Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Dentsu Malaysia and live video commerce enabler Nuffnang Live Commerce has forged a new partnership that will integrate the two firms’ capabilities to drive marketing solutions for brands on live commerce.

Nuffnang Live Commerce is a subsidiary under Netccentric Limited, an investment holding company for media platforms. As part of dentsu’s ‘Total Commerce’ solutions for brands, the partnership brings onboard live video commerce service offering which will enable advertisers to strengthen their e-commerce strategy and drive traffic to their brands’ social pages, create better engagements with brand influencers, and drive on-the-spot sales.

Live commerce is the latest innovation in online commerce today, which aims to bring newer experiences for consumers. E-commerce platforms and brands have caught on the trend of livestream e-commerce which had started in China, and Asia’s Shopee and Lazada now have it well-placed in their marketplaces. Said consumer trend promises further branded content, live influencer engagement, and also real-time conversion.

Dentsu Malaysia said that its Total Commerce ambition is to integrate all the strategic and operational capabilities and ecosystem enablers of what makes a robust and holistic commerce solution, whether through proprietary online stores, marketplaces, social channels, or physical stores in Malaysia, to bring to life the best online shopping experiences for customers.

Jing Wen Foo, who was just recently appointed as dentsu malaysia’s e-commerce director, said, “With the rise of livestreaming as a new conversion channel for commerce and consistent growth in share of sale of social commerce, there is a strong use case for us to strengthen dentsu’s Total Commerce capability around live commerce to empower brands to leverage this trend beyond the packaged offers available in [the] market to accelerate their e-commerce growth.”

Meanwhile, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, executive chairman of Netccentric Limited, described live commerce as the ‘secret sauce’ for brands to succeed online.

“The formula for online success is for brands and businesses to sell products on these platforms through live commerce, a trend that has and continues to accelerate due to the pandemic. Live commerce is a proven effective way to sell and it’s for everybody and not just the big brands,” said Bangah.

Dheeraj Raina, CEO of Media for dentsu malaysia, adds, “E-commerce platforms are a dominant media touchpoint and immensely mainstream now. But consumers are constantly driving a change in the way they shop on e-commerce platforms and for us to be able to anticipate that change and help brands win on it, is a critical part of our commitment to the growth of our clients’ business. With this addition of Live Commerce partnership powered by our proprietary Total commerce products, we should be able to unlock the ease of adoption of this new channel and bring brands closer to consumers in a humanized form.”

This integration is already being rolled out across clients from FMCG, health and beauty, and consumer electronics categories.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Dentsu in Malaysia has named advertising veteran Kunal Roy as its CEO for the ‘Creative’ line of service. The CEO role is a newly created position following the global network’s restructuring which saw it dividing the business into three main lines namely, Creative, Media, and CRM, and which was first announced in late 2019. 

Dentsu said Roy will be initiating the transformation of dentsu malaysia’s Creative line of service in tandem with parent network dentsu international’s brand evolution and simplified business model, developing a modern creativity offering underpinned by a new delivery model called ‘AOR – agency of record – on demand’.

Roy brings with him 20 years’ worth of award-winning work with marquee agencies such as Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, Cheil Worldwide, Ogilvy, BBDO, and TBWA. He has a demonstrated track record in building brands with clients like Samsung, Coca-Cola, adidas, McDonald’s, Unilever, P&G, as well as Axiata and Maxis, among others. Previously, Roy led Leo Burnett to achieve ‘Agency of the Year’ at the prestigious awards Effie in 2019, then a double Effie ‘Agency of the Year’ for 2020 and 2021. 

CEO of dentsu malaysia, Kien Eng Tan, who himself has just been appointed in February this year, said that they have ambitious plans for dentsu malaysia as a creative powerhouse, and that things would only be looking upward from here now with Roy onboard with his award-winning strategic and creative experience. 

“Kunal will be partnering the Malaysian media and CXM team as well as the network to drive end-to-end creative solutions to ensure our clients achieve sustainable growth,” said Tan. 

Meanwhile, the new Creative CEO commented, “I am truly excited to take on this role at Dentsu. I have always believed that creativity has the power to transform businesses, brands, and peoples’ lives. Dentsu’s heritage is rooted in innovation and a forward-thinking culture; that along with the dynamic talent in Malaysia will only propel me further to bring together meaningful creative solutions to augment our clients’ businesses and make their brands magnets.”

