Robert Sawatzky,
Editor, Campaign Asia
Read this piece in Campaign Asia. 




Challenger holding company Stagwell is doubling down on its global affiliate strategy, adding 11 new partner companies to its worldwide network. All but two of the additions are based in Asia where Stagwell has now also opened a second office in Malaysia.   The partners span China, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Italy, and the UK, extending and expanding the network’s media, scaled content and commerce capabilities. Together, some 1,400 marketing practitioners have now been added to Stagwell’s “functional global footprint.”  

Some of the new affiliates, such as China’s SparkX and 99IE, bring specialty expertise in ecommerce and gaming respectively, while India’s Event Capital and Laqshya Live Experiences bring event and experiential chops.  

If you separate the nine subsidiary partners within India’s Laqshya Media Group, the number of new affiliates grows to 19. Media was a key strategic focus, with BushAd also joining from Korea, digital media specialists SuperDrive and SearchGuru joining from Japan and Malaysia respectively, along with three Chinese media companies, including MarketIn and GIMC.   

Not all these affiliate deals make Stagwell their exclusive partner. One of China’s oldest and largest local advertising groups, GIMC, has a track record of partnering with other groups, including joint ventures with Havas and Hakuhodo. Another new content affiliate, Malaysia’s Kingdom Digital, sold a majority stake to Hakuhodo last month.   The two new affiliates added from Europe, Italy’s Caffeina and Digital Mill out of the UK, are both digital content specialists.  

Stagwell’s chief affiliate officer Anas Ghazi and APAC managing director Randy Duax tell Campaign the new affiliations are the result of a mix of inbound interest, strategic planning around capabilities and geographies, but were mostly driven by tangible activations on behalf of clients.  

The global programme

In total, Stagwell now is nearing 80 global partners in more than 60 different markets in less than two years since launching the affiliate programme. Under these deals, there is no immediate monetary investment – both sides merely agree to cooperate on client work. 

For the affiliates, it expands their scope of opportunity beyond their local market without being forced to work for global clients and projects that they don’t want to. For Stagwell it’s a way to expand its global reach and capabilities without needing to raise capital for acquisitions.  For both sides, affiliation is a trial period to feel each other out, which can be a precursor to eventual acquisition as it was with Brand New Galaxy (BNG), a European-based ecommmerce network that was one of Stagwell’s earliest affiliates before the two consummated their relationship through acquisition earlier this year.  

But the programme is not without risk either. It’s hard enough for holding companies, with all their global connective tissues, to deliver the seamlessly integrated global service they’ve been pitching to clients for years, nevermind asking independent agencies with different cultures and objectives to interpret quality, standards, processes the same and deliver what the client wants on terms financially beneficial to all.  But Ghazi already sees proof in acquisitions like BNG and in the number of new business wins emanating from affiliates, referencing a pipeline of yet-to-be-announced deals.  

“With our affiliate partners worldwide, we’ve been able to punch up to win new business and land account expansions across Stagwell—from Hydraltye in Australia and Mashreq Bank in the UAE to our major Lenovo win across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America and North America,” Stagwell chairman and CEO Mark Penn added in a statement. “With our model, we’re not just placing random dots on a map, we’re able to provide clients with global execution rooted in local understanding.”  

“It really is working,” Duax says, who explains that not a day goes by without an opportunity from clients pitching a need to expand to another market, or an affiliate referring a piece of business to be expanded out. 

A second footprint in Asia

If many of the new affiliations are the product of client business, so too is Stagwell’s latest landing pad in Kuala Lumpur. A couple of global client wins together with new work for Ink (with Malaysian Airlines) and Assembly will see the latter hire a dozen new people in Malaysia and accelerated the set-up of an office there.  These announcements follow Stagwell’s stated objective last November to expand aggressively in Asia Pacific, relocating Duax to Singapore where he soon after added Coconuts Media as a content affiliate in January.  



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Originally released on


Leading publisher with audience across Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Myanmar to bolster scaled content and media capabilities

NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Stagwell Inc. (NASDAQ: STGW) today announced the next step in its expansion into Asia-Pacific via an affiliate partnership with Coconuts Media, the leading alternative online publisher reaching an audience of millions across Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bali, and Yangon. The partnership meaningfully expands Stagwell’s media investment in the region and adds a key partner with scaled content, production, and distribution capabilities to support global clients.

Via the partnership, Stagwell and Coconuts will collaborate to offer clients a competitive mix of traditional and digital media services, advice on region-specific consumer trends including the high growth in social commerce sales in APAC, and scaled media placement and distribution opportunities informed by first-party data across the Coconuts Media network. Additionally, Stagwell’s agencies in the region – including Assembly, Allison+Partners, 72andSunny, Forsman & Bodenfors, Ink, and more — will partner with Coconuts’ in-house marketing agency, Grove, in collaborative pitches and marketing campaigns. 

Coconuts Media’s publications include Coconuts, serving fresh and juicy news from eight cities in Asia; BK Magazine, Bangkok’s leading source for the best places to eat and hang out; and Soimilk, a daily dose of lifestyle news for Thailand’s digital-savvy youth. Grove, Coconuts Media’s in-house creative studio, ideates and manages campaigns for brands, while Coconuts TV produces documentary and unscripted programs for the likes of Netflix, Discovery, and MTV. 

“With the opening of Stagwell’s first-ever APAC headquarters in Singapore and our agencies’ continued success in the region, we’re investing heavily in Asia-Pacific as part of our global expansion this year,” said Mark Penn, Chairman and CEO, Stagwell. “We’re eager to collaborate with Byron and the Coconuts Media team to offer our leading mix of digital and media services to strengthen the APAC offering for our clients.”

“With our publishing roots as a foundation, we are growing our creative and media buying services and the business of serving clients as a modern creative agency,” said Coconuts Media Founder and CEO Byron Perry. “Partnering with a challenger marketing network like Stagwell makes total sense as we work with larger, more complex global clients.”

The affiliate partnership with Coconuts Media is the latest step in Stagwell’s ambitious global expansion strategy, which has seen the Company add over 40 affiliates in locations across MENA, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. In January 2022, Stagwell also launched a corporate headquarters in Singapore to accelerate business development opportunities across APAC and support regional client partners, led by Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Randy Duax.

“Coconuts is changing the game when it comes to scaled content and premium media partnerships across APAC,” added Duax. “With the growth of their in-house creative agency and recent media acquisitions, they are a powerful partner as Stagwell rolls up its sleeves to help brands transform their marketing in the region.”

About Stagwell Inc.

Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing.  Led by entrepreneurs, our 10,000+ specialists in 20+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at

About Coconuts Media

Coconuts Media is Asia’s leading alternative media company.

Our mission is to inform and entertain our audience by telling true stories that matter across our portfolio of publications:

  • Coconuts, fresh and juicy news on what’s happening Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bali, Yangon, and beyond
  • BK Magazine, Bangkok’s leading source for the best places to eat and hang out
  • Soimilk, a daily dose of lifestyle news for Thailand’s digital-savvy youth

Coconuts TV, our video brand, produces documentary programs on weird and wondrous stories from Asia for broadcast TV and streaming platforms. Grove, our in-house brand studio, ideates and manages creative campaigns for leading international brands that run on Coconuts brands and beyond.

Each month we reach an audience of millions across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong through digital, print, audio, and video.

We are passionate about journalism, the media industry, and telling the untold stories of our region. Learn more at



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