When we spoke to Dutch Rogier Bikker a little over two months ago, neither of us had any idea of the news that broke last week. TOMORROW, his agency, has merged with Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital’s international MediaMonks China office. From CEO of the first, he became the new Managing Director of the latter. So, TOMORROW is no longer independent. SHP+ talked once more with Bikker to understand the ins and outs of the merger.
两个多月前，我们曾采访过来自荷兰的Rogier Bikker，当时的我们完全没预想到即将到来的大新闻。TOMORROW，这家他一手创立的代理公司，近日与Sir Martin Sorrell公司S4Capital 旗下的MediaMonks中国合并，而他本人则从前者的CEO，变成了后者的常务董事。这么一来，TOMORROW就不再独立运营。SHP+于是又再次找到了Bikker，一探这场并购的前因后果。
“Like what we’ve discussed before, I was thinking of how to join creative and production together,” Bikker says. “I dropped them a message, and our conversation started there. Both sides were super excited. We are what they were looking for in the Chinese market, and they are what we lacked at TOMORROW,” Bikker says.
His strategy was always about content and, lately, about creating it in-house, with production expertise. Hence, the merge makes complete sense: TOMORROW comes in with the creative storytelling competence and a deep understanding of the Chinese social media landscape, while MediaMonks joins in with their production and execution ability.
MediaMonks is also a global network. It allows Bikker and his team to tap into global capabilities, something they couldn’t do before. “We can think bigger. Suddenly, we have an endless list of cases and ideas that we can use. Some of our clients are already excited. They’re like, ‘wow, can you guys really do that?” he laughs.
Meet TOMORROW x MediaMonks
Bikker was particularly impressed by the high level of synergy across the international branches of MediaMonks, something rare for global networks of similar size. “We are now talking with their offices in South Korea, Singapore, Tokyo, and we all work as a team, sharing resources. There’s no competition,” he says.
Six-year-old TOMORROW is well-known as one of the few foreign remaining independent creative agencies in China and mainly catering to foreign brands. Naturally, it caught the attention of some big fish—or sharks—that might be lagging a little behind the trends.
“Many of the big networks are struggling. They lack creativity and talent. They lack the magic of things,” Bikker says. “So they’re always looking around to acquire little ‘lightbulbs’ like us. I’ve met pretty much every major network agency in the last few years. Usually, M&A and finance people lead these conversations. They’re never exciting. I felt like they would eat me alive. That is what it feels like.”
Even if TOMORROW is being completely rebranded into MediaMonks, Bikker is not bothered. As he has claimed before, people and talent build DNA, not branding. His team is staying, along with his well-established clients, and everyone is happy with the merge.
“It’s only been four days since we merged, and we’re already combining the work with three clients. The plan is to move to a new office in April. By the time we move, it will be just one team. Neither of us is very big right now. But by April, who knows?”
At the moment of merger, TOMORROW’s team consists of 50 people, and MediaMonks Shanghai —25. In Shanghai, they want to build something similar to Amsterdam’s MediaMonks office. Somewhere central, with a studio space where they can shoot all day. “We are still discussing if it makes sense to have a studio. But it doesn’t matter. I still want to do it. My focus is still on content. That’s essential to us,” Bikker says.
For Bikker and his team, it’s exciting to have a worldwide production powerhouse supporting their wildest dreams. However, one should remember that TOMORROW was a small but bright agency, with an enviable hands-on-approach attitude and the Chinese Gen Z know-how. On the other hand, five years in, MediaMonks is still not a known name in China and has yet to leverage the local market the same way it leverages foreign markets. For them, it’s also exciting—perhaps even more—to merge with a smaller yet witty team that can add freshness to their business and help with polishing off their Chinese allure.