The week in review: Boss tweets sacking of key staff | UOB hires BBH | SPH’s growing appetite for risk | Data agency opens in Hong Kong | Sexism debate rumbles on | ‘I hate Thailand’ video goes viral

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week in which BBH won United Overseas Bank, Singapore Press Holdings tried to reassure shareholders it can reverse its revenue decline, a data agency launched in Hong Kong, a Thai tourism video titled ‘I hate Thailand’ went viral, and a Singapore publishing company boss tweeted that he had sacked his two most senior staff.

Stories of the week

BBH wins UOB. Capping off a good year for the agency behind the Ikea ‘Bookbook’ viral iPhone parody, BBH converted one of Singapore’s biggest advertising reviews of the year, seeing off Publicis Groupe sibling Saatchi & Saatchi in a final round of pitching.

James Smith tweetAnd yesterday, about a week after Mumbrella ran an article about whether it matters that agency heads don’t tweet, the boss of Singapore publishing company Alphabet Media, which reports on Asia’s government technology sector, tweeted that he had fired his two most senior staff.

Quotes of the week

Singapore Press Holdings chairman Lee Boon Yang tried to reassure shareholders that the company can return to growth, partly through developing its property business, and partly by making acquisitions in new digital fields such as programmatic trading. Lee told attendees at the AGM on Tuesday:

These investments will take time – they won’t generate profit immediately. And I must say that some investments will not succeed.

Is Singapore’s adland sexist? Some thought Mumbrella was right to highlight a nomination for Singapore’s unsung heroes at the Gong Creative Circle Awards that described a female executive as ‘”MILF” and a “visual treat”. Others thought we were unfair and sensationalising the issue. In a follow-up piece, Pat Law and Henry Adams gave their views, to which Phil Brett, the Singapore-based boss of TBWA Southeast Asia, commented:

I do not see sexism as an issue in this industry. I know many women who earn MORE than their counterparts at many levels in the business. I see a great many more women in the business in general. And who command significant roles. I see flexible working hours for working mums, nursing rooms in agencies, extended maternity leave, and some absolutely fantastic practitioners enjoying good careers. If I was to characterize the gender of the entire industry, I would say it is definitely more female friendly than any other I can think of. I think the MILF line was more a dumb choice of words that came from inarticulacy and poor taste than any genuine display of sexism.

Tripti LochanTripti Lochan, the CEO of VML Qais, added:

Unlike Henry, and like Pat, I have not really encountered incidences of sexism in the industry. And to Henry’s last point – through all the jobs that I have held – I have never had to face a discrepancy in pay compared to my male counterparts. Case in point – pay in VML Qais is uncategorically equal between sexes, right up to the top.

The debate on whether it matters that agency bosses are not particularly active on Twitter continued. Philips APAC CMO Damien Cummings had some advice for media and creative agency heads:

I’ve personally struggled in the past with creative agencies not understanding how to engage customers via social (beyond competitions and giveaways), and most media agencies have limited experience buying and trafficking Twitter ad buys. Having personal experience in the platform helps.

Agencies heads are not accountants, teachers or stockbrokers – they are marketers. They sell marketing services to brands. The best also inspire and lead by example, as is seen when great creatives becoming agency leaders. It’s the same with digital – I’d like to have robust conversations with agency leaders who understand the time and people commitment social media and digital marketing takes. A simple demonstration of this is by at least having a personal Twitter account.

Best work

Samsung Japan. An uplifting tour of Tokyo, with a little help from a Galaxy Note Edge.

Tomy. A headset that can detect lies.

Nissan. The world’s first extreme pizza delivery service, brought to you by the Nissan X-TRAIL.

Best-read story on Mumbrella

Winner of Singapore’s unsung heroes of adland award described as ‘MILF’ and ‘visual treat’ for creatives in nomination

Good week for…

Pixels. According to figures from ComScore, the newly rebranded ad network is ahead of larger rivals Google and Yahoo in terms of digital advertising served in Hong Kong.

XM production teamXM. The JWT-aligned agency announced the launch of a digital production hub in Vietnam, the first in Asia’s, the agency claim, to offer scaleable digital productions solutions.

Tourism Australia. The tourism body became the latest marketing group to launch a digital news room.

Bates CHI & Partners Singapore. The agency brought Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar over from the Mumbai office to spearhead the Singapore operation’s creative council.

Leo Burnett Hong Kong. The agency triumphed at the Kam Fan Awards, claiming the best in show with an idea to make people’s possessions easier to donate for the Salvation Army.

Hong Kong’s agency scene. Enter Fifty-Five, a French data agency, which claimed rather loftily in a press release about launching a Hong Kong office, “In digital ecosystems that are less structured than those in Europe and the US, the agency has a unique opportunity to educate the market and quickly become a point of reference for Asian companies.”

Brand New Media. The content marketing agency entered the Philippines through a deal with national broadcaster TV5, launching multi-channel network 4ME.

Tourism Authority of Thailand. The unbranded ‘I hate Thailand’ video went viral.

Bad week for…

Uber. The ride-sharing app was declared illegal in Vietnam.

Grey. The ad agency parted ways with its national creative director for China, Yue Chee Guan, after a decade of service.

Prediction for next week

A fight breaks out at an agency Christmas party in Singapore over the last sausage roll.


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