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Doing More with Less in Asia Doesn’t Have to Result in Cultural Confusion


Studios that are driven from western networks, using western data and a broad brushstroke approach to APAC, risk doing clients a huge disservice, MSQ Studios Asia's general manager Andy Edmonds writes

Doing More with Less in Asia Doesn’t Have to Result in Cultural Confusion

No matter the business, no matter the brand, no matter the sector, when it comes to the creation and production of content in 2022 there’s one word that comes up most frequently: More.

Give me more data, diversity, channels and adaptations.

And do it whilst tackling more challenges than ever: more ad-blockers, complexity, technologies, more competition – the list goes on.

It gets even harder when the word ‘more’ is followed with the inevitable two words: for less. Do it in less time, with less budget, less attribution…. I can see you all nodding along in the back.

This isn’t an isolated challenge. Marketers and agencies are pondering the conundrum the world over.

But, when you put the lens of APAC over the top of it – with the vast mix of countries, legalities, cultures, languages and local nuances that such a vast region brings – the challenge of ‘more for less’ increases further still. 

For the bold, the exciting opportunity is looking at how we connect the agency ecosystems creative, strategy, data, technology and CX teams with a little imagination to break down barriers and bring them together to create endless possibilities for our clients.

To solve these problems, we’ve seen lots of network groups in recent years launch offshore production studios. The intentions are solid, but the studios are generally still driven from the West, with Western data and insights that’s not connected at its core. So, whilst they may be providing more for less, they’re doing so without real local market understanding.

Which leads to client requests like ‘let’s just use the white wedding dress shot in Thailand’, where the culture wears red to weddings and ‘Can we just sponsor the weather forecast in Singapore?’ (That last one was a genuine request, by the way, and the awkward response is that I don’t think Singapore even has a weather forecast to be sponsored. A quick Wikipedia search suggests tropical: hot, humid, rainy, pretty much this, 365 days a year).

So when we sat down to discuss the launch of MSQ Global Studios, we knew there was much that needed to change.

A different way

We believe in Market out, not Global down. Starting with local teams in providing data, insights, strategy, creative whilst developing our production ecosystem and global partners to deliver more content with context. Then scaling it with both proprietary and best-in-class creative technology partners. We’re really leaning into Craft, Technology and Imagination to deliver incredible creativity and smart innovative solutions for our clients. This is closed out with data to show the real effectiveness of content, technology and imagination.  

For us launching MSQ Global Studios, the most important thing was to build something completely different, launching new studios in Singapore and Shanghai and working closely with our colleagues in the UK and USA who have strong creative and production heritage enabled by technology at every level to deliver the very best in storytelling at scale.

Matched with best in class local partners who understand the regions to answer the questions and challenges that our clients have in this new world. Joining up the very best creative and production capabilities in the MSQ group to ensure that from any entry point our clients have access to some of the best talent in the industry at global scale.

It won’t all be plain sailing. The industry moves fasts and even the very best have to paddle fast just to stand still. But we’re building a deep bench of global and local partners to ensure our capabilities across the globe can scale with us – and our clients’ needs. Off the bat we’ve had some early wins, delivering some exciting content and campaigns for clients and winning APAC Content Marketing Campaign of the year for our work with Kimberly Clark’s Poise brand. Our insight-led, brand and conversion-first creative approach seems to be resonating well with clients and is enabling them to deliver record breaking results. 

So for us this is just the beginning. Merging craft, technology and imagination with local-first creative and productions teams, whilst benefiting from the global sync up of our studios for extra production firepower, will enable us to create locally relevant content that’s scalable for our clients in all three corners of the globe. And will hopefully mean that for brands looking to create more in Asia for less, those age-old mistakes and cultural faux pas will become a thing of the past.

Andy Edmonds is the general manager of MSQ Studios Asia

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MSQ Partners, Fri, 09 Sep 2022 10:05:20 GMT