Emily Tan
Apr 18, 2016

CMOs fight to focus in an era of distractions: Roundtable

HONG KONG - The true struggle, for today's CMO, is not keeping on top of every new channel, platform or tactic that crops up, but staying focused on what really matters, according to leading Asian marketers at a roundtable sponsored by Williams Lea Tag.

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The discussion, which took place on April 14 at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong, was moderated by Gary Scattergood, head of content for Campaign Asia-Pacific and PRWeek Asia. Titled, 'Marketing at scale', the session aimed to address the challenges of managing resources to maximise efficiency.

"I find myself in a position where I'm trying to reconcile the new world with the old world of marketing," said Suresh Balaji, regional head of marketing, retail and wealth, at HSBC Asia-Pacific. "What hasn't changed is the role of marketing in building commercial value, and to be the voice of the consumer to the organisation and the organisation's voice to the consumer."

Balaji added that it was dependent on marketers to keep their eyes on this goal. "Marketing can be like a duck paddling really fast," he said. "It all looks calm on the surface, but there's a lot of frantic work keeping things afloat. Don't get lost in the paddling."

There is a need to streamline attention, agreed Elaine Tai, regional marketing manager for Furla Asia-Pacific. In the sped-up world of ecommerce, the marketer's view can get quite divided. "We used to have time to communicate with each market, but now in minutes you have to share information with headquarters and local markets and get approvals. If there was a programme to manage these assets and that lets you ping the relevant people in real-time... that would be wonderful."

It boils down to focusing on the consumer journey, contributed Howell Wong, regional head of digital marketing for Moet Hennessy Asia-Pacific. When this understanding is in place, it allows global and regional teams to put in place practices for content and media management that will prevent overlap and help marketers stay focused, he said.

"The scale of media and content we have to manage across our brands in multiple Asian markets is tremendous. We've introduced social publishing tools that are centralised, and this enables global team to buy media at scale and locals just focus on platforms that work best in their markets," said Wong. 

Doing the same thing over and over again in each market can be costly, added Hina Kotecha, marketing director for Asia-Pacific at Williams Lea Tag. "We're not saying things should be cookie-cutter standardised, just managed better."

Kotecha referenced insurance firm Zurich's 'Blue Room'. An asset-management platform from which each marketer can access and download the materials they need. The platform also tracks what assets marketers are using and what seems to be working best in each market. 

Marriott has also introduced something similar, backed up by a social command centre, said Carol Zhou, senior director of brand marketing, strategy and portfolio marketing Asia-Pacific. "The centre monitors everything that's being said and, if someone has a great experience in one hotel, we have the ability to make it a content story that can carry globally."

The word to describe what marketers do today, is 'orchestrating', commented Todd Handcock, CEO of Asia-Pacific and global head of marketing for Williams Lea Tag. "It's important that marketing teams across regions and countries have the tools they need to reuse brand assets in a consistent way to keep the brand's orchestration together. When companies don't do this well, you start to see a lack of brand consistency and a slowing of speed to market."

Present at the roundtable

Moderator: Gary Scattergood, head of content, Campaign Asia-Pacific and PRWeek Asia

  • Widhadh Waheed, director of social media marketing, Shangri-La International
  • Jenny An, director of marketing communications, The Langham, Hong Kong
  • Ali Fung, marketing director, Amway Hong Kong
  • Suresh Balaji, regional head of marketing, Asia-Pacific at HSBC.
  • Carol Zhou, senior director of brand marketing, strategy & portfolio marketing, Asia-Pacific at the Marriott
  • Howell Wong, regional head of digital marketing, Moet Hennessy
  • Elaine Tai, regional marketing manager Asia-Pacific, Furla
  • Jacinta Reddan, head of marketing and communications, PineBridge Investments
  • Todd Handcock, CEO Asia-Pacific and global head of marketing, Williams Lea Tag
  • Hina Kotecha, marketing director Asia-pacific, Williams Lea Tag

The full writeup of this roundtable discussion, which includes the thoughts of the other senior marketers present, will be published in the June issue of Campaign Asia-Pacific. Other topics addressed include engaging young talent, managing multiple customer touchpoints, handling regulations and dealing with procurement.

 

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