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Marketing Featured South Asia

WPP acquires remaining stake in MediaCom in India

Mumbai, India – Global creative network WPP has announced that it has acquired the remaining 26 per cent stake in MediaCom Communications in India. MediaCom in India is treated as a JV between WPP and independent communications group Madison World. Following WPP’s decision to merge Essence and MediaCom globally, top management of Madison World has agreed to exit MediaCom to enable the merger. 

The initial agreement between WPP and Madison World dates back to 2008, under which the company owned 51%. In 2017, Madison World sold 25% to WPP. The unique deal between WPP and Madison World contributed to the rapid growth that MediaCom experienced in India. 

MediaCom Communications in India had offices in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru with a team of 165. It has done media planning and buying for a number of top brands such as Procter & Gamble and Dell.

Sam Balsara, chairman of Madison World, said, “This innovative partnership we invested in nearly 15 years ago has been a great success for all parties. It has established MediaCom in India as a fast-growing and highly respected agency by advertisers.”

Nick Lawson, Global CEO of MediaCom, commented, “It has been a pleasure working with Sam Balsara and Lara Balsara as we grew this successful business in India. We will build on that legacy to deliver the agency model our clients want for the future – founded on brilliant strategy and brand-building capabilities, with pioneering digital expertise running throughout.”

Sam Balasara and Lara Balasara are Madison World’s chairman and executive director, respectively.

It was in April 2022 when the EssenceMediacom merger was officially announced. The fusion combines the digital and data-driven capabilities of Essence with MediaCom’s scaled multichannel, audience planning, and strategic media expertise. 

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

The Outsiders Co., Cinema Vérité Pictures launch new creative agency as part of merger

Singapore – Singapore-based creative agency The Outsiders Co. (TOC) and media agency Cinema Vérité Pictures (CVP) have unveiled a new brand – Superminted – the result of a merger between the two agencies. The newly formed agency specialises in brand building and activation. Its capabilities include public relations, campaign marketing, digital content production and videography.

Superminted’s logo was created with four elementary shapes that reflect the company’s foundational values. The speech bubble denotes communication and understanding, the triangle signifies excellence and growth, the square for trust and stability, and the circle completes the logo to symbolise unity and all-roundedness. Combined, the logo signifies the team’s commitment to understanding clients well in order to create and deliver meaningful, inspiring and impactful work.

Before the merger, TOC and CVP worked together on several projects such as Deliveroo, Sadia, and United Overseas Bank, where both teams found synergy in creative styles and goals. Beyond the two companies’ working relationship, the decision to merge a branding agency with a video production house was based on analysing market trends and forecasting industry changes over the next five years. First is a trend toward the consolidation of services, and second is bold entries into new digital terrains, while the third is the need for a combination of experience (TOC) and in-house video production capabilities (CVP).

Nadine Wu, head of agency at Superminted, said, “There has never been a better time to bring brand-building and production together. We realised that it is important for every company to have a growth trajectory – Superminted was thus formed to not only help brands define their edge, but also to intensify their emotional and sensorial appeal to audiences.”

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Su, chief of relations at Superminted, noted, “Superminted provides an integrated solution to create, develop and maintain brands. By combining our business expertise, we provide end-to-end creative solutions to marketing challenges and projects, fulfilling our existing and prospective clients’ needs.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Global growth agency Aiken Digital merges DX Agency Onyx Island

Singapore – Aiken Digital, a global growth agency that specialises in growth consulting, experience design, system development, creative & content, XB ecommerce and SaaS products, and Onyx Island, a digital experience agency in APAC, has announced the completion of the merger between Aiken Digital and Onyx Island, with a total workforce strength of 80 based in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

In connection with the merger, Onyx Island will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Aiken Digital. This merger will see a synergistic collaboration between the both agencies and evolve their offerings to serve the combined customer base of Aiken Digital & Onyx Island. Currently, the combined clientele includes Mastercard, L’Oréal, Luxottica, LVMH, Sotheby, L.D. Waxson, Beam Suntory, Cortina Watch, Philip Morris SG/MY, Salesforce APAC, NTUC and more.

