Q&A: Top Firms Expanding into the Asia Pacific Region

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It’s not exactly news that the Asia Pacific region is one of the biggest opportunities for international firms looking to expand and serve a more global audience. Allison + Partners recently opened an office in Singapore while firms like Edelman and Ogilvy have maintained a presence in China for some time.

Still, much of the market remains untapped by top Western firms, and the act of reaching the billions of consumers living in the Asia Pacific region presents significant challenges for many US-based organizations.

Siegel+Gale recently announced a partnership with Gramco, Japan’s largest branding firm, in the interest of better serving the Chinese public.

We spoke to Jason Cieslak, president of Siegel+Gale’s Pacific Rim operations, to get his take on the trend.

Why did S+G decide to partner with Gramco at this time?

Our firm continues to look at Asia as a growth opportunity. Having a partner in the region sends a signal to our global clients of our commitment to that market. Gramco approached us, and we recognized we had a mutual benefit for doing this.

China is an important market for both our firms at this time and in the future, and we have complementary offerings there. Gramco does not have a US office, so our three-office footprint here will help Gramco serve its Japanese-based multinationals well in the US, and vice versa.

How will the partnership expand on S+G’s ability to serve its APAC clients?

The benefit to our clients will be significant. China and Japan are Asia’s largest markets and many of our clients look at both markets as strategic priorities. Helping Chinese companies expand abroad is one important benefit, and likewise, helping Japanese companies enter China is another.

Having access to a world class branding firm whose roots are in Japan will be a huge benefit to all our clients as we look to find ways to serve them in such an important market.

Do recent trends in firms opening APAC offices reflect the growing power of the economies in the area? 

Absolutely. But the question for a lot of agencies is: how do we best support this opportunity? We felt an alliance would be a prudent way to offer more to our clients as we learn which services and capabilities make the most sense.

We have current needs now with our clients, but as Asia more broadly matures, we anticipate some of those needs changing. It is important to remember that the fact that APAC is a huge growth market doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing for those who enter.

What do firms need to do to better serve these demographics? Is greater engagement with the APAC area a necessity for global firms?

You can’t service global multi-nationals well if you don’t have a presence in the priority markets they operate in. That’s why we entered China five years ago and have offices in Europe and the Middle East.

Europe, the Middle East and China all carry strategic significance for our clients, so we want to be there. Having a perspective on customers, employees, trends and competitors in those regions is vital to helping large multi-nationals compete.

It is also important to understand that serving clients in markets where the native tongue prevails requires a true on-the-ground native capability. Gramco will help us understand the nuances of the Japanese market in a way we could never fully comprehend from the US or China.

What sort of unique challenges do such regionally focused operations present?

Ensuring sufficient native capability in those regions — particularly proficiency in language and a strong understanding of the regional nuances of the markets, cultures, and regulatory issues.

How will the New York/APAC partnership work?

A Gramco executive will be based in Siegel+Gale’s headquarters in New York City to assess new opportunities in the US, and both firms will collaborate on-the-ground in China to identify and cultivate new opportunities in the region.