Sep 09

Marketers, are you writing good briefs? Agency folks weigh in

Bad or confusing briefs are a common thing in the ad industry. They also pose a challenge as agencies are unsure of ways to effectively solve problems that brands face. A 2021 global survey by BetterBriefs found that 80% of marketers think they are good at writing briefs, whereas only 10% of agencies agree.

Meanwhile, 95% of marketers fail to provide strategic direction to their agencies. The survey also found that up to one-third of all marketing budgets are potentially wasted due to poor briefs and misdirected work. Khairudin Rahim, CEO of 4As, which recently released a best practice guide “The best way for a client to brief an agency” published by the Chartered Institute of Practitioners in Advertising UK, explained that if there isn’t a well-defined marketing strategy in place, there can be no brief. “Unfortunately, some marketers lean on the creative development process to clarify, and decide their strategies later rather than being clear about these from the outset,” he said, adding:

Poor briefs don’t allow agencies to solve problems or seize opportunities identified by marketers. If briefs are unclear, then agencies can’t be sure what’s expected of them. At which point the second-guessing begins.

He added that often, the root cause is marketers’ and agencies’ inability to see eye-to-eye on what a good brief looks like. “Unchallenged, poor briefs trigger a raft of negative consequences. They lead to confusion, shallow creative thinking and often mediocre ideas. Which in turn leads to unhappy clients, rounds and rounds of creative work, rebriefs, de-motivation and ultimately less effective work in-market,” Khairudin said. He added that agencies are encouraged to say “No” to briefs they don’t understand to avoid future misalignment.

So what makes a good brief? It is one that guides creative thinking and acts as a neutral reference point for assessing the work, Khairudin said. “Brief writers must be clear in their choices. Deciding whether a brief is acquiring new customers, upselling to existing ones, or increasing frequency of purchase requires a choice. When it comes to briefs they are mutually exclusive. The need to address more than one of these choices will require multiple briefs,” he added.

Meanwhile, A+M also turned to agency leaders and strategy leads to find out the top three components for a good brief. Read their thoughts here.

Jarrod Reginald, ECD, The Chariot Agency

If your brief can’t fit on a Twitter post, it’s not a good brief. Not a Twitter thread. 256 characters (or however many characters it is now). It tells me you have a clear outcome you want. And that helps me figure out the path to get you there.

Mazuin Zin, MD, Edelman Malaysia

As agency partners, we need to start co-authoring and co-owning briefs as it brings about a strategic mindset change in how we approach the business challenge. This is true even more so now, as we all are shifting from campaign-centric thinking to being live on businesses virtually, thanks to the nifty data and analytics dashboards, and a battery of specialist teams analysing every post, every tweet.

The game has surely changed for the business of marketing, where every issue, every dissent, and every banter is waiting to be turned into a brief to connect meaningfully with our audiences. And I personally believe our client partners are looking at agency teams as the extension of their communication and marketing eyes and ears to co-own every challenge, every opportunity. Ergo, the onus lies with agency partners to stay live on business.

Darien Mah, founder, FOREFRONT Group

A good brief offers clarity in three key components: challenges, objectives and budget. More information is always better, but these are the bare minimum. For agencies to understand the market challenges, clients should provide sufficient visibility into the overall brand and marketing strategy. In doing so, agencies can better identify the vulnerabilities within and propose better solutions.

Clear objectives are also crucial to the birth of good strategies and ideas. With the certainty of what to measure and how to achieve them, agencies can better focus on the creative process by choosing the most suitable strategy from the get-go. A budget, even when it is an indicative one, helps set parameters and identify key metrics of success.

A brief is only useful when the agency knows how far and deep it can go.

Christopher Greenough, GM, Malaysia at GrowthOps Asia

A great brief gives strategic and clear-cut direction to agencies. It should identify who we are talking to, the product’s positioning comparative to its market and what the project aims to achieve — a behavioural or commercial goal and impact. These can be summed up to the 3W’s: Who we are talking to, why should they care, and what do we want to achieve. The 3Ws are crucial components to building a great campaign — ultimately resulting in better marketing investment for clients.

Some of the common pitfalls we see are a vague targeting of the market (or targeting “everyone”), a lack of reasoning and understanding of why the brief is taking place, last-minute briefings, and not sharing existing research and data with agencies.

Ultimately, agencies also have the responsibility to ask the right questions when the brief is vague and steer the client in the right direction—that’s our job as consultants.

Edmund Lou, head of strategy, Kingdom Digital

Target audience, share findings, and transparency. Having a mass target audience such as 18 to 54-year-old age groups is like fishing in an ocean. Dividing it into primary and secondary groups with different objectives to achieve will allow us to create more relatable personas that the brand can tap on. While brand campaigns usually target a wider audience, social media content marketing requires a more specific target audience for the brand to connect with and talk to.

Any data and insights commissioned by the client would be much appreciated if shared with the agency to avoid duplicates during the presentation.

Clients should also be open to findings from Google research. It’s the best way to understand local market sentiments, behaviours, and perceptions as it has a major impact on human insight.

It helps if clients are transparent too and share information such as the number of pitching agencies. Simply put, knowing the competition is always good. Knowing the budget range, pitch evaluations and reasonable objectives are helpful too. KPIs are key to a campaign but having sales as a KPI is tough as agencies are stuck with a certain product beyond their control. An increase in engagement rates (internal) and brand lift study (external) are some examples to measure the success of a campaign.

Lara Hussein, CEO and founding partner, M&C Saatchi Malaysia

A great brief needs to be an inspiring thought starter. A strong brief both outlines the problem to be solved and provides a useful roadmap on how to get there. I would split the initial thought process into two distinct parts, even before I start writing the brief.

