PublicAffairsAsia: WE acquires agencies

WE in the News



WE Communications (WE) has announced the acquisitions of award-winning Chinese integrated agency, Red Bridge Communications (Red Bridge), and Singapore-based corporate and financial affairs consultancy, WATATAWA. 

“Today is a huge day for the clients and colleagues of three incredible agencies,” said Melissa Waggener-Zorkin, CEO and President of WE Communications. “The additions of female-founded and owned Red Bridge and C-suite consultancy WATATAWA, anchored by two former Asia-Pacific CEOs of a top five global firm, broadens our offering and creates opportunities to expand client services for existing clients of all three agencies.”

Red Bridge Acquisition
Founded in 2009 by Penny Burgess, Red Bridge currently numbers 55 employees in Shanghai. Working with Co-Managing Partner, Nicky Wang, who joined the agency in its first year, together they have built Red Bridge into one of Greater China’s leading independent communication agencies. Providing both brand marketing and corporate positioning counsel, the award-winning agency specialises in delivering integrated campaigns to target China’s middle class, and working with challenger brands entering the market.

Merging with WE China, the agency will now be called WE Red Bridge. The combined agency’s clients will include: Aruba, Cargill, Caterpillar, Club Monaco, DFS, Honeywell, Insearch UTS:INSEARCH, Lululemon, TaylorMade / adidasGolf, Melià Hotels International, Roche, Swire, Thomas Cook, Value Retail China & Europe, WeWork and ZTE.

Red Bridge Managing Partner, Penny Burgess, said: “The merger into WE represents a huge opportunity for us to accelerate our expansion into new sectors and markets within the region. With the increased scale of the combined business, we can deepen our specialist capabilities, particularly in the areas of digital and analytics, and provide our team with greater development opportunities.”

With the deal, Burgess becomes China head for WE Red Bridge. She will report to Executive Vice President for Asia-Pacific, Matthew Lackie, based in Singapore. Nicky Wang will be responsible for driving the combined agency’s integrated marketing and digital capabilities across China.

WE veterans Judy Guo will continue to run the Beijing Office under the new WE Red Bridge offer, while Miranda Cai, based in Shanghai, will be responsible for building out corporate and health capabilities across the business and overseeing existing WE Shanghai operations. The combined agency boasts over 110 employees.

WATATAWA Acquisition
WATATAWA was established in 2010 with the singular goal of providing CEOs, Boards, and other senior-level client executives with equally senior-level consultancy in corporate communications, investor relations, financial communications, and issues and crisis management.

The firm’s founders include Bill Rylance, former worldwide vice chairman and regional CEO of a global agency; Simon Pangrazio, also a former regional agency CEO and Bryan Matthews, who has over 35 years of experience in communications consulting and journalism in the Asia Pacific region.

The firm’s senior team also includes former managing directors, practice heads and business journalists. WATATAWA’s client list includes some of the most significant Asian and global multinationals active in the region in the financial, healthcare, agriculture, technology, FMCG, and natural resources sectors. These include Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, IHH Healthcare, Olam International, PACC Offshore Services Holdings and Real Capital Analytics. WATATAWA is also retained by several world-leading global financial services firms.

WATATAWA Managing Partner, Simon Pangrazio, said: “We work with senior executives who value a discreet outside-in perspective to assess and address complex and evolving stakeholder engagement opportunities and issues. Increasingly, our clients are seeking related services in marketing and digital communications. Becoming part of WE while retaining our brand and core operating philosophy allows us to provide wider integrated solutions to our clients and those of WE Communications.”

WATATAWA becomes a subsidiary of WE and will continue to operate under its own distinct brand and leadership. The firm will expand its geographic presence regionally into other markets around the world, led by client demand.

Pangrazio will continue to lead the business regionally from Singapore in consultation with WATATAWA Chairman, Bill Rylance.  London-based Rylance will also take on a parallel role with WE internationally, focused on expanding and deepening the firm’s corporate offering in existing and new markets.

“Red Bridge and WATATAWA deepen our integrated marketing and premium corporate affairs offering across Asia-Pacific,” said Alan VanderMolen, WE President of International.  “These additions to our family are first steps in aggressively expanding our global network outside of the US in order to service a growing, global client base.”