TBWA International opens in Asia, builds in Latin America

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NEW YORK -- TBWA International, the Omnicom-owned agency network, has made its first acquisitive move on Asia with the purchase of majority stakes in two agencies in Hong Kong and Singapore.

At the same time, the network has announced the opening of an office in Brazil, Latin America's largest market, formed from the merger of two existing agencies.

TBWA International is ranked 18th among the world's top agency brands, according to Advertising Age figures. It has offices in 47 countries and claims worldwide billings of $2.5bn.

Its client roster includes several who are already major advertisers in Asia, such as Nissan, Nivea, Absolut vodka, Chivas Regal and Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, but many more more are eager to come the region, the agency says. These acquisitions are expected to be followed by others in Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan.

This week's move will see the Hong Kong China agency Lee Davis become TBWA Lee Davis with offices in Hong Kong and the four mainland China cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Gengzhou and Wuhan. It will rank in the top 15 agencies in the Hong Kong China region with billings of $40m. Similarly, Singapore--based Fong Haque & Soh is to be renamed TBWA Fong Haque & Soh. With $20m in billings, it is one of Singapore's top three agencies.

"With Asia's dramatic economic growth over the past decade, a new breed of young, creatively focused agencies has emerged and we are proud and pleased to begin to partner with the best of them," says Bill Tragos, chairman and ceo of TBWA International.

In the simultaneous Latin American move, Graciotti Publicidade and Schonburg/Navarro Associados will merge to form Sao Paolo--based TBWA, in which TBWA International will own a majority stake. This shop will have billings of $20m and list the Bank of Boston, Armor All and Gazeta Television & Radio among its clients.

TBWA International already has Latin American offices in Mexico and Chile.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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