Welcome to the Agency world in Vietnam (part 1)

For this post, I  would like to list down as many as I could different Digital agencies operating in Vietnam. The barrier to entry for Digital Marketing agency is low so there are literally hundred of agencies in Vietnam, from one man shop to hundred of employee firm. I will miss out many agencies so please leave the name under the comment section and I will put them in.

Note: My comments (if any) about these agencies are strictly coming from my limited understandings and may not be the true reflection. Feel free to drop any comments and I will try to address the concerns.

Digital agencies in Vietnam fall under a couple of big segments.

Please note that the below categorization is far from correct because majority of the agencies claim that they are doing everything and they are all full service agencies. Also agency could change from time to time as well. The purpose of me putting a list together so that you could have a broader view of the agency world in Vietnam.

1. Big agency group

1.1 WPP group

WPP group has a strong presence in Vietnam, if not the strongest presence among international agency groups in Vietnam. With 23 offices under the group in Ho Chi Minh alone, WPP group does cover a lot of ground. However, they don’t own 100% of these agencies I guess. Many of the agencies below are not Digital agencies but since it belongs to WPP, I just put them here for reference.

The below are from WPP’s own website:

  • Asatsu – DK
  • Bates
  • G2
  • Grey
  • GroupM
  • JWT
  • Kantar Media
  • Kantar Worldpanel
  • Maxus
  • MEC
  • MediaCom
  • Millward Brown Vietnam
  • Mindshare
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Ogilvy Public Relations
  • OgilvyAction
  • OgilvyOne Worldwide (Who Digital team)
  • TNS
  • TNS Media
  • Who Digital
  • Wunderman
  • Xaxis
  • Y&R

6 offices in Hanoi:

  • JWT-G
  • Landor Associates
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Ogilvy Public Relations
  • Smart Media
  • TNS

From Digital capabilities point of view, in my 2 cent, only OgilvyOne (essentially Who Digital team) and GroupM have some digital capabilities in-house. While GroupM mostly do media planning and buying, limited Search Engine Marketing work, OgilvyOne mostly do strategy & production work & Social Media.

From my limited knowledge, Y&R and Wunderman handle Coca cola and Nokia accounts. However these clients normally just adapt regional campaigns to Vietnam. Nokia is going downhill fast so we haven’t seen much buzz from their online initiatives this year 2013.

Update from Mina Menon: “I am from Wunderman Vietnam and I read the rather startling one-line review of us, so I just wanted to add a clarification. Y&R and Wunderman operate under one YR Group umbrella in Vietnam and have offices in Hanoi as well. Together, we have all the digital capabilities of a full-fledged Wunderman office, and the integrated marketing ones of a Y&R office. Apart from Nokia, our clients include Emirates, Colgate-Palmolive, Ovaltine, Nutifood and Ford. Of these, Nokia, CP and Ford are global alignments, the rest are local relationships creating campaigns locally. Coca-Cola has a roster of agencies in Vietnam that they work with depending on the project and Wunderman is one of them”

1.2 Omnicom Group

Until 2013, Omnicom didn’t have a strong presence in Vietnam I guess. However it seems that starting this year, 2013, Vietnam has received more focus from Omnicom Media and the digital team is having more specialists compared to previous years.

  • Focus Asia
  • OMD Vietnam
  • XPR-Campaigns Group
  • PHD Vietnam (TNHH quảng cáo Phương Cách (Method Advertising)
  • BBDO
  • DDB
  • TBWA: Biz\Tequila, Focus, TBWA\Vietnam, Vira
  • OMG

1.3 Publicis Group

There are five offices in Vietnam, all in Ho Chi Minh city according to the Group website:

  • ZenithOptimedia Vietnam
  • Starcom MediaVest Vietnam
  • Publicis Vietnam
  • Saatchi & Saatchi Vietnam
  • Leo Burnett Worldwide
  • Vivaki Vietnam
  • Performics. This would be the main Digital arm for Publicis Group in Vietnam.

From what I heard while Performics doesn’t have a big team, they handle some of the bigger digital account in Vietnam and their capability in Search Engine Marketing is quite good. They are one of the few agencies in Vietnam using Marine I guess. They outsourced Social media, production and other work to other agencies.

1.4 Interpublic

  • Draftfcb
  • initiative: media services, communication planning
  • Lowe + Partners: Advertising, CRM/Direct. Lowe outsourced the majority of their digital work out, they play the role of the brand agency and project management only.
  • UM – Curiosity works: media services, communication planning

1.5 Havas

  • MPG Vietnam
  • Mai Thanh company

1.6 Aegis

Globally, the agency has five brands under the group namely:

  • Carat
  • iProspect
  • Isobar
  • Posterscope
  • Vizeum

As for presence in Vietnam, from my limited understandings there aren’t much activities at this point. While this may change in the future, the coverage is less than desirable compared to GroupM or Vivaki.