Dentsu Malaysia is made up of six brands – Carat, dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, dentsumcgarrybowen, and Merkle. Aside from Roy and Tan, the agency in Malaysia has also announced in January this year Dheeraj Raina as CEO of the Media line. 

This month’s top stories which were sourced from Google Analytics from the 16th of May to the 15th of June were a combination of local and global stories.

First off, Malaysia is taking the spotlight where two come from the market – a leading agency unveiling new leadership appointments, and also a platform’s rundown of top Hari Raya ads in the country. 

Southeast Asia country Philippines also made it to the top with an esports company and a media giant partnering in the country to change the game in advertising in esports. 

Two global ad tech companies have also joined forces to provide marketers a new way to measure their campaigns, while a global communications agency has also announced new managing directors. 

Together with our exclusive interviews with the brand spokespeople, read on to find out which stories made noise this month.

Top 5: PH’s Tier One ties up with GroupM to open esports advertising to mainstream brands

Tier One and GroupM

Tier One Entertainment, the Philippines-born esports talent agency for Southeast Asia, has partnered with media and communications giant GroupM to achieve a common goal: to bring in more mainstream brands in the advertising landscape in esports.

Advertising in esports remains to be an exclusive arena for endemic brands, and Tier One, which has been in operations for four years now, has always eyed to be an agent in bridging the gap between gaming and mainstream.

In an exclusive conversation with Joanne Llavore, the CCO of Tier One, she shared that as the audience penetration in esports continues to grow, the company has always been cognizant that the time will come when the standardization of media advertising metrics will become a requisite among clients.

GroupM being the leader in the industry, it is but inherent to seek out and forge this partnership as we work together with them to bring esports and gaming in the forefront of media advertising.

Joanne Llavore, CCO, Tier One Entertainment

Llavore adds, “It’s a blue ocean of non-endemic brands out there. And we know the potential is really huge to be able to scale the business.”

Aside from its headquarters, Tier One currently has offices in Myanmar, Japan, and Vietnam and had just opened an office in Malaysia. 

Top 4: dentsu malaysia unveils three key senior hires

dentsu Malaysia

Media and communications network dentsu in Malaysia has announced new leaders within its Media division. Asha Nair will become the new managing director of media investment and platforms, Jing-Wen Foo has been appointed as the new e-commerce director, while Hemanth Jayaraman has been unveiled as the new partner and agency brand lead of DentsuX

Dheeraj Raina, CEO of Media at dentsu malaysia, said that the new hires go under dentsu’s continuous transformation journey which started last year when it was announced that dentsu will now be organized into three main business lines including Media. 

Raina, who himself, has also been recently appointed as the inaugural CEO of Media in January, said that it has been an “intense 6 months”, looking at simplifying internal structures and how they create solutions for clients. It has also been, Raina bared, quite a year of subsequent pitches. 

The new lineup that you’re seeing of the leaders [is] primarily [for] creating capability centers of excellence within the organization so that as the agency partners with our clients, we are in the best position of solving their marketing challenges.

Raina said in a MARKETECH APAC interview

Raina also shared that the division will be more product-focused as an agency, such as into its e-commerce practice, where the vision is to provide clients beyond the performance marketing aspect of it but to be an end-to-end e-commerce service that touches on strategic consulting as well as on-site and off-site optimization, among others. 

“Obviously, it’s been a very, very challenging one and a half year for everybody in terms of forecasting and looking at how the future will be, and therefore, [being] an agency partner for us [means] to be able to then deliver really integrated growth solutions for our clients [which] is going to be very, very critical; and for that, I think, we need to have a very strong product focus, and that’s where I think is we are going to be spending a lot of our time as an organization in the next coming few quarters,” said Raina. 

Raina also remarks, “And obviously, e-commerce is one of the key products that is no more [treated as a] luxury [for brands].”

