JWT President Michael Maedel will relocate from London to Singapore. The move will happen in mid-October and, according to an official statement, it underscores JWT's drive to capitalize on the “unprecedented opportunities developing in the Asian market”. Among other things, acquisitions in China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia are on Maedel’s agenda.
"We really didn't ask ourselves, 'Should we do this?’” said Maedel. "Instead we said, 'What are we waiting for?' After all, it is our fastest growing region by far. And given what is going on in Asia, our clients and our agency must be represented at the highest possible level to take advantage of the opportunities."
Maedel cited the emerging economies of Asia, home to more than half of the world's population, and the significant level of exports from Asia to the West. Additionally, he noted that World Trade Organization agreements are stimulating development in new markets such as Vietnam and that the region accounts for a rapidly growing portion of global advertising and marketing spending.
In addition to partnering with multinational companies in the region, Maedel sees enormous opportunity to work with emerging brands throughout Asia. "Kingfisher in India and Haier and Lenovo in China already play on the big stage. And there will be many, many more to come as these homegrown companies employ global branding to expand their offerings," he added.
The official release noted that while other agencies have hired or relocated senior executives to stimulate and manage opportunity in Asia, no other “JWT-class firm” has sent its president to oversee the region. The move, according to the company, is in line with JWT's longtime commitment to Asia: it has had a presence in the region for 75 years and currently ranks among the top three agencies in most Asian markets.
JWT Shanghai and JWT Mumbai are among WPP's top 15 ‘most creative’ offices. Maedel is planning several initiatives designed to expand JWT's Asian presence, including acquisitions in China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia; expand integrated offering by strengthening capabilities in sampling and field marketing, public relations, online/interactive marketing, new media and CRM.
In addition, JWT will seek to manage client growth opportunities by establishing a business development SWAT team for Asia and increasing training in regional offices. Maedel will also establish a ‘centre of thought leadership’ for the region, building on JWT's commitment to cultural anthropology first. Another development will be the rollout of new proprietary planning tools for Asia in 2007.
Maedel will be particularly involved with Kellogg's, Nestle, Ford and Unilever in APAC. He also will be ‘heavily’ involved with local client brands seeking to break into the global arena.