1.7 Dentsu

Dentsu has Dentsu Alpha, Dentsu Media and Dentsu Vietnam. If I am not mistaken, Dentsu combined all Digital specialists from the three offices to one department not too long ago. However they still outsource majority of the digital work out like Social media marketing, production, search engine marketing etc.. and mostly do media planning in-house.

Dentsu completed their acquisition of Ageis globally not too long ago as well so it’s unclear what would be Dentsu’s strategy for Digital marketing in Vietnam.

Update 27Apr 2013: There is one feedback from someone at Dentsu that the three Dentsu teams have their own digital teams, not combining all teams into one. What do you think?

1.8 Other Japanese/Korean agencies

There are Hakuhodo, Chuo Senko or Asatsu DK, Daiko Vietnam. However I don’t think they do a lot of digital work in-house also.

CyberAgents, Mediba and a few other companies set up their rep offices and invested in a few local agencies.

2. Local agencies, ad networks in Vietnam

2.1 Media agency

    • Dat Viet Media
    • TKL
    • ADT
    • Golden Media
    • Goldsun Group
    • Mekong communication: through their official partnership with Cheil Wordwide, I guess you could consider them strongly related. Mekong has partnership with other companies like Emerald and DNA as well but I haven’t heard any official announcement, just rumor from the street.
    • FS communication
    • TV Plus
    • 5i Media
    • Youth Advertising
    • 365 Days Advertising

2.2 Ad Network

  • Innity
  • Admax
  • Ambient
  • Ad micro
  • Pixel
  • Moore

2.3 Search Engine Marketing agencies

These are Google Small and Medium Business (SMB) partners:

  • Clever Ads
  • VCCorp – Ad micro
  • Nova Ads

For Google certified partners, you could find them using Google Partner Search

There are so many Google Certified Partners in Vietnam now so I won’t list down any names here.

It is important to note that Google welcomes any agencies who want to be Google certified partners as long as they have at least one employee who is a current Google Qualified Individual and the media spend for 3 consecutive months with Google is more than US $10k.

If you want to find out who is Google qualified individuals in Vietna, please use this link. You could search for qualified individual from each country and based on different certifications (search advertising, Display advertising, reporting and analysis, Google Analytics qualified individual etc…)

2.4 Search Engine Optimization agency

I am reluctant to put together this list because from my limited experience I don’t think our capability in this area is strong in Vietnam.

Anyway, I put some names here based on reader’s comments:

  • manseo (previously known as lamseo)
  • Vinalink
  • Thietkeweb

2.5 Social media / PR agencies

  • Click Media: it is known for a while now that Click Media and Sofresh are well under way to be acquired by GroupM. It makes sense because Unilever represents a big part of GroupM/Mindshare media business in Vietnam and Click Media and Sofresh are doing Social media + Production work for Unilever as well.

Update Dec 2013: GroupM agreed to buy majority stake in Click Media.

  • King Bee Media
  • E Brand
  • AVC Edelman
  • Le & Associates
  • OhYeah Communications

Update 1: added in OhYeah Communications

2.6 Production

  • Sofresh:  it is known for a while now that Click Media and Sofresh are well under way to be acquired by GroupM. It makes sense because Unilever represents a big part of GroupM/Mindshare media business in Vietnam and Click Media and Sofresh are doing Social media + Production work for Unilever as well.

It would be interesting, however, to see over time whether the relationship and status of the core Sofresh team would be like Who Digital and OgilvyOne. There are not that many people from the core Who Digital team at OgilvyOne after 2 years from what I heard.

Update Jun 2014: XM Asia, a JWT agency, agreed to buy the majority stake in So Fresh.

  • Glass Egg
  • Sutrix Media
  • Splash Interactive
  • Media Gurus
  • HD Digital
  • April Digital
  • Ozerside
  • Itsy Bits Mobile Application

Update 30 Apr 2013: add in Itsy Bits Mobile Application based on comment from reader.

2.7 Market Research

  • Cimigo
  • comScore
  • Kantar Media
  • TNS
  • Effective Measure (they no longer have anyone based in Vietnam)
  • AC Nelsen

Update Sept 2013:

  • Millward Brown

 

2.8 Brand Strategy

  • Left Brain Connector
  • Red Brand Builder
  • Phibious
  • Purple Asia
  • Ambrand
  • Ambrosia Vietnam
  • Brandtalk
  • WildFire Collaborative

Update 1: Move Purple Asia from Production to Brand Strategy based on feedback from Matt Millard.

