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Asia's Advertising Recovery Fuels Hiring Boom

Asia’s ever-growing economic clout is about to show its power in a new arena – the advertising market. Starcom MediaVest Group and eMarketer Inc estimate Asia’s ad market will be worth over $22 billion in four years, overtaking the U.S and Europe.

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Ad agencies across Asia are moving quickly to strengthen their creative muscle to prepare for the coming ad boom. Advertising expenditure in Asia, which grew just 5.7 percent in 2009 over the year before, bounced back from the crisis this year, rocketing 14.7 percent to $12.6 billion in 2010, estimates Starcom MediaVest Group and eMarketer Inc. in their September report.

Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, for one, is moving quickly to make sure it’s prepared. Earlier this year the company created two new global roles — Worldwide Director of Advertising and Global Effectiveness Director — that will be run out of Asia, underscoring the region’s rising importance to the business. Ogilvy & Mather has also created three new director-level creative roles in Singapore and China, and is now in the process of hiring senior creative directors and managers in eight Asian markets.

“We’re investing massively in new creative talent,” says David Mayo, president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Asia Pacific. “Its driven by the fact that marketing spend is going to follow the growth.”

And that growth is being driven largely by demographics. Asia, which accounts for less than one-quarter of the world’s middle class today, could account for over 40 percent of global middle class consumption in just 10 years, and two-thirds by 2030, according to Homi Kharas, an expert on the global economy and development at the Brookings Institution.

Companies who want to tap that new growth will need to scale up their presence, their product offerings – and their marketing budgets.

"They want a global perspective for a global brand. The view from Asia is now a very important part of that." -on Asia's growing role in global advertising campaigns., Calvin Soh, chief creative officer for Asia at Publicis Group

“What is happening is that clients are sending their best marketers to the region. Clients like Diageo and Nestle are sending world-class marketers to places like Singapore and Pakistan. Coca Cola is sending their best marketers to places like the Philippines. Everyone is interested in China,” says Mayo of Ogilvy and Mather.

Another focus area for most Asia-based agencies is digital marketing, which has prompted a mini-hiring boom of its own. Grey Group, for example, has hired about a dozen planners, creative directors and strategy directors with expertise in digital marketing to help clients create campaigns that leverage the Internet and mobile phones, according to Nirvik Singh, chairman and CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific.

Part of the hiring boom is pent up demand, analysts say.

“The sudden flux of talent movement and uptake in hiring is also caused by agencies in Asia who were not necessarily suffering as much during the crisis, but were not able to gear up due to global hiring freezes,” says Goh Shu Fen, a director at R3, which does consulting for advertising and marketing agencies. “Many of the holding company groups only gave the green light to hire in the last quarter.”

Asia’s ad agencies are not only preparing for stronger domestic ad sales within Asia, but a bigger role in driving global campaigns. That’s already started to happen. Madison Avenue is seeking more Asian input into campaigns created in New York.

“There is more focus on Asia. The big change is that people from Asia are sitting at the table,” says Singh of Grey Group.

Calvin Soh, chief creative officer for Asia at Publicis Groupe, is one of those now at the table. He’s flying to New York next week to brainstorm with a client in the financial sector. “They want a global perspective for a global brand,” Soh says. “The view from Asia is now a very important part of that.”

Asia’s advertising market will be worth over $22 billion in four years, overtaking the U.S and Europe, estimates Starcom MediaVest Group and eMarketer Inc.. Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, for one, is moving quickly to make sure it’s prepared.

Earlier this year the company created two new global roles – Worldwide Director of Advertising and Global Effectiveness Director -- that will be run out of Asia, underscoring the region’s rising importance to the business. Ogilvy & Mather has also created three new director-level creative roles in Singapore and China, and is now in the process of hiring senior creative directors and managers in eight Asian markets.

“We’re investing massively in new creative talent,” says David Mayo, president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Asia Pacific. “Its driven by the fact that marketing spend is going to follow the growth.”

Ad agencies across Asia are moving quickly to strengthen their creative muscle to prepare for the coming ad boom.

Advertising expenditure in Asia, which grew just 5.7% in 2009 over the year before, bounced back from the crisis this year, rocketing 14.7% to $12.6 billion in 2010, estimates Starcom MediaVest Group and eMarketer Inc. in a September report. Asia will surpass U.S. and Europe for the first time by 2014, ringing up $22.2 billion in ad sales, according to the report.

The shift in ad spend mirrors Asia’s new economic might. Asia bounced back quickly from the financial crisis and will drive the global recovery, according to the IMF. It’s the start of a pendulum swing. The economic centre of gravity is expected to shift to Asia over the next two decades as the region’s middle class swells quickly in size and spending power.

Asia, which accounts for less than one-quarter of the world’s middle class today, could account for over 40% of global middle class consumption in just 10 years, and two-thirds by 2030, according to Homi Kharas, an expert on the global economy and development at the Brookings Institution. Companies who want to tap that new growth will need to scale up their presence, their product offerings – and their marketing budgets.

"They want a global perspective for a global brand. The view from Asia is now a very important part of that." -on Asia's growing role in global advertising campaigns., Calvin Soh, chief creative officer for Asia at Publicis Group

Indeed, global companies are already starting to respond to that shift, and ad agencies are keeping pace. “What is happening is that clients are sending their best marketers to the region. Clients like Diageo and Nestle are sending world-class marketers to places like Singapore and Pakistan. Coca Cola is sending their best marketers to places like the Philippines. Everyone is interested in China. As a network, we respond to that by bringing in very senior people,” says Mayo.

Another focus area for most Asia-based agencies is digital marketing, which has prompted a mini-hiring boom of its own. Grey Worldwide, for example, has hired about a dozen planners, creative directors and strategy directors with expertise in digital marketing to help clients create campaigns that leverage the Internet and mobile phones, according to Nirvik Singh, chairman and CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific.

Part of the hiring boom is pent up demand, analysts say. “The sudden flux of talent movement and uptake in hiring is also caused by agencies in Asia who were not necessarily suffering as much during the crisis, but were not able to gear up due to global hiring freezes,” says Goh Shu Fen, a director at R3, which does consulting for advertising and marketing agencies. “Many of the holding company groups only gave the green light to hire in the last quarter.”

Asia’s ad agencies are not only preparing for stronger domestic ad sales within Asia, but a bigger role in driving global campaigns. That’s already started to happen. Ogilvy, for example, is doing global campaigns for Lenovo out of Bangalore – a move driven by the client, who chose the Indian city as its marketing hub; the agency also does global work for Ponds from Singapore, and for Motorola from Beijing.

Even Madison Avenue is seeking more Asian input into campaigns created in New York. “There is more focus on Asia. The big change is that people from Asia are sitting at the table,” says Singh, at Grey.

Indeed, Calvin Soh, chief creative officer for Asia at Publicis Groupe, is flying to New York next week to brainstorm with a client in the financial sector. “They want a global perspective for a global brand,” Soh says. “The view from Asia is now a very important part of that.”