#AOTYAwards spills: 3 times Overall Agency of the Year TBWA\’s secret sauce

For the third year running, TBWA\Group Singapore has clinched the Overall Agency of the Year title at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s Agency of the Year awards.

The agency’s claim to victory was clear after sweeping gold in four categories (Brand and Design Consultancy of the Year, Creative Agency of the Year, Full-Service Agency of the Year, and Integrated Agency of the Year), and one bronze for the Digital Agency of the Year category. In addition to Overall Agency of the Year, the agency also picked up Overall Network Agency of the Year.

Judges said the agency showed "true creativity in a time dominated by data and metrics” in its entries, having produced excellent creative work that achieved outstanding results for clients.  

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Ara Hampartsoumian, CEO of the agency shared that for several years, TBWA\Group Singapore has been innovating itself so as to innovate on behalf of its clients to continue to find growth, while being prepared for any large scale changes.

Today, the agency is focused on building a global centre of excellence in Singapore for its data offering.

“We've accelerated and expanded our consultancy data practice with key investments in demand mapping, CX design, retail activation, and brand repurposing which has already brought us extraordinary results,” said Hampartsoumian. More here from Hampartsoumian.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the key expectations your clients have for your agency right now?

Hampartsoumian: To be a valuable business partner and help find new areas of growth for them to secure a greater share of the future, while delivering impactful creative solutions.

2020 has been a year that forced large scale changes at incredible speed, across all industries and as a result, opportunities were presented while vulnerabilities were exposed.

We take it upon ourselves to work at the speed of culture, and work in partnership with our clients to help find opportunities for their brands, enabling them to respond and thrive, in a future yet to be determined.

We’ve also been successful at finding these opportunities for our clients as a result of our ongoing investment and evolution of our data practice, which includes several innovations we launched and scaled globally this year.

What would you say are the biggest shifts in your clients’ marketing spend this year? How has TBWA\shifted its marketing in parallel?

Hampartsoumian: The most fundamental shift for all our clients are the changes in behaviours and new habits being formed, and it appears the longer markets remain in lockdown the more likely these habits will become established. Brands that align with their customer’s new consumption and behaviour habits and have clear relevance will fair much stronger than those that don’t.

To gain a greater understanding of these changing behaviours, our Cultural Intelligence teams, powered by our proprietary culture tool Backslash, launched the 23 New Asia Edges Report where we outlined new behaviours that will determine how consumers behave in the future.

National Pride was an EDGE that quickly gained momentum not just in Singapore but across many of our markets, where communities and countries are supporting their own home markets to boost local economies. For example, the SingapoRediscovers and SingapoReimagine campaigns for STB.

‘Home as HQ’ is another EDGE we feel will stick well into 2021 and beyond. Brands therefore must quickly establish how they’ll fit into people’s new world’s within a home environment  To further understand the possibilities and impact for brands we partnered with Quilt.AI to create a white paper to better equip our Clients. With IKEA SEA as a Client, we were able to tap on these insights across the work we have created from the Make Home Count (Covid) to the Home is a different world campaigns.

For several years, TBWA has been innovating itself so we can innovate on behalf of our clients to continue to find growth, while being prepared for any large scale changes.

And as part of this journey we've been shifting our agency's external and internal strategy to adapt at scale and speed, allowing us to respond quickly to this rapidly changing environment, while sustaining our business and those of our clients into the future.

Beyond being a partner, we have distinguished ourselves as a compass to our clients, helping them navigate through a difficult journey while re-engineering our clients' marketing and communication across the three phases of response, recovery, and resetting.

From STB, to IKEA, SIA to Standard Chartered, the strategy, and work we have created together is a testament to this.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying the workforce for this?

Hampartsoumian: Focus around talent - right-sourcing talent that highlights multiple skills with better, more focused 'casting' on projects and campaigns.

We're building a global centre of excellence in Singapore for our data offering.

We've accelerated and expanded our consultancy data practice with key investments in demand mapping, CX design, retail activation, and brand repurposing which has already brought us extraordinary results.

Also, we're looking into a different, more flexible working structure, one that will give our staff more freedom to work both from home or the office

What do you think makes for great marketing? 

Hampartsoumian: Given the current global pandemic state, marketers are looking for quick(er) results and higher ROI. Communications need to hit the target the first time out, so we need to ensure the message is focused and relevant. There's also a need for brands to behave meaningfully and with a purpose if they want consumers to engage with them.

A wonderful example of this is the Standard Chartered Global Trade brand campaign which launched in September and tells a powerful story that reinforces the Bank’s commitment to global trade, even in these uncertain times.

What are your key plans for preparing for 2021?

Hampartsoumian: TBWA\ Singapore is fortunate we entered 2020 from a position of strength. And as a result of our relentless approach to innovating ourselves, while developing new growth opportunities for our clients, we have come out even stronger.

We will continue on our trajectory of evolved contingency planning, heightened and transparent communication with our people, investing in culture and talent development, and revising and adapting our business structures across all disciplines to meet the needs of our clients.