Company Watch

Singapore ad agency in tie-up to capitalise on digital Surge

Germs Digital and Indonesia's Flock Creative setting up venture to serve market in region

(From left) Mr Wilson Tan, chief executive of new joint venture company Surge; Mr James Chua, CEO of Germs Digital; Mr Ivan Hadywibowo, CEO of Flock Creative Network; and Mr Jeffrey Nijstad, who is also CEO of Surge. Mr Chua said the Covid-19 pandemi
(From left) Mr Wilson Tan, chief executive of new joint venture company Surge; Mr James Chua, CEO of Germs Digital; Mr Ivan Hadywibowo, CEO of Flock Creative Network; and Mr Jeffrey Nijstad, who is also CEO of Surge. Mr Chua said the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the need for every brand to embrace digitalisation and technology to ensure survivability and growth, and that "Surge would complement our current offerings in helping brands scale digitally". PHOTO: SURGE

Singapore's leading digital advertising firm is partnering with Indonesia's fastest-growing digital marketing agency to create a pan-Asian player in the burgeoning South-east Asian market.

Germs Digital is tying up with Indonesia's Flock Creative Network to set up a joint venture called Experience, Design and Development Studio, which will have the brand name Surge Interactive.

Germs Digital's investment arm - Germs Creative Capital - is spearheading the company's role and will invest $750,000 in the venture, which will initially serve markets such as Singapore and Indonesia, and then Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

The new entity will be headed by executives Wilson Tan in Singapore and Jeffrey Nijstad in Indonesia.

Mr Tan has around 20 years of experience in both agency and client positions including leading marketing, business development and partnership teams at digital banking and e-payment companies such as UOB, Singtel Dash and GrabPay.

He was also part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore task force that initiated PayNow and SGQR deployment here.

Mr Nijstad has close to 11 years of creating digital brand experience. He works with major brands such as AIA, Uniqlo, Unilever and Samsung on business transformation and branding.

Germs Digital is one of Singapore's leading integrated marketing and advertising agencies, with clients such as UOB, Income, Bioderma, Volkswagen and Skoda.

It was set up in 2008 and has garnered multiple accolades, including Integrated Marketing Agency of the Year and Full Service Agency of the Year.

Since 2019, it has invested in consumer brands such as fashion label Akinn, diamond e-commerce marketplace Luxiee and video content house Wow FX. Surge will be its fourth investment in less than two years.

Flock Creative has grown from an agency of just five people in 2016 to become a network of 16 creative agencies and business units across Indonesia, with a staff strength of over 400. Its clients include Tokopedia, Indofood, AIA, OVO, Samsung, XL and Unicef.

It was recently recognised by Adweek as the fastest-growing agency in the world, and has won various local and global awards such as Agency of the Year Citra Pariwara 2018 and 2020. It was also the first local agency to win a D&AD Award.

Germs Digital chief executive James Chua said the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the need for every brand to embrace digitalisation and technology to ensure survivability and growth.

"Surge would complement our current offerings in helping brands scale digitally," he added. "With Flock Creative, we have a great partner who is familiar with South-east Asia's largest market, while also having the talent pool that is ready to regionalise."

Flock Creative CEO Ivan Hadywibowo concurred: "We've been an Indonesian-born and bred agency, and we are ready to regionalise.

"Singapore is a market close to my heart, having worked there for 11 years. We are glad to have found Germs Creative Capital as our strategic partner to surge in our strategy to enhance our footprint regionally."

Setting up Surge comes as regional businesses are rapidly undergoing digital transformation, with e-commerce growing 63 per cent last year, and the digital economy is expected to grow to around US$300 billion (S$404 billion) by 2025.

In Singapore, 59 per cent of firms have accelerated digital transformation amid the pandemic, while in Indonesia, the growth has been even higher, with 70 per cent of consumers embracing digital services.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore ad agency in tie-up to capitalise on digital Surge'. Subscribe