From this merger, Aiken Digital will be known as Aiken Group, which will streamline its core businesses into 4 key business units as follows: Aiken Digital – Digital Consulting & Services, Fixx Labs – Web 3.0 & Blockchain Solutions, Social Commerce Cloud, and Esports & Gaming.

Following the closing of the merger, Aiken Digital will strengthen their ranks with a few key leadership positions within the Singapore and Malaysia operations. The agency will appoint Danny Murong as the chief operating officer (COO) at Aiken Group, Zhi Wei Koh as the creative director, Joshua Ooi as the Project Management Office Lead (PMO) and Wei Liang Lee as the Technical Lead.

Joseph Chua, CEO of Aiken Group, said, “Building upon our proven track record of successful M&A, this merger combines our expertise in consulting and digital experiences as we reimagine what we can deliver to customers as a leading global growth agency. We look forward to Onyx Island’s team joining Aiken Digital, further cultivating a shared culture of innovation and driving even greater value for Aiken Group’s stakeholders and partners.”

Danny Murong, managing director of Onyx Island, shared, “Onyx Island has been reshaping the digital experience landscape for the past 10 years, helping our clients to improve the user’s experience through digital platforms/products. We stand for innovation and unwavering support of our clients and their business operations and now we are extending our commitment to exceptional service and innovation. 

Murong added, “Combining our assets and talented team with Aiken Digital’s experience in this field creates a remarkable growth agency to serve the needs of all our existing and future clients. Collectively, we will deliver even more value and innovation to customers, enabling them to thrive in this increasingly complex multi-cloud era.”

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Marketing Featured Global

GroupM unveils new EssenceMediacom, to integrate Neo into Mindshare

New York, USA – To accelerate innovation for clients and further simplify GroupM’s operations, the media investment group by WPP has unveiled the merger of Essence with MediaCom and the integration of Mindshare with Neo, as well as its new 9,000-strong cross-channel performance platform built on AI technology.

EssenceMediacom is designed to power client growth globally with an agile response to a rapidly evolving media landscape. It infuses the digital and data-driven DNA of Essence with MediaCom’s scaled multichannel, audience planning, and strategic media expertise. Through this, clients will be able to leverage an expanded global organisation founded by two agencies that are strategic complements, designed exclusively to fuel client growth. Essence and MediaCom are already using this operational model for three shared global clients, namely Google, Mars, and NBCUniversal.

Meanwhile, Mindshare and Neo will be operating under the Mindshare brand but will retain and scale Neo’s operating model, focused on pureplay performance solutions, and will integrate this into Mindshare’s full-funnel offering. Neo’s 1,200 digital-first, performance experts and consultants will also be integrated with Mindshare’s 10,000 media specialists and Neo’s digital-first services will be fully embedded into Mindshare and GroupM’s offering.

GroupM Nexus will be composed of 9,000 practitioners globally, collectively responsible for the activation of more than two million campaigns managed by GroupM each year. This global community represents the industry’s leading team of experts in digital channels and platforms, search, social, programmatic, and AI, as well as cross-channel optimisation, and data-driven technologies and software. In addition, GroupM Nexus unites GroupM’s addressable content and TV, AI technology, and omnichannel solutions from Finecast, Xaxis, and GroupM Services into a single unit. The global organisation will be underpinned by a new cross-channel performance platform and international delivery hubs to set new benchmarks for performance innovation and efficiency for GroupM’s agencies and clients.

Christian Juhl, GroupM’s global CEO, said, “Through GroupM Nexus and our agency powerhouses Mindshare, Wavemaker, and EssenceMediacom, we are building a tech-enabled future, side-by-side with our clients, that is accountable to advertisers’ growth goals and to our vision for an advertising ecosystem that works for everyone.”

