CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE - Why we should sit up and take notice of Asia’s fightback

By STEFANO HATFIELD, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 March 2000 12:00AM

In The Times this week, William Rees-Mogg details the astonishing rate at which the Chinese population is becoming wired; the percentage of the population online is doubling each year. By 2003 the total number is expected to pass that of the US. Small wonder then that clients and agencies alike look to that medium in that part of the world as a key source of growth for the foreseeable future.

In The Times this week, William Rees-Mogg details the astonishing

rate at which the Chinese population is becoming wired; the percentage

of the population online is doubling each year. By 2003 the total number

is expected to pass that of the US. Small wonder then that clients and

agencies alike look to that medium in that part of the world as a key

source of growth for the foreseeable future.



China is already the world’s second-largest mobile phone market, having

largely bypassed landline technology. The rewards for marketers and

agencies are immense, but the risks of failure through finding yourself

in bed with an untrustworthy partner are all too clear. Ask any China

watcher about Whirlpool.



Already the rise of the Indian software millionaire is a big story in

the West. The battle for the telecoms markets in both Singapore and Hong

Kong is already raging - an agency bonanza. Both cities are, along with

Shenzen in China and Bangalore in India, the centres for extraordinary

new high-tech businesses. Although Japan is stuttering, Korea is

powering back from recession. Taiwan never really suffered that badly in

the first place. Asia and its growth potential is again the focus of

global business.



For agencies, the region is more of a free for all than the mature,

largely aligned European and US markets where reputations

long-established for good and bad are difficult to transform. Some

mature networks - Publicis and DDB, for example - are still in start-up

mode.



Regional creative standings tell their own story. BBDO and Saatchi &

Saatchi are joined at the top of the tree by Leo Burnett and Ogilvy.

Although individual agencies such as Bates Singapore, Bates Hong Kong

and APL Bangkok can shine, there are few networks with real

consistency.



The picture is sketchier still below the line. Only Ogilvy One and

Impiric (formerly Wunderman Cato Johnson) appear universally rated by

rivals.



Ogilvy and Euro RSCG lead the way in the interactive sector.



BBDO is a good example of a network that scarcely existed just over

three years ago; Guillaume Levy-Lambert is building a Publicis network

at an astonishing rate, DDB is coming, and Dentsu is developing a

network of its own. Most of the major groups have their media

independents up and running remarkably fast.



It is a great time to be good in Asian marketing. Clients switch jobs

more regularly than Carlton Palmer does football clubs. The best

independent agencies, above and below the line, sit pretty in a buyer’s

market.



Regional fortunes can be transformed in Asia far quicker than in the

West. Given a moment’s reflection it is clear that what happens in Asia

will affect all our lives. For now, business is aligned into Asia. When

it is aligned out of Asia, it will be too late to start paying

attention.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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