Staff Reporters
Nov 18, 2020

40 Under 40 2020: Bernard Cheng, Brown-Forman

From FMCG to KFC to spirits, Bernard Cheng has driven impressive results for brands through digital acumen and beneficial partnerships.

40 Under 40 2020: Bernard Cheng, Brown-Forman
Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 

Bernard Cheng

Regional marketing director, Asia
Hong Kong

Bernard Cheng knows what makes people tick. Or, at least, what makes them click. ‘Classically trained’ in FMCG sales and marketing under behemoth companies like Nestlé and Unilever, Cheng led the pack on social-media campaigns before much of the industry found a footing in the capricious landscape.

Back in 2008, when he was managing the Cornetto ice cream brand for Unilever Australasia, he created viral digital-media campaigns and harnessed big data to create tailored content and ad optimisation. His foresight earned the campaign awards including the 2008 IAB Best Creative Digital Campaign award. 

Cheng would go on to launch a finger-lickin’-good career with KFC across Asia Pacific that spans 11 years. He started in Australia, then moved to Singapore to join the KFC regional team. Through two promotions within three years, Cheng ended up with eight markets across Asia on his plate. He further made history for the company by launching the first KFC stores in Myanmar and Mongolia.

Appointed as CMO for KFC Thailand in 2017, Cheng took his digital-transformation acumen northwards. This led to KFC cornering 76% share of the total quick-service restaurants (QSR) market in Thailand while he carved out new technology roadmaps including cashless payment and self-ordering kiosks.

The former member of The American Chamber of Commerce Thailand also steered partnerships with streetwear label Carnival to create a limited-edition KFC fashion capsule collection—which sold out within three hours. Another inspired deal he struck was with the beloved esports game Arena of Valour to launch a KFC Colonel in-game character with special prizes, which sparked a frenzy of downloads among gamers. It is hardly a surprise that Cheng’s leadership propelled KFC Thailand to win the Thailand Zocial award for Best Brand Performance on Social Media in 2019 and 2020.

This year, Cheng found a fresh start with Brown-Forman Asia in Hong Kong. The newly minted regional marketing director is responsible for the company’s whole spirits portfolio. This includes brand stewardship of Jack Daniels across 20 countries, such as China and Japan.

Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 


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