9GAG, a Hong Kong-based online platform that allows the sharing of user generated content, is expanding into Singapore and Malaysia this March. To facilitate its launch in these markets, 9GAG has partnered with art studio HappWhy Brands, which was behind the character Ai愛.
9GAG was co-founded in 2008 in Hong Kong by Ray Chan (pictured left below), Marco Fung, Derek Chan, Brian Yu, and Chris Chan. Meanwhile, HappWhy said making people happy is its “Why”.
Peter Zhuo (pictured right below), owner of HappWhy Brands and 9GAG’s head of Singapore and Malaysia, told Marketing that 9GAG chose to enter these two countries as the HQs of many reputable companies are based there. Also, 9GAG has a strong penetration rate in Singapore and Malaysia, especially among the Millennials.
On Instagram specifically, Zhuo said it has over 746,000 unique users in Singapore and more than 2.7 million unique users in Malaysia. Across 9GAG, more than 90% of its audience are below the age of 34, Zhuo said, adding that more than 70% of its audience are below the age of 24.
According to Zhuo, both 9GAG and HappWhy are aligned in terms of branding and vision. 9GAG aims to make the world happier while HappWhy’s mission is to remind the world that happiness should be the reason that drives them. Both brands also generate over one billion impressions per month. Zhuo said in the past year, HappWhy generated over 10 billion views on social media platform GIPHY.
Zhuo added that both brands have an appreciation for intellectual properties. “In the last quarter of 2017, Singapore is the top country in terms of the number of trademarks filed. In that quarter, the top three companies that filed the most trademarks are Grab, Jewel Changi Airport and HappWhy.
“A significant budget will be set aside for marketing and branding initiatives,” he said. While Zhuo declined to reveal the exact amount, he explained that 9GAG will be presenting at one of the largest game conferences in Asia which will be held in Singapore.
Zhuo will oversee two account directors – Wendy Toh (pictured left) and Wilfred Allais (pictured right). According to him, both individuals not only have experience and the network, but are also passionate about helping clients to achieve a bigger impact for their marketing dollars with 9GAG.
9GAG is also looking to expand the team in the next few months, specifically in the area of marketing.
“We are looking for someone who lives and breathes viral content and videos, who has a good understanding of marketing in today’s business of day trading attention,” he said. Zhuo added the individual must share the value of 9GAG’s H2O DNA – hustle, humble, and openness. The individual will either be based in Singapore or in 9GAG’s Hong Kong headquarters.
Besides targeting Millennials and Gen Zs, Zhuo said the teams in Singapore and Malaysia are keen to work with MNCs and SMEs. Currently, 9GAG works with clients from industries across entertainment, gaming, lifestyle, tourism, technology, and music. Some of the clients it currently has in the US include Tencent America, Square Enix, Dunkin', TikTok, Hinge, Paramount Pictures, and EA SPORTS. The team is currently in conversations with potential clients in Singapore and Malaysia.
“We are targeting both established and growing brands and regional HQs in Singapore and Malaysia, that are looking to expand locally and globally,” Zhuo said. He explained that 9GAG’s global reach and access to exclusive content and creators is valuable in helping local brands expand globally. Meanwhile with its strong reach in Singapore and Malaysia, 9GAG can help global brands enter the local market.
(Read also: 9GAG’s Ray Chan on content marketing)
Differentiating from local platforms
Meanwhile, Singaporeans and Malaysians would be familiar with the platforms SGAG and MGAG, which are owned by Hepmil Media Group. Launched in 2012, SGAG aims to connect with Singaporeans through localised humour. Likewise, MGAG also focuses on all things Malaysian. Over the years, both have formed a following in Singapore and Malaysia, reaching 6.5 million every week and 5.4 million every month respectively. Majority of its fans on Facebook are 18 to 34 years old.
With the platforms targeting the same audience as 9GAG and having overlaps in their naming, it is possible for consumers to see them as affiliated. Zhuo explained that it will reach out to potential clients, share insights and access with them, and help companies understand why 9GAG is “a good business and marketing decision for their marketing budgets”. He added:
We are in the business of showing results, not in the business of boasting or bragging.
“Having said that, I do love the idea of letting our actions reveal our intentions and strategies over time,” Zhuo added, declining to reveal the marketing and branding efforts 9GAG will implement to differentiate itself.
When asked who 9GAG’s close competitors in Singapore and Malaysia are, Zhuo said: “All media companies fighting for brands’ marketing dollars are our close and distant competitors.” He explained that clients today are getting smarter and are looking to make decisions that will get the most impact and results for their marketing dollars.