Future not in advertising: Saatchis China boss

SHANGHAI - Saatchi & Saatchi's new Greater China CEO has pledged to hasten the agency's shift into areas beyond traditional advertising.

Justin Billingsley, who arrived in Shanghai earlier this month to take up the newly created post of CEO for Greater China, was previously brand marketing director for mobile brand Orange in the UK. The Saatchis role is his first time within an agency.

"I have a massive commitment to moving us into digital faster than the overall market," he said, adding that areas such as in-store work and new product development would also be developed.

Recalling his time at Orange, he said that one-third of the fees the brand paid to agency Fallon were for its non-advertising offerings.

"The market is ready for that kind of offer," he argued. "A lot of clients have seen distribution-led growth that is now diminishing. They now need to look beyond mass media to digital or experiential platforms that allow them to keep customers."

Saatchi & Saatchi's digital capability in China is focused on its Guangzhou joint venture with local agency Energy Source. Billingsley said he was still deciding whether it made sense to focus digital resources into a single unit or to embed them into each Saatchi & Saatchi office in the market.

"One of the questions I am asking is how we best structure resources to have critical mass in digital," he said.

Billingsley added that the agency would consider acquisitions in areas such as search or CRM, "where we need to build".

"In the next three to five years the core of our offering will be advertising, but advertising in forms that are rebalanced toward digital, experiential and shopper marketing," he concluded. "I don't want clients to come to me six months before they launch something; I want them to come to me three years before they need something.

For more stories from Asia visit Media Asia's website.

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