Telum Talks To... Michelle Tee, Director, W/E + Partners Singapore
Following the closure of creative agency Water’s Edge after 28 years in operations, former Creative Partner, Andy Lee and its Client Services Director, Michelle Tee decided to team up together to establish W/E + Partners. This week, we got the chance to speak to Michelle on what is it that led them to establish W/E + Partners, and also to learn more on cultivating strong relationships between clients and agencies.
What is it about the ethos and culture of Water’s Edge that inspired the team to carry on as W/E + Partners?
The familial vibes, collaborative culture and teamwork that we had fostered over many years underpin our culture and ethos. We may have different roles to play, but we have a common goal which is to help clients solve their problems.
Collectively, we had always been putting our clients first and foremost, and as an agency, and individually as team members, we had established very strong relationships with our client teams.The strong bond amongst us and the client-centric spirit has kept us going till today. As a team, we are able to harness each one’s strengths and expand our thinking.
W/E + Partners now aims to expand beyond creative marketing services, and now plans to lend more specialised expertise ranging from public relations to digital strategy. Tell us more about why you decided to head in this direction?
We want to stay agile while focusing on our core offering which is creative services. And part of being client-centric, is that it gives us the impetus to work with a wider pool of talents across different expertise. This then allows us to tailor solutions based on clients’ needs while making us more nimble in the way we manage our resources.
Aside from expanding your services to provide a more holistic offering, what are some things you believe marketing agencies need to be doing different these days, especially in the current economic climate?
The pandemic has changed the way we work, live, and connect with people. And as things evolve, so does the need to constantly evaluate the relevancy of content and touch points so as we are trying different things, we are also testing and applying the learnings. At the end of the day, it’s about helping clients reach their business outcomes with greater efficiency and impact.
Can you share your approach in cultivating strong client / agency partnerships?
Today, there is a lot more collaboration and co-creation among us, our clients and agency partners. It is through these collaborations that we get to learn and understand the clients’ businesses better to add value, plug gaps and create long-term visions together.
What are some of your proudest achievements that made you push further than the usual?
One special project we worked on was launching an investment scam campaign in which we had to create a scam to educate the public and raise awareness of similar investment scams in the market. The process involved many stakeholders and clearance due to the sensitivity of the content. Unlike the usual campaigns, there were more precautions to take because it was a “fake scam” so we worked very closely with the client to put in place contingencies and PR to handle any public concerns.
While it was a complex communication challenge, overall the team had fun working on it and solving the task. There was a lot of coordination and collaboration between us and the clients as well as other stakeholders to make the campaign a success. We also managed to bag Gold at the Markies Award as well as Marketing Excellence Award.