M&C Saatchi's Chris Jaques

Other news in Greater China

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HONG KONG--M&C Saatchi hopes to beef up its Asian operation with the appointment of Chris Jaques, a veteran of Asia’s advertising industry. He succeeds Singapore-based Kim Walker, who joined the independent agency three years ago.

Mr. Jaques, 51, has been a high-profile industry figure in Asia since he first moved to the region in 1987, as regional account director for Bates. He remained with that network until 1997, when he joined BBDO Worldwide in Hong Kong and transformed the Omnicom Group agency’s regional headquarters into a creative hot shop called The Hub, a controversial move at the time.

Two years later, Mr. Jaques (pronounced "jakes") returned to the U.K. as president-CEO, Europe at Ammirati Puris Lintas. When that agency was disbanded, he set up his own strategic marketing and tend consultancy, The Bigthinking Group, based in London.

He returned to the advertising industry as chairman-CEO for Young & Rubicam and Wunderman in Asia/Pacific, based alternately in Shanghai, Bangkok and Singapore from 2003 to 2006, when the network relocated him to New York to help run North America, a difficult assignment that ultimately ended his relationship with Y&R last year.

Mr. Jaques, a native of Leicester, U.K., relocated to Hong Kong last fall. Over the past few months, he said he was preparing to set up his own agency, “but the M&C Saatchi offer came along and it was too good to pass up.”

The agency's board made the decision to replace Mr. Walker last summer. While the network has grown in the past few years, particularly in India, one of its newest and most profitable markets, M&C has struggled to build business in other markets.

“Kim has been helping us with a succession plan in the region. He is one of the most professional and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Tom Dery, M&C Saatchi's Sydney-based executive chairman, Asia/Pacific. “He played a key role in opening our Indian operation and has been a great support in keeping a diverse network together.”

He added that Mr. Jaques’ appointment was a signal to the market that M&C Saatchi intends to intensify its efforts in the region. "M&C Saatchi has been present in Asia since the day the company launched 13 years ago. We are determined to invest and grow in this vital area and the appointment of someone like Chris reflects our intentions."

It’s also a sign that M&C Saatchi might be prepared to invest more time, energy and resources in the region. By 2006, Asia was generating about half of M&C Saatchi's global revenue, and was home to 12 of its 17 offices. But in the absence of major global clients, M&C offices in Asia have turned into a collection of independent silos that have prospered, or suffered, on the back of local new business wins.

In terms of profitability, the agency's operations in India, Malaysia and Hong Kong have performed relatively well, for example, while Singapore and Thailand have struggled. Agency executives say the decision to replace Mr. Walker was largely to find a scapegoat for the money-losing offices.

Now responsible for turning around those countries, as well as growing M&C Saatchi in China and India, Mr. Jaques could have some advantages over his predecessor. Mr. Walker had little contact with M&C’s global management in London. They seldom visit Asia and Mr. Walker reported to Mr. Dery. Mr. Jaques, however, will have a minority equity stake in the network and be on the London-based executive committee.

The lack of global clients does “make it harder” for each agency to expand, admitted Mr. Jaques. “On the other hand, we don’t have any of the global holding company bureaucracies. You are what you are, and you get the business you get.”

M&C’s troubled Singapore office, for example, enjoyed a major boost last week by winning creative for all of Volkswagen’s car models in that country. Previously, DDB Worldwide handled VW’s advertising in Singapore. M&C’s office in Kuala Lumpur, meanwhile, retained its global Malaysian Tourism business in a recent pitch, including some additional assignments for special promotions.

“But the big business is really in North Asia,” Mr. Jaques said. “China and India are the key focus going forward. I probably wouldn’t want to start with traditional ad agencies in these markets though. They are oversaturated, there are too many players like that and there is hardly any money to be made unless you’re huge or owned by a big multinational parent with deep pockets. China doesn’t need another small multinational agency.”

While he declined to be more specific about his strategy to expand M&C in Asia, he said, “We’re looking at growing in these markets from a different perspective. We’re not going to try to build yet another network of medium-sized offices.”

Other appointment news in Greater China

[shanghai] Publicis Worldwide has reorganized its Chinese management structure. Yang Chenghua has been appointed general manager of Publicis, Shanghai, a new position. Previously, he worked at Dentsu in Beijing, where he was associate managing director of the Japanese agency’s first division, which worked on brands such as Lenovo, Yili, Toshiba and CITIC.

The agency has also promoted Yang Ke to CEO of its Beijing office. He was managing director of Publicis, Guangzhou, a role that has been filled by S.C. Low, previously the Guanzhou agency’s exec creative director. In Beijing, Mr. Yang suceeds Marian Kao, who has relocated to Shanghai as director of new business projects.

[hong kong] Disney-ABC International Television has appointed Rob Gilby as senior VP & managing director, Asia/Pacific, a new position based in Hong Kong. Previously, Mr. Gilby was managing director of the Disney Channel in the U.K., Scandinavia and emerging markets, based in London.

Prior to Disney, he worked at Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, where he was VP, network development and strategic marketing, responsible for all marketing and strategic development activities for Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies across Asia/Pacific. He started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Entertainment & Media group in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

[hong kong] Asian inflight publisher Emphasis Media has promoted Julius Toh to group director, media sales in Hong Kong from regional director, Southeast Asia and Pacific in Singapore, where he is succeeded by Joui Ong. In her last role, at Crush Advertising, Ms. Ong was responsible for the client service division. Emphasis has also appointed Ronald Chua in Hong Kong as director, media sales support, to help drive international sales business.
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