black and white shanghai city landscape, Penny Burgess, WE Communications

WE aggressively expands Asia presence

WE Press Releases




SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE— March 16, 2017 — In a clear statement of commitment to clients, colleagues and growth in Asia-Pacific, WE Communications (WE) today 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, Lululemon, TaylorMade / adidasGolf, Melia Hotels International, Roche, Swire, Thomas Cook, Value Retail China & Europe, WeWork and ZTE.

“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 a shared philosophy of working in partnership with our clients to build long-term relationships, and a culture that places great emphasis on our people, I am very excited about what we can achieve together,” said Red Bridge Managing Partner, Penny Burgess.

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.

“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,” said WATATAWA Managing Partner, Simon Pangrazio. 

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.”

Added Lackie, “Across the region, we are working with a number of leading brands across the healthcare, technology and consumer industries.  The acquisition of Red Bridge and WATATAWA accelerates the expansion of WE’s Asia Pacific network allowing us to broaden the capabilities we offer our customers and in giving our people greater opportunities to grow and develop their careers."

About WE

WE works with some of the most innovative companies on the planet — those focused on delivering the next big thing. For more than 30 years we’ve been movers and opinion shakers, experiencing firsthand how technology can enable brand transformation. Using our Momentum family of services, we partner with clients to set their stories in motion — from insight to impact. Our playground is consumer, health, social innovation and technology. Our fiercely independent mindset allows us the freedom to bring together the best talent, partners and ideas to create powerful, persuasive campaigns. Shiny accolades like Cannes Lions, SABREs, Best APAC Medium Agency and PRWeek Award for Best Use of Social Media/Digital adorn our offices. We’re global, speak 37 languages and we’re not much for standing still. But it’s not about us, it’s about our clients, their customers and setting their brands in motion. Time to move.

For more information please contact Jessica Lobendhan, +44 7835 612 607.