Myanmar firm ERA has announced new offices in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Managing director Anthony Larmon, who will lead operations across the region, said that clients in Myanmar have been "asking for years" whether the agency had services in other markets.
"Now we think it's the right time to regionalise our promise of having top local professionals running world-class campaigns, at a reasonable price," said Larmon. "With the situation in Myanmar we had a clear choice: wind operations down or push forward. The country is home to the most resilient people I have ever known. So as a brand [that] started in Myanmar, we have decided to be resilient in the face of hardship and keep pushing forward to protect our brand and the operations we've worked so hard to build."
Merce Pau, previously the director of the creative communications practice at ERA Myanmar, will lead the office in Thailand. Sourigna Douangmarath, former head of strategy and marketing at Prudential, will lead in Laos. Khoi Bui will lead in Vietnam, and Jimmy Lim in Cambodia. Lim will hold a dual role as regional growth officer. Meanwhile, Su Shwe Yee Htun is named regional director of digital experience and Burhan Omar is regional director of strategic communications.
Lim, who joined from his role of regional CEO at Phibious, said: "These countries are collectively home to hundreds of millions. But, despite this opportunity, they have been challenging to capitalise on for several reasons. Firstly, the varying level of quality of consultancies in these markets means clients aren't always able to tell their story well. Secondly, it is often only a few people managing regional communications programs and it isn't practical for them to manage four or five different agencies with varying levels of competency."
While the agency has a handful of existing clients in these new markets, accounts will largely be built from scratch and will leverage work in Myanmar for regional clients. "The challenge will really be to win the trust in the early stages from those who aren't familiar with our team and its work. This work in some ways will also be new or unfamiliar even to industry peers in developed markets," said Larmon.
To coincide with the expansion, ERA will unveil a suite of tech products for a post-Covid environment. This will be led by the agency's tech team who will incorporate tech into the three consulting disciplines: creative, strategic, and transformative communications.