Update 30Apr2013: added in Ambrand, Ambrosia Vietnam, Brandtalk Vietnam

Update 02 May 2013: added in WildFire Collaborative.

2.9 Mobile marketing

  • Gapit
  • Idee
  • Viet guys
  • Mobile Solution Services MSS
  • VHT
  • So Smart (part of Goldsun Focus Media)
  • Fibo sms

2.10 Integrated agency (doing a bit of everything)

  • Notch: many people from Notch left and set up a couple of agencies (DNA, Echo etc…)
  • Golden Digital: from what I heard, Tony Truong, which was one of the founding members of Golden Digital left the company not too long ago.
  • Quo Global
  • Climaxi (update 02May 2013, moved from Production category to Integrated Agency)
  • IO Media: the majority of the previous core team left to join other agencies
  • Cheil Vietnam: through their partnership with Mekong Communication I guess these two companies are strongly linked.
  • Buzz Digital
  • eBrand
  • Edge Marketing
  • River Orchid
  • IDM Vietnam
  • FPT Media
  • Maro Media
  • Ringier
  • StormEye Creative
  • Vietbuzz Ad
  • D Square
  • IMS (Integrated Marketing Solution)
  • Emerald
  • G2 Asia Pacific
  • Time Universal
  • MVV Digital
  • etc…

Update 29 Apr 2013: Moved Emerald from Social Media/PR agency to Integrated agency

Update 30 Apr 2013: added in G2 Asia Pacific which has a Vietnam Office.

Update Oct 2014: Added MVV Digital, founder by Huy Pencil.

2.10 Outsourcing agencies

  • Pyramid consulting
  • Studio 60

Some personal observations about digital agencies in Vietnam:

“Jack of all trades, master of none”. This is the common problem with the majority of Digital agencies in Vietnam.

Everyone is saying they are offering full digital services from strategy, creative to execution, from Search engine marketing to Email marketing to Social Media etc… However, the plain cold truth is that we do not have enough specialists in Vietnam for so many firms to offer everything in-house. It does not make business sense to have every thing in-house as well because the overall budget is often quite small.

This generalist approach from the agency is partly because big clients often want to work with a few contacts and ideally only one or two firms.

Agency could differentiate itself by becoming a specialist in a particular service,  going after certain verticals, only working with other agencies as a sub contracts and many other ways.

It is important to take note of the client segment (SME, MNC, local clients) that an agency serves i.e. how many percent of its clients are small and medium businesses and how many percent are MNCs/big local brands.

Agencies who serve SMEs (small and medium enterprises) or SMBs (small and medium businesses) are not sufficiently equipped to work with MNCs or big local brands. The business development or the Director of the agency may paint very appealing pictures. However they are not the one who carry out the execution. SME world and MNC world are miles apart.

The nature of SME agencies is that under normal circumstances they only employ relatively junior employees due to the fact that SMEs’ concerns, budget, decision-making, working culture are not that sophisticated. SMEs do not often work with complex marketing plan that involves multiple channels (offline and online) or having their own creative agency, pr agency etc…Brand guideline and the like are not often discussed with SME clients. Then it is not the same level working with MNCs and local big brands.

English fluency is another major concern facing “specialists” from SME agencies and even bigger agencies. Next would be communication skill and I am talking about the basic communication skill so that both parties would be able to understand each other in English.

Another point worth mentioning is the difference between working with government-owned firms, private ownership firms and foreign firms in Vietnam. While relationship plays an important role everywhere in Vietnam, with government-owned firms, that is even more prominent. The sales cycle for government-owned firms is hence very long.

Working culture in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh is very different from each other as well. Generally sales cycle in Ha Noi is longer compared to Ho Chi Minh. The majority of MNCs are in Ho Chi Minh so they set the working scene in Ho Chi Minh as compared to government-owned firms setting the scene in Hanoi.

That’s enough from me for today. Do you think some other names need to be in this list? Message me.

Cheers,

Chandler

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  57 comments for “Welcome to the Agency world in Vietnam (part 1)

  1. April 27, 2013 at 13:58

    Thank you for lising IO Media in your list 🙂 time fly so fast

  2. Chandler Nguyen
    April 27, 2013 at 17:47

    time does fly mate 🙂

  3. April 27, 2013 at 22:39

    @Chandler: you forgot us: OhYeah Communications & DNA Digital 😀

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 27, 2013 at 23:31

      I got DNA in, just added in yours as well 🙂

  4. April 28, 2013 at 21:48

    Hi Chandler, Thanks for including Purple Asia. We’d be more suited to the brand strategy category than production. We do build websites but generally for clients who are working with us on brand strategy.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 29, 2013 at 09:41

      Sure Matt. I made the change.

