Burson-Marsteller Asia: Agency Business Report 2015

Burson Marsteller's global CEO Donald Baer is in no doubt about the biggest achievement for his firm in APAC over the last year: "I can say easily that the thing we're proudest of over the last year is that we've been able to get Terri-Helen [Gaynor] to come and join us."

Terri-Helen Gaynor
Terri-Helen Gaynor

Asia Head: Terri-Helen Gaynor, Asia-Pacific CEO
Ownership: WPP
Asia Offices: 18 wholly owned; Partner: 10
Asia Revenue: Undisclosed R3 estimate US$59 million
Asia Headcount: Undisclosed

Burson Marsteller’s global CEO Donald Baer is in no doubt about the biggest achievement for his firm in APAC over the last year.

"I can say easily that the thing we’re proudest of over the last year is that we’ve been able to get Terri-Helen [Gaynor] to come and join us. That’s easily the biggest achievement of the year, because it means next year, and the year after, are going to be very successful," he says.

"She brings a real entrepreneurial spirit which we feel will be really important."

Gaynor, who was appointed as the regional network head in January, brings an impressive CV to Burson. She spent 12 years as a managing director and founding partner at Reputation, an Australian consultancy, and former clients include Nike, IBM, Bupa, Manulife, Deutsche Bank, Marriott International, Qantas, KPMG and Optus.

Burson also appointed Gaynor as its Asia-Pacific CEO early this year to replace Ford in that role, though he continues to serve as worldwide vice-chair and chief client officer.

She joins on the back of a busy year, with new clients including Princess Cruises, Rolex, VIPshop.com and the NBA.

And Gaynor has been on something of a roadshow since joining Burson, but says she has found the process very encouraging. Having just got her feet under the desk, she is set to focus on the firm’s growth strategy, and helping clients expand their coverage.

"Continuing that growth strategy will be my focus going forward," she says. "That’s one of the things I’m really interested in—taking Asia global. We’ve got some really fantastic clients across the region, in China, Indonesia, India, Australia, who are all looking at going global. It’s not just one-way traffic into Asia, we’re going the other way as well and that’s something I’m going to be focused on going forward."

One of Burson’s latest initiatives is a project called GBM Live! Newsroom, a project designed to curate news across all media channels, and repackage it for their clients. The project, described as a center of expertise at Genesis Burson-Marsteller, launched in January 2014 in India, and is something Gaynor wants to expand. Run by a team of former journalists, the Newsroom can also provide strategic advice about real-time communication messages and news. Key areas are visual and multi-media content such as infographics, video clips, animations and infographics.

"We’ve got up-to-date news coming in, we package it up, send it to the client, we show them what’s happening, do the analysis—it’s an amazing tool to have and clients love it, so we’re looking at expanding that across the region," Gaynor says.

Burson is also exploring different ways of gathering evidence and using this for their clients. Last year the firm launched its ‘Corporate Perception Indicator’, which surveyed 25,012 individuals and 1,816 business executives across 25 markets on their opinions about the role of corporations in society and the economy.

The first CPI concluded that there was more skepticism and concern about corporate involvement in developed economies than developing ones. The agency sees first-hand insight of this kind as an important area for the future.

"One of the things BM prides itself on is its evidence-based campaigns for its clients, and that’s becoming more and more important," says Gaynor. "We just launched our India TR:OUTH project—looking at the voice of youth in India, and what their expectations are, what trends we’re seeing—and we’re using that to inform our campaigns in India, and that evidence-based data is really important for our clients."

In terms of the future, Gaynor says she is convinced that the firm is heading in the right direction.

"[In a year’s time] I’d honestly say almost exactly how it is now: a really strong brand with fantastic people, fantastic clients, but an ambitious and achievable growth strategy," she concludes.

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