DDB Singapore fires off legal warning to BLK J for staff poaching

DDB has fired off a legal warning against creative agency BLK J, which is helmed by former DDB staff. According to sources close to Marketing, this comes shortly after BLK J hired a number of DDB’s staff, despite a non-solicitation clause, which covers both client and staff poaching.

In an exclusive statement to Marketing, the founders of BLK J said: “BLK J has always been above board in our collaboration with DDB. In fact, it was a beneficial collaboration for DDB and our agency start-up. Our decision not to continue the collaboration was amicable and accepted by DDB. As such, the allegations made by DDB come as a complete surprise. The staffers who have joined us have done so on their own accord. We strongly disagree with all such allegations, and will defend our agency and its people against the allegations accordingly.”

Marketing has also reached out to DDB for comment.

Currently leading the DDB Singapore office, which has over 400 employees, is former Y&R MD Melvin Kuek and CCO Chris Chiu.  Both Kuek and Chiu came on board at the end of 2016, when former DDB managing director Rowena Bhagchandani and former creative group executive creative director  Joji Jacob of DDB broke away to launch BLK J. Joining them in launching the new start-up were Lester Lee and Khalid Osman, who are now creative co-founders of BLK J.

When the launch of BLK J first emerged, David Tang, CEO of DDB Group Singapore and Asia said, “This is DDB at its very best in creativity and humanity. We believe in a collaborative world where we must encourage and support our very own talent to grow and thrive, even to give them the wings to soar. We wish BLK J the strength and stamina to stay adventurous and stay dedicated.”

Since then, the BLK J team has bagged several notable clients, with the most recent one being budget aviation brand Scoot. Over the course of the year, BLK J also worked with Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology 2017 (SWITCH 2017), UnionPay, Singapore Press Holdings Radio (SPH Radio), Grab, STB, MOE and others. It also worked with StarHub for its recent Chinese New year campaign titled #NeverGrowApart.

The agency recently moved out of the DDB premises and is temporarily based at WeWork Beach Centre. It is slated to move into its new office space at Mountbatten Road in March.

Meanwhile, DDB has also bagged clients and beefed up its team locally. In March last year, Robinsons Group has appointed DDB Group Singapore to manage integrated communications and marketing campaigns for the retailer. The agency also added on National Council of Social Services (NCSS), Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) Syngenta, Coopervision amongst other. It also recently picked regional briefs for Samsonite and The Body Shop.

DDB has also had a slew of hires recently adding on six new creatives and the well known Mr Miyagi to its team.   The agency also launched a global tech hub, Equator, with the support of the Economic Development Board and opened its first satellite office in Temasek Polytechnic. Equator will serve 200 DDB offices worldwide and groom the next-generation creative tech talents in Singapore.

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