Asia Pacific agency landscape heats up as 72andSunny launches in Sydney and Singapore

72andSunny APAC partner and managing director Chris Kay

72andSunny has opened its doors in Asia Pacific with a unique dual-office, one management team approach, and an ambition to build a diverse, collaborative creative agency in the region.

The agency has launched offices in Sydney and Singapore, announcing eBay Australia as a foundation client, as well as picking up project work for Google and Dropbox.

72andSunny's Asia Pacific presence will be led by partner and managing director of APAC Chris Kay, who previously ran the agency’s Los Angeles office, and executive creative director Johnny Tan, who joins the agency from BBH China, where he was chief creative officer.

They are joined by strategy director Mollie Hill, who has worked for Wieden & Kennedy in Brazil, JWT in Singapore, and The Monkeys in Sydney and director of talent and operations Ngaio McCreadie, who was previously partner and strategic business lead at BBH London.

The agency will operate as one team across both offices and will share talent, ideas and briefs, as it looks to grow across the Asia Pacific region.

Managing director Chris Kay told The Drum, “We think this approach is quite unique and it gives us unique opportunities. If there’s interesting talent in Singapore that we can’t get in Sydney and vice versa we have an opportunity to bring that talent together. This means we can offer something that other agencies can’t offer and we have a bigger, more diverse pool of talent to fish in.”

“Connecting Sydney and Singapore, is a two-hour time difference and an 8-hour flight, and it’s an opportunity to have a great pool of talent working on business that clients maybe haven’t had access to before,” said Kay.

The APAC presence adds to 72andSunny’s offices in Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam and provides the agency with a global presence and the opportunity to expand its relationships with brands in other markets.

“When you look at our client list globally there is an opportunity to potentially extend our relationships with some of our client partners. A lot of our clients are global players who do work in other markets, and they can now use our offices as a springboard for Asia Pacific work.”

However, Kay says the decision to expand into Asia Pacific - particularly Australia - was led by a mixture of cultural fit and talent as much as client opportunity.

“Culturally Australia is definitely the right place for a brand like ours, we’re optimistic, positive and driven by inherent creativity. Australia are a nation that likes to try things and do things differently, that works with our brand, so from a cultural perspective it made a lot of sense.”

“In terms of agency landscape, this market has not had any real innovation for a while. Droga5 were here and they closed, R/GA has been here for a good couple of years now, nobody else has entered here. When you look at the market from a global perspective it’s pretty stagnant. So, we thought there was an opportunity to come down here. We think we have a good proposition and we feel that how we work and how we position ourselves as a company could be fresh for the market," said Kay.

However, Kay, who spent a few years in Australia as managing partner of creative agency BMF Sydney prior to joining 72andSunny, believes there is room for a new type of agency.

“When you look at the industry here, it is still run by people who look and sound like me, and I think it would be cool to have more diversity. I mean diversity in cultural background, socio-economic background as much as creative background. When you look at this country, it’s the most diverse multicultural country on earth but when you look at this industry, it is not."

“If there is one thing a new company like ours can do, it can open the door to other people to have an opportunity. We have found that when you get more diverse creative people in your business the work gets better and it starts to reflect modern society. This country isn’t just people who live in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, it’s much more than that and it would be pretty cool if we can, as a company, employ people that make work that reflects a modern Australia."

“From a leadership perspective, we’ve started ok, 50% of our leadership team is female and at least one person does not look and sound like me. From a talent perspective, you have to find new places to find new talent. Trying to find people from unexpected schools, partnerships, backgrounds, that is how you do it. Leadership inspires at the top and then if you have great talent coming through from the bottom, then I think you can go from there,” said Kay.

As part of 72andSunny’s commitment to finding new talent, the agency will take the stage at creative ideas festival Semi Permanent in Sydney today (26 May) to host a live experiment.

The experiment aims to kickstart a movement to help raise awareness about the shark fin trade in Australia, in a bid to spark a cultural conversation and change the law. 72andSunny have collaborated with environmental organisation Sea Shephard, designer David Carson, ocean photographer Michael Muller, and the next generation of creative talent from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) to create creative assets to help drive the movement.

Kay said the project aims to herald the agency's arrival into the market, as well as showcase its cultural and creative values.

“It’s about being connected culturally and creatively. If any organisation like ours gets to work with the next generation of filmmakers, along with the current generation of great designers, as well as an incredibly worthwhile organisation like Sea Shepard, on a stage like Semi Permanent, that for us feels like a really good opportunity to show how we think creatively in this market and how we collaborate."

"It felt like a great way to say we’re here, we’re open and we’re ready to collaborate with the market,” said Kay.

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