The first is a macro view of the business: an understanding of the market context, competition and target audience (assuming it’s a new brief). The second is more micro: a funnelled-down distillation of the thinking into one page that has been strategically thought-through to provide a springboard for the creative. This micro distillation is what sets a good brief apart from an average one.

We should focus our attention on three key components, firstly defining the problem. What are we trying to solve? The clearer you make the problem, the better the creative team’s understanding, and ultimately the work. Next, define the target. Not just by dry demographic facts, but by bringing them to life: their aspirations, likes, dislikes, beliefs – everything that makes them tick as real human beings.

Finally, arrive at a powerful truth. This is key. Think freely and strategically, to provide your creative team with a truth that’s inspiring, powerful, and differentiating. It should seamlessly bring together the insight and brand information you’ve provided earlier, and be the summation of your overall brief.

Also, not every brief needs to be in words. Think differently, and choose formats which are engaging, fun and thought-provoking. These could even be images or videos which bring your thinking to life.

Sean Sim, CEO, McCann Malaysia

It’s tough to narrow it down to just three components but if I had to pick, I would say it would be a clear objective, followed by a succinct articulation of positioning, and lastly a proper budget. The first one, objective, seems simple enough but we have come across clients that cannot be focused on what they want to achieve. They want everything, including the kitchen sink. That makes for confusion and a dilution of messages. They must prioritise, according to needs and budget.

Next, it may come as a surprise, but many briefs cannot state clearly what the company or brand stands for. A product feature/benefit is not positioning. The lack of clarity wastes time and effort.

Finally, some clients intentionally leave out the budget and want the agency to propose and cost out a comprehensive plan. At the end, the clients say they like it but unfortunately don’t have enough money to run most of the stuff.

Stanley Clement, CEO, Mediabrands Content Studio

Achieving a good brief is not just a client problem, it’s also an agency problem. We too sometimes forget to ask the right questions or fail to steer the conversation in the right direction to get the answers we need. At MBCS, we use a single-page consumer experience planning model that helps us ask the very basic questions, but answered concisely:

1.    What is the consumer pain that we are trying to address?
2.    What is the gain that the product/service brings to the consumer to resolve/address this pain?
3.    What do we want the consumers to do after seeing the communication?

These questions must be answered and addressed with utmost clarity so that the task is clear. Of course, we will need to validate the proof points with research and thorough groundwork, but this is a great starting point to ensure we’re all on the right track.

Fatimah Nazirah binti M Ash’ari, head of business, 65dB and strategy director, TBWA\Kuala Lumpur

As a strategist, I see a client’s marketing brief like a document to get the agency’s buy-in to go on a new journey with them. A good brief should make me feel like I’ve been sold with a new challenge. I should be able to sense not only urgency but passion too by firstly, giving me context and making it slightly personal. A good brief will tell me how you get here and why this brief is here. Tell me your brand problems and your personal take on it. Feed me your research and insights.

Next, clarity and conviction. Clearly define the fundamentals i.e. objectives, audience, and positioning, among others. Be focused on what you want to achieve.

Show me that you are convinced that if we solve this one problem, we going to be on the right track. Showing conviction in one’s brief can be quite sexy too.

Also, share your vision, tell us your desired outcome and not just through KPIs. Imagine the change and impact we’d make together. Let us see your vision of the brand and then we’ll give 110% to help you get there.

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Aug 10

Top 5 agencies in Malaysia that mastered the art of digital marketing

Digital customer experiences are now just as important (and sometimes even more so) than in-person experiences in building trusted relationships with brands, said a recent report by Adobe called Adobe 2022 Trust Report. The report found that for 71% of consumers, relevant, personalised content delivered at the right time increases their trust, while 57% of consumers will stop purchasing from a brand that does not provide personal experiences. At the same time, McKinsey’s “The New Digital Age” survey also found that companies will have to build new digital businesses to stay economically viable as they look towards 2023.

Clearly having a digital presence today can make or break a brand. With the speed of change in all things tech and digital, often clients in our part of the world rely on their agency partners to guide and create an elevated experience for their consumers. Hence, agencies that are able to integrate advanced technology with marketing and advertising to produce modern and relevant campaigns are fast becoming one of the most sought after firms.

To find out which agencies excelled in their digital capabilities, the team at A+M turned to our Agency of the Year 2022 Malaysia submissions to find out which were the agencies that managed to leverage innovative digital means to produce thumb-stopping campaigns. Listed alphabetically, these are the top five winners that impressed our independent panel of judges with their modern and smart ways of operation for the Digital Agency of the Year category.

Ampersand Advisory 

Established in 2017, Ampersand Advisory specialises in audience insights and segmentation; driving scale and measuring performance; as well as digital audit and optimisation. It offers consulting and data services, digital content services, as well as connections and media services.  When the pandemic hit, Ampersand Advisory capitalised on the need for digital solutions that fast engulfed clients seeking to transform their media planning and buying approaches. As such, it was able to appeal to businesses looking to transform, and build a standout presence online.

A notable brand that the agency has worked with is Shiseido, where it developed a unique new media platform development in virtual reality that drove engagement, product sampling, eCommerce and social buzz, the Shiseido Ultimune Virtual Reality.

According to Ampersand Advisory, people are still its greatest assets. As such, the agency ensures that its team is physically, emotionally, and financially protected. For instance, it provided all its staff with large monitors to extend their screens, as they worked from home. Financially, the agency took a firm policy decision to not cut its staff’s salaries, despite the initial fall in revenue and cuts in ad spend in 2020, even giving out bonuses in the next year. Additionally, it offered flexible working hours and removed mandatory check-ins online and offline, ensuring the welfare of its team.

