Carlsberg Beer is set to flex its muscle in the Asia-Pacific region with the announcement that TBWA Hong Kong has been appointed to market the global beer's brand advertising in the markets of Vietnam, Taiwan and Korea.

The initiative, said Ms Wendy So, Carlsberg director of marketing for Hong Kong and China, was driven from Copenhagen headquarters and is not expected to impact on brand communications projects currently underway for Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, which are managed by M&C Saatchi Hong Kong and The Peter Beaumont Agency of Malaysia.

Coming in the face of increasing competition from locally active brands Tiger Beer, Budweiser and San Miguel, the move is being positioned as evidence of an increasing commitment to the region and as a rejoinder to market leading competitor Heineken's recent high-profile, high-budget push, which saw celebrity director Oliver Stone working with Bates Hong Kong to produce the series of TVCs now running in the SAR.

This latest account win strengthens a developing relationship with the global beer brand, which first began in 1999 when Carlsberg moved its China business out of Leo Burnett Greater China to the then newly-launched TBWA.

Hong Kong brand advertising had already moved out of Burnett in 1998 following the departure of executive creative director Spencer Wong to FCB, after his resignation and the closure of The Burnett Boutique in 1997.

n interim year saw the account return to Bozell, under the executive creative directorship of Fornita Wong, and creative team Paul Chan and KC Tsang.

When Ms Wong subsequently moved to M&C Saatchi Hong Kong, Carlsberg went up for pitch again, with M&C Saatchi picking up the account for the region, bar China, which was by then on its way to TBWA.

By mid 1999, Carlsberg Hong Kong was re-configuring its marketing mix again, resulting in a move which added a further agency to the roster with the appointment of BBDO Hong Kong – which had recently appointed ex Bozell Paul Chan and KC Tsang as joint executive creative directors – which became responsible for promotions and below-the-line last November.

"The nature of the assignment changed," said Mr Ian Thubron, M&C Saatchi CEO, describing the loss of Carlsberg's below-the-line activities to BBDO last year.

According to Mr Thubron, who joined M&C Saatchi in 1999 following the departure of founding CEO Michael Moszynski, the Carlsberg account, with its regional, global and local platform requirements, responds well to "strong, strategic creative shops which maintain close client relationships".

It's a point not missed by Mr Gavin Heron, TBWA's head of strategic planning, who describes Carlsberg's plans to develop Vietnam, Taiwan and Korea as "cross-market investment in an international brand, which is increasingly globally active".

The four-way pitch for this new piece of business saw heavy-weights BBDO, DDB, TBWA and Peter Beaumont slug it out in Hong Kong and Copenhagen over the first three months of this year.

The win is yet another feather in the cap for fledgling TBWA, which also recently won the International Bank of Asia account with billings of over HK$40 million.

With a strong global reputation for creativity, Carlsberg runs with three of Hong Kong's leading creative shops, and four of Hong Kong's leading high profile CDs.

However, with Mr Stanley Wong, current executive creative director of TBWA and Mr Spencer Wong, the current ECD of M&C Saatchi, both publicly admitting to their last jobs in advertising, and with both maintaining independent creative personal careers, the stability of the account over the next year remains to be seen.

Paying tribute to the inherent brand strength of the Omnicom late-comer to the region, unsettled times on the human resources front have yet, however, to deter Carlsberg, which with this latest move increases the relationship with TBWA from three to nine markets in Asia-Pacific's key economic growth countries of Greater China and Indochina.

The defection to Saatchi & Saatchi of TBWA CEO Laurie Kwong, after a brief tenure of just three short months at the beginning of this year, and with discussions currently underway, according to TBWA regional CEO Keith Smith, for regional executive creative director Mike Fromowitz's return to Canada to rejoin his family later on this year, it seems that, for the time being at least, the account is preparing to settle down after a turbulent three years which has seen the business move through five of Hong Kong's leading agencies.

Stability and longevity of agency/client relationships remains a critical issue for the Asian advertising industry, which has yet to be fully addressed.

In the bid to raise the strategic and creative bar, Carlsberg's consolidation of its relationship with TBWA may prove to be a pioneering step in the bid to arrest human resource propelled account moves.

Billings for Taiwan, Vietnam and Korea are undisclosed.

By: admin


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