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Why Dentsu Möbius wants to widen the gap between digital leaders and digital followers

“This is not a playground where everyone plays fairly; this is business”: Dentsu Möbius’ mission statement is based on this simple premise. A believer that a new world way calls for a corresponding structure, the company has put all aspects its constitution – remuneration, working principles or even the way it hires – under the sharp, new-age lens. “We are a progressive agency that brings cutting edge and innovative digital solutions to deliver real bottom line difference for the clients we work on. We want to give them an unfair competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said James Hawkins, Managing Director, Dentsu Möbius in a conversation with DMA.

While Dentsu Network has been leading innovations from Japan by bringing breakthrough creativity and technology at the core of its offering, the one-year old Dentsu Möbius is the Network’s attempt to tap on the digital business opportunities that also existed in the rest of Asia. The year has already seen Dentsu Möbius add a slew of new businesses such as Accor Group, Bridgestone, Canon, CapitaMalls Asia, Kraft Foods, Mondeléz, The Economist, Singapore Airlines, the Apple Online Store and The Sands Group to its client portfolio.

By the end of the year, two new offices – Thailand and Indonesia – would add to Dentsu Möbius’ footprint and augment its presence in the region.

James Hawkins, Dentsu Mobius

“We wanted to create a fast moving, digital vehicle that could run regional campaigns and also win new digitally led international businesses outside of the normal stable of Dentsu clients,” asserted Hawkins as he explained the thought process behind the company structure.

For a new world
Hawkins believes that one of the factors that have worked for the agency in a short period of time is its performance based model. He explained, “People talk about skin in the game but a performance oriented model motivates us to be on track. We are rewarded when we deliver incremental revenues for our clients. It eventually translates into sharing success with clients, while being digitally focussed.”

Dentsu Möbius follows a full service model to deliver end to end solutions. “We have nurtured talent for capabilities such as creative ideation and big idea adaptation, which is critical because many clients coming to region worry about how to localise an idea to resonate with audiences here. On the media side, we delve in real time bidding, programmatic buying, search or traditional display media planning. And then we have a host of capabilities on the production side,” divulged Hawkins.

Dentsu Möbius’ leadership team includes Nick Licence (Regional Strategic Planning Director), Fredrik Englund (Regional Creative Director), Matt Briant (Regional Mobile Platform Director), Margery Lynn (Regional Social Media Director), Kevin Wong (Regional Trading Desk Director) and Lucy Jacobsen (Regional Digital Media Director) working alongside Hawkins. Some of the recent hires in the company comprise agency professionals David Sui (Art Director), Dena Walker (Integrated Planning Director), Estrella Chua (Account Director) and Marvin Miranda (Integrated Planning Manager).

The route ahead
“We have broken down the traditional agency structure and I believe this new world way of thinking has helped us attract great talent. By having specialists in each of these disciplines, committed to working together and collaborating, we can offer end to end solutions to our clients. It is not just individual disciplines but when you smash it all together, that you begin to get innovation,” Hawkins observed.

For him, Dentsu Network is different from the other holding companies. He summed up, “Japan leads high-end, quirky and at times zany work. Dentsu is dominant there and it is fantastic to be part of that family. Other brands from the Network too – whether it is Firstborn or 360i in the US – are far ahead of everyone. That is what we emulate to be. We have cultivated a work force of digital natives to achieve this. My challenge for the coming year is to grow healthy and keep an eye on not only what we want to be but also on what we don’t want to be. Some of the big holding companies have gigantic brands; that is not us. We don’t want to be the regional media or creative agency; we want to be the specialist, full service digital agency.”