Top 3: Global communications agency Redhill announces two new MDs


Singapore-headquartered global communications agency Redhill has unveiled two new managing directors, Marienelle Castelino and Tavy Cussinel

Both Castelino and Cussinel have been homegrown executives of Redhill, being part of the company for a long time, even during the time it was operating out of its headquarters in Singapore, in an attic-like office with no windows, as CEO and founder Jacob Puthenparambil describes it. 

Puthenparambil, in a MARKETECH APAC interview, shared why it’s important to build and stick with its people for a long time. 

It’s extremely vital for our growth that we have people who stay with us for a very long time because it’s a people-based industry, especially PR. A lot of the company culture is based on the long-term people that we have. You can’t write those things down or learn from a textbook.

Jacob Puthenparambil, CEO and Founder, Redhill

Through their new roles, Marienelle will deepen her focus on brand leadership and corporate mandates in markets across Asia Pacific, specifically Singapore, Indonesia, India, and Cambodia, while Tavy will focus on growing the agency’s education, healthcare, luxury, and lifestyle portfolios.

The communications firm started in 2014 as a boutique agency and in the interview, Puthenparambil shared how at the beginning, they had always been firm in their goal that they wanted to grow into being more than that. 

“We knew from day one that we didn’t want to be a boutique agency. We’re going to fight the big boys,” he said. 

He shared that along the way, they found that a boutique agency’s lifeline is mostly dependent and stuck to how long its founder is active or relevant to the market and that in the end, said agencies aren’t able to hold on to the talent or to the clients. 

“So that’s what pushed us to establish this presence in all these countries, even if it’s one [to three] people; [we] just go plant the flag there and start doing work,” he said.

Redhill currently has a global presence in 17 markets. 

Top 2: InMobi partners with The Trade Desk for a new brand lift solution

InMobi and The Trade Desk

Global marketing cloud InMobi has announced a new partnership with global technology company The Trade Desk to integrate InMobi’s mobile-first consumer intelligence platform – InMobi Pulse – into the latter’s demand-side platform (DSP).

As more and more brands seek to find additional and effective ways to measure their brand campaigns across all digital media, the two ad tech platforms come together to offer in-app brand lift surveys to be delivered programmatically, enabling brands to measure metrics such as brand awareness, favorability, intent to purchase and other metrics that determine campaign effectiveness.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Vasuta Agarwal, managing director of InMobi for the Asia Pacific, said, “This partnership is a first of its kind between InMobi and The Trade Desk, and it provides brands and marketers the ability to deterministically measure the incremental brand impact of their campaigns across digital media by web, desktop, and in-app.” 

It allows them to deliver in-app surveys, both to an exposed group and a controlled group of users which are users who have seen the ad and have not seen the ad, and then measure the difference in the brand lift metrics between these two groups.

Agarwal explaining how the integration works

She adds that the metric is deterministic because brands can use mobile ad identifiers to identify the end-user who’s seen the ad or not seen the ad. 

Agarwal also shared another benefit, “And any advertiser using the [The Trade Desk’s DSP] while running their campaigns, can do a lot of [other] stuff like in-flight optimization, and change in brand messaging, [among others].”

Top 1: YouTube’s top 10 Hari Raya ads in Malaysia

YouTube Malaysia Top Hari Raya ads

Finally concluding the Hari Raya, or the celebration of the end of Ramadan in Malaysia, YouTube, through its ads leaderboard, has rounded up the top 10 ads on the platform that came in celebration of the festivity. This is MARKETECH APAC’s top story for June. 

The list included a mix of international and local brands in Malaysia. Some of the local names on the list are Tenaga Nasional, Petronas, and RHB Group. Meanwhile, Asia retailer Watsons also made it as a top ad, with leading e-commerce platforms Lazada and Shopee also entering YouTube’s picks. 

YouTube’s ads leaderboard is usually based on metrics such as organic and paid views, watch time, and audience retention, but we spoke with Lars Anthonisen, Google’s head of marketing for Malaysia, to give us an insider on what other factors said Malaysian brands were able to hit right to get into audiences’ radar. 

Anthonisen said there are three key themes: brands that stood out stayed in tune with the values of Hari Raya, showed empathy, and took a stand on societal norms. 

More Malaysians, unfortunately, are unable to celebrate with their loved ones. I think ads that stood out were from brands who leaned heavily to the core Hari Raya values [such as] family, compassion, and hope, providing Malaysians the Hari Raya spirit.

