MullenLowe ends franchise agreement in MY, Sng & Partners remains

MullenLowe Group has ended its franchise agreement with MullenLowe Sng & Partners Malaysia and the latter will now be known as Sng & Partners. The Group's spokesperson confirmed the news to A+M, adding that MullenLowe Sng & Partners Malaysia is no longer affiliated with MullenLowe Group. "Any questions regarding the company’s current status should be addressed directly to the company," the spokesperson said, without commenting on whether MullenLowe plans to set up operations in Malaysia again in the future.

Meanwhile, CEO Adrian Sng (pictured) told A+M that the agreement was mutually terminated between both parties and that it was a business decision on his part. Sng & Partners will retain all its existing clients, including Texas Chicken, Taylor's University and Etika.

The agency was renamed to MullenLowe Sng & Partners Malaysia in 2019 after a full buyout by Sng that year. Sng bought over the agency to obtain greater agility for the operation in Malaysia and enable it to be more responsive to the needs of its clients and the local market. He told A+M in a previous interview that the decision to buyout the agency came at the start of 2018 and it also made a lot of financial sense for him and the Asia Pacific region as a whole. He explained that with the exchange rate against the US dollar, whatever contributions the Malaysian operations makes "is not that significant globally" when the team is still with the group. 

"In Malaysia, the business can be rather tricky sometimes. You can win a piece of business today but you will not realise it in six months because of the change in exchange rate or contractual reasons. There is always the risk of the agency not doing well, so the group carries that risk. Any agency that doesn't do well pulls the region down as a whole. So from an Asia Pacific perspective, [the buyout] makes sense," he added back then.

Sng has a wealth of experience in the adland, having worked at BBDO Proximity and Saatchi & Saatchi. When the buyout happened in 2019, Sng said there is a lot more for him to learn and he has the local connections to win more business for the agency. "And truth be told, it's a great retirement plan for me so at least I get to drive the agency moving forward and create a succession plan for the agency to continue running," he explained.

Late last year, the team bagged integrated marketing duties for Texas Chicken Malaysia alongside Trapper Media Group, covering creative, digital, social and media for two years. Sng said then that the team sees great potential with this partnership as fried chicken is Malaysians' favourite comfort food.

Separately, MullenLowe Group is one of the integrated agency networks under Interpublic Group and during the first quarter of 2021 ended 31 March, IPG reported an international revenue of US$693.5 million for its integrated agency networks. International net revenue for integrated agency networks amounted to US$620.6 million. Last year, the Group also sold off its Indonesia and Philippines operations to local leadership. The Group currently retains a 20% stake in MullenLowe Lintas Indonesia and a "significant direct investment" in MullenLowe Treyna in the Philippines.

That same year, MullenLowe also promoted Paul Soon to CEO of Singapore and China and James Hollow to CEO of Japan and Hong Kong while former group CEO Vincent Digonnet stepped down.

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