Shanghai surprise

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Who is Nitro?

The independent creative shop headquartered in Shanghai was founded in 2002 by Chris Clarke, a one-time employee of former Mars' shop D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Nitro currently handles more than 85% of Mars' business in Asia, including top chocolate brands M&M's, Snickers and Dove in addition to pet food brands including Whiskas.

Nitro has small offices in Taiwan and Hong Kong to handle the Mars business as well as some Unilever brands including Wall's ice cream and Pond's. It has a sizeable presence in Australia, where the agency works with Telstra, a telco that is one of Australia's largest marketers. Last year, Nitro won Telstra's business-to-business assignment, formerly with Young & Rubicam.

Mars' relationship with Mr. Clarke goes back more than a decade. In the early `90s, Mr. Clarke set up an agency in Australia called Pure Creative. Impressed with his work, Mars in 1994 asked him to set up Pure Creative in mainland China. Pure Creative was sold to Bcom3 Group in 1999 and folded into D'Arcy and, after D'Arcy was dissolved, was renamed Leo Burnett.

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