72andSunny Singapore's president, Ida Siow (pictured second from left) and APAC ECD Johnny Tan (pictured second from right), are leaving the agency amidst the folding of 72andSunny under sister brand Forsman & Bodenfors in Singapore. Siow and Tan, who have been with the firm for three and four years respectively, shared that exiting the agency at the end of 2021 was always in the works, but given their "blockbuster 2021", they had chosen to stay on until the end of March 2022 to ensure a smooth transition.
Toby Southgate (pictured left), global CEO of Forsman & Bodenfors confirmed the move to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE and said: “We talked a lot with our friends at 72andSunny about the best route forward in a highly competitive market, and the shared belief was that a single creative brand is the strongest position to take. This gives us more scale and more singular focus.”
He added that moving forward Po Kay Lee (pictured right), who was appointed president of Forsman & Bodenfors in Singapore last year, will be helming the integrated operations. Currently, the agency is also in talks with the 72andSunny staff regarding the next phase of their careers. Depending on the final outcome and decision, the team will have an approximate 30 to 40 people-strong staff count.
“We’re aiming to keep and grow the business across the board, and we’re in conversations with all 72andSunny people hoping they want to be part of the journey,” he said. The agency is also in talks with 72andSunny clients serviced out of Singapore, and according to Southgate, some clients, such as Diageo, are already shared at the regional and global level. Others are in discussions right now on how their business can be serviced moving forwards.
“The intention is to retain all live business, and we will be doing all we can to support the 72andSunny client base,” he said. Commenting on the synergies of the two firms, Southgate added that there is a “very clear, shared belief in the power of creative in the heritage of both 72andSunny and Forsman & Bodenfors".
“Our growth strategy is absolutely focused on doing great work for our existing clients, and growing with them for the long term," he said, adding:
We’re not ‘closed’ to new business opportunities. However, we are, and need to be highly selective. It’s easy to do mediocre work. That’s not why any of us are here.
“In Forsman & Bodenfors’ language, we’re here to make ideas that change things - that shift perceptions, land in culture, and help create disproportionate impact for client’s brands and businesses. Our plans in the region are to continue to grow and develop our people, clients, and work in pursuit of that mission.”
In a separate conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Siow said that both she and Tan had plans to move on from the agency at the end of 2021, having established a solid foundation and growth momentum. Siow joined the agency in 2019 as executive strategy director and was promoted to president last February.
"It felt like the right time to explore fresh challenges,” Siow said. “With Tan's and my decision to leave, there is now a global call for Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore to integrate 72andSunny Singapore as sister Stagwell agencies that share the same bold creative DNA,” she said. She added that on a personal level, she’s always believed in leaving on a high.
“I gave myself a year to grow the business, diversify the client mix, expand the team, and do some cool work. I (by which I mean my team) did all that and more by the end of 2021. It was the right time to go,” she said. Siow added that when she first took on the role, it was to represent the leagues of “extraordinary women who power the business [of advertising] every day”.
"For an industry that sells to women and is majority staffed by women, it's ridiculously rare to see a woman in charge - and even rarer to see a local woman at the top of a global agency,” she added.
Meanwhile, Tan played an instrumental role in setting up 72andSunny's Asia Pacific operations in Sydney and Singapore in 2017. Since then, the 72andSunny Singapore team working with clients including HipVan, Carousell, LASALLE, Danone, Love, Bonito, Budweiser China, and Hmlet.
When asked how he felt now having to depart a company he helped start up, he said: "It’s always emotional. It’s been an amazing learning process. When you have a great team, it’s always a super fun journey no matter how arduous it may be. Any time you start a company, you always build towards the day when it can soar without you. That’s what we did and it feels good."
He added that at the end of the day, the agency accomplished what it set out to do - which is to build a thriving creative company with great culture and people.
“Creative curiosity beckons…I’m always looking for new creative challenges,” he said.
The agency also saw the addition of several new clients last year, including the likes of OPPO and Diageo Johnnie Walker. At the same time, it also expanded its local team, bringing onboard marketing veteran Judy Ang as group brand director, and promoted Jaclyn Lee to senior strategy director and Jonathan Tan to brand director. Its new hires also included art director Iris Teoh, writer Yasira Yusoff, and brand coordinator Vanessa Chua.
Meanwhile, Forsman & Bodenfors entered Singapore in August 2018, making the Singapore office the agency's first location outside of Sweden. It was initially headed by former MD Susanna Fagring who returned to Sweden last year. Alongside her exit, Lee was appointed president of Forsman & Bodenfors in Singapore, reporting to Southgate.
Forsman & Bodenfors and 72andSunny's parent company Stagwell Group also saw changes to its operations when it merged with MDC Partners last August to form Stagwell Inc. The group now has offerings for creative, digital transformation, media, PR, and market research. Among the list of agencies under it include Anomaly, Doner, Code and Theory, YML, Assembly, ForwardPMX, Allison+Partners, SKDK, and Harris Poll. Stagwell also opened its new regional headquarters in Singapore last November and named Randy Duax its Asia Pacific MD.
Separately, Stagwell recently added Coconuts Media to its global affiliate network to grow is Asia Pacific presence. Stagwell and Coconuts Media will collaborate to offer clients a mix of traditional and digital media services, advice on region-specific consumer trends including the high growth in social commerce sales in APAC, and scaled media placement and distribution opportunities informed by first-party data across the Coconuts Media network.
More here from Siow and Tan's interview:
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What were your memorable moments at 72andSunny?
Siow: Going from zero founding clients to major brand launches for Asia's largest unicorns. Seeing people flourish in ways I could never have imagined. Having clients become friends. We built a very special place.
Tan: Wow. There are so many. The most memorable moments are when I’m in awe of our people's superhuman abilities when they take on massive challenges. Like a proud father, there are no words to describe that kind of pride. There are so many of these moments"
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are your next plans after 72andSunny?
Siow: I'm less interested in just another agency, or another notch on the career belt. I love fresh spaces where strategy meets culture and creativity. Whether that's business consulting or design and silversmithing (yes, I've taken that up), everything's up for play.
Tan: There are lots of awesome possibilities. Fresh, disruptive creative experimentation is definitely on the horizon.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What types of talent and skills are required in the advertising industry moving forward?
Siow: The talent to recognise we're no longer just in the advertising industry, we're in the culture, entertainment, content and technology and many other industries. The broader the mind, the bigger the impact.
Tan: Extremely agile and collaborative individuals who are not afraid to be pioneering. People who truly understand human psychology and can bring surprising and fresh work.
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