At the same time, as Ampersand Advisory hired more staff, it continued with its digital acceleration programme to train them quickly. Key elements included loose monitoring, media training sessions, rigorous digital training, data analytics workshops, and encouraging its staff to undertake tests and get certified. These initiatives on the manpower front proved effective, as both staff strength and retention grew.

Digitas Malaysia 

Touting itself to be a transformation and connected marketing agency, Digitas Malaysia helps clients manage and accelerate growth through first-party data, insights and actions. The connected intelligence empowers brands to create better consumer connections through technology, creativity and smart media across all ecosystem touchpoints. What sets Digitas Malaysia apart from other digital agencies is its core capabilities, where data is at the heart of every work produced. Leveraging technology, Digitas Malaysia pushes boundaries and develops bespoke solutions tailored to each clients’ unique challenges. According to the agency, this has enabled it to deliver personalised and meaningful consumer connections, helping brands fully optimise their customer experiences, delivering clear and measurable ROI.

In addition, Digitas Malaysia establishes strategic partnerships with technology vendors, platforms and content channels to give its clients an additional competitive edge. For instance, its Power of Community Commerce partnership with TikTok enables select clients to take advantage of social commerce, while its close collaboration with Media Prima has resulted in numerous exclusively branded programmes across digital platforms.

Digitas Malaysia explained that its business is all about its people. As such, the agency ensures the welfare of its staff with several initiatives, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, which provides free professional counselling to its staff members through this time of stress and uncertainty. In addition, it financially rewards its team by promoting and rewarding high performing staff members. Not neglecting the technical skillset of its staff, Digitas Malaysia is also committed to digital upskilling, where 50% of all staff has attended enhanced digital skills training via proprietary training courses on Marcel, the Groupe’s global AI collaboration and knowledge platform.  Currently, the agency works with brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Prudential, Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Nestlé.

Entropia – part of Accenture Song

Starting out as a media agency with technology at the heart of its services and solutions, Entropia – part of Accenture Song has now evolved to offer a complete suite of services in a crossover of online and offline worlds, such as customer experience design, data consulting, digital transformation solutions, IR 4.0 services, and most recently, demystifying the metaverse for clients.

Its acquisition by Accenture in 2021 opened up new opportunities for the agency’s clients to relook at their integrated brand experience, spanning the entire value chain, including product, pricing, access, communication, and commerce, among others. With a vision to break industry traditions and norms, the agency set out to blend consultancy and agency, paving future-oriented modes of thinking and working, and merging the domains of influence in marketing geared toward the fourth industrial revolution.

Bringing acceleration to its offering, the agency has partnered with various technology ecosystem partners such as AWS (cloud), Sitecore & Adobe (CMS and marketing cloud), Edgeverve, an Infosys company (customer service, distribution network digitisation, and procurement), and Bambuser (experiential commerce) to bring cloud, CX and commerce platforms to the region. In addition to these partnerships, Entropia – part of Accenture Song has also built its own IP in the areas of customer 360 and advanced profiling, predictive marketing and sales analytics, IoT-driven CX measurement and feedback systems. According to the agency, all these platforms have a strong roadmap in tune with the evolving needs of brands in the digital technology space.

On the manpower front, the agency said that it has made new hires proficient in strategy building, creative work, media, social, UX, martech, data, tech, XR, and eCommerce. This can be attributed to how the agency helped its employees adapt with work buddy programmes, and encouraged more open-door conversations.  Notable client brands that the agency has worked with include Pepsi, Unilever, Merck, Hartalega, Panasonic Malaysia and Oppo.


FCB SHOUT, previously known as FCB Malaysia, rebranded itself and formed a new holding group five years after an independent buy-out, giving the agency a new lease of life as it became one of Malaysia’s “hottest creative shops”. Its challenger mentality and agile working culture enabled it to hold strong and emerge out of the pandemic stronger and more determined, evident in the significant rise in organic business growth, and a high client retention rate. In fact, FCB SHOUT managed to turn 2021, a year of adversity, into its most profitable year since buying the agency, with more than a 100% rise in profit growth, the agency said.

The agency’s success can be attributed to the creative tools it has at its disposal, due to its affiliation with FCB. Ranging from brand bedrock, which helps define brand purpose; definitive design, to build brand assets; and people and patterns, which humanises data.

To help define brand purpose, which the agency believes it to be a powerful concoction of inspired storytelling and engaging story-doing, FCB SHOUT starts by interrogating the brand’s past, understanding its present and anticipating its future. Once the brand purpose is defined, the team is able to make better decisions more quickly and with more confidence.  In addition, FCB SHOUT’s proprietary tool uses data to map behaviours and recognise patterns emerging in the world, both within the category and those that are specific to the business and the brand. With that knowledge, the agency is then able to uncover the most significant opportunities to maximise how and when people engage.

Beyond campaigns, FCB SHOUT also invests heavily in its people – making its staff its priority, and ensuring that jobs were maintained despite the changing circumstances. With its lean operating principles removing all the layers and costs normally associated with a traditional network agency, FCB SHOUT successfully navigated the economic downturn of 2021 without having to implement any salary cuts or retrench any of its people. The agency’s efforts paid off, evident from its success at maintaining staff turnover at 11%. In fact, it even went to great lengths to persist with its training programmes, moving from classrooms to webinar. In addition, when others were downsizing, FCB SHOUT doubled down on talent, and added 10 new hires across all disciplines, ending the year as a 40-strong team.It currently works with notable brands such as RHB Bank, Spritzer, Domino’s Pizza and others.

