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People, Sustainability, and the Future: Tag APAC’s Strategy Covers Them All


Tag APAC’s Toby Codrington, CEO, tells LBB what it’s like to evolve a business in a region of 4.3 billion people and why “everyone wants to lead from the front” on sustainability

People, Sustainability, and the Future: Tag APAC’s Strategy Covers Them All

Tag APAC’s story can be summed up in two words according to Toby Codrington, the region’s CEO: evolution and growth. The company - servicing eleven distinct markets within APAC - offers end-to-end production services across every channel, working with brands and agencies across the globe to deliver impactful marketing campaigns at speed and scale. The first APAC office was opened back in 2001 in Hong Kong under the Williams Lea Tag name, quickly followed by Japan and Singapore, and now joined by China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and most recently, Vietnam.

Account director was Toby’s first role at Tag when he started in 2006; he worked his way through the organisation, gaining visibility of how different departments operate, before transferring to the Singapore office from London in 2015, and taking up the post of CEO in 2017. “APAC was an incredibly exciting opportunity. It is a hugely diverse region with over 4.3 billion people and an amazing 2000 living languages. I very much wanted to be in a part of the world where we could be driving the quickest growth story within Tag. That has proved to be the case, which is incredibly rewarding,” says Toby. 

The APAC region represents a wide range of deep and diverse cultures, with every market presenting its own unique opportunities and challenges. It also moves at great pace, particularly in the areas of digital and technology, and remains the biggest region for e-commerce, driven largely by China. 

How is Tag optimised to meet all the region's needs and challenges? One answer is through the acquisition of MoniMedia, a specialist e-commerce agency that enabled Tag to further develop their in-house digital commerce and content experience offering to meet the appetite of clients in APAC and around the globe. In 2019, Tag acquired Popcorn Global, bolstering their end-to-end retail marketing capabilities and supporting clients from conceptualisation, design, and manufacturing through installation and then end-of-life and campaign measurement.

In addition, Tag recently established a Moving Image Centre of Excellence in Bangkok. “We are well-equipped to provide high-quality video, AR/VR and CGI content at speed and scale for our clients in the region and we’re already helping many brands prepare for the metaverse as they start to consider the next evolution of their marketing plans after mobile technology,” adds Toby. 

Delivering Campaigns To 4.3 Billion People

Working with over 50 clients in the region, Tag’s roster is full of leading global names in retail, pharmaceutical, technology, luxury, FMCG, and leisure sectors. One of the most visible campaigns to date was the roll out of the yuu Rewards Club for DFI Retail Group in Hong Kong, an innovative coalition loyalty programme launched in Hong Kong in July 2020. “This was Hong Kong’s biggest rewards club ever, so we had to really paint the town blue – which meant creating over 19 million pieces of POSM (Point of Sale Marketing) collateral with campaign assets for almost 2000 stores. The campaign was high-impact, uniting some of the city’s most well-loved brands including 7-Eleven, Ikea, Wellcome, Mannings and KFC,” recalls Toby. The campaign resulted in two million users signing up digitally for the app within the first ten days alone.

Moreover, Mondelez calls on Tag for their seasonal activations, which are a highlight year after year. For Easter 2021, Tag created an in-store solution to drive sales during the busy period – Cadbury’s Easter House – a high-impact, fully immersive retail destination that was impossible to miss in Australia’s largest supermarkets. Toby adds: “The activation had a clear impact on the brand’s sales despite COVID restrictions – and also winning the brand a Shop! ANZ award.”

Sustainability At The Forefront

Toby describes Tag’s sustainability targets as “aggressive”, saying the business is dedicated “to improving our own footprint. We’re also working in partnership with our clients to empower them to make more sustainable choices when it comes to marketing production.” Tag APAC has a dedicated ‘Green Team’ sustainability committee dedicated to ensuring that the company hits its green goals. Over the last few years, the business has made significant steps towards their sustainability goals, joining the UN Global Compact in 2020 and achieving FSC certification in all regions. Tag’s proprietary technology, Digital Interact (DI), further enables Tag to help clients meet their sustainability goals through a dedicated module called DI Planet, linked to both creative production and sourcing. The data this provides is invaluable in helping brands clearly track and measure their impact on the environment and make ESG reporting simpler too. 

For Estee Lauder Companies, Tag created a fully sustainable PR box introducing the brand Aveda to key press, celebrities, and KOLs in China. “We created a discovery box entirely from recycled materials, with all printed materials and packaging created from 100% FSC post-consumer recycled paper. The campaign delivered on impressions and engagement, and it was also a great demonstration of our sustainable sourcing capabilities,” Toby explains. 

Toby highlights the shift in attitude he’s observed where green issues are far from the “box-ticking exercise of yesteryear”, today “everyone wants to lead from the front.” 

A ‘People First’ Business

“People are at the heart of our business and we have put significant effort into creating an inclusive, equitable and collaborative culture for all employees, so it was a great result to achieve a Gold award for Best Culture in Greater China at Campaign Asia’s Agency of the Year awards, following our previous Bronze Best Culture win for the ANZ region the year prior,” says Toby. In addition, they were recognised as an Outstanding SME by the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission in the areas of Gender Equality, Family Status Equality, and Racial Equality and Inclusion. 

It’s clear that Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion are high on the list of priorities for Tag APAC, a natural extension for a company that really cares about its employees. Last year they also launched the Tag Academy, a learning and development programme open to everyone consisting of a wide variety of training courses, formal mentoring and a Future Leaders program. 

What does the next five years hold? “New markets, new service lines, new acquisitions – and more growth. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be leading the business,” concludes Toby. 

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Tag APAC, Wed, 23 Mar 2022 12:47:50 GMT