McGarryBowen is expanding into Asia for the first time, launching a Shanghai office that top management wants to serve as an incubator for ideas exported to other markets around the world.
"Being a true global marketer is not necessarily [using] just what originates in Western European and U.S. markets. You have to have great ideas from all over the world," said Jane Barratt, McGarryBowen's COO-International. "Our ambition for China is they will definitely be a center of excellence for global ideas."
Added President-International Stewart Owen: "There are only a couple markets in the world that are so big and so important that if you optimize something for them, because of the sheer volume of consumers in those markets, it might be really worth considering making that work around the world. And that's really only the U.S. and China."
Shanghai is McGarryBowen's fifth office and third outside the U.S. One distinct advantage for McGarryBowen in entering this market is having support from parent company Dentsu. The Japanese agency company is the largest in Asia-Pacific, and will become even more dominant once its acquisition of Aegis Group is finalized early next year.
McGarryBowen Shanghai will remain a streamlined operation, Mr. Owen said, "but we have this army of resources behind us so anything a client will ever want ... we have the ability to bring to the table."
The new office is already working on projects for global clients including United, JP Morgan and Mondelez. Local clients include Weight Watchers. "We're rebuilding Weight Watchers' business model in China completely," said Takeshi Miyazawa, the new office's director of integration.
McGarryBowen Shanghai could also be a conflict agency for Dentsu, which frequently services multiple clients in the same category, as is common in Asia, though execs declined to address the topic specifically.
The leadership team was hired locally, headed by Managing Director Andy Ho who has a background working with clients in the China offices of McCann, Lowe Worldwide and Leo Burnett. Local know-how will be important as McGarryBowen tries to build a client roster with an equal mix of global and local marketers, a goal that has been elusive for many international agencies in China.