Q&A with Fluid boss Guy Parsonage

Guy ParsonageGuy Parsonage was recently appointed CEO of local Hong Kong creative agency Fluid, having joined from Jack Morton where he was MD.

In this interview, Parsonage talks to Mumbrella Asia editor Robin Hicks about why Fluid rebranded, the plan to double in size in a year and the importance of a good tailor. 

What’s the main difference between working at a big network like Jack Morton and a mid-sized independent agency?

Less BS, more action. Here, you can work on things that matter to clients as opposed to process and reporting, which matter to the bosses of networks. There’s a real difference in energy too. Here, feels a lot more responsive. Individuals take more ownership of what they do.

Guy ParsonageLike Andrew Au [Fluid’s MD], who’s moving to Singapore, you are always swankily kitted out. Why so?

I’ve always had the same philosophy. You need to reflect your audience and make anyone you meet feel comfortable. Since most clients are suited and booted, I am too. When someone gives you $5m to spend, they need to feel comfortable that you know what to do with it. Also, I like to show a level of creativity in how I dress. I’ve always found it difficult to find clothes that fit me here, so I use Roger Concept Tailor at Takshing House.

What’s the best piece of design you’ve ever come across in Asia and why?

The first thing that comes to mind is very current. It’s for the Tokyo City Symphony. It’s a spectacular combination of imagery and sound.

Fluid recently rebranded. Why? And has there been any confusion in the market about who you now are?

Like any brand centric organisation, you need to go through a rebrand every three-five years to reconsider your offering based on what your audience needs and what the market is demanding. Our offering was very diverse and production based. Now we have a clear focus around insight-driven creativity. We have a better idea of who we want to work with, and we’re positioned higher up the food chain.

The market response has been excellent. Clients are expected to be both researchers and creatives rolled into one, but they don’t have the time to do everything. We are moving toward being a client centric organisation that offers integrated marketing solutions. The challenge for us now is staffing and delivery.

Fluid has scaled back its customer publishing business. Why?

It’s always going to be part of our offering. If a client only wants a simple custom publishing job, then we’re probably not the ideal partner for them. But if it’s part of an integrated campaign, we will do it for them.

Fluid is a good creative agency in a market some say is diminishing. Isn’t it time to expand overseas?

The failure of a business is not really a reflection of the failure of a market. Hong Kong is a burgeoning market with a huge opportunity – it gives businesses one foot into China. I cannot foresee that Hong Kong will have any concerns over growth over the next ten years. Yes, it’s a full market and agencies that do not fulfill their clients needs will lose out. But as an agency, I feel that we’re only just scratching the surface here.

Overseas, we have partnerships with other agencies in Singapore and Shanghai. But we’re not planning to open another office until there is sufficient client demand. Andrew Au will help cement our relationship in Singapore, but it’s too early to talk about a formalised deal.

Fluid must get approached by the big MNCs from time to time. Any plans to sell the business?

The goal that we have very firmly in mind is growth, and growth through partnerships is an option. We work with a few partners who provide complimentary services, and some of those are looking very closely at us with a view to acquiring. But in the short term, we are very much focused on our own growth.

Where do you see Fluid in five years’ time?

A multi-office, multi-partner, multi-award winning strategy consultancy. What we’re doing now, but in a turbo-charged way. We have lofty targets. I want us to have doubled our size in a year, and I don’t think that’s unrealistic.


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