MullenLowe Profero is adopting a new model of regional agencies becoming specialist hubs serving the entire APAC network, with the Sydney agency shifting its focus to experience and design.
The move comes just a month after the appointment of former Razorfish APAC head Vincent Digonnet as Asia-Pacific CEO of the group.
Australian MD Chris Henderson, who took on the role late last year, said the reshaping of the agency into a hub specialising in experience and design would allow Profero to draw more talent and give its client base the benefit of regional expertise.
Speaking with Mumbrella, Henderson said the focus of the agency’s work would move more towards the customer.
“Historically Profero has been a boutique digital comms agency in this market and we kind of realised that that was no longer a competitive advantage for a digital agency,” Henderson said.
“MullenLowe Profero is a digital transformation agency. We focus our expertise in our centre of excellence in Sydney on experience design, so that is where we go deep and we’re investing in a robust experience design offering and that includes everything from business designers to lUX to experience designers to prototypers.”
Henderson said the new model is best reflected in work it has done for QIC shopping centres where it created an omni-channel for shopping centre customers which allowed them to move seamlessly between mobile, web and centre kiosks – such as being able to hand over centre directions from a kiosk to a shopper’s mobile.
“The QIC project was an opportunity for us to evolve as an agency as much as it was a project to evolve the client,” Henderson said.
He noted that the big four accounting firms have also noticed the power of customer experience and experience design can play in building up their services.
“The way we look at it is focusing on the customer experience allows businesses to focus on what’s more important and deliver insights beyond what they normally would have.”
The agency will invest heavily in research through group research, focus group testing and building and testing prototypes.
“We get our work and our thinking from the people that are actually delivering it for,” he said.
“We create our own customer intelligence as much as we can.
Executive creative director Ashadi Hopper said the challenge was to get feedback from consumers that would translate into real insights. “You can’t get emotional feedback from data – it’s very hard,” Hopper said.
“There is nothing like putting a product in people’s hands and actually seeing their eyes light up and the way they respond to it – that’s where we need to be as a business. Are we 100% there? not we are not, but we are certainly drifting towards that.”
The agency is attempting to move from a broad and shallow skill set to a deeper and more skilled approach.
“Between Ash and I we are sold on the idea that marketing, digital and technology has become so sophisticated that it requires specialisation. It would be absolute bullshit for us to say we can do all of those things as good as anyone else in the world, so for use we needed to evolve our specialisation of not just this office but the role this office plays in the network and APAC,” Henderson said.
Speaking for the first time since taking on the role of APAC CEO, Digonnet said the network model would allow each country to focus on providing a speciality to support the group.
“The complexity of business transformation these days makes the number of skill-sets you need to be credible in doing that so wide that unless you have got 500-600 people in the same place, it’s a joke, you cannot pretend that you can do that,” Digonnet said.
“If I look at most of our operations they are all moving in that direction and as a result we have got an incredibly horizontal organisation with very little depth in all the different skill sets. It’s better not to have all the skill sets in one place and create communities around the region which are across geographies.”
He said the decision to allow each agency to develop a specialisation would allow them to recruit a critical mass of specialists in their chosen discipline which could them be used across the network.
Japan will focus on media and analytics, developing an existing core strength, with China developing commerce and technology skills, while Singapore and Hong Kong will have a focus on business strategy and management consulting.
“Because that is where you have got the headquarters of most of the big companies and therefore you need to have people at the level driving work to the other offices.”
This article was first published on mumbrella.com.au