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Craig Mapleston launches VCCP in Asia, as regional director based in Singapore, after Cathay win

VCCP’s new Asia-Pacific regional director Craig Mapleston

VCCP Singapore launches in Singapore today with Craig Mapleston as Asia-Pacific regional director. A veteran in the region, Mapleston was most recently managing director at Iris Singapore and was previously with Bates Asia/141 Worldwide.

VCCP is a full service agency headquartered in London, with offices in Berlin, Madrir, Prague, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. It is a part of Chime Communications, a sports, entertainment and communications group that is privately owned by Providence Equity Partners – with WPP also having a minority non-controlling stake.

Mapleston and VCCP’s vice-chairman Julian Douglas spoke exclusively to Mumbrella about their plans for the Singapore operation, which already counts Cathay Pacific and Shell among its client base.

The agency is actively recruiting. While Mapleston wouldn’t reveal any names, he said an operations lead was already in place and the hunt was on for a creative lead, a strategy lead, a business lead and a servicing team. He said: “Certainly by quarter one, we will have a full-service agency up and running in Singapore.”

On the business front, the focus is going to be on Cathay Pacific and Shell for now. Mapleston and Douglas declined to reveal the names of any other client discussions taking place in the APAC region.

The new work on Cathay Pacific was, they said, still “under discussion”. But Douglas did admit that news of the Singapore office launch had generated interest from VCCP clients with a presence already in Asia. VCCP’s global client list includes O2, Canon, Cadbury, Domino’s and EasyJet.

Asked about starting operations in other Asian countries with Singapore as a hub, Mapleston said: “It’s definitely a possibility. It’s something we are looking at, right now.” Going further, he explained: “The clients we will be actively working with and pursuing will be those with a regional footprint. We will need that diversity of understanding of different markets.”

As for the difference VCCP will bring to an already saturated ad market in Singapore, Douglas and Mapleston pointed to the agency’s challenger status as a big positive. Douglas said: “We look at ways to challenge the status quo in every category including our own.

“We don’t operate as a number of separate offices, but as one office in multiple locations. We have capabilities that are shared. We augment that with local culture, understanding, talent and expertise.”

Another factor giving the agency an edge was the fact that it had started in the new millennium and so was, according to Douglas: “Not encumbered with a lot of the legacy problems that some of the older networks have. Our operating system from day one was through the line and integrated.

“We have grown capability at every stage of our history. That is exactly the approach we will be taking in this market.”

The principals at the agency also believed the shop’s approach to integration could work to its advantage. When quizzed as to whether media would be part of the offering, Mapleston said: “It’s not just about ticking boxes and saying ‘we have this or that channel covered’. It’s about growing and evolving with client needs.

“With Shell, it’s about having a keen commercial focus and an understanding of their business and the levers that will drive success. Some of those will be around creativity and others a deep understanding of the value chain and the relationships within the Shell ecosystem. So, Shell full service will have a different connotation to full service for other clients.”

Asked about the reasons he took up the assignment with VCCP, Mapleston said: “It is a great agency. One I’ve admired from afar for a long time. When I got wind that they were looking to open up in Asia, it was pretty much a dream job.

“A brilliant company with a great record and some really clever strategic thinking, looking to open into a market that I’m very familiar with. What was appealing was the chance to build something new in Asia but with the heritage and success that VCCP has driven in other parts of the world.”

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