News of Francis Wee’s new shop, Religion, piqued my interest when I read that the former BBDO ECD intends on turning his local agency into a global player.
From what I gather from the release, Wee started Religion as there hasn’t been any local ad agency that has succeeded in becoming a global player and it’s about time a local ad agency takes the lead locally, regionally and internationally, with the agency to “turn client’s brand into a religion, and convert its consumers to die-hard followers”.
At this moment, I should categorically state that I’m not saying that I doubt Francis’ ambitions or the success of his agency, please don’t get me wrong. In fact kudos to him for having the bravery, drive and ambition to take his new agency to lofty heights. As they say, no guts, no glory.
But on the other hand, I had to pause for thought when I read that part about a local ad agency becoming a global player. Francis told Marketing that by that, he means he wants to pitch for regional and global business as well as expand first regionally, then eventually globally. Whoa.
I have no objections to that, in fact, if it materialises, that would be nothing short of raising Singapore’s profile as a creative hotshop. While other agencies have done Singapore proud as well – a long time ago, it was The Ball Partnership and Batey Ads, and in more recent times, 10AM Communications – there hasn’t been a local agency to do what Francis hopes he can achieve. Both Batey and Ball were ang-moh owned (although with Ian Batey I’m steering very close to the edge since he created the Singapore girl), and to the best of my knowledge, but please correct me if I’m wrong, 10AM does mostly regional work. But the HSBC accounts of the world have always been handled by the O&Ms and Saatchis.
I brought up the point that wouldn’t he need to be part of a network, since as an independent it might be hard, but Francis said he believed the agency would be able to survive as an independent, take Mother for example. It has offices in London and NY, and who knows, it might take on Asia soon enough. If Francis, who has modeled his agency structure to the kooky agency, has Mother as a guide, then I think he should be all right. It’ll be tough days ahead, but who knows, the guy who remains the sole D&AD gold pencil winner outside of the US and UK might pull it off.