SME Featured Southeast Asia

Investree PH expands to Visayas, Mindanao to reach more underserved SMEs

Manila, Philippines – SME-centric financial platform Investree in the Philippines has announced that it will be extending its reach beyond Luzon, expanding recently to Central and Western Visayas and Davao Region in Mindanao. 

The move seeks to serve and empower SMEs in the said regions by providing accessible and affordable financing solutions that can help their businesses thrive as the economy reopens. With its expansion in the Visayas and Mindanao, which began this September, Investree Philippines is now fully equipped to support enterprises in the regions’ various industries, including manpower, security services, F&B, school supplies, pharmaceuticals, and medical sectors.

Investree Philippines optimises data and technology to connect businesses with institutional investors that share the same mission of supporting SMEs. Its SME clients, including new ones in the Visayas and Mindanao, can now fulfil larger order volumes, deploy and train manpower, develop their business to cater to new target markets, and implement geographical expansion. They can likewise look to fast-tracking business growth in terms of product and/or service development.

“Our mission since day one has been to support SMEs through accessible and secure financing solutions and, in so doing, contribute to the country’s growth one SME at a time. We are broadening our reach outside of Luzon and are now building relationships with more entrepreneurs in Visayas and Mindanao to help more businesses across the country keep up with the changing times. We at Investree Philippines are here to work and grow with them,” said Kok Chuan Lim, Investree’s co-founder and CEO.

In addition, the company said it has aggressive growth plans for the near future, to further penetrate other regions in the country.

Marketing Featured South Asia

Experience marketing brand Things2do expands across four cities in India

India – India-based hyperlocal experience marketing brand, Things2do, has launched in four cities – Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, and Delhi. The brand is renowned for providing consumers with distinctive experiences across travel, lifestyle, aviation, food, and culinary.

According to Things2do, it has identified three sets of consumers, namely The Weekenders, who are always looking out for unique experiences to spend their weekends, The Explorers, who are in search of new experiences that they’ve not discovered, and The Aspirers, who want to update their lifestyle in a certain manner.

The brand currently caters to this set of audiences and provides a plethora of experiences to celebrate occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, weekends, topical days, and special events, and brings newness to their lives.

Roch Dsouza, CEO of Things2do, shared that the Things2do tribe is excited to diversify across newer cities after successfully being the discovery platform for experiences across ten cities; they have now successfully launched the experiences in four new cities and are seeing great traction, consumer insights, and needs that are coming through. 

“We express gratitude to all our partner brands for trusting us and introducing great curations and experiences, changing the face of the experiences industry. We are excited to be part of our consumer’s lifestyle journey and help them live a fulfilling life,” said Dsouza.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

China-based e-commerce partner Baozun expands in SEA, unveils Singapore HQ

Singapore – Baozun Inc., an e-commerce service partner that helps brands execute their e-commerce strategies in China, has announced its new regional headquarters in Singapore, as it seeks to drive e-commerce innovation and bring a competitive advantage to brands in SEA.

Following its expansion into Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2013, Baozun identified Singapore and Malaysia as key markets in SEA to expand its footprint. The company is also in the midst of setting up its Philippines office and plans to expand to Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand by the end of 2023. 

Moreover, the company plans to continue nurturing a robust team of local experts with first-hand e-commerce experience to support business expansion and growth in the region.

“With 15 years of experience in the most advanced e-commerce market, we’re confident that Baozun Asia’s advanced technologies and infrastructure will give brands in the region a competitive advantage. Having said that, we’re acutely aware that SEA is a highly diverse region, so we look forward to prioritising a localised approach and creating custom solutions that help brands grow sustainably through a long-term relationship,” said Thomas Yeoh, board member of Baozun Asia. 

Baozun said that the demand for strong e-commerce technological capabilities and infrastructure is only increasing, and its entry into the region means that brands will have access to custom end-to-end omnichannel services, tailored to the fast-changing needs of brands in SEA. This encompasses the entire e-commerce value chain covering IT solutions, store operations, digital marketing, customer services, and warehousing and logistics.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

Establishing leadership in Asia: How Hakuhodo is powering its growth via acquisitions

As the advertising industry continues to change in order to address the needs and concerns of consumers, agencies are rethinking how to improve their capabilities for brands. One of the firms’ strategies is expansion through acquiring other companies in the space, and this is exactly what we’ve been seeing in the case of Japanese advertising agency Hakuhodo Inc., which has made a number of buy-outs in the past periods.

