FCB KL goes from strength to strength - MARKETING Magazine Asia

FCB KL goes from strength to strength

The Kuala Lumpur office of FCB is on a roll, securing new clients in the form of Sharp, RHB and ICLIF leadership and governance centre.

Marketing Magazine caught up with Shaun Tay, Co-owner & CEO of the FCB Malaysia Group, for his thoughts on the current state of affairs at the agency.

Shaun Tay, Co-Owner & CEO of the FCB Malaysia Group

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We greatly appreciate your efforts to participate in this Q&A exercise. We are now more than half way through 2019, how have things been so far?

Fantastic! We’re having a rocking time! We’ve just come off a manic stretch, but it’s been well worth it. Got some stunning work on RHB and Desaru Coast that’s just been released and is getting a lot of buzz.

Phone’s been off the hook, we’ve never been busier on new business and we’ve just picked up several wonderful new wins that will keep us stacked for a while. There will be more news on this soon!

And of course, the award scene is in full swing which means it’s go time on that front as well! So yes, we couldn’t be happier with how 2019 is shaping up. Bollocks to the naysayers!

It was reported recently that the KL office of FCB won new business from Sharp, RHB and ICLIF Leadership and Governance Centre. Could you tell us more about these momentous wins, and also other recent wins including Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, Asahi and Levi’s for 2019?

Each new business we win is special to us because we’re extremely picky about which clients and pitches we take on. We’re a challenger agency and most of our clients fall in that category.

Furthermore, we don’t do so well with those ‘me master, you servant’ types and are more naturally inclined towards clients who respect creativity.And we’ve won over 9 wins already!

Our best H1 ever! Which is remarkable because we’re not a big agency, but we get a lot done because EVERYBODY works on the work at FCB. And our clients like that.

They know that our best people, those who are on the pitch will be the same when it comes to those doing the final work. No ivory towers or armchair generals in this agency.

The Leadership Team of FCB Malaysia

With all the focus on trans-formative forces within the advertising marketplace, apparently its reported that APAC CMOs want to focus on long-term transformation. What’s your take on this?

Are you specifically asking about long-term digital transformation? If so, then the simple answer is yes. Of course, they have too. But then again, thinking long-term has always been an essential trait of good CMOs. They know that its death for a brand to stay still. The litmus test is finding the right balance and speed to your transformation. Too fast, too much too soon and you’re a brand out of context.

In a global survey of 1,000 CMOs and senior-level marketers on customer experience, conducted by the Isobar agency, 85% of respondents said that creativity and big ideas that “build the brand and that make create an emotional connection” are important to the future success of their business. How do you see this scenario playing out in the APAC scene?

I find it funny that many out there love to view it as ‘creativity vs something else’, most often…tech or whatever the latest buzz is. Yet when we talk about the work that really made us feel something, its usually the simple, well told insightful stories that feature.

Creating an emotional connection is the fundamental reason behind branding. And creativity is a massive part of delivering that connection. The goal is to continuously infuse creativity into all elements connecting the brand to its audience.

Be it using native mobile functions similar to what FCB New York did on the Whopper Detour or online gaming to shift an existing narrative to a wider audience in Nivea Men’s e-MYPADANG, it all starts with creativity at the core.

FCB’s campaign for Nivea Men is now on its 6th season

It has been said a rise in short-termism is giving rise to a decline in creativity across the board, and the recent awards show in Cannes did to some extent showcase this predicament. What are your thoughts?

Let’s get one thing right. Creativity is not in decline. What’s been called into question is how awarding of metals for short term campaign concepts have warped the calibration on effectiveness especially for ideas whose impact becomes more pronounced over time.

The best ideas are ones that can evolve, reinforcing a brand’s belief whist still be contextually relevant. Case in point is the Awakening the Challenger Within series that we’ve been doing for RHB Bank.

A screen-cap from the RHB Merdeka advertisement

A film so incredibly appropriate for right now BUT it’s not a piece of work that we would have been able to create in the first year…it wouldn’t have been believe-able from RHB back then.

Since its inception in 2017, the results have been compounding and it’s now a major factor in RHB’s resurgence. But the campaign needed time to gestate and for its premise to take root.

This year, we’ve aired our bravest and boldest piece of work…See Beyond Colour, which has already become RHB’s most shared and most discussed piece of work.

‘See Beyond Colour’ has become RHB’s most shared and most commented on campaign.

The recent news regarding Accenture buying Droga5 shows that consultancies are getting into advertising in a big way. What’s your take on this?

Depends on what you’re really asking. If it’s about consultancies getting into advertising…very cool! So much for those who say that creativity is dead! More people doing better, braver and smarter work can only help rebuild respect for the industry. If you’re asking about Droga’s decision…mate, I’m pretty sure he knows what he’s doing!

With new technologies such as 5G, AR, VR and IoT making their way into advertising, we are seeing a merging of traditional media and new media in novel executions. Where do you see advertising in APAC heading as a result of these advancements?

There’s always been this thirst to be the first to do ‘something. Innovation is awesome but the watchout is to not get fixated on gimmicks and execution at the expense of the original concept.

And I’m not just talking about tech here. The work that we like always starts with a powerful driving idea. If technology or a unique craft element can enhance it…great! If it doesn’t, don’t force it in simply because its trendy.

Shaun Tay, Co-Owner & CEO of the FCB Malaysia Group (L) and Ong Shi Ping, Co-Owner and Chief Creative Officer (R) of the FCB Malaysia Group

In your years of experience, how have things changed within the advertising marketplace in Malaysia?

The biggest change has been the rise of independent agencies with more local owner/operators standing out and giving the networks a run their money.

We’ve always had solid local agencies and if my history is correct, many of the big network shops started out as such. FCB Malaysia was one of them and to be able to go back to those roots amidst a thriving local scene is awesome.

Finally, looking forward to the future, how do you see the evolution of FCB KL in a marketplace where its all about being dynamic, nimble and agile? What do you see in your crystal ball?

Given that FCB is ALREADY dynamic, nimble and agile…I guess we’ve been ahead of the curve for some time now!

There’s a reason why we’re built lean, have a No Plan B attitude and work hands-on and full-on. Big is not necessarily better. Nor required to be successful.

Divination isn’t my thing, but I will say that I would LIKE to see more faith in and respect for creativity. It’s the foundations of the entire industry and without it… fine publications such as this would not have existed!

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