Kingdom Digital 

Established in 2007, Kingdom Digital strives to push the creative boundaries in the work it produces, while still putting relationships first in everything it does. By humanising the way brands present themselves and speak to their customers, the agency creates a relatable, strong and distinct brand personality that customers can relate to, whether it is through social media content or digital campaigns. The agency also follows a “Relationships Matter” core belief which revolves around building pleasant and long-lasting relationships with clients, consumer and brands, as well as co-workers.

Digital creative automation is Kingdom Digital’s bespoke solution to help brands achieve personalisation at scale. This platform-agnostic service has helped clients such as Grab and PropertyGuru save production time, reduce creative man-hour cost, and enter markets faster with hyper-targeted campaigns.

According to Kingdom Digital, teamwork makes the dream work. With more than 45 active direct brands on the roster concurrently, the agency ensures that adequate support is provided to its clients, while ensuring internal resources are kept at optimal efficiency. As such, the agency was actively hiring throughout 2021 to expand the team, despite other organisations having recruitment freezes. In fact, Kingdom Digital made 73 new hires last year.

Beyond simply hiring and expanding the team, the agency ensures that it nurtures its existing employees. From annual performance reviews, a mentoring system between seniors and juniors where juniors are exposed to the best practices, to training, workshops, and masterclasses where its staff are encouraged to participate, Kingdom Digital provides a conducive environment for its team to grow and learn.

With its humanised approach, capable team, and effective technology, the agency has worked with a diverse range of brands from various verticals, including Grab, Digi, Shiseido, Nissan, Hong Leong Bank, and Sime Darby Property. Most recently, the digital creative agency Kingdom Digital was acquired by Hakuhodo to accelerate Kingdom Digital’s expansion in Southeast Asia.

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Aug 10

Hakuhodo and DAC launch H+ to create a new Asia-wide digital network offering

H+ aims to grow digital revenue outside of Japan, satisfy client needs and further integrate Hakuhodo DY’s overseas holdings.

Two of Hakuhodo DY Holdings’ largest agency networks are teaming up to create a new APAC-wide digital service network called
H+, in a bid to export Japanese know-how and expand theirtechnology offerings across Asia.

Hakuhodo Inc. (Hakuhodo), the holding company’s largest creative and brand agency, and D.A.Consortium (DAC), its leading digital media agency, plan to focus on Asia-wide digital growth with team members from both networks across the region collaborating in the new cross-company organisation.

H+ will be led out of Thailand by DAC executive offi cer and head of its Global Business Group,Michihiko Suganuma, together with Yusuke Miyabe, Hakuhodo’s global business transformationdivision and Asia DX division leader. Both have relocated from Tokyo to Bangkok whereSuganuma will lead H+ operations and supply, while Miyabe will focus on growth and demand.

“APAC has always been a fantastically dynamic region of the world, and now in particular israpidly making up for lost time and looking for innovation and opportunity again,” Suganumasays. “Across advertising, owned media, commerce and CRM, clients are looking to haveengaging conversations with consumers. With data and technology at the core, H+ is focused onempowering our clients to do just that.”

While Hakuhodo’s agency network alone has nearly 100 companies in Asia-Pacifi c outside ofJapan, both Hakuhodo and DAC have identifi ed 22 of their digital-fi rst companies to form the H+network initially in ten markets across APAC.

Although the H+ network represents a collaborative service offering between agencies, ratherthan a new entity or agency brand, H+ will be hiring new staff in these companies to coordinateand facilitate H+ services, while also choosing existing select staff from Hakuhodo and DAC towork on each project.

Getting employees across different Asian markets and agency networks to cooperate and workseamlessly work together is “the diffi cult part,” admits Suganuma, but says Miyabe, himself and others headquartered in Japan are committed to seeing each client’s needs through tocompletion.

“For instance, let’s say there is a client from Japan aiming to reach 10 countries that we’ve plotted here, then we will make a special task force unit to support the client. We will appoint key members in each business to realise their request,” Suganuma says.

In Bangkok, H+ will be led out of the same location as Hakuhodo-owned Winter Egency and now expects collaborate with DAC-owned I-DAC Bangkok to a much greater degree than before.

Suganuma tells Campaign this was one of two main motivations behind starting H+, to not only raise sales revenue but also to realise the goal of integrating their agencies’ services. “We want to be united. That is why we made a consolidated brand in H+”.

L to R: Michihiko Suganuma and Yusuke Miyabe

Expansion across Asia

Of course, this integration is not merely expected in-market, but on an Asia-wide level. Hakuhodo has been steadily growing its ability to help clients with digital transformation (DX) in the region. Last week alone, Hakuhodo invested in Japanese artificial intelligence company
Laboro.AI for exactly this reason, then also bought an 80% stake in leading Malaysian digital agency Kingdom Digital, adding it as a subsidiary.

“Continuing to accelerate our growth outside of Japan has always been a key priority for Hakuhodo and DAC,” said Shuntaro Ito, head of Hakuhodo international. “This is why we feel that launching a new group offering, which can strategically power all of our in-market companies, is the perfect decision at this time.”

DAC, meanwhile, is looking to replicate its digital media success in Japan, where it claims to have12% of the market share, by expanding its extensive adtech and publisher partnerships across Asia, backed by the operational strength of 500 traders, 350 engineers and 50 data scientists.

“We are trying to bring this know-how in building client success to all the regions,” Suganuma says. We have been taking care of Japan clients asking us in Hakuhodo or DAC to cover several regions, but we are going to put more focus on acquiring clients overseas. Eventually H+ willspread past Asia but for now the focus is Asia.”

