Tencent, the massive Chinese holding company behind WeChat, has hired Droga5 as its first U.S. creative agency partner after a competitive review.
The move comes as Tencent looks to expand further beyond its home base in China by focusing on the rapidly expanding mobile games market, which is estimated to generate more than $108 billion in revenue this year.
“Tencent’s gaming division has big plans for North America, and this is the key relationship set up to take that on,” Droga5 chief marketing officer Chris Wollen told Adweek. “We’re glad to partner with someone who has the grand ambitions they have.”
Wollen cited his agency’s “ability to create campaigns across mediums that have heavy PR value” in explaining how Droga5 beat out two other unnamed competitors to win the business.
The nearly 20-year-old Tencent is one of the world’s largest internet providers, offering everything from ecommerce platforms to voice command devices. Earlier this year, it also surpassed Wells Fargo to become one of the 10 biggest global businesses with an estimated market value of $300 billion.
While it’s best known for WeChat, Tencent has long had its eyes on the world of gaming. In 2011 it bought the vast majority of Riot Games, which makes League of Legends, in the first of a series of acquisitions that later included minority stakes in Epic Games (Gears of War), Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty) and Supercell (Clash of Clans).
“Tencent is taking over in its category and beyond, no question,” said David Droga regarding his agency’s newest client. “Their influence in culture and releasing today’s most popular games and apps year after year, with no sign of slowing down—it’s amazing.”
Droga5 is not new to the gaming space as it created campaigns for Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero series before Tencent acquired 5 percent of that company in 2013. The agency’s first campaign promoting an unspecified property will debut sometime in late 2017.
No estimated spending totals for the account are currently available since this work will mark Tencent’s first full foray into American advertising.