Jellyfish’s Bob Du on growing the Asia Pacific business post-investment

Jellyfish’s Bob Du on growing the Asia Pacific business post-acquisition

Digital agency Jellyfish is setting its sights on growth following an injection of investment from Fimalac, which will help fuel its global growth plans.

The timing is positive for the business, according to the Singapore managing Director Bob Du, who joined earlier this year from Diageo and tasked with helping grow its operations in Asia Pacific.

As part of the Fimalac deal, Jellyfish is integrating Tradelab into its business. Speaking to The Drum, Du explains that the fresh investment will speed up existing plans, not least because the Tradelab integration adds resource.

“The recent investment is great news for Jellyfish in APAC as it will accelerate our growth across the region. Funding has specifically been made available for our global expansion so this will have an immediate impact. As part of the deal, data-driven specialist Tradelab, which comprises 300 global experts will also be integrated into Jellyfish. It’s really exciting to be able to bring Tradelab’s cutting-edge technologies as well as the expertise of over 120 specialists dedicated to technology, innovation and development alone to our client offering here in APAC,” he explains.

Globally, the business is pivoting away from being a traditional digital agency to a business that helps brands do more themselves. It’s a topic that Du is close to, having led digital transformation efforts during his last role at Diageo.

“A key focus in Singapore will be training talent to help businesses manage their channels in-house. It doesn’t matter whether the talent sits client or partner side,” he says. “We no longer call ourselves an agency. As our CEO Rob Pierre aptly puts it, an agent is someone who does a job on behalf of someone else. Our work is aimed at helping brands own their technology and data and train their talent so they rely less on agencies over time.”

“Having worked both brand and agency side, my view is that brands need a digital partner who can put the consumer at the heart of everything they do, inspiring them, and at the same time challenging them on what is possible,” he adds.

The new deal with Fimalac marks a major change for Jellyfish, which has been independent for a long time. However, Du believes this doesn’t change the company as it’s always had partnerships as a core part of its strategy.

“Independent or not, our business is one that’s built around people. I believe that there are benefits to being part of an independent business. For a start, you spend less time navigating processes and more time doing things you love. However, we are not alone in our journey. Our global partnership with Google is something that we value greatly and will continuously build on in this region,” he says.

The partnership the agency has with Google will be core to the growth of its Southeast Asia and Singapore office.

“Our partnership with Google is an investment aimed at supporting business growth. Brands pick and choose technology stacks that are fit for purpose for their organization and their consumers. As a digital partner, we remain agnostic by focusing on the outcomes they like to drive, but we will certainly push to add value where our partnership provides a sensible advantage. Hence, this will only be a strength in my opinion, particularly in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

"Google has helped many digital businesses by offering technology that is accessible. By putting a stake in the ground and being authentic, I'm confident that we will continue to grow with them as a company,” says Du.

As well as authenticity, Du believes that transparency is needed in Southeast Asia due to the region’s complexities.

“There will never be a one size fits all approach so we are here to listen, learn and partner with clients to tackle the challenges of building global brands in unique and diverse environments. Diversity brings complexity, so you need transparency in order to make the right decisions. There are obvious gaps in our region that exist and it’s important to recognize what you can and can’t do, today. However, we also know that there is always a better method and we make it our business to look for it, not our clients.”

The complexity of the region will always present a challenge to growing a business, but the fresh injection of resource could give Jellyfish a running start.

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