The marketing industry has significantly since the onset of the pandemic. Ways of the past can no longer suffice. In a 2020 McKinsey survey of more than 200 organisations across industries, more than 90% of executives said they expect the fallout from COVID-19 to fundamentally change the way they do business over the next five years, with almost as many asserting that the crisis will have a lasting impact on their customers’ needs. However, more than three-quarters also agreed that the crisis will create significant new opportunities for growth, although this varies significantly by industry.
Of course, seeing the opportunities emerging from this crisis is not the same as being able to seize them. Fewer than 30% of these same executives feel confident that they are prepared to address the changes they see coming. The area in which they feel the most challenged is delivering net new growth opportunities.
To drive innovative thinking, the study suggests that marketers must:
- Adapt the core to meet shifting customer needs
- Identifying and quickly addressing new opportunity areas being created by the changing landscape
- Reevaluating the innovation initiative portfolio and ensuring resources are allocated appropriately
- Building the foundation for postcrisis growth in order to remain competitive in the recovery period
This need for guidance opens up an opportunity for agencies to help marketers with the use of new technology, media, marketing, creative, social, communities and consumer intelligence are converging as consumers become more and more restless and demanding. In fact, over the past year, we have seen a lot of agencies working on solutions to create campaigns and marketing initiatives, with many of them enjoying huge successes.
We turned to our 2021 Agency of the Year Hong Kong results to find out who our judges thought were the five most innovative agencies in Hong Kong. We've listed our top 5 winners alphabetically. Our list of agencies below won over our independent panel of high-calibre, client-side marketers not only by displaying the work they have done for clients, but also through their desire to nurture talent and create proprietary products for execution of world class campaigns.
Founded in 2013 by ex-journalists, former Ogilvy & Mather ECDs Simon Handford and Sandy Chan, ANON focuses on advertising, branding, digital marketing, and social media marketing. ANON calls itself a “story-led brand agency”, offering integrated branding, brand events, production, social, content curation, and design, to name a few. The agency’s key clients include Swire Properties, Nike Hong Kong, Orbis Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. In 2020, it expanded its portfolio of clients by winning projects for brands such as Shangri-la, Cartier and Friso, to name a few. It also touted a win ratio of 100%, despite the turbulent year.
ANON constantly keeps the growth and development of its tight team of around 15 in check by prioritising communication. Staff members are offered quarterly appraisals in addition to fixed annual salary reviews. The agency also prides itself in having no strict layers or teams, fostering a strong family spirit. This translates to its collaborative approach when working with clients, preferring to go for project-based relationships that give both parties the freedom to continue working together.
Established as Mtel in 1999, it became part of EY in April 2019. Combining EY's global resources and expertise, EY Mtel offers clients total solutions from strategies to operations. Consisting of a team of over 100 talents, EY Mtel offers digital solutions for clients across Asia with other staffers based at the Greater China region in the cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai and Taipei. The EY Mtel team focuses on delivering engaging and effective digital experiences, with its consultancy helping businesses make living, working, interacting, and trading easier, more effective, and more enjoyable for everyone. The company is also capable of implementing end-to-end implementation solutions for a complete delivery cycle across multiple platforms and methodologies.
Over the years, the company has worked with a number of notable clients, including Starbucks, A.S. Watson Group, Plaza Premium Lounge. It also won the business from the Chinachem Group, HK Electric, EGL Tours and Octopus. One of the most successful campaigns that EY Mtel worked on was the launch of ColourMe for Watsons Hong Kong, which allows customers to try virtual make up on an app.
When it comes to investing into its employees, EY Mtel offers them EY badges, giving them opportunities to develop and obtain credentials in future-focused skills and increase career value and professional visibility. EY badges help the employees stay relevant and encourage them to shape their careers and prepare themselves for the future by becoming better equipped and differentiated in the market. Badges validate their progress in skills that will be increasingly important to their future roles.
Full-service digital marketing agency Fimmick has been around for over 12 years and is headquartered in Hong Kong. The agency provides customised integrated digital marketing, social media marketing, programmatic and automated online advertising, creative marketing campaigns, content marketing, video production, mobile first marketing, customer relationship management, and influencer marketing solutions.
The agency has worked with notable brands such as AIA, Nestle, Shiseido, ASUS, Samsung, Panasonic, Coca-Cola, 3M, DBS, Bossini, and many others. Currently, its team has over 120 talents in Hong Kong with a majority of them being Millennials and Gen Z. It also expanded its account servicing, content creative digital partnership and growth and CRM departments.
Mentors and job rotation schemes are also created to ensure that its talents are nurtured. Learning programmes and allowances are also provided by the agency to keep them abreast of industry trends. Fimmick often organises webinars, Weekly Learning Wednesdays and Digital Fridays for its staff to learn through teaching as well. Last year, it also enabled flexible working hours and remote working for its staff.
OMD has been operating in the city for decades. It believes that the advent and rise of digital advertising and performance-based marketing make innovation a must nowadays. The company has been on the forefront of the digital revolution. It has been continuously helping clients navigate the difficult territory of digital transformation and seeking and developing the most advanced and innovative techniques to deliver messages to audiences on an ever-increasing number of platforms.
With its capabilities to deliver results, OMD won eight new clients in 2020, including Nestle, Dairy Farm, Octopus and Green Monday. Moreover, the agency also successfully retained the long term relationships with notable brands such as MTR, Federal Express and McDonald's Hong Kong. All of these companies have been working with OMD for over two decades. OMD's commitment is to do “better decisions, faster”. It necessitates a product with agility and versatility. Built from decades of media-design experience, OMD Design is a structured thinking and planning process that enables the agency to connect its clients' ambitions with relevant audience segments and unite them with state-of-the-art media planning tools for crafting and optimisation.
OMD Design plugs directly into OMNI, a digital marketing platform that features a host of applications and tools to employees, data assets and analytics offerings together. Collectively, OMD Design and OMNI emphasise speed (via rapid prototyping) and an empathy-led consumer insight approach, which sits at the heart of all works.
UM Hong Kong
A subsidiary of IPG Mediabrands, UM Hong Kong is a total marketing solutions agency committed to driving business momentum for brands through the combination of the power of data and creativity, science and art. Speaking of data, its business analytics engine is a future-facing strategic solution that are rooted in evidence-based insights, utilising unique data streams from all syndicated and proprietary sources. The business analytics engine is a state-of-the-art capability that brings together people, data and analytic techniques to provide the science in its planning process.
In recent years, the agency has worked with notable brands such as Deliveroo Hong Kong, Invesco, The Open University of Hong Kong, Rakuten, J.P. Morgan and the China Construction Bank (Asia).
UM Hong Kong also invested in its people via the Connect Mentoring programme. This programme allows all employees to apply for a mentor from any discipline. It is aimed at connecting its talent with a diverse mentor for difference based mentoring to broaden perception and perspectives. The agency also beefed up its operations, hiring in many senior positions to better meet the needs in the new normal, growth, expanding the team with CEO Ben Kwan who assumed office last year. Leading the charge of change at the agency is general manager Alice Lee, business director Chung Au, both of whom boast more than 20 years of experience in the industry, as well as a slew of senior directors.
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