Roxy Jacenko expands empire with agency targeting Chinese consumers

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 14 January 2019
Roxy Jacenko and Oliver Curtis

PR queen Roxy Jacenko is expanding her PR empire with the launch of a new agency in collaboration with husband Oliver Curtis that aims to connect brands with Chinese consumers.

The Sydney-based PR and marketing consultancy business, 18Communications, offers everything from events and influencer management to WeChat advertising strategies to help brands reach local Chinese residents and tourists in Australia.

It also touts media buying as part of its services and says it can execute product placement in Chinese produced film and television productions in Australia.

Speaking to AdNews, Jacenko flagged the growing Chinese market as a huge opportunity for Australian brands with the retail sales last year reaching US$6 trillion globally.

“Targeting and communicating to the Chinese market is essential for any Australian brand looking to expand,” she said, adding that there are two million Australian-based WeChat accounts and approximately 1.4m Chinese tourists arriving from Mainland China spending more than $10 billion locally.

“Tapping into this market is essential and with WeChat and other social platforms being so prevalent in mainland China, ensuring you have a strong presence and positive brand recognition within the local community can mean make or break," she said.

It’s the first business venture for Curtis since he was released Cooma Correctional Centre in 2017 after serving time for insider trading. Due to the conviction, he is disqualified from managing corporations until June 2022, but will operate as 18Communications’ chief operating officer.

During his time as an investment banker, Curtis gained experience working in the Chinese market, which led to him identifying the opportunity for 18Communications.

“China is currently in the midst of its second leg of economic reform. The economy was built on manufacturing and infrastructure spending to drive urbanisation. This urbanisation over the past 10 years has driven significant increase in consumer spending as the economic benefits are realised,” Curtis said.

“The second stage of the economic growth is driven by increased wealth and hence, consumer spending. There is still significant urbanisation to continue and consumer spending has been growing at around 9% per annum, which on a $6 trillion base is a significant growth market.”

The 18Communications team is made of us Jacenko, Curtis and two Chinese nationals who specialise in Chinese communications, Paige Ye and Michelle Zhao.

As for competitors in the Australian market, Jacenko said it’s a growing space, but believes 18Communications has an edge over others because of how it works with her other businesses, including main PR firm Sweaty Betty, influencer agency Ministry of Talent and recently launched content agency Social Union.

“We are now a one-stop shop for social media marketing and campaign management, PR and communications and content creation across all platforms including all forms of China social platforms,” she said.

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