Campaign Asia-Pacific is presenting a new top-5 list every day until we send our last daily bulletin of the year on December 19. We've had fun pulling this annual review together, and we hope you'll enjoy it too.
Please follow along as we spotlight the year's highlights and lowlights. And if you think we've screwed up—either by inclusion or omission—please let us hear about it in the comments and/or on Twitter @CampaignAsia using the hashtag #CampaignBestOf2014.
Without further ado, here are the...
1 - Xiaomi
It has been impossible to ignore Xiaomi this year. The ‘Apple of China’ is eating into competitors’ market share by doing the opposite of Apple—involving consumers in the development of its products. The company is applying software development processes to its hardware development, launching its phones in small batches, assimilating feedback and modifying accordingly. CEO Lei Jun would do well to stop emulating the late Steve Jobs on stage, but Xiaomi, which expanded into India in July and Indonesia in September, still stands up as one Chinese brand showing real innovation and the potential to go the distance.
2 - Unilever
Large conglomerates can be set in their ways, but Unilever took real steps to avoid that. In May, it launched The Foundry, designed to help forge closer ties with promising startups around the world. Speaking in a press conference at the time of the announcement, Marc Mathieu, Unilever’s SVP of global marketing, described it as a “necessity” to “open up, bring the outside in and connect with the ecosystem of startups”. Its willingness to experiment is something to be emulated.
3 - Mastercard
Mastercard and its SVP/group head of marketing Sam Ahmed stood out this year for putting social media data to work in a commercial context. Ahmed played a key part in developing the company’s ‘Priceless Engine’, which launched in September. It’s a social media-monitoring tool unusual in its transaction-focused business model. Its aim is to drive revenue for banks and merchants — showing that marketing can be an integral part of business if a company really wants it to be.
4 - Scoot
Still a growing brand, Singapore-based low-cost carrier Scoot is proving to be innovative in several ways. Firstly, it has discarded the barriers that typically exist between departments, meaning that the company’s head of marketing has direct access to the CEO Campbell Wilson at all times. It has also streamlined its marketing to concentrate on driving sales online: around 70 per cent of its activities are in that space. This year it debuted in Campaign’s Asia’s Top 1000 Brands.
5 - Ichitan
Larger-than-life CEO Tan Passakornnatee and his highly personal involvement in the brand are what set Ichitan apart in terms of marketing. In his online and TVC campaigns, Tan flies about in a superhero outfit. Known as the ‘fat superhero in a sailor hat and cape’, he is the face of all Ichitan campaigns, content-marketing initiatives and is the powerhouse running the brand’s social media: his own Facebook page is one of the most popular in Thailand with more than 7 million fans.