The H+ offering

The H+ logo helps illustrate its new integrated service portfolio. The four different colours on the + symbol represent its four main business areas: digital advertising, owned (brand asset and social channel support), commerce and CRM (including data services). In each area, H+ says ithas key partnerships in place with major platforms, tech and data providers.

The ‘H’, we’re told, represents both ‘Hakuhodo’ and ‘human-centric’ nature of the offerings. Those familiar with Hakuhodo will know it does not refer to consumers, but‘sei-katsu-sha’, a Japanese term for more a human-centered consumer as a multi-faceted individual.

This approach, Suganuma says, “is what drives us to look at people as a sum total of their lives, preferences, aspirations and dreams; and to seek out the evolving lifestyle experiences that will inform engaging communications.”

Based around this approach is a proprietary technique called ‘InsightOut’ that Hakuhodo developed more than a decade ago to turn data into ideas. The leaders of H+ says both concepts are at the core of its unique planning process, which uses all its data and technology partnerships to convert the underlying motivations and behaviour of sei-katsu-sha into actionable insights for clients and society.

“We start from a sei-katsu-sha insight to fi nd a new opportunity in the market and then we workon a digital solution or with media agency to increase media efficiency,” Miyabe tells Campaign. “We need to provide both to clients. This is the concept”.

The core of H+, its leaders say, is symbolised by the center point in the + sign where all the offerings come together.

Says Suganuma: “We are here to bring all these four areas into one central nodal point.”

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Aug 02

Hakuhodo acquires Malaysian digital creative agency Kingdom Digital

Integrated marketing and innovation company Hakuhodo has acquired digital creative agency Kingdom Digital to accelerate Kingdom Digital’s expansion in Southeast Asia. According to Kingdom digital, there will be no key personnel changes within the agency, and currently, there are no conflicting clients as well. Kingdom Digital declined to disclose the cost of the acquisition.

Kingdom Digital specialises in social media and content marketing, digital 360 campaigns, web experiences, and video production among others, with a wide portfolio of clients including Grab, Digi, Tohtonku, KyoChon and Mead Johnson Nutrition. It currently has a workforce of 160 experts. Meanwhile, Hakuhodo has offices in 20 countries and regions and a pool of 10,000 specialists globally.

Vin Chinnaraja, chairman of Kingdom Digital, said that with Hakuhodo’s regional presence, Kingdom Digital can deliver multinational work for its clients and brands. “We are looking forward to combining Hakuhodo’s sei-katsu-sha data driven marketing with our innovative digital services like our Digital Creative Automation (DCA) platform to deliver hyper-personalised experiences for our clients and brands,” Chinnaraja said.

Shuntaro Ito, senior corporate officer, Hakuhodo and president and CEO, Hakuhodo International said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Kingdom Digital, which is regarded so highly in the industry, as a member of the Hakuhodo Group at this milestone juncture. I’m certain Kingdom Digital will be able to contribute to our clients’ growth by providing them with sophisticated digital solutions in a Malaysian digital marketplace that will only continue to develop in the future. I look forward to Kingdom Digital being a leading presence, alongside Hakuhodo Malaysia, in further strengthening our digital capabilities in Malaysia and ASEAN.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Ong, CEO of Kingdom Digital said: “With Hakuhodo’s acquisition of Kingdom Digital, we will be able to draw on their infrastructure, creativity, and insights to continue deliver the high standard of work that we are known for. Most of all, both Hakuhodo Inc. and Kingdom Digital share the same vision and values and us coming together will broaden and deepen our services for all our clients.”

In 2020, Hakuhodo acquired the majority stake in Growww Media to reinforce its capabilities to provide integrated marketing in Taiwan, where many Japanese companies have a presence. The acquisition also aimed to shore up the group’s services in a wide range of domains besides advertising, including large event and exhibition planning and operation, the building of UX-heavy digital campaigns, and PR.

Separately, just last month, Woon Hoh, Hakuhodo’s regional chief creative officer, left after 17 years with the agency. He started his career with Hakuhodo in Indonesia and eventually rose up the ranks to oversee ASEAN markets including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. He also won a slew of local and international awards during his time with the agency.

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Aug 02

Hakuhodo takes majority stake in Malaysia’s Kingdom Digital

The deal will strengthen the Japanese network’s capabilities in Malaysia’s digital advertising market, and the two firms will also target southeast Asia with their digital advertising solutions.

Japan-based network Hakuhodo has acquired an 80% stake in Malaysian independent digital agency Kingdom Digital Solutions. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Kingdom Digital, founded in 2007, has 156 employees and will now become a subsidiary of Hakuhodo. The Japanese network has worked with Kingdom Digital previously, and this acquisition will strengthen its capabilities in Malaysia’s digital advertising market, the companies stated. The two firms will provide solutions to local, multinational, and Japanese clients in the ASEAN market.

Kingdom Digital provides digital campaigns, social media and content marketing and digital creative automation, to clients in Malaysia and ASEAN. The agency has won Malaysia Independent Agency of the Year (Gold) at Campaign’s Agency of the Year 2021.

This deal will help Kingdom Digital “realise and speed up our ASEAN expansion ambitions, tapping into Hakuhodo’s regional presence to be able to deliver multinational work for our clients and brands,” noted Vin Chinnaraja, chairman of Kingdom Digital. This deal would allow Kingdom Digital to combine Hakuhodo’s creativity and sei-katsu-sha insight with its Digital Creative Automation (DCA) platform.