Anthonisen on brands showing the values of Hari Raya

With Empathy meanwhile, he said that brands are starting to recognize the importance of acknowledging the struggles people and communities are facing. 

“Brands have realized the need to engage the audience on a deeper level by leveraging real stories and also [to] add [the] human element and build this deeper connection,” he said.  

And finally, Anothisen’s insight on brands challenging societal norms: “It can be daunting, I know, for a lot of brands to take a difficult topic on and turn it into something of value, but I think brands who were there to do it really got the support and the engagement from audiences.” 

And of course, he himself has a favorite from the list, and this is what he had to say, “The one that stood out for me was the one from Petronas. First of all, they used animation to tell the story a bit differently, but I think also the whole campaign centered around how many Malaysians missed home during Hari Raya, and I think that was a really lovely story.”

Watch our live interviews with the newsmaker themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Reports, live on our YouTube channel.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Dentsu Malaysia has won Malaysian insurance company AIA’s creative retainer services, with immediate effect.

In addition to the existing creative duties of dentsu for AIA PUBLIC Takaful, the network will now become the sole creative agency of record to further support AIA’s purpose of delivering communications that would empower Malaysians to make healthy living choices in the new normal.

AIA is one of the largest independent pan-Asian life insurance and finance corporations, with a presence in 18 markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

Chief Marketing Officer of AIA, Heng Zee Wang said that after an impressive stint with its Takaful business, the company has decided to place its trust in dentsu to extend its capabilities in managing the entire AIA brand in Malaysia, creating integrated solutions that will help build a stronger brand narrative and deeper connection with customers across multiple touchpoints. It is expected that dentsu will create an integrated model that aims to leverage ‘connected creativity’ and help evolve AIA’s brands to be fit in this virtual economy.

Meanwhile, CEO of dentsu Malaysia One Michelle Ong commented that they are deeply honored to acquire the business.

“Our collaboration internally even during work-from-home has been charged with inspiring positivity. The brief was to have AIA at the forefront of consideration for both health and wellness needs. However, one requirement was to not just deliver a ‘campaign’, but a sustainable communication solution that can be carried forward naturally and touches all the relevant consumer and agent points,” Ong said.

Milan Agnihotri, chief strategy officer of dentsu, shared that the anchor of AIA’s proposal was in the seamless integration of ‘Big Organizing Idea (BOI)’ with ‘Return on Investment (ROI)’ for the brand.

“We leveraged our proven methodology of ‘Masterbranding + Behaviour Mapping’ to make sure we steer the brand through the funnel and the brand ecosystem – externally and internally, on a single-minded platform,” Agnihotri added.

Malaysia – Dentsu Malaysia bids farewell to Tony Savarimuthu, Huang Ean Hwa, and Szu H. Lee, three executive veteran partners of Merdeka LHS, the creative agency it acquired in 2016. 

Savarimuthu is Merdeka LHS’ CEO, while Huang and Lee are chief creative officers of the agency. 

From left to right: Former Merdeka LHS CEO, Tony Savarimuthu; and chief creative officers, Szu H. Lee and Huang Ean Hwa

Dentsu said that former CEO of dentsu Malaysia, Nicky Lim, and new CEO Kien Eng Tan are both grateful for everything the three have done in building, growing, and subsequently completing the earnout duration of Merdeka LHS and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. 

“As these three ride into the sunset, their everlasting legacy has been imprinted into dentsu’s DNA and it is my honor to have served with them,” said Lim.

Savarimuthu has served the industry for more than a decade, formerly as vice president and president of advertising association 4A’s, introducing many progressive initiatives such as industry awards ‘The Effies’. 

Commenting on his departure, he said, “I’ve had the good fortune of working on some of the world’s most renowned brands as well as go-getters striving to change the status-quo working with the best creatives in the land. I wish to pay tribute to my long-time colleagues and friends Huang Ean Hwa and Szu Lee, and not least Ali Mohamed and the late Yasmin Ahmad who were my past colleagues for their ideas, inspired creativity, and for changing the perception and fortunes of many a brand both in Malaysia and globally.”

