Marketing Featured APAC

Azerion acquires programmatic agency Hybrid Theory to open new footprint in APAC

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Digital entertainment and media platform Azerion has acquired programmatic agency and trading desk Hybrid Theory, which specialises in mid and lower funnel campaigns.

The acquisition allows Azerion to open a new footprint for the company in the US, and the broader APAC market.

Hybrid Theory’s technology delivers a hybrid approach that connects data intelligence with human nuance, understanding, and creativity, to power smarter advertising across the full customer journey.

Through the acquisition, Azerion will integrate Hybrid Theory’s custom-built technology offering of solutions, hands-on support and independent managed execution. Hybrid Theory’s strength in data will allow Azerion to build and target detailed audience segments, proving effective for brands at acquiring new customers.

In addition, Azerion will strengthen its position in the UK, US, and the broader APAC market to deliver and work with their advertisers and publishers in collaborative and hybrid ways, bridging the gap between in-housing and outsourcing for brands and agencies. 

Umut Akpinaar, co-CEO of Azerion, said, “I am pleased to announce the acquisition of Hybrid Theory by Azerion. This acquisition will provide Azerion with enhanced skills and capabilities to manage advertiser campaign performance. We are confident that Hybrid Theory’s market-leading data capabilities will provide Azerion with the best-in-class technology to power better and smarter data-driven advertising potential to our advertisers and publishers.” 

He added, “As such, this acquisition is a perfect fit to our growing portfolio and we are excited to harness the power of data and create tailored ads to give our audiences the best experience on our platform.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Johnson, CEO of Hybrid Theory, said, “Joining the Azerion Group allows us to continue to deliver on our ambitions through far greater global scale and linkages between our technology and the Azerion platform. Hybrid Theory’s unique capabilities in data now have the addition of proprietary first party data at scale, which coupled with Azerion’s branding capabilities provide an unparalleled linkage with our performance heritage.” 

He added, “At the same time, Azerion’s culture is also a fantastic match of client-focused entrepreneurial thinking to deliver industry-leading results. We are thrilled to be joining the Azerion team.”

Azerion recently announced a tie-up with advertising platform Right Thing Media to allow advertisers to deliver campaigns with social impact messaging inside its portfolio of in-game advertising and high-impact inventory across APAC. 

Marketing Featured ANZ

Indie health communications Bastion Brands now part of Havas Group’s Australian network

Sydney, Australia Integrated communications network Havas Group has recently announced its acquisition of Bastion Brands, one of Australia’s leading independent communications agencies focusing on the health vertical. The buy-out is said to be in line with the group’s continuation of its plans for the APAC expansion.

Newly acquired Bastion Brands is no stranger to Havas. The group’s health-focused division, Havas Health & You (HH&Y), has, in fact, been working with the latter since 2019. 

Bastion Brands will now be integrated into HH&Y and will work closely with partners across the network to integrate its business into projects across the region.

Simon Davies, Bastion Brands’ founder & CEO said, “We are delighted to be joining the Havas family. The strength and momentum within Havas Health & You will help us accelerate our strong growth in Australia. Now with access to and support from the Havas network, we will be able to offer deeper and broader services to clients, globally developed insights and specialised health products, and even more exciting learning and growth opportunities for our staff.”

Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas Group also commented, “Bastion Brands is recognized for delivering significant and meaningful results for its strong client base of leading pharmaceutical companies across the world. Adding its capabilities to our global Havas Health & You network will provide specialised health communications for both that region and our clients globally. Bastion Brands also complements fast growth within our health PR business Red Havas in Australia, and we’re thrilled to officially welcome the Bastion Brands team to our Group.”