Shuntaro Ito, senior corporate officer, Hakuhodo, and president & CEO, Hakuhodo International said Hakuhodo opened its first overseas office in Malaysia 50 years ago. “I look forward to Kingdom Digital being a leading presence, alongside Hakuhodo Malaysia, in further strengthening our digital capabilities in Malaysia and Asean,” he added.

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Kingdom Digital has joined Hakuhodo Inc. News
Aug 02

Kingdom Digital joins Hakuhodo Inc. Network

KUALA LUMPUR, 2 AUGUST 2022 – Kingdom Digital, one of Malaysia’s most awarded digital creative agencies, has joined Hakuhodo Inc..

Established in 2007, Kingdom Digital’s growth over the past 15 years has been organic with clients across a variety of key categories. The growth has enabled Kingdom Digital to attract high-calibre, loyal talent who now count over 160 experts delivering amazing work and results for local, regional and multi-national brands.

Growth and expansion have always been at the heart of Kingdom Digital. To help them achieve it, and at speed and scale, they have found the partner in Hakuhodo Inc. who provide Kingdom Digital the ready-made platform via their regional presence.

Vin Chinnaraja, Chairman of Kingdom Digital commented:

“We have found the perfect partner in Hakuhodo Inc. for Kingdom Digital to accelerate our Southeast Asia expansion ambitions. With Hakuhodo’s regional presence we are able to deliver multi-national work for our clients and brands from day one. We are also looking forward to combining Hakuhodo’s Sei-katsu-sha insights with our innovative digital services like our Digital Creative Automation (DCA) platform to deliver hyper-personalized experiences for our clients and brands.“

Founded in 1895, Hakuhodo is an integrated marketing and innovation company with offices in 20 countries and regions and over 10,000 specialists working around the world. The centrepiece of the Hakuhodo DY Group, Hakuhodo is the second largest advertising agency in the world according to Ad Age’s “Agency Report 2022.”

Shuntaro Ito, Senior Corporate Officer, Hakuhodo and President & CEO, Hakuhodo International said:

“Malaysia was the first country in which Hakuhodo set up an overseas office—Hakuhodo Malaysia—in 1973, and next year will mark the 50th anniversary of our first foray overseas. We are absolutely delighted to welcome Kingdom Digital, which is regarded so highly in the industry, as a member of the Hakuhodo Group at this milestone juncture.

I’m certain Kingdom Digital will be able to contribute to our clients’ growth by providing them with sophisticated digital solutions in a Malaysian digital marketplace that will only continue to develop in the future. I look forward to Kingdom Digital being a leading presence, alongside Hakuhodo Malaysia, in further strengthening our digital capabilities in Malaysia and ASEAN.”

Ryan Ong, CEO of Kingdom Digital expressed that the agency is perfectly poised to capitalise on this partnership. “With Hakuhodo’s acquisition of Kingdom Digital, we will be able to draw on their infrastructure, creativity, and insights to continue deliver the high standard of work that we are known for. Most of all, both Hakuhodo Inc. and Kingdom Digital share the same vision and values and us coming together will broaden and deepen our services for all our clients.

Kingdom Digital has joined Hakuhodo Inc.

From the top left: Wei-Chun Chu (Hakuhodo International), Edmund Lou (Kingdom Digital), Xiao Yee, Lui (Kingdom Digital), Ryusuke Oda (Hakuhodo Malaysia), Steven Yap (Kingdom Digital), Hisashi Hirano (Hakuhodo Inc.), Yusuke Miyabe (Hakuhodo International)

From the bottom left: Hideaki Sato (Hakuhodo International), Yasutoshi Hiratsuka (Hakuhodo International), Vin Chinnaraja (Kingdom Digital), Ryan Ong (Kingdom Digital)

About Hakuhodo Inc.

Founded in 1895, Hakuhodo is an integrated marketing solutions company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. With offices in 20 countries and regions, and over 10,000 specialists working in Japan and around the world, Hakuhodo is the world’s second largest advertising agency according to Ad Age’s “Agency Report 2022.” The company is the core agency of the Hakuhodo DY Group.

Sei-katsu-sha insight is the foundation for Hakuhodo’s thinking, planning, and brand building. It reminds us that consumers are more than shoppers performing an economic function. They have heartbeats. They are individuals with distinct lifestyles. Hakuhodo introduced this term in the 1980s to emphasize its commitment to a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective on consumers’ lives.

With sei-katsu-sha insight as its cornerstone, Hakuhodo combines creativity, integrative capabilities, and data and technology to play a leading role in evolving companies’ marketing activities and generating innovation for the digitalized era. This enables the company to impact and provide value to sei-katsu-sha and society.

Renowned for its creativity, Hakuhodo has won the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity twice, and was named Network of the Year at ADFEST 2021.

To learn more, visit:

For further information or any enquiries, please contact:
Sheryl Tan
Marketing Manager
Kingdom Digital

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Scam Alert Thumbnail News
Jun 15

Scam Alert


Scam Alert

We have been made aware that suspicious individuals are impersonating our company name and address to conduct fraudulent activities.

We would like to emphasise that they are not affiliated with nor associated with Kingdom Digital. We also wish to alert the public that we will never request any persons (job applicants, vendors, or employees) to transfer money to a personal bank account or make any online credit card payment. If in doubt, please visit this website to verify if it’s a reported scam account before making any payment transfers.

If you have come across an ad or have received calls/texts claiming to be from Kingdom Digital and you’re in doubt, please contact us at 03-7710 0211 or for clarifications.

