TOMORROW Shanghai’s managing director Rogier Bikker has had a real adventure since he first entered China from his native Holland aged 16. Coincidentally, this is the same age he registered his first agency as part of his birthday gift. Now TOMORROW has merged with MediaMonks Shanghai and will slowly become one agency combining the global creative production of MediaMonks with TOMORROW’s already cemented strategy, creative and social discipline.
The idea of creating TOMORROW was Rogier’s second agency in Shanghai and came after he took a road trip back to Holland that lasted three months and spanned 11 countries. “I drove from China back to Holland using only Chinese brands. I had a Chinese car, Chinese phone, Chinese laptop, Chinese clothes, Chinese underwear… Chinese everything to basically show you don't need a Land Rover or The North Face to travel to the other side of the world.” When he disembarked in Holland, Rogier put his car on a boat to go back and flew himself out to Shanghai to get started on TOMORROW.
“We basically built the agency from scratch, focusing on strategy, creative, film and content on social and influencers. Absolut Vodka was one of our first major clients that we have really built on.” From there the agency branched out to other spirits and worked with Carlsberg, Heineken and Budweiser before stretching their luxury team to the likes of Burberry and Hermès. “We've been the lead creative and social agency for Burberry for almost four years. From films to social to influencers to any type of content that is produced, a lot of it is done by us.”
“This shows how we are not thinking in traditional TVC methods of one big idea, but we build a team of 12 people full time on this account and they build the whole ecosystem for a brand like Burberry. We consider a brand’s full Chinese ecosystem. That's what we are very strong at, looking at the consumer journey and creating content, no matter if it's on their e-commerce or it's on their social or it's at an experiential pop-up. We level up content, storytelling and ultimately conversion across all digital touch points.”
The agency's earlier work with Absolut Vodka is equally as exciting and has resulted in the brand giving away more than £400,000 to encourage Chinese consumers to submit creative nightlife ideas. “We did this every week for a few years, where we reward somebody for having a creative idea, then that person needs to execute his or her creative idea with £1,000. What that does for the brand is that it creates a huge amount of content, because you can only say so many things about vodka. But if you support creative nightlife and the young generation in China to actually create an alternative nightlife, and let them document, shoot photos and videos of it and share it back to us, that truly allows the brand to associate themselves closely with the young generation in China.”
Despite the success that TOMORROW was already facing, Rogier wanted to take things further and after conversations with networks, was approached by MediaMonks. “I really want to take the company to a higher level. The idea is that TOMORROW is strong in strategy and creative and social in China, and MediaMonks is, of course, a very strong global creative and digital production-driven company. Bringing us two together makes a lot of sense, as it’s very complimentary.”
Rogier has spent most of his working career in China by now and finds that the speed and constant evolution of the market has drawn him in to the extent he’s unsure if he’d ever be able to adapt to another market anymore. “Everything in China happens so fast and now seeing the country develop and surpass the rest of the world in so many aspects, when it comes to our actual work that we do related to ecommerce or social or any innovation that happens in the Chinese ecosystem, it’s just so far ahead now compared to the West. China gives me an unstoppable amount of new inspiration every day, and because everything is moving so fast, I learn something new every day.”
As TOMORROW pivots to become one brand with MediaMonks, Rogier’s reflection of his time in the industry and at the helm of the company have shown him that in China he truly believes ‘we have something unique’. “We can help foreign brands really navigate the very complex Chinese market that is only becoming more and more Chinese and leveraging my experience and my team's experience on how to navigate all this digital innovation that is happening in the Chinese market, in a way that foreign brands can understand.”
“China is going its own way in the world but also in our industry. China is reinventing how marketing is done, reinventing how advertising is done, reinventing how social is done. China is not becoming more like the West, it's becoming less like the West. Not better or worse, just in its own world, own ecosystem, with its own way of doing things.”