Meanwhile, with the current departures, which dentsu shared to be “emotional,” the agency forges a beginning as it welcomes a new group chief creative officer for dentsu’s creative line of service, Andrew Low

Andrew Low
dentsu Malaysia’s new group chief creative officer for its creative line of service, Andrew Low

Low came highly recommended by the three former Merdeka LHS executives. His career spans across three countries in the Asia Pacific region with Ogilvy, Publicis One, and Leo Burnett. His work has won multiple awards such as at D&AD, Cannes Lions, and The One Show, as well as One Show China, China 4As, and Spikes, among many others. 

With the role, Low is tasked to bring together dentsu’s creative powerhouses to solve client’s marketing challenges in an ever-more virtual economy. 

“To spur growth, I believe it is fundamentally important to be agile, especially if we want to thrive in new creative business models. I am looking forward to working with the team and being a part of its unifying force,” said Low. 

The Malaysian arm of the network has also recently announced a new CEO for its Media business, following the re-organization of the network to now operate as three main divisions, namely, Creative, Media, and CRM.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Former CEO of advertising agency Publicis Groupe in Malaysia, Kien Eng Tan, has been appointed by the Malaysian arm of global communications network dentsu as its CEO, effective February 8 this year.

Through his new role, Tan will be responsible for continuing the business’ transformation journey, driving integration across media, creative, and CXM service lines, building a strong culture with its people, and growth for its clients’ business. He will report to Ashish Bhasin, CEO of dentsu Asia Pacific.

“I am excited to be joining dentsu, with its strong heritage of innovation at such a pivotal time. The market has never been more dynamic with COVID-19 rewriting consumer behavior and therefore, expectations of the brands they engage with. Dentsu is excellently placed to capitalize on this pivot for its clients, and I am looking forward to working with the teams to develop and grow these opportunities,” Tan commented. 

Prior to joining dentsu, he also served as CEO to advertising agency Leo Burnett in Malaysia, accumulating more than 30 years experience in advertising and communications, and 15 years of senior leadership roles in the advertising industry.

“I am delighted to have Kien take over at such an important time. Over the years he has built a formidable reputation creating visionary work and growth for brands, as well as strong and united teams and I am looking forward to seeing him take Malaysia into its next era of growth. Nicky has been CEO at dentsu Malaysia for almost six years; I’d like to thank him for his leadership and wish him success with his future endeavors,” said Bhasin. 

Tan’s predecessor Nicky Lim is said to move on from his role to pursue other interests.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As global media and digital marketing communications network dentsu evolves its organization into three lines of business, namely Creative, Media, and CRM, the company has been moving and nabbing executives to officially set its leadership lineup. 

Just very recently, dentsu announced Prerna Mehrotra as its new CEO for Media, and this time, dentsu in Malaysia has also done its share of reorganization, unveiling its new CEO for Media, Dheeraj Raina. 

Prior to joining dentsu, Raina is global media agency network Mindshare’s managing director in Malaysia. 

Nicky Lim, CEO of dentsu Malaysia, said, “It’s fantastic to welcome Dheeraj as our new Media CEO and drive our ambitious business growth plans forward. With his impressive track record of growth, I have no doubt he will accelerate dentsu international onto an exciting path and ultimately, help us deliver on our business objectives.” 

Raina is recognized for his proprietary IP’s for retail, telecom, and travel industries in marketing planning and for his contributions as a mentor to SMEs and start-ups in Malaysia.

He brings with him more than 16 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, having worked with leading brands such as telecom Celcom, dairy brand Friesland-Campina, and telecom Digi, as well as hypermarket Tesco, Malaysia conglomerate Sunway, and personal care Kimberly-Clark. Prior to his directorial position at GroupM’s Mindshare, he was also managing director at digital, analytics, and marketing solutions ADA, running the country business for Malaysia and other emerging markets. 

Commenting on his appointment, Raina said, “I’m thrilled to have this exciting opportunity to lead all the media brands at dentsu malaysia –  Consider iProspect, Vizeum, Carat, dentsu X, Amplifi, Posterscope, and Amnet – towards being more solutions-oriented, integrated and leading the industry. Today, media agencies sit at the center of unlocking growth for clients, and with such power brands at dentsu, I am looking forward to building cutting-edge solutions and teams.”