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Nov 17

Talentbank reveals 113 most preferred graduate employers to work for in 2022

Graduates’ Choice Award (GCA) – Malaysia’s most authoritative graduate employer branding award has announced the nation’s Most Preferred Graduate Employers to Work for in 2022. Kingdom Digital has received recognition for Most Preferred Graduate Employer in the Advertising category.

Employers are given recognition for their dedication and efforts in enhancing their employer branding in public and private universities across Malaysia.

GCA 2022 saw over 23,000 Malaysian undergraduates from more than 100 private and public universities nationwide voting. This represents the largest consensus of young Malaysian voices, accurately capturing their future employment preferences and attributes from a variety of aspects – including the most preferred employer.

The results of the GCA 2022 are set to be a vital guide and tool for the millions of Malaysian fresh graduates as they venture out into the workforce in search of their ideal job.

Graduates’ Choice Award (GCA) Most Preferred Graduate Employers To Work For In 2022. Click here to view the high-resolution image.

Commenting on the findings, Ben Ho, founder of Talentbank – organisers of GCA said, “For the fourth year running, through the Graduates’ Choice Award, Malaysian university students have made their voices heard, weighing in on some of the most crucial criteria when it comes to finding the right organisation and job for them. Through our comprehensive and wide-reaching poll, we are able to gain invaluable insights into what undergraduates are looking for in terms of jobs helping others make wiser employment decisions too.”

This year also saw the number of overall winners increase from just 10 to 25, a testament to the growing list of influential and preferred employers amongst Malaysian undergraduates.

GCA 2022 recognizes 48 distinctive industries, amongst the voted industries are Accounting and Professional Services, Automotive, E-Commerce, Electronics, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, Government-linked Companies, Pharmaceutical, Retail, Telecommunications, and many others.

Some of the new categories introduced in GCA 2022 include customer relations services, which are Convenience Store, Luxury Retail, and Travel Booking App. With digitalization being the forefront of day-to-day operations, categories like Fintech, Investment Banking and Print Technology were also introduced in GCA 2022. Among other new categories introduced are Advertising, Analytics, Broadcasting, Construction, as well as Social Media.

Two categories in previous year’s GCA were divided into specified categories for GCA 2022. With tech being an open space with new exploration and innovation, the Tech category is expanded to specify Computer Peripherals and ICT. Additionally, the Manufacturing category is expanded to specify Microprocessor, Paint and Rubber to further define the industries into its specialties.

Beyond specific organisations, GCA 2022 also showcased other important employment preferences that would shape their decision-making process. Some of the key considerations included good bosses and leaders, salary and bonuses as well as career development opportunities.

I firmly believe that the list of organisations and other findings will serve as an important guide for the millions of fresh graduates across the country as they venture out into the job market in search of their dream job.” – Ben Ho, Founder & CEO @ Talentbank

Other key attributes and preferences that were highlighted in the GCA 2022 results included learning and development opportunities, company culture, flexible working hours, work-life balance, job security, and the ability to contribute back to society.

A symbol of excellence and recognition, the GCA emblem is designed to embody the hallmark of excellence portrayed by organizations across the industries

GCA 2022 also shined a spotlight on particularly trending and preferred industries with the aim of guiding fresh graduates towards industries that would best reward them upon entry into the job market.

Amongst the most preferred industries for employment were e-commerce marketplaces, telecommunications, accounting, tech and banking ranking amongst the top five.

“Today’s job market is more sprawling and elaborate than ever before. There are thousands of companies across hundreds of different industries for fresh graduates to sieve through when finding the right job for them. It is for this very reason that we created GCA, to stand out as a singular and consolidated voice and guide for Malaysian university students when it comes to planning their future careers. With the GCA, fresh graduates will be able to make more informed decisions on their industry of choice, specific target organisations, expected salaries and more,” added Ben.

Launched in 2018, GCA has cumulatively reached out to over 85,000 graduates and recognised more than 200 large organisations. 100% of the results were determined by the votes of university students nationwide. GCA has been vital in providing actionable intelligence for the nation’s leading campus recruiters. Beyond this, GCA has proven to be equally important at guiding young graduates to make better employment decisions and connecting them to the country’s top employers.

GCA is organised by Talentbank, an award-winning career discovery ecosystem focused on producing career-ready candidates and helping them with better careers, by connecting them with industry leaders that welcome prime talent.

Ben Ho, Founder of Talentbank said, “Over the past four years, GCA has solidified itself as the hallmark of excellence for organisations nationwide. Making it the voice of the next crop of potential employees, GCA has cemented its status as Malaysia’s most authoritative graduate employer branding award.”

Being listed as one of the most preferred employers in GCA, is a truly significant achievement as it is 100% determined by the votes of Malaysia’s graduates, making it the voice of the next crop of potential employees.” – Li Kiat, Project Director @ Talentbank

Handcrafted with the use of pewter and 24K gold, the GCA trophy is designed to resemble a scroll – a symbol of courage, knowledge, and wisdom.

After a four year track record of excellence in highlighting the wants and needs of the latest generation of Malaysian graduates, the fifth edition of GCA is already underway. Voting for GCA 2023 is now open until 30th June 2022.

“If you are a Malaysian university student, this is your chance to voice your opinion and have it mean something to your peers. Your votes for the 2023 Most Preferred Graduate Employer to Work for and other criteria will guide millions of others in their search for the ideal job,” Ben added.

All Malaysian undergraduates and graduates are eligible to vote for GCA 2023 and can do so by simply visiting

Participating voters will stand a chance to win prizes such as Apple 13″ Macbook Pro, HP Spectre x360 Laptop, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 or Apple iPhone 13.

