Stout brand Connor's hands Lion & Lion digital duties for Malaysia

Stout brand Connor's Malaysia has appointed Lion & Lion to handle digital duties for the market for 24 months, following a pitch that saw four agencies vying for the account. Jeppe Carlsen, group director, new business and strategy told A+M that rather than just doing a simple social media strategy, the team presented a larger creative version for the brand to help support the overall brand experience through integrated digital.

At the same time, the agency has brought on board Krishna Kumar (pictured below left) as regional head of strategy and Banumathi Selladuray (pictured below right) as regional head of media, to drive innovation and growth across the company’s key markets and offices. Based in Kuala Lumpur, both will report to Carlsen and will play a pivotal role in delivering impact through creative and digital-first solutions to businesses in Southeast Asia.

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Kumar will be responsible for further strengthening the integrated strategic capabilities of the agency. With more than 15 years of experience in agencies such as BBDO, Leo Burnett, m/SIX and Havas Group, he has worked on brands such as BMW, Nestle, Maxis, Shell, Ford, and Mitsubishi. He said: "This is a great opportunity to work with radical thinkers in a challenger agency. I am looking forward to inspiring, being inspired, breaking the rules and having copious amounts of fun en route."

Meanwhile, Selladuray is now responsible for growing the media division and accelerating the growth of Lion & Lion's eCommerce portfolio. She has a wide range of industry experience, having worked at Reckitt Benckiser, Mindshare, IPG, and Media Prima, among others. According to Lion & Lion, a deep understanding of media planning has enabled her to drive innovation for successful campaigns for many clients across Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Banumathi also brings a fresh take on a unified approach to data and analytics that bring strategy, creative, social and media closer together. Banumathi said she is excited to join a fast-growing and forward-thinking agency, and aims to drive more media innovations and data-centric work for the growth of the agency and clients’ businesses.

Lion & Lion's regional chief creative officer Cheelip Ong told A+M that both individuals are part of the centre of solutions excellence team which also includes the head of social Ham Maghazeh, head of creative content Claudia Low, and head of creatives Hans Lee, Jeremias Soeria, and Intan Wangge in the agency's core markets. 

Meanwhile, the agency is also on the lookout for a head of brand experience. According to Ong, the ideal individual is a creative hybrid leader who is strong in both brand storytelling and digital play, as well as creating brand experiences that connect with consumers across all channels.

"We are on the lookout for someone who can create smart end-to-end solutions and expand the core creative idea across different marketing pathways. This role will help us accelerate even faster in the space we are operating in, to build brand narrative and purpose via a creative digital-first approach from online to offline, that reflects the needs of our times," Ong explained.

The agency recently bagged digital and social media duties for Taco Bell and was responsible for supporting the launch of its first outlet in Malaysia. The six-month appointment followed a pitch in February with a final presentation on the 25th of the same month. Carlsen told A+M previously that Lion & Lion impressed Taco Bell with its "Live Kaw Kaw" idea, which aligned with the brand's "Live Mas". "Live Mas" translates to "Live More", as in live more fervently and authentically.

"Our business is even better than before COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020 due to new business wins and organic growth from existing clients. Clients who are looking for an agency that can build a brand with end-to-end solutions and that understands how to use digital-first thinking and social media are coming to us for counsel," he said. 

According to Ong, Lion & Lion has grown close to 200% versus June last year and from a bottom-line perspective, this was "the best results in the agency's history every single month over the last six month".

"During the pandemic, we pivoted by evolving along with the growing needs of our clients. As social and content become the key channels where brands are telling their stories, we are investing in talents and tools and structuring them in a way that gives us a competitive advantage," he said. Ong added that it is constantly looking at the capability gaps that it may have as an organisation and reacting fast to close them. 

In 2019, Lion & Lion went on a transformation pathway to invest in media, strategy, content, social and creative capabilities and converge them to be able to create the holistic digital-first solutions demanded by clients today. For example, Ong said it created solutions pods that integrate social media, creative, and media talents to work and ideate together. 

"My vision for the team is to remain true to our value proposition of being a creatively driven, digital-first agency that is made to impact and to pivot and progress our offering to remain market-relevant and future-ready at all times," he added.

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