“Continuing our work with Bastion Brands is a perfect fit for our expansion in Australia and Asia Pacific – a region where our clients have many strategic opportunities. We have partnered with Simon Davies and his team on meaningful, high-profile client assignments for several years, and have built a strong and effective relationship to deliver outstanding outcomes. This more formal relationship is a natural progression and I know it will be a successful one – for our clients, for Bastion Brands and for Havas Health & You,” added Charles Houdoux, CEO of APAC & LATAM at Havas Health & You

According to Havas, HH&Y has grown at a rate of more than 20% per year in Asia, and the acquisition of Bastion Brands is aimed at strengthening its position in APAC. 

In addition, as a response to rapid regional growth spurred by increased awareness of health and wellness, the network has made significant investments in its Villages and senior leadership to foster growth across the region. This includes the establishment of a regional hub for Southeast Asia and the strengthening of new talent in Japan and China.

Bastion Brands follows companies like Front Networks in China and Frontier Australia, both have been acquired by Havas Group this year together with many business wins by their specialist entertainment communications agency, Organic Pacific, and partnership with Invictus Blue in Malaysia.

Marketing Featured Global

Elon Musk completes Twitter acquisition, starts off with exec firings

Singapore – Months after the initial desire from billionaire Elon Musk to acquire social media giant Twitter in April, the acquisition deal has been finally completed. However, as part of the early moments of the acquisition, Musk has been reportedly firing key executives of the Twitter board.

Reports from the BBC note that while there was no official investor relations announcement posted, an early investor for the company confirmed the deal has been done. In response to the acquisition, Musk posted several tweets to commemorate the deal, including a tweet saying ‘the bird is free’, and a video of him entering the Twitter headquarters–while jokingly bringing a kitchen sink and saying ‘let that sink in’.

Musk also tweeted out a statement directed at advertisers, saying that his motivation in acquiring Twitter was to have a ‘common digital town square’, where a wide variety of beliefs can be shared with one another without resorting to violence.

“There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide in our society”, he said.

Despite the intentions, Musk’s Twitter takeover is marred with issues. Reuters reports that inside sources say that Musk has fired chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. Agrawal and Segal, who were present at the closing deal, were later escorted out.

It should be recalled that Agrawal previously said that Musk won’t be joining the Twitter board following his desire to acquire the company.

The Musk-Twitter acquisition deal has been a long one in the making, with Musk previously backing out of the deal in July. In response, Twitter filed a lawsuit against Musk, with the latter finally accepting to acquire Twitter.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Redhill acquires sustainability-focused storytelling firm VS Story to bolster sustainability offerings

Singapore – Full-service global communications agency Redhill has acquired Singapore-based sustainability-focused storytelling company VS Story to further strengthen its sustainability offerings to meet its clients’ rising needs. 

Through the acquisition, VS Story will be extending Redhill’s sustainability arm providing creative visual storytelling solutions centred around social impact and sustainability for the agency and its clients.

Founded in 2016, VS Story champions the global movement toward an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. It has demonstrated a track record in delivering high visibility to important social and environmental issues through impactful visual storytelling.

Moreover, VS Story’s portfolio includes storyboarding, filming, photography, and post-production of various projects such as authentic documentaries, staff engagement videos, visual graphics and animation, infographics, and aerial videography, amongst others. It boasts a partner portfolio that includes Essilor Luxottica, Danone, PayPal, and MAS Holdings, as well as Winnow Solutions, and Linkedin, amongst others.

Jacob Puthenparambil, CEO of Redhill, commented that Redhill puts sustainability at the core of their business strategy, and they are delighted to have VS Story join their team, as it has an outstanding track record of producing sustainability-led visionary impactful initiatives.

“I am confident that together we’re in a stronger position to help our clients develop creative communications strategies that deliver on their commitments to their stakeholders,” said Puthenparambil.

Meanwhile, Jacqui Hocking, CEO of VS Story, shared that they are incredibly excited to work closely with Redhill to realise their joint passion for creating genuine systemic impact, and she is looking forward to working with their clients together on creating visionary and purpose-driven narratives and initiatives that affect change and impact lives. 

