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Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore announces significant restructuring, job cuts

The Singapore operations of the Dentsu Aegis Network is undergoing a restructure, primarily affecting the media business.

It is likely to result in 2% staff redundancies, across all levels. The changes will affect the Singapore office which also doubles up as a hub for the region.

Speaking about the new structure, Dentsu Aegis Network South East Asia CEO Phil Teeman said there will now be three component parts: brand solutions, an integrated one Singapore media group and finally a virtual group.

Brand solutions has been conceived to focus on new business and new product development at a global, regional and individual market level. It will be run by Joanna Catalano, currently the CEO of iProspect.

The one Singapore media group will reorganise media and performance agencies such as Carat, Vizeum and Dentsu X as a unit designed to offer the best possible capabilities and solutions for clients. It will be run by Carat Asia-Pacific CEO Jonathan Chadwick, supported by Dentsu X general manager Phil Adrien.

The virtual group will work on finding ways to leverage and maximise the potential of existing client relationships.

Explaining these groups and their roles in greater detail over a conference call with trade publications, Teeman said: “Brand solutions will comprise of media and performance agencies: Carat, Vizeum, Dentsu X and iProspect.”

As a group focusing on new business, brand solutions is expected to play a role in everything from global pitches where Asia-Pacific forms a key component, to regional or even local business opportunities in particular markets.

Teeman added: “The brand solutions group will also support product development.

“It will involve deepening our partnership with media and technology players. And ensuring that we continue to evolve products through these partnerships for our clients.”

Brand solutions will also play a regional role in the data and analytics space. Teeman said: “We have significant capability in Singapore in those spaces and this group will be the conduit between the region and the markets.

“It is a deliberately agile and brand fluid team with the specific resources to support the core pillars of its operation.”

While the current focus is media, Teeman hinted the mandate could expand and said: “Increasingly, we see opportunities from clients to present more integrated solutions. We see this group evolve to support those integrated opportunities.”

The second component is an integrated one Singapore media group which will bring together existing media and performance brands and amplify them into a singular unit. The agency brands themselves will have a client-orientated structure.

Teeman said: “By bringing those teams together, we ensure we capitalise on capabilities that operate across the brands. It is deliberately designed to ensure we develop the best possible solutions for our clients.”

Dentsu Aegis Network will also be moving away from the structure of regional media agency chief executives, it was announced.

The third element involves a virtual group: a DAN client solutions team that will work on key client relationships across the group through a team structure. The team will meet regularly to identify opporutunities to enhance relationships with existing clients and bring new capabilities to bear.

Nick Waters and Phil Teeman of Dentsu Aegis Network

Speaking about the reasons for this reorganisation, Dentsu Aegis Network’s outgoing CEO for APAC Nick Waters said: “Last year in Singapore we initiated a transformation programme to support our business, now and for the future.

“We took steps to bring together regional and local market teams based in Singapore. Working groups have been formed over the past six months to look at how we organise ourselves at Dentsu Aegis Network.

“This week, we will take steps to create an effective structure that supports changing client needs to further activate our operating model of one P&L per market and give us the ability to build up our offering in the faster moving areas of business.

“These changes are purposefully put in place before my move to lead the business in the UK and Ireland to complete the work done over the past six months and set the region up for future success.”

He also admitted that the reorganisation will involve some people leaving the business. He said: “It will be a relatively low 2% of the staff here. Those affected are from across the spectrum of seniorities and throughout the business where roles have been identified as duplicate or no longer relevant in the context of the new structure.”

He added that the exits would be made on “the best possible terms.”

Speaking about how the success of the new structure will be measured, Waters and Teeman believed it would be in terms of new product and new business for the brand solutions team.

Asked what this new structure enabled that couldn’t be done before, Waters said: “Greater agility and a simpler way of moving appropriate resources, skillsets, capabilities and disciplines across clients, depending on their specific needs.”

The developments come in the wake of a relatively turbulent time for the Dentsu Aegis Network in the Asia-Pacific region.

In June last year, several senior agency leaders were retrenched including Rohan Lightfoot, the managing director for Isobar Asia-Pacific, Shrivathsa Raghunathan, the MD of Vizeum Singapore, and Rosemary Lising, the MD of Columbus.

At the time, in a statement to Mumbrella, DAN had said the retrenchments were part of an effort to “harmonise synergies” between the APAC region and Singapore, and that the network had “initiated a transformation programme to support our business now and for the future.”

A DAN earnings report said that while its growth in the third quarter of 2018 was at 8.2%, organic growth in the first nine months of financial year 2018 was just 2.1%.

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