CIMB Explains Small Agency Decision

The marketing and advertising industry may have undergone a sea change with the rise of technology and digital, in particular social media, but the core of its DNA - that it's a people business - still remains unchanged.

Earlier this year, in what was touted as the biggest mover and shaker in the industry, CIMB moved its multi-million ad account from WPP-behemoth Ogilvy to a local start-up ManghamGaxiola, led by former group chairman of Ogilvy Singapore Stephen Mangham and executive creative director Robert Gaxiola.

The move while sparking a huge stir in the industry, also gave ManghamGaxiola a head start; for a start-up to boast a founding client which had billings to the tune of SGD25 million was no small feat and decision-maker Effendy Shahul Hamid, head of group marketing and communications of CIMB Group was at the heart of all the action. What made Effendy make such a bold decision?

"If I've worked with X and he was good at a particular job, if he moves agencies and should I have a similar job, I would go to him again," he says, alluding to the importance of relationships in the industry. "Although I've moved agencies, it doesn't mean I'm sacrificing the discipline. Further, the advertising industry has one of the highest turnover rates compared to that of others."

That aside, Effendy feels different agencies, big or small, are stronger in certain areas and adapts his objectives and challenges to the strengths of an agency. As a result, CIMB works with numerous agencies today.

"For me, I don't put my life and soul into a retainer. I think movement of agency is healthy. Having said that, I don't go into an arrangement knowing I'm going to switch. But it certainly keeps my in-house guys sharp because they have to deal with different people all the time," he says.

Since early this year, CIMB in Singapore has kept busy with various integrated campaigns such as CIMB Clicks and the CIMB Million Dollar Draw campaign, all of which relied heavily on digital.