Agencies which innovate will not only survive, but thrive

It’s been a complex year for Hong Kong’s advertising agency landscape. As Hong Kong slips further towards a hyper-local status, there has been a lot of debate about the industry’s role and importance on the regional and, indeed, global stage.

Can Hong Kong maintain its status as a regional hub; is the work being produced competing on the global stage?

On one hand we’ve had agencies recording huge growth, often at record levels. We’ve seen WPP continue its M&A strategy, buying digital firm Rice 5. China ad group BlueFocus acquired Metta Communications for a whopping HK$178 million and a new
wave of independent agencies are winning serious clients.

But flip the coin over and it’s a very different story.

Last May, M&C Saatchi shocked the industry by claiming Hong Kong had lost its importance and decided, after 18 years, it was time to call it quits.

In December, Draft FCB said Hong Kong was facing “escalating challenges” and, like M&C Saatchi, it closed the doors on Hong Kong and shed some 26 staff in the process.

But among all this, one thing remains constant – survival rests on the ability of agencies to adapt, evolve and manoeuvre to changing market conditions.

This year’s Agency of the Year winners are clear evidence of this.

Each year, as we look for ways to improve these awards, we took the judging process to a new level and asked 19 of Hong Kong’s most senior marketers to join us for a day to put the 90-plus finalists though their paces. The impact
was immediate.

The Agency of the Year 2014 has been our biggest yet, with a huge spike in the number of independent finalists.

Congratulations to all the winners.