ADNA taps former Kraken Interactive MD for Malaysia ops, expands to South Africa

Creative intelligence agency ADNA has launched in Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town, bringing its total footprint to three, including Singapore. The two offices will be principally owned by ADNA and minority equity shared with the local partners.

Leading the Kuala Lumpur office is Ron Chow, former MD of Kraken Interactive, who has come on board as business partner and has experience in media and data. There are currently two individuals based in Kuala Lumpur with access to creative and production resources when needed. Meanwhile, helming the role of founder and director of ADNA South Africa is Mark Taylor, who joins from Arcade, a business he co-founded in 2010. The South Africa team is five-man strong.

Besides early projects for several known clients in South Africa, ADNA in Africa is exploring research initiatives in education through early adoption student engagement programmes in South Africa. ADNA reports for key industries driven by its collaborative team, including a head of strategy to be announced and researchers in leading African markets.The agency also claimed that it has contributed to an acclaimed country-wide savings survey for News 24, South Africa’s largest online newspaper with over 450 million page impressions a month.

The latest openings are part of a broader plan to give access for markets around the world, direct access to the ADNA panel. They also come shortly after Matt Cullen (pictured left), founding partner and creative director of Arcade, and former CCO of Digitas joined ADNA in August alongside COO David Mayo (pictured second from left), CCO Gary Tranter (pictured right) and ADNA's founder Henry Gomez (pictured second from right). Mayo was previously the group sales and marketing director at Verita Healthcare and also led Ogilvy's business in Malaysia, while Tranter was one of Arcade's co-founders.

The offices combined will double the size of the current ADNA business and bring the total employee count to over 20. It is understood that there are plans to open offices in Sydney, Mumbai and London early in 2021 and discussions are underway with clients in three cities in the US.

Mayo told A+M that ADNA would be an alternative to any first-hand quant data suppliers as well as to creative agencies and boutiques. "We are the only agency with primary quant data on tap that can inform the development of creative ideas. We say 'Stop listening. Start asking'. This simply means that the work we develop starts working from the first dollar our clients spend. We have the science for marketers to make braver decisions," he added.

When asked about its business strategy for the new markets, Mayo described it as "cubic" - research and creative clients from inside and outside the areas where ADNA operates. It currently also works with Sasko in Africa, and is in talks with two clients in Malaysia, one of which is in the technology space.

"We know there is a thirst for what we do among marketers as the quest for quality competes with the need for speed. We will staff according to the needs of our business with people working for us and then within a network of partners and alliances, depending on the specific requirements of the assignment," he added.

Mayo is a prominent figure in Malaysia's, helming the role of Ogilvy Malaysia CEO and country head for close to two years. He stepped down from his role in August 2018, after 21 years with the agency, starting off as regional business director and overseeing accounts including Guinness. Thereafter, Mayo joined GetCraft as chief growth officer in March 2019. 

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