“Through our collaboration, we reaffirm our commitment towards making Singapore a global centre for the circular economy, AgriTech, and sustainable finance,” said Hocking.

The acquisition signifies Redhill’s steadfast commitment to sustainability following the recent appointment of Marta Bigio, senior director of sustainability, earlier this year. It also marks the agency’s second acquisition, after acquiring Hong Kong-based Creative Consulting Group (CCG) in early 2022 as part of its continued global expansion.

Most recently, Redhill has also appointed Do Sik (DS) Kim, former senior writer at Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), to be its new chief operating officer for its Korea operation. He will be focusing on driving local expertise and cross-market collaboration to orchestrate broader capabilities for clients and accelerate business growth — with a sharp focus on the domestic market’s thriving start-up and tech investment ecosystem.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Domino’s Pizza Singapore to join larger international Domino’s group via acquisition

Singapore – Domino’s Pizza Singapore is set to be part of Australian-based Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (DPE) group, the largest international Domino’s group outside of the United States, via a proposed acquisition. DPE operates 3,400 Domino’s stores in ten markets globally.

Through the proposed acquisition, DPE entered into a binding agreement with Impress Foods–which owns full ownership of Domino’s Pizza Singapore and 65% of Domino’s Pizza Cambodia; Mikenwill (M), as well as with minority shareholders in Cambodia for the remaining 35% stake in the market. Mikenwill owns full control of Dommal Food Services Sdn Bhd, the master franchise holder in Malaysia.

DPE will fully acquire Domino’s Pizza businesses in Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, comprising 287 corporate stores across these markets. The binding agreement entails acquisition of the corporate stores and franchise rights held by Mikenwill (M) and Impress Foods. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Within Southeast Asia, Impress Foods manages the Singapore and Cambodia markets with 38 and 9 stores respectively, while Dommal Food Services manages 240 stores in Malaysia. DPE aims to achieve a store count of 3,000 stores in Asia by 2033.

Ba U Shan-Ting, group chief executive officer at Domino’s Pizza Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, said, “We are excited for the next phase of evolution for Domino’s Pizza in Singapore and the region. In tandem with this, we aim to expand the number of stores to more than 600 over the long term, setting us on the path to becoming the largest pizza chain in the three countries.”

Meanwhile, Michael Chick, Chief Executive Officer for Singapore & Cambodia, will continue to lead his team in serving the Singapore market.

“Our team will become part of the largest Domino’s network outside of the USA, giving us access to new technology and operational innovations that will propel our services to new heights as we deliver customers a more rewarding ordering experience, for hot, freshly prepared meals delivered to their door,” Chick said. 

He added, “Leveraging on our in-depth understanding of our local market segment and driven by our commitment to our customers, we aim to elevate an enhanced end-to-end experience with new global capabilities including marketing and menu innovation, to efficiently serve the most delicious meals to our customers.”

Lastly, DPE Group CEO & Managing Director Don Meij said, “We have seen fantastic growth in the Singapore market and we admire the commitment, agility and drive of the local team, spearheaded by its leadership team. Their love for the brand and equally important, their pledge to their customers, are key contributing factors to their success in growing the business and serving customers, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic.”

Technology Featured APAC

EventX to acquire meeting platform Toasty

Hong Kong – Event SaaS company EventX has announced plans to acquire meeting platform Toasty to enhance its company growth in Asia with a focus on hybrid event management solutions. 

Through this strategic acquisition, EventX will continue to broaden the product range and maximise the capabilities in hybrid event solutions that enable their clients to grow by delivering next generation event technology solutions. 

This will also help accelerate the company’s strong growth across its hybrid event management solution, and its recently launched metaverse-enablement solution to strengthen the value proposition to both Asian clients and partners. 

Founded in 2020, Toasty was designed to bring interactive workshops online and has since become the video meeting platform that is intentionally interactive to incorporate various social capabilities. The platform is used by over 16.5K participants and available in over 25 countries.

