Now open in Shanghai, R/GA eyes Tokyo and Seoul

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Client demand leads to growth in Asia through partnerships and offices

SINGAPORE — R/GA has opened an office in Shanghai and will soon be launching operations in Tokyo and Seoul as the company responds to client demands for increased presence in Asia, founder and chairman Bob Greenberg said.

"We don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be in these markets," said Greenberg. "Shanghai, Los Angeles and New York will be our big offices. Tokyo wasn’t in our plan, but we have clients that are asking us to open there." Greenberg declined to give a timeline for the Seoul launch, but did let on that opening an office there has much to do with its client Samsung. India is another potential market, he said. The agency already has Singapore and Sydney offices.

The agency is currently working on building out a presence in Tokyo, possibly in the form of partnerships there, which it will announce in the first quarter of 2016. "However, nothing is formalised or concrete yet on that," another spokesperson said.

At present, 10% of R/GA’s business comes from Asia, and the Singapore and Sydney offices have about 120 staff. The company has hired 25 people in Shanghai.

R/GA’s business model includes products, services and communications. Globally, the products and services account for 90% of the business, while communications make up the rest. However, in Asia, the model has been flipped, with communications accounting for about 70% of revenue and products and services chipping in the rest.

Bob Greenberg

Jim Moffat

"That’s changing fast as we establish ourselves and get better known," said Jim Moffatt, executive vice president, Asia-Pacific, at the agency’s Singapore office. "As markets become more mature there’s greater understanding around digital. The whole world is interested in this region, and what the next billion want in terms of products and services is different from what people in the West want."

Moffatt added that the firm is "doing a lot" with Google, Unilever and Telstra in developing new products.

The Asia head is also prepping for the launch of a new prototype studio in Singapore to help develop software and retail products at speed.

"Tech is infused in everything we do," he said. "It’s not an afterthought, and therefore having skills in-house to do it rapidly is important. It will start small and in many ways it’s a continuation of what we’re already doing."

Greenberg added: "Creativity-driven tech is a core part of our model. Tech on its own feels too engineered and doesn’t feel like that’s the answer. Everything is being disrupted by tech, but the kind of people we’re hiring to figure that out is a different group from programmers."

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