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Entrepreneurship: APAC social media agencies’ key differentiator

APAC and social media are two ingredients that make way into most growth plans of global marketers. APAC poses both an opportunity and a challenge, as despite the large consumer numbers that are connected through social media platforms, decoding advertising that clicks is still work in progress. There are those professionals however that believed in the domain early and make a difference.

Global consulting firm R3 took a closer look at social media agencies that constantly prove the power of great ideas. R3’s Social 40 report puts spotlight on homegrown and global agency brands in China, India, Singapore, Japan and Australia that are managing a significant portion of marketer’s social media spends.

APAC brands, global benchmarks
The agencies profiled in the report include the likes of 22feet Tribal, arkr, Dentsu Razorfish, GoZoop, SociaLab, Teein, Vocanic, Reborn and Soap Creative. The report also features global agencies with a presence in Asia such as We Are Social, Buzzman and MRY Everywhere.

One of traits that stood about these agencies is that most of these are built by Asia Pacific entrepreneurs.

Another key trait was that global holding companies have also noticed the prowess of these – Teein, Vocanic, 22feet and arkr are all recent acquisitions by WPP, Omnicom and others. Several others on the list are also in discussions with larger groups. This reflects the desire for the holding groups to expand their social competencies as well as the APAC entrepreneurs to strengthen their hold.

All the social agencies in Asia Pacific are growing through doing powerful work with top tier global advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson amongst others.

Social media agencies in China: Acquiring & acquired
It is no surprise to see the likes of Teein, Socialab and arkr Group make it to the social media agencies that are leading in China. We Are Social, on the other hand, is a unique example where the APAC office is leading some of the best work coming from the agency and from the region. What is also interesting is that We Are Social is one example, where a London based brand was acquired by the Chinese marketing services group, BlueFocus Communications.

Founded in 2004 in Shanghai, Teein is a social media agency with over 150 people, offering social listening, social marketing and social CRM. With the leadership team’s background in software development, the agency has invested heavily the development of advanced analytics and application technologies. Notable clients include Estee Lauder, Pepsi, Google, Lenovo and SAP. The company was recently acquired by VML China, a WPP company.

SociaLab is an award-winning marketing agency specialising in social influence marketing. Headquartered in Beijing, the agency helps clients to gain social influence by leveraging consumer insights. Comprised of a team of over 100 people, SociaLab works with blue-chip brands like Coca-Cola, Reckitt Benkeiser and Lenovo.

Based out of Shanghai, arkr Group represents the combination of arkr digital and vitamine, two of China’s leading independent social agencies. Utilising interactive digital media, a spirit of innovation in user experience, and expertise in social media content creation, they pride themselves on building integrated digital ecosystems for brands like Johnson & Johnson, Sephora, and Michelin. With a staff of more than 100 spread across Shanghai and Guangzhou, the team uses a mix of digital, mobile, and social media to create chemistry between brands and consumers. The company recently became part of the Leo Group.

We Are Social is a conversation agency combining innate understanding of social media with digital, PR, and marketing expertise. With an international team of over 500 and offices across New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney, and São Paulo, the agency’s mission is to put social thinking at the center of marketing. They work with global, regional, and local projects for clients like adidas, BNP Paribas, and Jaguar.

India – the hot investment market
R3 singled out Gozoop and 22 Feet Tribal Worldwide as the social media agencies in India that have made headway in the kind of work they are doing.

Gozoop is a global digital services & product company. Headquartered in India with a team of 125, the agency focusses on leveraging web, mobile and social experiences that enable brands to thrive and win in a connected world. With two acquisitions under its belt, the agency has a presence across India, UAE, and Singapore. Clients they work with include Dell, Lipton Ice Tea, Tim Horton’s, and Cold Stone Cream. Gozoop is also a recipient of DMA’s Socialathon Awards 2014.

Headquartered in India, 22feet Tribal Worldwide, recently acquired by Omnicom, is a digital solutions provider offering web and mobile-centered services. Through an understanding of user behaviour, the agency provides brand strategy and creative strategy for the digital marketing space. Comprised of 135 team members, they have done work for brands such as Titan Company Limited, United Breweries, and Nike India.

Singapore’s very own
Vocanic, the only agency to feature from Singapore, is a regional, full-service social media marketing firm that supports clients to develop and implement strategies that deliver measurable business benefits. Offering services in social media asset management, social CRM, and social media crisis management, Vocanic develops custom branded content design specifically for the social era. Recently acquired by WPP’s GroupM, Vocanic has done work for brands such as StarHub, SMRT and Astro.

The Japan global superpower
Dentsu Razorfish is an interactive agency born from a strategic partnership between the Dentsu group and digital and social brand, Razorfish. The agency has offices in Tokyo and Osaka. As would be expected by Dentsu in Japan, Dentsu Razorfish is a leading agency in the digital marketing field, providing a one-stop business solution with strong capabilities in social media, strategic planning, content marketing, experience design, brand building, technology platforms, data analytics, retail/commerce and media services.

Australia’s creative power
Agencies from Australia making it to the list are Soap Creative and Reborn.

As one of Australia’s known digital and social agencies, Soap Creative brings brands and consumer together through playful experiences across every screen. With a team of 50 across Los Angeles, Dallas, and Sydney, Soap partners with brands like Unilever, Xbox, ING Direct, Ferrero, and Disney. Soap creates elegant and engaging experiences with end users in mind.

Headquartered in Australia, Reborn is an integrated creative agency with a team of 40 across Sydney and Melbourne. Using human insights to guide the work, they tackle brand challenges with a wide offering of capabilities grounded in strategy, creative, technology, media, and invention. Clients include Nestle, LION Drinks & Dairy, and Colgate.

Global social media brands in Asia
The report also put focus on MRY Everywhere and Buzzman, both global brands with significant presence in Asia.

Headquartered in New York, MRY is a creative and technology agency with social at the core. MRY uses data to strategically lower the barriers to sharing brand content and experiences across every consumer touch point. The agency has reengineered the way brands like Visa and Johnson & Johnson measure digital and offline marketing activities. Comprised of a 437 member team, MRY delivers scale and generates a remarkable return on investment for their clients.

Claiming 70 awards with a team of 70 across Dubai and France, Buzzman is a boutique agency that was founded in 2006. Known for their unconventional approach to creative work, the agency works with world-class brands like Mondelez, Burger King, and Virgin Mobile. By mixing products with advertising, the team transforms products into objects of communication through an approach they call ‘productising’.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.