Thai-based ad, media firms flock to Myanmar
Many foreign companies surveying market and seeking suitable business model
Myanmar's fast-growing economy is spurring global media and advertising agencies based in Thailand to spread their wings into that country where their international clients are eyeing further expansion.
The neighbouring nation with a 60-million-strong population is opening more doors for international investors after major powers like the US and some European countries lifted and eased economic sanctions last year.
Ogilvy & Mather, a global marketing communications company, became the first international agency to set up business in Myanmar by acquiring a stake in Yangon-based Today Advertising in May last year. Through this partnership, Ogilvy provides an array of services, including public relations, event marketing, product launches, promotions, creative concepts, media planning, media buying and production.
Shuji Okawa, president and CEO of Chuo Senko (Thailand), said last week that Chuo Senko now has two subsidiaries - Chuo Senko (Myanmar) and AD-Asia - to extend its client base in that country.
Chuo Senko (Myanmar) was established in Singapore and Myanmar. The Singapore-based unit is wholly owned by Chuo Senko Dynamics, which is 82-per-cent owned by Chuo Senko (Thailand) and 18 per cent by Japan-based Striders Corp. The Singaporean unit owns 100 per cent of the Yangon-based unit.
"After a two-year market study, we saw a lot potential in Myanmar while some American, European or even Japanese companies are jumping into this market," said Okawa, who was appointed as the leader of the Thai advertising firm last September.
The Yangon-based units are expected to generate profits next year.
Myanmar is the latest country in Chuo Senko's network that also spans Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Many international ad agencies based in Bangkok are conducting a feasibility study on entering the country.
Songkran Sethesompobe, CEO of Leo Burnett Group, told The Nation that the parent company based in Chicago assigned the Bangkok office to survey business opportunities in Myanmar.
"We are seeking a suitable business model to work in that country. It will possibly be through a joint venture, partnership or direct investment," he said.
However, Leo Burnett was working through its network in ASEAN countries.
Aegis Media (Thailand), the country's second-largest media agency, expects to form a joint venture with a media agency in Myanmar this month.
The parent company, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, will fund the investment in the JV.
Last year, Myanmar's elected government amended its foreign investment laws to attract international investors to set up office in their country.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sees the outlook for Myanmar's economy over the near term as positive, bolstered by strong export earnings from resource-based commodities and an increase in foreign direct investment.
ADB also forecasts Myanmar's gross domestic product accelerating from 5.5-per-cent growth last year to 6.8 per cent this year and 6.5 per cent next year.
Myanmar will host the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Nay Pyi Taw from June 5-7. Its government is hoping to use this international event to discuss possible investment opportunities in the country.