Transformative. Trailblazing. Tenacious. – A case study of awesomeness

transformative mediabrands
“Transformative. Trailblazing. Tenacious. – A case study of awesomeness” is the Cover Story from MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 313
By Raihan Hadi

It is almost the end of the year and we are witnessing a sterling finish by IPG Mediabrands, as they hit the ball out of the park with multiple regional award wins.

The industry has been truly rocked this year with IPG Mediabrands’ legendary wins at the Southeast Asia Campaign Agency of the Year Awards.

Packed with Gold, Silver, and Bronze for Mediabrands’ very own Reprise, Ensemble Worldwide and Universal McCann, the cherry on top of the cake from the awards ceremony was Bala Pomaleh being crowned Southeast Asia’s Agency Head of the Year.

It’s been a year of uncertainty, of pause, and a world turned upside down. To survive and thrive, Mediabrands shifted, learned, and changed at each step of the way.

And as they did, they transformed. Transforming their thinking and strategies, offerings and processes, and most importantly, transforming their people, as Mediabrands came out stronger than ever.

bala pomaleh transformative
Bala Pomaleh – Southeast Asia’s Agency Head of the Year 2021

The transformation journey began with Bala’s vision for continued sustainability, high performance, and integrity at the heart of everything.

Let’s look at the journey of these award winning brands under the leadership of Bala and his band of path breakers.

Let me start by shedding some light on Reprise, the new owner of the GOLD for Malaysia Digital Agency of the Year, SILVER for Malaysia Creative Agency of the Year and BRONZE for Southeast Asia Performance Agency of the Year.

Innovation isn’t just a buzzword for Reprise. Innovation is in their perspective and ways of thinking – ingrained in their spirit.

transformative trailblazers reprise
Meet the Trailblazers of Reprise

Some of Reprise’s key innovations include the FLOW Operating System across their clients. FLOW is the movement of clients along their path to purchase. Reprise improves Customer flow in three fundamental and interconnected ways – Experience, Media and Content.

Identifying High Value Audiences is another key innovation which Reprise uses to identify audiences who will push the business needle and audiences who are addressable in the media.

Conversational Commerce: With social media controlling brand narratives, the pandemic ushered in a huge pivot to commerce.

Studio 48: In today’s media landscape brands are built via conversations, which means timing is everything.

Knowing this Reprise operates Studio 48 – a “war” room that responds to all briefs within 48 hours – be it with full-fledged commercials, or influencer collaborations, name it and clients will have it ready & live within 48 hours.

Analytics focus to drive Incremental gains: In the digital realm there is always room for better. In line with the same Reprise provides analytics offerings such as digital attribution, Google Analytics gatekeeping, DMP services, CRM services, and conversion rate optimization to ensure that media and content are made to work harder.

Sports Marketing: Nothing unites and connects the way sports does. Which is why Reprise has a distinct Sports Marketing team – a new revenue stream that specialises in crafting sports associations and partnerships for brands.

Embracing UGC & collaborations: Active community creation was Reprise’s motto with the goal of ‘Brands as publishers’.

Inspired by their long-standing client relationships, Reprise treaded the path of Growth using two key tenets:

  1. Better Effectiveness

Building capabilities in-line with market demand.

  1. Better Efficiency

In the last year, Reprise has been successful in building robust use cases for clients on the ‘Acts, not Ads’ philosophy & content/ creative that lasts longer and decays slower.

Most of the work is done in house, with adaptation to the landscape.

As long as the digital realm keeps evolving, Reprise promises to do the same.

transformative trailblazers UM
Meet the Trailblazers of UM, Ensemble Worldwide / UM Studios

UM & Ensemble Worldwide/UM Studios picked up a GOLD Malaysia Media Agency of the Year and SILVER Malaysia Digital Agency of the Year at the Campaign Agency of the Year Awards 2021.

With the swift and massive shock of Covid-19, UM knew they had one thing to do – pivot to futureproof – not only for clients but for itself. One of the ways UM futureproofed itself was by expanding beyond comfort zones, into the digital landscape. They repositioned themselves as an agency that provided true integration via services beyond media and into digital.

Moving into 2021, UM continued to capitalise on the futureproof success and the market momentum, leveling up partnership with clients to digitally transform and adapt to the new world.

Now, more so than ever before, brands need futureproofing and UM’s ambition is to build brands that disrupt, rather than be disrupted. Three key areas were identified for this futureproof proposition in 2021, to further demonstrate capabilities as an integrated agency and meaningfully impact the business.

Winning local market game changing clients by demonstrating integration: UM stepped up their prospecting efforts and built out a new business pipeline around local market game changing brands.

Consultancy as a service: With a consultative mindset, UM adopted tools and framework that changed their day-to-day conversation and accelerated consultancy across areas such as Full Funnel Modelling, Portfolio Analysis and High Value Audiences.

Alongside this, analytical thought pieces were distributed across talents and clients.

Digital transformation in the new normal: Amidst the constant shift between movement restrictions and easing of control measures, one thing remained clear – behaviours accelerated by the pandemic moved the center of gravity from the physical world to the digital, and the changes seen will continue to be pushed even further.

By bolstering services beyond media ranging from Analytics to Content Creation to even E-Commerce the agency was poised to double down on growth.

A big part of success in delivering has been the futureproof planning process, designed with extensive marketing effectiveness research and insight at the core of the planning approach.

By continuing to leverage on innovations, four digital-first futureproof products have emerged from the furnace, all representing a step change in the way in which UM engages with clients.

The key innovations in this case included – Specialised Digital Content, Virtual Events, Audience Retention and Story-teller guide for Digital Content, and E-Commerce+. With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the e-commerce scene exploded in Malaysia, and this trend is here to stay.

To accelerate their clients’ e-commerce growth UM developed an end-to-end, yet modular consultancy in order to build robust digital commerce strategies, Ensemble on creatives and content and UM Studios as the tech and content specialists.

With COVID being the biggest mover of digital transformation, UM further redesigned internally to accelerate this business transformation, ensuring the right people with the right skills and the right motivation to futureproof – across retention, career & personal growth, and connectivity.

For UM, this has been a challenging yet optimistic year, reflective of the resilience and dynamism of the region.

For UM and Ensemble Worldwide/UM Studios, this has continued to be a year of inspiration and impact for the brands and communities we work within.

So as we were, raising our glasses, and once again giving our heartfelt felicitations to team Mediabrands.

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