Local SG ad agency Water's Edge shutters ops after 28 years

Local advertising agency Water's Edge has ceased its operations after 28 years. In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Tan Sin Kuan, founder of Water’s Edge, said this came as the agency had a tough going since 2015, amidst the economic slow down and trade wars. In 2019, Water's Edge saw "extraordinary losses for first time since its founding".

Although the agency was ready to weather the storm for a breakthrough in 2020, it was met with COVID-19 and shortly after, the lockdown in Singapore. This caused many key projects to be stalled, "making it impossible to sustain a full team, unoccupied equipment and premises", Tan said.

By August 2020, according to Tan, the agency had no choice but to downsize its team to a minimum crew which sole purpose was to honor its commitment to clients. This was to ensure ongoing projects continue and obligations are met so its client’s interests are not compromised. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE understands that local bank DBS/POSB was a key client. 

The downsize eventually led to the agency closing its doors by 2020, after discharging its obligations to all its staff and clients. "It was an impressive and blessed 28 years. Our staff had become family and clients turned into life-long friends. There has been no regrets. Only gratitude and much thanksgiving," Tan told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. A quick check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw that Water's Edge Facebook account has been removed, and its official website only consists of its closure notification. 

Water's Edge was previously involved in a campaign for the Securities Investors Association Singapore, which educated the public on how to look out for scammers. The campaign saw the public receiving ads regarding an investment in properties and gold that guarantees a high return. Upon clicking into the link, uses will be notified that they have been scammed. The campaign also tapped onto local comedian Hossan Leong to further amplify the message. With this campaign, Water's Edge won the gold award for the category of "Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility" at the Marketing Excellence Awards Singapore 2017.

Water's Edge was not the only agency forced into closure in 2020. In May 2020, The Studio, which was a programmatic advertising and marketing solutions company previously owned by CtrlShift and majority owned by Taiwan-based marketing solutions firm adGeek Group, folded its operations across all SEA markets it operates in: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. This was similarly due to a decrease in spending by its major clients in 2019. Since then, the market has unfortunately seen massive disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few months, "prompting a significant drop" in ad spend and marketing operations from its clients.

Separately, BBDO closed its office in Malaysia in 2020, laying off 21 individuals and exiting the market. It also reduced its Hong Kong presence to a small regional team, and will concentrate its creative resources and work from that market into Beijing and Shanghai. It is understood that 16 employees in Hong Kong have been laid off. Additionally, the agency had implemented cost savings measures across its 12 other offices in the region. These have ranged from temporary salary cuts for its senior individuals to a small number of redundancies.

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Case study: SIAS and Water's Edge educates consumers on investment scams