For more information on GCA and this year’s Most Preferred Graduate Employers to Work for visit: For additional information on Talentbank visit: or

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Oct 21

#MobExAwards 2021 highlight: Grab helps small businesses thrive in the new normal

Article Grab MOB EX Image

Through the years, Grab has grown to be a household name, offering a suite of services, including deliveries, mobility, financial services, enterprise, and others.

Driven with a common mission to drive Southeast Asia forward by creating economic empowerment for everyone, the company sought to help small businesses which were hit the hardest from the pandemic.

Partnering with Kingdom Digital, the “Enterprise-level ad-tech for the smallest of small businesses” campaign was created. This resulted in Grab clinching the gold award for Best Use of In-App Advertising at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s MobEx Awards 2021.


After the pandemic hit, non-essential businesses experienced a temporary closure as mass movements were prohibited worldwide.

According to the Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperation Ministry, more than 30,000 Malaysian businesses have folded since the movement control order was first imposed; 70% of the casualties were small single-outlet retailers, restaurants and other micro-enterprises who struggled to make the transition from physical to online selling.

As a marketplace app, Grab could not exist without its small business partners. As a result, Grab had a business motive and moral duty to help these business partners digitise and thrive in the new normal.

Grab targeted businesses that were earning under RM30,000 a month, and were granted a tax exemption by the Ministry of Finance.


According to Grab, the problem with small businesses is that many of them lack the resources to have an agency or person in charge of marketing. Additionally, these small businesses are too busy to understand apps, ads or websites. As a result, these companies lack the knowledge and resources to move the business from offline to online.

In fact, small businesses often face questions such as “how do I write copy”; “what size should my banner be”; “what photo to use when I don’t even have a logo”; and “how do I know if my ad is working”.

While many companies were donating ad credits to small businesses, many of them struggled as there was no one to explain how digital ads worked.

To genuinely move the needle and impact the livelihoods of these small businesses, Grab knew it had to offer more than free ad credits. In fact, these businesses needed an easy digital shortcut. That was an end-to-end performance marketing solution that even the smallest, least savvy of businesses could actually use – media space, custom radius targeting, tailored creative (in all the correct sizes for the different spaces), and ruthlessly simplified analytics.


Partnering with Kingdom Digital, a bespoke automated ad builder was created to help small businesses. Focusing on data and creative automation, and dynamic radius targeting, the ad builder was able to automatically pull information the small businesses had already submitted to Grab.

This included the merchant’s name, address, opening and closing hours, phone numbers, store tag line, menu descriptions, store logos or menu item photos. The ad builder would then build ads with the available information.

There were also layouts for information that was not provided. These ads were then targeted to Grab app users that were within a 12km radius from the registered store address and automatically turned on/off during the stores’ opening hours.

Next, Grab and Kingdom Digital had to tackle the challenge of scaling the ads. First, the company and agency decided to send emails to all eligible GrabFood, GrabMart and GrabPay small businesses, describing the “Grab Loves Local Heroes” programme.

The “Best space on the Grab app” was also utilised, where enrolled small businesses would receive personalised performance marketing creatives as well as daily ad exposures on the home screen of the Grab app. Gift cards were also designed to encourage Malaysians to support local businesses by sending the gift cards to friends and families.

Last, Grab would feature interesting stories that it received across social media platforms as part of the “Grab Loves Local Heroes” campaign on Malaysia Day.


The campaign turned out to be a resounding success: not only did Grab manage to offer free visibility, awareness and promotions for the local heroes by leveraging in-app advertising on its own app, it also received overwhelming support from Malaysians who rallied behind the cause.

As a result, the heart-warming stories about the small businesses achieved more than 600,000 engagements overall.

Looking to explore personalisation for your digital campaigns? Schedule a demo to learn more about our Digital Creative Automation managed service today.

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Oct 20

Kingdom Digital tapped by KyoChon for social media duties

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Kyochon, a Korean fried chicken brand, has tapped local digital and social marketing agency Kingdom Digital to handle the brand’s social media duties in the Malaysian market, starting off with an online campaign to promote KyoChon’s new meat-free food: the ‘Future Chicken’ Burger and ‘Future Chicken’ Tenders.

KyoChon will be turning to social media to create buzz and drive awareness about the 100% plant-based options by working closely with its newly appointed social media agency Kingdom Digital.

Terry Goh, CEO of KyoChon, shared that the brand first introduced its meat-free menu earlier this year in February for Malaysians who are looking to reduce their meat intake for health, spiritual, or social reasons.

“With the addition of the new ‘Future Chicken’ Burger and ‘Future Chicken’ Tenders, we have a total of 4 meat-free selections to cater to different preferences. Our customers and their loved ones can now have more options to choose from when they dine at KyoChon, be it from the meat-free or chicken menu. Both menus allow them to experience the signature taste and crispiness one would expect from our Korean fried chicken without compromising on their dietary choices,” Goh said.

Meanwhile, Lui Xiao Yee, head of client servicing at Kingdom Digital said KyoChon has tasked them to strengthen KyoChon’s positioning as the go-to restaurant for the most authentic and best Korean fried chicken in the minds of young teens, adults, and families.

“To achieve that, our strategy aims to portray KyoChon as the ‘INSSA’ (a Korean slang word describing a sociable trendsetter) through relatable and humorous social content and engagement ideas. Some of these can already be seen on their social media pages, such as the specially-curated monthly KyoKomics or when the brand joined the hype and trendjack Squid Game,” Xiao Yee stated.

Kingdom Agency has won various accounts this year, including milk brand Lactel and beverage brand Spritzer.

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