Sum Wong, CEO of EventX, said, “The acquisition partnership further cements our position as the leading hybrid event management solutions provider in the industry. We are very excited to enter into this partnership with Toasty to drive further growth and value creation to strengthen our operation in Asia.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Toasty commented, “We believe that we will be in an even better position for the next phase of our growth with our new partner EventX. Together we will bring in next-gen event technology to the industry and better serve our clients in Asia.”

Technology Featured Global

Kargo acquires Ziggeo to bolster video offering capabilities

New York, USA – Adtech company Kargo has acquired cloud-based video technology SaaS company Ziggeo. This move will see Ziggeo bringing a suite of products to Kargo’s growing omnichannel platform, including a video player, video recording capabilities, and numerous APIs. 

The acquisition will also enable Kargo to quickly expand its video offering with exclusive products that deliver value for audiences, brands, and publishers alike.

Over the coming months, Kargo will be focusing on building a next-generation ad-supported video player for publishers with the ultimate goal of creating a marketplace of advertising opportunities and content from content creators. 

Moreover, Ziggeo’s award-winning API and mobile-friendly design make it the ideal platform for next-generation video products, as Kargo looks to set a new standard for future digital video innovation within the industry. The Ziggeo developer team will also be joining Kargo to set the strategic direction for the combined organisations’ video player roadmap in order to deliver differentiated video ad products for advertisers.

Oliver Friedmann, founder and CTO at Ziggeo, commented that the Ziggeo team is thrilled to join Kargo, a company that shares our vision to deliver innovative and breakthrough experiences for their customers that grab attention.

“Together, we plan to launch new video products that will benefit from our combination of video player, video recording technology and sophisticated transcoding pipeline, which will be integrated into Kargo’s new and existing publisher partners and clients,” said 

Meanwhile, Harry Kargman, founder & CEO at Kargo, said that video is the fastest growing channel where consumers spend time to consume and create content, and they will innovate within this channel bringing new solutions to the open web. 

“Video innovation across the open web has been stagnant and we plan to disrupt the industry with new ideas and formats for advertisers and content creators. With Ziggeo, we can level up video advertising with unique, disruptive and industry-changing video formats and capabilities that meet consumers where they are and drive impactful experiences,” added Kargman.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Grab PH acquires motorcycle taxi firm MOVE IT

Manila, Philippines – Grab in the Philippines has announced recently the acquisition of MOVE IT, a local motorcycle taxi firm. Through the acquisition, Grab aims to create at least 6,000 meaningful income opportunities for more driver-partners within 3 months.

Grab Philippines will help MOVE IT further scale its existing motorcycle taxi fleet and improve the efficiency of its platform to help serve more commuters, as well as working with MOVE IT to further enhance its safety and service quality standards – to be at par with Grab’s motorcycle taxi services across Southeast Asia.

MOVE IT will be independently operated using the existing technology and app, and it will continue to comply with the standards set by the DOTr’s Motorcycle Taxi Pilot Program. Francis Juan will continue to lead MOVE IT in his capacity as chairman – leveraging his deep knowledge of the motorcycle taxi industry to better address market gaps and leverage untapped market opportunities.

Juan said, “We appreciate the support and trust that Grab has given us – it’s a testament to MOVE IT’s excellence in recent years. And in this new phase: we will serve more riders who have great difficulty commuting, we will provide more Filipinos with a livelihood, and we will provide our countrymen with a proudly Pinoy motorcycle taxi service that they can be proud of to our Southeast Asian neighbours.”

Meanwhile, Grace Vera Cruz, country head at Grab Philippines, said, “As we turn a new chapter for our country, Grab Philippines will continue to play an active role in bringing forward the spirit of bayanihan and value-creation – and this milestone that we humbly share with MOVE IT clearly expresses that.” 

