Agency Report Card PHD
2017: Grade B (2016: Grade B-)
- PHD won 70 pieces of new business over the past year
- The agency saw organic growth of 24% from existing clients
- Year-on-year revenue increased by 23%
- Year-on-year profit increased by 26%
PHD’s win of Volkswagen’s US$3 billion global media account in 2016 has re-energised the network in Asia. While it would have been natural to direct all energy into that piece of business in 2017, PHD appears to have used the momentum from the win to bring in more major accounts. These included Huawei and Haier in China, PepsiCo in Australia and the regional Resorts World business. The agency ranked first in R3’s NBL in China, Singapore and New Zealand.
The VW appointment also led to the opening of a Korean office. While the market is relatively small, and challenging for international media agencies, the office picked up business from Ferrero and SC Johnson and has a staff of 15.
There were a number of innovations. PHD’s planning tool Source remains a differentiator, and in 2017 it underwent an upgrade designed to connect media planning more closely with client revenue. Projecting revenue is of course an inexact science, but PHD says it has opened up more objective, business-oriented conversations. A further innovation was the launch of Source Mobile, which is designed to make the platform more readily accessible for staff. A piece of work that stood out was a sex education campaign to promote Yasmin, a contraceptive pill owned by Bayer, in China. The initiative broached an awkward topic in a fresh way, distributing videos to university students via a curriculum application. The campaign reportedly grew sales for the client by 27% and won a Silver Lion at Cannes.
PHD’s Singapore and India offices were also named Media Agency of the Year for their respective markets by Campaign, while New Zealand received that title at Spikes Asia. Susana Tsui, who has led PHD for four years, left on a high note for Dentsu Aegis Network, in the new year. Meanwhile PHD’s long-time Hong Kong chief Ray Wong departed in November. PHD’s progress is of course not down to one or two individuals, though, and last year it increased its staff by 18%, half of whom it says come from non-traditional backgrounds. While PHD is still not as big as certain other networks, it has shown itself increasingly able to compete.