R/GA has appointed Bob Mackintosh as VP executive creative director for APAC as it pushes a connected creative approach for the region.
The newly created regional role will see Mackintosh responsible for the creative output of R/GA’s Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo offices, based out of Australia.
Mackintosh, a highly awarded creative who previously spent 11 years as ECD of Host Sydney, assumes the role after a recent stint working in R/GA’s Shanghai office.
Speaking exclusively to The Drum, Mackintosh said his new role aimed to promote creative collaboration across the region.
“One thing that struck me, during a stint in R/GA Shanghai, is how genuinely collaborative the network is. So, the broader objective is to build on this - to work with creative talent in each office, to nurture a thriving regional creative culture.”
“There’s so much Shanghai can learn from Sydney and vice versa - culturally, creatively, and otherwise. So, the intention is to discover and share new ways of working together, to produce ideas that not only keep up with the pace of change in the region, but drive that change too.”
Mackintosh’s role will see him work closely with the creative leads in each market – including the newly appointed joint-ECD of R/GA Sydney Robert Chalmers, who has been promoted alongside the existing ECD, Hamish Stewart.
He will also work closely with R/GA’s EVP managing director APAC Jim Moffatt to grow the agency’s footprint across the region.
“Singapore and Sydney are four years old, Shanghai is less than two and Tokyo was launched just this month, so we’re still young in APAC. But at over 250 people in the region, we’re growing fast, especially over the last couple of years, and we expect to grow even faster in the next few. Creatively, the foundations have been laid, and we’re starting to hit our stride.”
“We’re smaller in terms of headcount compared to the more mature offices in North America and Western Europe, but APAC is very significant. China is the world’s second biggest economy and Japan is the third biggest - there are enormous opportunities there for growth and it’s also where a lot of innovation is happening. Expanding our footprint in Asia has also allowed us to service clients globally that we weren’t in a position to previously.”
Mackintosh points to work the agency has produced for Nike and Beats in Shanghai and Uber in Singapore as examples of the quality of work the agency is already producing in the region.
He said his role will be to nurture this creativity by ensuring the local teams are set up to keep producing strong work, as well as helping the teams to scale up and add talent as needed. Mackintosh said the agency regularly pools talent and resources across the region as each office is tasked with individual strategies, which reflect the different markets in APAC.
When asked about the well-worn clichés about ideas and creativity in the region, Mackintosh is positive about the creative talent and potential in APAC.
“One could argue that, broadly speaking, clients across the region can be more concerned with the bottom line than the work, or that timelines and budgets are generally more aggressive. There’s probably some truth in this.
“However, I strongly believe that creativity itself isn’t lacking. There’s great talent, brilliant thinking, and a creative energy you can feel on the streets of Shanghai or Tokyo for example. The challenge - and it’s a good one - is to produce work that gets brands into these streams, to get them driving popular culture forward in these markets.
“In markets elsewhere, we’ve seen ideas that tackle macro issues in powerful ways - equality being an obvious example. Brave ideas that shift beliefs. Personally, I’d love to see more of this coming out of the region, as there are no doubt some big topics that can be tackled if clients are willing to go there - especially in China,” said Mackintosh.
Mackintosh brings a wealth of creative experience to R/GA, having worked on iconic campaigns for brands such as Air New Zealand, Coca-Cola, Lego, Ikea, Sony Playstation and Virgin Mobile. His work has been recognised at Cannes Lions, One Show, D&AD and Award.
Jim Moffatt, EVP managing director APAC for R/GA said, “Bob epitomises the R/GA ethos - passionate about technology and storytelling in equal measure, and synonymous with work that brings the two together. He is the name consistently behind campaigns that create culture, rather than borrowing from it.”