Ogilvy & Mather has acquired a stake in a Myanmar advertising agency, giving the WPP Group shop a head start in the resource-rich southeast Asian country that has been largely shut off from commercial development.
Today Advertising works with local marketers as well as early entrants into the country of 55 million, said Samantha Burgess-Allen, O&M's corporate communications director in Asia Pacific.
The agency, based in Myanmar's largest city of Yangon, will "help our international clients explore the market potential," she said in an email to Ad Age .
O&M declined to release details of the partnership, which it said had been under discussions for some time. It is the only international agency to currently have a presence in Myanmar. Global agency networks are always eyeing the next market to enter, usually based on where their multinational clients are starting to advertise. Ogilvy, for instance, was the first international agency to open in Vietnam in 1994. Ogilvy's Myanmar entry will probably put the country on other agencies' shortlists for expansion.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is strategically located between China and India. It's the poorest country in southeast Asia but rich in resources such as oil and gas, mining and timber.
In recent months, the government has rolled back long-standing authoritarian policies, making overtures to the international community and adopting democratic reforms. Governments including the U.S. and EU have eased or lifted economic sanctions, setting off the first inklings of a foreign investment boom.
"Today Advertising has a great reputation in Myanmar. We believe they are the perfect partner to work alongside us and our clients as the business potential of Asia's newest frontier becomes apparent," Paul Heath, CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, said in a statement.
Michael Lim, CEO of Today Advertising, was quoted as saying: "Ogilvy & Mather is clearly the leader of all the international networks so it makes perfect sense to become partners."
According to Mr. Lim's profile on LinkedIn (where he has 58 connections), the Today CEO has been at the agency since 1993.