Getting Serious About Southeast ...


You might have seen the news earlier this month that we promoted Maureen Tseng to oversee our Southeast Asia operation from our hub in Singapore.

We hired our first employee in Asia on April 17, 1997. That person was Maureen. The photo above depicts her and our Singapore team during the early days when we worked out of a converted Singaporean shophouse — cool space, but not so great at repelling rain.

I’ll come back to Maureen in a minute, but wanted to zoom out and look at the big picture.

We believe there’s a massive opportunity in SE Asia for communications services, one that often goes under the radar of the mega agencies. That’s why we made the investment to establish an office in Jakarta in 2017.

Telling Stories from Jakarta graphic

Those in the West typically underestimate the size of SE Asia which has total population of roughly 655 million people. Zeroing in on Indonesia, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts the country will represent the fifth largest economy in the world by 2030, with an estimated figure of $5.424 trillion. There’s a reason that venture capitalists are pouring money into the region with a record high of $25.7B in funding going to SE Asia last year.

Moving Maureen into this role signals SE Asia as a priority for the Agency.

I got a kick out of what Mo wrote in a post for Chicken Rice for the Soul in celebration of the Agency’s 20-year anniversary in Asia:

My time at an agency was supposed to be short-lived. After doing time at two multinational corporations as an in-house communications manager, the logical step at the time was to try things out on the other side of the fence for a year or two. “You will have a more well-rounded view of communications, and it will stand you well in your next in-house role,” I was told.

I’m glad Mo never took that “next in-house role.”

You can read the news release below.

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The Hoffman Agency deepens Southeast Asia offering with expanded leadership team

Maureen Tseng to lead Indonesia as well as regional hub team in Singapore in move to seize opportunity in one of the world’s fastest growing regions

The Hoffman Agency has promoted Maureen Tseng to General Manager of Singapore and Indonesia as it sharpens its focus on Southeast Asia and expands its integrated marketing communications (IMC) offering in the region. As part of these efforts, the company is also setting up a Southeast Asia task force to manage regional remits, which Tseng will oversee.

Tseng has served as Singapore General Manager since 2018. She has worked with the company for more than 25 years and was the first employee in Asia. In assuming leadership of Indonesia as well as the Southeast Asia hub based in Singapore, she will be directly responsible for one of Hoffman’s key growth markets.

The Hoffman Agency opened its Jakarta office in 2017, and its Southeast Asia presence extends to every major market including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Some key regional clients are Zoom, Trellix and Ripple.

The dedicated Southeast Asia task force includes Akansha Rai, and Clarence Lim, who the agency has respectively promoted to Senior Account Director and Account Director for Southeast Asia. The team will work to grow Hoffman’s IMC offering across Southeast Asia, taking advantage of the company’s single P&L to mobilize resources from across the network as required. The moves follow Caroline Hsu’s recent promotion to Chief Global Officer.

“This model is a way to evolve and accelerate our offering to clients who want to make an impact in what is currently considered the world’s fastest growing region,” said Tseng. “Global and regional clients ranging from Fortune 500 to startup companies already work with us for Southeast Asian growth. Our single P&L gives us uncommon flexibility to help companies grow market share and enter new markets no matter at what stage they are currently. Our dedicated Southeast Asia team will help us serve them even more effectively in the region.”

As a specialist in the technology sector, Hoffman sees continually increasing demand across Southeast Asia for IMC services that solve business problems. The region is digitalizing rapidly. Its digital economy is set to exceed US$360 billion by 2025, and 40 million new internet users came online in 2021, taking internet penetration to 75%. It also increasingly serves as a center of global trade, with businesses investing aggressively in the region to diversify supply chains and mitigate geopolitical challenges. Despite this, many agencies struggle to capitalize on the pan-regional opportunity due to being too market-centric or reliant on affiliates, which can result in inconsistent service.

Last year, Hoffman formalized its IMC offering across APAC. Supporting it is a proprietary methodology, Blueprint, which channels the business of PR through the lens of integrated communications and helps consultants think like CMOs, connecting touchpoints beyond the scope of a traditional PR agency.

The Hoffman Agency focuses on helping companies address five core business challenges. These include employer branding and recruitment; building brand influence to change perception post-transformation or gain a footing in a new area; supporting fundraising to enable business growth; supporting international expansion and market entry; and running multimarket campaigns.

A further characteristic that distinguishes Hoffman in the agency sector is its emphasis on building local talent and combining deep local insight with global practice and experience to deliver the best outcomes for both Asian and global clients. An American multinational network based in San Jose, Hoffman’s APAC leadership is entirely local.

“Southeast Asia is a key part of our growth trajectory, and we see abundant opportunity here based on the ambitions and challenges of Western multinational tech firms and the vibrant local tech ecosystem,” Hsu said. “Our independence, single P&L and global connectedness together with Maureen’s expertise in the region mean we are uniquely placed to help tech clients maximize their own opportunity in the region.”

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