SHANGHAI: For a while it looked as though the big agency networks were going to clean up in Asia but now the independents are going there to give them a run for their money.

London integrated agency Imagination, still best-known for its lavish car launches for the likes of Ford (and the only agency in London with an in-house butler) is opening in Shanghai.

The agency, which covers design, digital, direct marketing and event production, has been in Hong Kong since 2000. Its clients include the BBC, Ford, Jaguar, Shell and Samsung.

Meanwhile Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which still presents itself as an independent ‘micro-network' even though it's 49 per cent owned by Publicis, has won the hotly-contested Singapore Tourism Board account.

A total of 38 submissions were received for the STB's creative, media and digital briefs. Media went to MEC, digital to XM-Asia. BBH beat 12 other agencies, including Publicis, for the creative portion.

Such marathon pitches can be a gruelling affair but Paul Soon, regional director of XM-Asia/RMG, seems to have enjoyed the experience.

“We started out as a group of average Singaporeans with only a conventional appreciation of our Lion City, but we emerged richer, more emotionally-connected and more entrenched in the belief that Singapore has a heady offering of sublime and unique experiences that truly makes her a destination that constantly evolves,” he said.

It's a two-year contract, running from May 2009 to March 2011.

Data sourced from Brand Republic Asia; additional content by WARC staff.