This article was originally posted by PRWeek here.

The new operation will be helmed by Wunderman Thompson’s former Indonesia CEO.

WPP-owned PR agency Hill+Knowlton Strategies has announced a new office in Jakarta to be led by Marianne Admardatine (pictured), former CEO of Wunderman Thompson Indonesia. All clients and staff under Wunderman Thompson’s PR unit, Verve, will be absorbed into H+K.

Admardatine is an industry veteran with extensive experience in PR and marcomms including long stints at Ogilvy Indonesia (as chief growth officer, and prior to that, managing director of Ogilvy PR).

“When I was at Wunderman Thompson, I knew Indonesia was a [market] that responds well to PR and storytelling, and I wanted to have a complete set of offerings,” Admardatine told PRWeek Asia.

“When H+K started to talk to us on behalf of WPP Indonesia, that’s when I realised that I may have found the next thing that will elevate what we have to offer in the market. The kind of tools and innovation that we have is much bigger because we are concentrating on storytelling, PR and influence,” said Admardatine.

She added that Indonesia clients no more expect PR agencies to merely organise press conferences. As the market matures, agencies are expected to be channel-agnostic, data-driven, and must know how to package storytelling with data rather than just delivering activations.

“H+K is fitting of what Indonesia needs right now so it was a perfect fit for me. Indonesia will really benefit of having a good PR agency, and there aren’t many of us here yet,” said Admardatine.

As to whether the middle of a pandemic was wise timing to be launching a new operation, H+K’s Asia president HS Chung told PRWeek Asia that the launch was more about business continuity.

“Our strategy to expand and be strong in Asia does not change at all, despite COVID-19,” Chung said. “But we believe that post-COVID-19, there’s going to be growing demand in Asia across all corporations—local and multinational—and governments requiring a concentration of PR services, particularly at the C-suite level. Our global management has no question about Indonesia’s success.”

Plus, one of the benefits of being a new operation within a large network is that it doesn’t have to grow its client base organically.

“We had a very candid discussion with Wunderman Thompson Indonesia about the best way to further develop the PR capabilities. And eventually we came to an amicable agreement for H+K to enter Indonesia by transferring [Verve’s] clients into H+K,” said Chung.

“For clients, there isn’t any interruption of work because it’s the same service. We will now be benefiting from additional resources in Indonesia from H+K’s global management.”

Some of H+K Indonesia’s clients that have been absorbed include Nestle, Traveloka, Huawei and Telkomsel.