In February 2017, Hakuhodo acquired ICG, an activation agency headquartered in Singapore, while in 2018, the agency acquired Vietnamese IMC group Square Communications and three companies in the Philippines, creative engineering company IdeasXMachina, brand agency Beginnings Communications, and events/activation company eNAV.

A year later, Hakuhodo has acquired shares in digital agencies, Winter Egency Co., Ltd. in Thailand in 2019 and AdGlobal360 in India in 2020. Also in 2020, it acquired Taiwan’s Growww Media, an operating holding company with five brands under its umbrella: United Communications Group, a full-service advertising agency, KY-Post (activation and exhibitions), Pilot Group (PR), Interplan Group (large events and exhibitions), and Medialand (digital marketing). Most recently, the Japan-based agency has completed the acquisition of Malaysian digital creative agency Kingdom Digital. We know that these undertakings are meant to supercharge growth, but what does such a targeted business move by one firm imply about the changes in the industry as a whole?

For MARKETECH APAC‘s newest The Inner State, we spoke with Shuntaro Ito, senior corporate officer at Hakuhodo and president and CEO at Hakuhodo International, to share with us their growth strategies and plans for their recent acquisitions.

Elevating Hakuhodo’s competitive positioning

Commenting on Hakuhodo’s continuous acquisitions and competitive positioning, Ito said that they feel there are two approaches; the first is the acquisition of overseas companies, which propels the Hakuhodo Group’s competitive advantage on the global stage, and the second is the application of the competitive advantage they have in Japan over Asia and other overseas markets.

He further shared that bringing in companies that are passionate about growing together as a group is strategically very important, and this is why they are pursuing the acquisitions of companies that shine across the different markets which share the Hakuhodo Sei-katsu-sha thinking (Hakuhodo’s term to describe people not simply as consumers, but as fully rounded individuals), partnership philosophy, and focus on the importance of creativity.

“During the acquisition process, we apply our sustainable management thinking and place importance on maintaining sustainable corporate management in a continuous manner. In going forward, based on this thinking, we would like to further expand our network,” Ito added.

Meanwhile, when asked about what he thinks are the top needs and challenges of brands when it comes to their advertising business, and how a bigger and continuously growing Hakuhodo can be of an answer to them, Ito noted that challenges differ by brand but Marketing ROI and full-funnel capabilities are key needs they see across many clients. 

“Therefore, I believe marketing solutions that make full use of digital and data are necessary and it is important to create real touchpoints that work together with digital. We seek marketing partners that can take on these challenges in a holistic way. Trust is also a very important component and we believe it is also a strength of ours,” said Ito.

The value of the acquisitions

According to Hakuhodo, their belief, ‘people are our main asset’, is shared with the companies that join them before the acquisition and are asked to maintain this stance. 

Ito said that at the same time, they also encourage sustaining and further enhancing the corporate culture and uniqueness of the individual companies, and in order to manage the Hakuhodo Group as one entity, they set up contacts across their group and co-work from the very early stages.

“From working together with our overseas subsidiaries, creating alliances with Japan and other group companies across the world, encouraging a parallel network across companies that fall under the same category, we create opportunities to work as a member of the Hakuhodo group and in going forward, would like to further expand on this,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ito said that on the long-term benefits of the acquisitions to Hakuhodo, clients’ needs can cover a multitude of areas and with change at an alarming rate, the Hakuhodo Group must continuously evolve to cater to these needs. 

“Thus it is important for us to organically take on clients’ needs, as well as use our external resources, with the latter being acquisitions which will greatly contribute to the Hakuhodo Group’s globalisation and growth,” he said. 

Through the latest acquisition of the Malaysian company Kingdom Digital, they are now able to offer clients in Malaysia and across Asia services in digital marketing, digital campaign, social media marketing, content marketing, and digital content creation. 

“Along with this wide array of services, we believe we are now able to work with other companies within our group both online and offline to provide marketing solutions tailored to our clients’ needs,” Ito noted.

Marketing Featured South Asia

Germany-based Deutsche Bank to open first representative office in Bangladesh

Bangladesh – Germany-based financial service provider Deutsche Bank will be expanding its global network with the launch of its first representative office in Dhaka, Bangladesh. With this new market entry, Deutsche Bank’s regional footprint in the Asia Pacific will now span 15 diverse markets.

The representative office will be focusing on supporting multinational corporate clients, predominantly exporters to Bangladesh. The bank has hired Syed Naushad Zaman, formerly deputy head of the Commerzbank Representative Office, to be the new chief representative officer at Deutsche Bank in Bangladesh.