She added, “As one of the first tech platforms that firmly believed in the potential and value of the Philippine market ten years ago, we’re doubling down on our commitment to outserving the needs of the Filipino people, and we are optimistic that through MOVE IT, we will create more livelihood opportunities, spur greater economic activity, and help improve every Filipino’s daily commute.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Accenture to acquire Indonesia-based brand, experience agency Romp

Jakarta, Indonesia – Global professional services Accenture has agreed to acquire Romp, a brand and experience agency in Indonesia renowned for its creative talent and innovative services across branding, creative and, performance marketing. This move will strengthen Accenture Song’s (formerly Accenture Interactive) ability to deliver creative and tech-driven brand experiences for clients across SEA. 

According to Accenture, the terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, and the completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.

The acquisition of Romp will enhance Accenture Song’s brand and marketing expertise, reinforcing its ability to help clients embrace new frontiers such as the metaverse and become relevant experience-led organisations. It also strategically aligns with Accenture’s business strategy to help businesses in Indonesia capture opportunities in a post-pandemic economy that’s poised for substantial growth.

Thomas Mouritzen, Accenture Song’s head of Southeast Asia, shared that their deep understanding of consumers and businesses, combined with Romp’s outstanding brand capabilities, will broaden their ability to harness the ongoing technology revolution for consumers and brands. 

“This is a powerful proposition for our clients seeking to win with innovative thinking and connected capabilities in Southeast Asia,” said Mouritzen.

Meanwhile, Divyesh Vithlani, senior managing director and Southeast Asia market unit lead at Accenture, noted that the growth of the digital economy in SEA is pushing brands to create meaningful experiences to meet customers’ needs. 

“Companies are increasingly looking to tap artificial intelligence, data and technology to drive creative content. Romp’s expertise with Accenture’s scale will enable us to deliver this excellence in a way that’s unique to the region,” said Vithlani.

Joseph Tan, Romp’s CEO, commented they have always believed in harnessing the power of creativity and helping clients build strong and long-lasting relationships with their customers. 

“We also constantly elevate ourselves through new thinking methods and approaches. Joining Accenture Song will fully converge the brand storytelling that we love with Accenture’s tech innovation, enabling us to help our clients truly deliver against limitless opportunities with global impact,” said Tan.

Accenture said it continues to invest in capabilities to help its clients drive growth through relevance. In 2021, Accenture Song also acquired Kuala Lumpur-based creative agency, Entropia, to deepen its capabilities in customer experience, design, and creative communications.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Ascential acquires digital solutions provider Intrepid

Singapore – Global business-to-business media company Ascential has acquired regional e-commerce and digital solutions provider Intrepid. This drives Ascential’s expansion, further establishing the company as a truly global leader in e-commerce optimization by providing a strategic entry point into the high-growth South-East Asian market.

For Intrepid, the acquisition will provide access to a wider network of resources and knowledge, which will allow it to cement its position as a technology leader in South-East Asia, further accelerating its growth.

In addition, Intrepid will become part of Ascential’s Digital Commerce division, which enables consumer product companies to maximise their sales, share, and profitability across the world’s leading consumer marketplaces.

Duncan Painter, CEO of Ascential, said, “We are delighted to welcome Intrepid to the Ascential team. Intrepid’s strong presence in South East Asia and proven expertise operating across the major marketplaces in this important region further enhances the capabilities and global reach of our Digital Commerce business.”

Meanwhile, Jasper Knoben, CEO of Intrepid, said that the acquisition is a natural strategic fit for the continued success of both Intrepid and Ascential. 

“Our vision, strategy and cultures are very well aligned and we look forward to working closely with the Ascential team. Joining Ascential offers Intrepid a strong platform for future growth, full of exciting opportunities to accelerate our business and leverage global best practices for our analytics and marketing technology to deliver truly cutting-edge service and tools for our clients across our e-commerce, marketing and insights business units,” Knoben commented.