With these moves, Nick Lawson, MediaCom’s global CEO, will be leading the newly formed EssenceMediacom as global CEO, and Kyoko Matsushita, Essence’s global CEO, will be promoted to the new role of WPP’s CEO for Japan, as the company continues to invest in expanding, high-growth markets, as well as Nicolas Bidon, Xaxis’ global CEO, will be overseeing GroupM Nexus as global CEO.

Lawson noted that the formation of EssenceMediacom builds on the strong and proven relationship between the agencies to create the agency model their clients want for the future — one founded on brilliant strategy and brand-building capabilities, with pioneering digital expertise running throughout. 

“EssenceMediacom will not only help our clients see the bigger picture and reimagine what’s possible; it will also provide opportunities for our people to upskill and train in new areas, further enriching and enhancing their careers,” said Lawson.

Meanwhile, Matsushita said, “Bringing together Essence and MediaCom – each with their own celebrated histories of excellence – will create a truly unique combination of agile innovation and global scale in a single agency.”

Bidon also commented, “GroupM Nexus unites leading media talent, digital services excellence, cutting-edge AI technology and unique scaled partnerships into a new cross-channel performance organisation with one purpose: power growth for our people, our agencies and the amazing brands they represent. We cannot wait to innovate together and unlock new opportunities for everyone.”

Adam Gerhart, Mindshare’s global CEO, said that the merger delivers seamless access to Neo’s digital-first capabilities and a relentless focus on performance models to accelerate good growth. 

“For our teams it means more opportunity and the ability to create greater impact across the world. I’m delighted to partner with Neo CEO Nasreen Madhany as we complete the integration of the two businesses and move into a new future together,” he added.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Tech firms TechCreate, Diginius to merge as TechCreate Group

Singapore – Singapore-based technology services group, TechCreate, and IT security and infrastructure solutions provider, Diginius, have announced a merger, to now become TechCreate Group. This was done via a share swap transaction that will value the enlarged fintech enterprise, at US$30m.

With a focus on powering the future of payments in Asia, TechCreate Group aims to provide cutting-edge innovation and technology capability to enhance value creation for its customers. This includes an expanded business scale with integrated solutions, which is having the capabilities to provide more comprehensive and integrated technology solutions related to payment and digitalisation platforms to serve new and existing customers across Asia.

Another capability of the merger is a strong potential to create new customer value propositions, which is the ability to broaden its reach and serve diverse customer segments with differentiated requirements and objectives, thereby creating the opportunity and potential to develop proprietary insights and innovative solutions that are aligned with the new trends of payments and digitalisation in Asia.

The current CEO of TechCreate, Lim Heng Hai, will be appointed as the group CEO of TechCreate Group, while the current CEO of Diginius, Ronald Vong, to be designated as the managing partner of TechCreate Group.

Commenting on the merger, Lim said that this is a transformational transaction for both companies, creating an enlarged company with end-to-end digital payment offerings in high-growth verticals as economies in Asia accelerate their digitisation roadmap.

“With our combined capabilities, it amplifies our mission to be a leading innovative, customer-centric and eco-friendly technology solution provider in Asia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Vong, commented that they are confident that the strengths of the combined company will enable meaningful growth to stakeholders, delivering new value and insights to better serve their markets and customers.

“At the same time, it can accelerate our growth and more effectively capitalise on our pipeline and broader market opportunities within the banking and financial industries in Asia,” said Vong.

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Marketing Featured APAC

CM Group merges with Cheetah Digital to further enhance customer-centric marketing solutions

Singapore – CM Group, a portfolio of martech companies focused on multichannel digital marketing, has announced that it will now be merging with customer engagement solution provider, Cheetah Digital, under the CM Group name.

The merger aims to expand and enhance both CM Group’s and Cheetah Digital’s ability to deliver innovative email, omnichannel, and personalization, as well as loyalty solutions. Both will be owning a broad array of technologies, which orchestrate marketer communications with client segments across multiple channels. 

