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Ada hires Mahesh Neelakantan as country director for Malaysia and Singapore

Axiata Digital’s integrated digital marketing business, analytics. data. advertising (ada), has appointed Mahesh Neelakantan (pictured) to the newly created role of country director for Malaysia and Singapore. He will report to chief of agency and COO, Anurag Gupta.

He was previously CEO of specialist shopper marketing agency, Newton: The Activation Company, for approximately three years, according to his LinkedIn. Neelakantan also helmed the role of COO at Advocacy Malaysia for approximately two years. Prior to that, he was MD and Asia Pacific director of OgilvyAction Malaysia, and area business director for OgilvyAction Taiwan.

Neelakantan has worked with brands such as Coca Cola, Dutch Lady, Mondelez, BAT & Watson’s. He also has industry experience across industries such as retail, telecom, FMCG and beverage, which will help ada deepen its capabilities, the agency said.

His appointment comes after former managing director of Malaysia at ada, Dheeraj Raina, left to join Mindshare Malaysia as managing director in July. Neelakantan will also take over Eliot Connor, country manager of Singapore, who will be leaving the agency at the end of this month.

According to Neelakantan, there could not be a better time than now to helm the operations for both Malaysia and Singapore as there is a clear opportunity to look at both markets at a holistic level to drive synergies and cross-pollinate ideas and talent.

“With ada’s capability of combining data, technology, content and media under one roof, ‘integration’ is part of our DNA allowing us to be extremely agile and outcome driven,” he added.

Gupta said Neelakantan is a “seasoned professional” with over two decades of leadership experience in delivering revenue and growth from social, CRM, digital influence programs and shopper marketing.

“I believe he will fuel the business with new ideas for innovation and drive businesses in Malaysia and Singapore to greater heights,” Gupta added.

Two months ago, ada received a US$20 million investment from global trading and business investment company Sumitomo Corporation (Sumitomo Corp). According to the agency, the funding “solidifies” its path towards becoming the leading integrated digital advertising firm, leveraging telco core and digital and analytics capabilities in Southeast Asia by 2021.

As ada’s strategic partner, Sumitomo Corp will help expand ada’s business using its knowledge and experience in affiliate marketing and digital advertising, as well as by developing go-to-market collaborations to serve Japanese advertisers or partner with Japanese agencies.

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