clients in the automotive, real estate and financial services sectors. Recent wins reflect that wider range of capabilities: Bosch Software Innovations, BASF, German-Myanmar Business Chamber, Servcorp, Singapore River Festival, Larry Jewelry, National Youth Council, IAB Southeast Asia, HRS, Outbrain, and more. About 80 percent of its clients are served in multiple markets, and many span the region. For example, Rice has been working to build the corporate profile of Palo Alto in Singapore, Australia, China, India, Taiwan and Korea, and over the past 12 months, Rice has provided corporate communications and media relations support to Inmarsat for the launch of its first office in China, a new office in Australia and the regional launch of IsatHub in Singapore.—PH
Text 100 (Next Fifteen)
Global tech powerhouse Text 100 has solidified its standing in Asia-Pac after it absorbed sister Next 15 shop Bite in the region last year. The agency now spans across Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Singapore. As the largest firm in the Next 15 holding company, Text 100 employs more than 600 people in 23 offices around the world (302 in AsiaPac) and has a further 14 licensed partners. Asia-Pacific fee income in 2014 totalled $16.2 million — a remarkable 31% year on year growth. Key clients include: DHL, Four Seasons, IBM, Lenovo, Adobe , Ikea, VMware, Optus, Plantronics, Cisco, Fuji Xerox, Peroni, Qatar Airlines, SanDisk, Maruti Suzuki, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Max Bupa, Snapdeal and Yahoo!. Major additions to the client roster include: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Gartner, Polycom, Star Alliance, Snapdeal, JLL, William Grant & Sons, Kodak Alaris, Maserati, FitBit, WeChat, Fox International and Amazon Audible. Increasingly, more clients are asking Text100 to implement multi-market, multi-disciplined campaigns across multiple audiences. The result has been an increase in revenue of 31% year-on-year in 2015, and operating profit up 96% in the same period. The firm’s culture revolves around what it calls the “Text Factor” that it describes as “a global collaborative culture ensures each Textie is motivated to have fun, work hard and generate the best results.” The result is longstanding clients like IBM and Lenovo, as well as forward-thinking investments in areas like digital hubs, social media, project management and editorial content. On top of this, two acquisitions in the last 18 months — Republic Publishing and Incredibull — have accelerated its integrated communications offering.—AaS
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