  5. Chandler Nguyen
    April 29, 2013 at 10:45

    It was edited Matt. Thanks for letting me know.

  6. April 29, 2013 at 10:59

    Adding SEO Agency :).

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 29, 2013 at 12:56

      Good point! I will add in more SEO agency. Which agencies come to your mind mate?

  7. April 29, 2013 at 18:07

    LamSEO.vn from Du Nguyen. A popular guy among SEOers.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 29, 2013 at 21:46

      well I know Du and I think he knows me as well.

      • April 12, 2017 at 09:14

        Thanks for corbnituting. It’s helped me understand the issues.

  8. Nguyen
    April 29, 2013 at 18:26

    You may don’t know BizzOn (production) in Nha Trang. They are outsourced by many agencies in Saigon like Notch, IO Media .

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 29, 2013 at 21:51

      Yup I don’t know about BizzOn so I would need a bit more information before putting them in the list. Again this is because of my limited understanding of outsourced agencies in Nha Trang.

  9. April 30, 2013 at 10:59

    Hi bro,

    That’s quite interesting from you article. I think in terms of agencies things, Accouting is a good angle to look from. Hope that you can have time to dig in. Btw, if you have time, please help me correct my company name: eBrand (instead of E Brand). Thanks.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      April 30, 2013 at 11:28

      Hi Hai Hoang,
      my bad, your company name is changed to the correct one: eBrand.
      I am not sure what you mean by accouting angle? would you be able to elaborate more?

  10. April 30, 2013 at 15:56

    Hi bro, there’s another “E Brand” to replace by “eBrand”. I have another added information to your article about my company. Beside playing as a full-stop service provider, my company highlighted 2 key areas of Social Media management and Production house (both non-media and rich media production).

    Last but not least, I think Vietnamese Digital market needs more reviews at this level oand deeper. Further, it can lead to more support to make the market clear and clean, in terms of servicing quality. Looking forward to some comments on that from you.

    Regards

    Hai

  11. Le Anh Tuan
    May 2, 2013 at 09:19

    Hi Chandler,
    Climax’s not just a production agency, it’s a full digital agency. Our services include Digital strategy, Production, Media planning (focus to Social media), Viral, SEO. Pls help us to revise

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 2, 2013 at 14:02

      It was changed Tuan.
      Cheers,
      Chandler

  12. May 2, 2013 at 10:25

    Thanks for your list, Chandler. Long time no see hah.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 2, 2013 at 14:06

      indeed long time no see Trang. Let’s catch up when you are in town.

  13. May 2, 2013 at 10:49

    Hi Chandler,

    Nice list you have going on here. Finally someone manages to put a full perspective on our market.
    Would be great if you could add us into the Brand Strategy category as well. Take a look at our page,
    and welcome any feedback you may have. 🙂

    http://www.facebook.com/wildfireclb

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 2, 2013 at 21:29

      Hi Anthony,
      Could you share a bit more about your company? On facebook, under our work album, i couldn’t find much information.

  14. Clyde
    May 2, 2013 at 11:58

    Hi Chandler, how about adding in Affiliate Marketing Network? just a thought..

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 2, 2013 at 21:25

      Hi Clyde,

      I would love to add in when we have more visibility on these networks 🙂

  15. May 2, 2013 at 12:05

    every helpful, Chandler!

  16. May 2, 2013 at 17:37

    How about Vinalink?

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 2, 2013 at 21:25

      added in Tuan.

  17. May 3, 2013 at 13:55

    Are the brands above listed in rank order?

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 3, 2013 at 20:41

      nope, they are in absolutely random order.

  18. June 28, 2013 at 12:22

    Hi Chandler. Thanks for your list.
    You didn’t include OZERSIDE, an Integrated agency, but I’m sure this will be rectified 😉
    http://www.ozerside.com if you need some informations about the company.

    Thanks

    • Chandler Nguyen
      July 1, 2013 at 21:37

      Thanks Alexander for your notice. I made the change.

