Report by Jeffrey Yu (above)
As the world’s largest Asia-only network, we operate in the fastest-changing region in the world. Increasingly, Asia is leading many of the changes that are shaping our world today. Because of this, we have built our whole agency philosophy and offering around ‘Change’.
To reflect our Change vision and strategy, Bates 141 unveiled a new ‘look’ in 2008. The refreshed brand reflects the significant broadening of our capabilities to offer end-to-end solutions, to help our clients change consumers’ mindsets and behaviors.
Across our markets we won top brands, including multinational brands – Arla, Bayer, Dell, Diana, Fiat, Google, IKEA, Merck, MSN, S&W and Unilever – as well as top Asian brands – Sony, J&J (Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical), Nissan, Jollibee, Henderson Land, New World Development, Apollo Hospital, Telkom Indonesia and Vitasoy.
We also added new skills to the network. We were very proud that Singapore-based creative boutique 10AM decided to join us. Since its inception, 10AM has garnered a string of local, regional and international accolades. We successfully completed our acquisition of China’s top integrated activation agency to form BatesMeThinks. We also enhanced our digital offering in China, picking up a majority stake in Chinese digital hot shop Bates E-Vision in 2008. Bates 141 now provides full national coverage in China and the complete gamut of marketing services.
2008 saw changes in our leadership with a slew of promotions and high-profile hires. Our pre-eminent Change Agent Digby Richards was promoted from COO to CEO for the network. In Vietnam, Tue Nguyen was promoted from general manager to managing director. We also appointed marketing veteran Fattweng Wong to managing director, Malaysia, and Fareeda Jia to chief integration director in China.
In India, we formed an executive committee headed up by regional executive creative director and India chairman, Sonal Dabral.
In Hong Kong, we doubled our digital business volume, as a result of expanding our digital competency with new offerings including search engine optimization, CRM and analytics.
In Indonesia, for the first time Bates 141 is on the Unilever roster. We won Merck, and we were assigned the activation business for Telkom Indonesia after winning the brand advertising retainer in 2007.
As the fastest-growing agency for three consecutive years in Taiwan, we bucked the trend of a tough economy. Bates 141 won IKEA and Bayer, and garnered more than 50 creative awards. We were voted top agency in Taiwan by industry publication ADM magazine, as well as the top roster agency for Uni-President.
We continued to create work based on ideas that change mindsets and behaviors of consumers, but also the hearts and minds of our communities. Following the Sichuan earthquake, we helped raise approximately US$30,000 to rebuild one of the devastated elementary schools – Hong Qi.
In Cambodia, we partnered with the children of Sunrise Orphanage to produce a short film based on their stories to help the kids learn new skills and broaden their horizons.
Operating in today’s hyper-connected world means that we are able to monitor global changes and apply them locally. But the really interesting changes are happening locally in Asia – in the cities, towns and villages. In order to spot, understand and leverage change for our clients, our Change Agents are on the ground, capturing these constant changes. Tapping into this network, we published several thought leadership initiatives in 2008, including a Change Dictionary in English and Simplified Chinese. We also published Top 20 Market Change reports for several markets. These have been picked up by the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Futures Group, and are being used as content in their overseas trips and events.
In 2008, we put more of our people through our I.D.E.A.S.™ training program, as well as training in digital, activation, creative and other professional and management skills.
Our Young Change Agents career program develops our rising stars into our future leaders. In 2008, five YCAs were chosen from across the network. We now have a good mix of talent throughout our network, led by a core of regional and geographic leaders.
Change has been part of our DNA and modus operandi since day one. In 2009, helping our clients thrive on change will be key to how we add value to their businesses.