According to the Embassy of Bangladesh, Germany is the largest trading partner of Bangladesh in Europe and the second largest globally. German exports to Bangladesh have tripled in the past 25 years.

“We continue to grow and invest in our business in the Asia Pacific. We are proud that in our 150th anniversary in the Asia Pacific, we are welcoming the 15th market to our strong regional network. With its fast-growing economy, we enter this market to support its increasing participation in regional and global trade,” said Alexander von zur Muehlen, Deutsche Bank’s CEO for APAC and member of the Management Board.

Meanwhile, Atul Jain, Deutsche Bank’s global co-head for trade finance and lending, noted, “Bangladesh is an increasingly strategic market for both our global multinational and German corporate clients. This representative office reflects our firm commitment to support our clients’ evolving risk management and financing needs in this dynamic growth market.”

Marketing Featured APAC

United Entertainment Group expands to APAC, unveils new team, culture board

Singapore – As part of its official launch in APAC, United Entertainment Group (UEG) Worldwide, a global agency specialising in entertainment, sports, and lifestyle marketing, has now unveiled a raft of senior hires and a new ‘Culture Board’, which features a diverse mix of worldwide and regional profiles.

Led by UEG’s EVP Si Philby, UEG APAC covers 12 markets and has merged the Background Creative Counsel network across the region. The new ‘Culture Board’ includes Dan Flower, the global managing director of style bible The Face Magazine, Ali Hillman, the international art curator and founder of Friday Trampoline, Melvin Tanaya, the co-founder and design director of luxury streetwear brand Song for the Mute, Lauren Yates, Bangkok-based designer, photographer, and founder of Wmenswear, and Benji B, the music director for Louis Vuitton and head of Deviation Music, as well as Samie Oliver, the executive producer of Background Creative Counsel and co-chair of the UEG APAC Culture Board.

Also part of the expansion is the appointment of Piers Hopkins, who will join UEG APAC as director of China. Piers has been working in China for over 12 years within fashion and media from a commercial, business strategy, and operations perspective. Prior to his role at UEG, Piers oversaw operations, events, and brand partnerships as country manager at Business of Fashion in China. Piers brings a wealth of hands-on experience, cultural, and linguistic understanding to UEG APAC, specialising in bringing brands to the Chinese market. 

Philby shared, “Over the years I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some of the best in business, across a vast array of geographies and cultures. We are now bringing a formula that’s different to other agencies with unrivalled intel, ideas and access.”

Meanwhile, Jarrod Moses, UEG Worldwide’s president and CEO, said, “The UEG APAC team is moving at pace, evident in both the creative intelligence we are forming and the suite of capabilities we offer our brand clients across the entertainment, sports & lifestyle”. 

Additionally, UEG APAC has announced new additions to the full-time team featuring APAC general manager Isobel Howard, who was a former general manager of Background Creative Counsel with corporate experience at Cisco Systems, HSBC and Qantas, and Rosie Ranck, formerly of M&C Saatchi, Leo Burnett, and Ogilvy.

Joining as APAC client services director is Paige Lewis, formerly of Amplify in London and Sydney, where she ran the global Adidas account as well as Porsche, PlayStation, and Afterpay. Tim Brownfoot also joins as APAC creative director, previously working across the Beer portfolio at Lion, prior to which held senior creative roles at Sweet&Chilli and brand experience agency The Projects.

Moreover, looking after a key vertical in UEG’s capabilities, Danai Gapare joins as account director of talent & influence with previous experience at Under Armour, Rebel Sports, and as a professional athlete. Former E! Australia Host Ksenija Lukich also joins as a producer, talent & influence having worked as a TV presenter, content creator, and brand ambassador.

Marketing Featured East Asia

American clothing chain Eddie Bauer expands Japan presence via Itochu tie-up

Japan – Eddie Bauer, US-based leisure and outdoor clothing brand under Authentic Brands Group (ABG), has partnered with Japanese retail group Itochu, to further expand its presence in Japan. 

The partnership will see Eddie Bauer roll out across the country, launching new stores, wholesale accounts, and an official branded e-commerce site in Spring 2023. Moreover, Itochu will be partnering with Mizujin, a fashion wholesale and retail company, to design, manufacture, and distribute Eddie Bauer products.

ABG said that for nearly three decades, Eddie Bauer has offered a curated selection of outdoor and lifestyle products in Japan, where it has captured a loyal following. The brand will now broaden its offerings with a full assortment of performance and lifestyle apparel and accessories for men, women, and children.