      Cheers,
      Chandler

  19. August 6, 2013 at 09:54

    Good summary for me to understand what’s going on digital in VN. We’ll try to be listed near future.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      August 7, 2013 at 22:02

      Looking forwards to it Yoshio

  20. August 7, 2013 at 17:36

    Hi Chandler, thank you for your list. I am from Wunderman Vietnam and I read the rather startling one-line review of us, so I just wanted to add a clarification. Y&R and Wunderman operate under one YR Group umbrella in Vietnam and have offices in Hanoi as well. Together, we have all the digital capabilities of a full-fledged Wunderman office, and the integrated marketing ones of a Y&R office. Apart from Nokia, our clients include Emirates, Colgate-Palmolive, Ovaltine, Nutifood and Ford. Of these, Nokia, CP and Ford are global alignments, the rest are local relationships creating campaigns locally. Coca-Cola has a roster of agencies in Vietnam that they work with depending on the project and Wunderman is one of them. I hope this can persuade you to update your post, but of course you only have my word for it 🙂 Please feel free to email me follow-up questions if you want to.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      August 11, 2013 at 21:28

      Hi Mina,

      I made the update on the article.

      • August 12, 2013 at 07:56

        Thank you Chandler, I appreciate it very much 🙂

        • Chandler Nguyen
          August 13, 2013 at 09:54

          No problem Mina. I am sure you would do the same if our situation was reversed.

  21. duynt2013
    August 16, 2013 at 11:58

    Hi Chandler,

    I’m Duy from Time Universal. I am appreciated for the list you have here. Finally someone has put a serious input for categorize the digital agencies in Vietnam.

    By the way, can you change the category for Time Universal? We are full-service agency. You can check our credentials here: http://www.slideshare.net/timeuniversal/time-universal-credentials-2013-24860997

    Thank you very much indeed!

    • Chandler Nguyen
      September 27, 2013 at 09:26

      I made the change Duy!

  22. September 3, 2013 at 12:08

    Chandler- in regards to search engine optimization, I do agree that Vietnam is lacking in certain areas of search marketing. But at the same time, I have encountered some amazing SEO/SEM by Vietnamese marketers. It is definitely interesting watching the field grow.

  23. September 24, 2013 at 15:04

    Thank you so much for creating this blog post! I’m a content manager looking for at a vibrant and creative digital agency to work for in Vietnam, and the list you provided is a great start to my search. 🙂

    • Chandler Nguyen
      September 27, 2013 at 09:23

      I am glad I could be of help Lauren!

    • Đức Công
      October 31, 2013 at 10:13

      @Lauren: Hi Lauren, May I have your contact or email.

  24. minh hoang
    September 26, 2013 at 23:29

    Millward Brown-BrandZ, one of the world biggest market research agencies

    • Chandler Nguyen
      September 27, 2013 at 09:22

      Thanks Minh. I updated the post to include Millward Brown.

  25. vuluan2910Vũ Luân
    December 9, 2013 at 15:15

    Thanks Chandler. Although i knew this article for long but now i just feel that it’s very helpful for me!

  26. May 5, 2014 at 14:16

    Great understanding about Viet Nam market. How’s about Fifth iMedia ? Do you have any information about them ?

    • Chandler Nguyen
      May 10, 2014 at 15:06

      Hi Oanh,

      You are from Fifth iMedia so I suppose you should know about Fifth iMedia?

      Cheers,
      Chandler

  27. J.P
    June 19, 2014 at 21:25

    Thanks for the sum up anh, very helpful 🙂 when are you going to publish part 2?

  28. June 27, 2014 at 15:35

    Hi Chandler

    This is an excellent post!

    I am a digital project manager from London. I want to look for a project management role with an agency in Vietnam. Do you think it will be best for me to look in HCM or Hanoi?

    Would really value your opinion

    Thanks!

    • Chandler Nguyen
      June 28, 2014 at 07:47

      Hi Alan,

      HCM could be a better option for you with more foreign agencies, servicing MNCs in VN.

      • June 28, 2014 at 09:35

        Thanks for the quick response Chandler. Much appreciated

  29. September 19, 2017 at 12:29

    Hi Chandler,
    This is Duke from VAC Travel (www.vactravel.com)
    I need some help from you and staff if you concern about.
    we are the new travel company, and i do not have much experience in SEO. and basically I ask you the advise for total package for SEO service in Tourism field.
    please have a look the website and give me your advise how to boost it up.
    Thank you

  30. September 19, 2017 at 12:30

    it is better contact me via email duke@vactravel.com or duvac78@gmail.com
    thank you

    • Chandler Nguyen
      October 29, 2017 at 11:19

      Hi Duke,

      Thank for reaching out. Sorry I am not offering any SEO services so I am afraid I cant’ help you. Wish you and your new company successful.

      Cheers,
      Chandler

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