Following the merger, the company will also be planning significant investments across the portfolio to bring new products to its base of more than 70,000 active customers. As marketers increasingly seek multi- and omnichannel technology solutions to meet modern customer expectations, CM Group will be expanding its primary focus from email marketing to overall customer engagement and give marketers the ability to acquire, engage, and retain customers through the channels that matter most. 

Moreover, Cheetah Digital’s Customer Engagement Suite solutions, which includes experiences, personalization, loyalty, and the engagement data platform, will help accelerate the pace of innovation across CM Group’s existing products, enabling customer organizations of all sizes to meet the needs of modern consumers. It will also expand CM Group’s reach into the large enterprise segment across key verticals including retail, e-commerce, media, publishing, and financial services, as well as travel, and hospitality, among others.

Wellford Dillard, CM Group’s CEO, shared that the merger with Cheetah Digital means CM Group will be well-positioned to meet the needs of customers of all sizes and shapes, and will continue to be the group’s marketing technology partner as it grows by delivering the right technology at the right time, tailored to its industry and built for the scale at which they operate.

“By keeping each CM Group product distinct and focused on specific verticals or market segments, we deliver superior solutions, expertise, and outcomes for customers when compared to the large volume of generalist solutions in the market today,” said Dillard. 

Meanwhile, Peter McCormick, the executive chairman at Cheetah Digital, believes that CM Group’s ‘home for every marketer’ model is a completely unique approach in the industry and in broader martech, and this merger offers them the opportunity to bring immense innovation to the customers within the CM Group portfolio through an expanded suite of product offerings.

“The momentum of our ‘innovation engine’ at Cheetah will develop these solutions beyond email to bring net-new value for our customers,” said McCormick.

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Technology Featured APAC

E-commerce enabler Awake Asia merges with ADA for market expansion

Singapore – Awake Asia, a regional e-commerce enabler, has announced that it will be now merging with data and AI company ADA, which will help both of the companies empower their services across 10 markets in Asia Pacific, particularly in the e-commerce sector.

Awake Asia’s integration under the ADA brand is effective 1 June this year, where they will serve the markets of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

The merger entails the combination of Awake Asia’s deep e-commerce expertise with ADA’s media, creative, and analytics solutions to drive online sales for brands. This is best applied through digital marketing deeply linked to e-commerce revenue generation; consumer data and analytics leveraged to uplift e-commerce sales; and reaching vast audiences in super-apps and marketplaces.

For Srinivas Gattamneni, chief executive officer of ADA, the merger brings together an integrated approach for brands to reach and convert digital consumers, which is best supported by the fact that more brands are forced to adapt to capture the ‘great migration’ of consumers from offline to online, and business owners still in the dark on how to navigate the challenges to maximize return on investment.

“At ADA, our belief is that e-commerce should not be a siloed execution but needs to be deeply integrated into the brand’s analytics, media, creative, and marketing technology investments – only then can we achieve superior performance,” he said.

Leading the new division is Simon Paterson who joins ADA as chief of e-commerce enablement and the former CEO of Awake Asia. 

Commenting on his new appointment, he said “Over the past 5 years, Awake Asia has built a formidable e-commerce enablement business in Southeast Asia. We are excited to embark on this new phase of growth with integrated analytics, media, and creative to boost e-commerce operations for all brands in the region.”

The merger opens a new market for ADA in Vietnam with over 150 e-commerce specialists currently serving more than 120 brands, driving e-commerce growth for clients such as P&G, Unilever, BMW, and Wyeth; and e-commerce partners including Shopee, Tokopedia, and Lazada among others.

ADA has recently been expanding its data and AI-oriented services across Asia Pacific, such as launching its martech service, an end-to-end e-commerce service, and its partnership with Insider for data-led enterprise marketing endeavors, as well its recent US$60m funding from Softbank.