Jarrod Weber, group president of lifestyle and chief brand officer at ABG, commented that they are pleased to grow the Eddie Bauer brand in this important market and to expand on ABG’s relationship with Itochu.

“Through the agreement, Itochu becomes a marquee partner for Eddie Bauer as we further the global strategy across strategic markets and engage with outdoor enthusiasts around the world,” said Weber.

Meanwhile, Yoshinari Nakamura, president at Mizujin, noted, “Eddie Bauer is a pioneering American heritage brand known for quality products, performance technology and style. Our aim is to build on Eddie Bauer’s strong foundation and rich heritage to enhance its presence in the Japanese outdoor and fashion markets.”

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

CUE Group doubles down on SEA presence, expands operation in Singapore

Singapore – CUE Group, a Singapore-headquartered digital technology group, has doubled down on its expansion into the Southeast Asian region with a new operational focus out of its Singapore hub. 

More than a year on from their acquisition of Singapore-based digital agency, Bonsey Jaden, CUE has begun to expand the executive leadership team, with a range of soon-to-be-announced hires. Currently employing over 2,000 staff across more than 20 offices, CUE has actively partnered with more than 3,000 clients and partners across Asia. 

CUE said that what it is bringing to the table is a new yet experienced enabler, bridging the gap between data & technology solutions, paving the way for more targeted and culturally relevant consumer experiences – helping to accelerate sales and partnership growth across industries, and across cultures.

Kan Shi, group CEO of CUE, shared that it’s a privilege to be able to say that everything they are able to accomplish revolves around valuing people from their diverse teams and their individual expertise and cultural knowledge, to each partner and customer they have developed relationships with. 

“We live in the digital age, it’s true, but in the end, businesses are about meeting the needs of people and we never want to lose sight of the ‘who’ and ‘why’, even in the demanding sea of ‘what, where, when.’ I am personally very bullish on the growth and opportunity in Southeast Asia and I believe we are in the perfect moment to expand our team in Singapore and beyond to further support our existing clients and partners – as well as to build new relationships,” said Shi.

CUE noted that a number of executive hires are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Platforms Featured Global

PH media giant ABS-CBN expands to Hollywood with new LA office

United States – ABS-CBN, a media giant in the Philippines, has been reportedly planning an international expansion by opening its new office in Los Angeles, California.

ABS-CBN’s actress Sharon Cuneta broke the news on her official Facebook page by reposting a job ad by Cinema Sala, a platform showcasing Filipino and Filipino-American work in film and the performing arts. It said that the network is planning a physical office in Hollywood, and is looking for an assistant/coordinator.

According to recent news by Bilyonaryo, the international expansion comes after ABS-CBN signed a landmark investment deal with TV5, another media giant in the country under Manny Pangilinan.

“The goal of opening the LA office is to develop, collect, and curate material to produce from Hollywood, for the US and the world,” said Cinema Sala in the job ad.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Datatech platform Bounty Media closes US$1.8m in new funding to power expansion in SEA

Singapore – Bounty Media, a pioneer of zero-party data technology with a platform that empowers consumers and brands, has closed an oversubscribed Pre-A round of US$1.8m. This round was led by SOSV along with Vectr Fintech Partners, ASTOR Management, Black Kite Capital, Plug and Play Ventures, and Quonota Investment, as well as High Cosmos, and Revium.

Through the new funding, Bounty will continue its rollout across SEA and the rest of APAC through 2022 and 2023, expanding its content partners with a plan to reach one billion-person audience by the end of 2023. 

Founded by Claes Loberg and Jake Denney in Singapore, Bounty launched in Indonesia in 2021 and has now expanded operations into three additional markets, which include Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Its unique service empowers consumers to control their personal data and be rewarded for sharing it with the advertisers they trust.

Claes Loberg, co-founder of Bounty Media, commented, “We’re excited to close out this oversubscribed round with this great group of investors and advisors. We’re now busy expanding our team in Singapore as we continue our vision of developing the foundation of a marketplace for 1 billion consumers to sell their data for $1 a day.”

Meanwhile, William Bao Bean, managing director of SOSV’s Orbit Startups, noted, “We’re in the middle of a revolution in data privacy that most brands and consumers are trying to understand how to navigate. Bounty has already gained traction with its easy and transparent solution that empowers both consumers and the brands that they trust. We can’t think of a better team to take on this mission.”