Staff Reporters
Jun 9, 2021

Highlights from Campaign Leading Change

See a highlights reel and our editors' collection of memorable statements from the just-concluded two-day conference.

Highlights from Campaign Leading Change

Here our editors are sharing real-time highlights from Campaign Leading Change, taking place online June 8 and 9. This page is presented in liveblog style, with the most recent items being added at the top.

Wednesday June 9

Posted at 12:55 pm

The conference has concluded. Campaign Asia-Pacific extends sincere thanks to all who attended and those who shared their expertise and passion during the sessions, as well as our event sponsors. We look forward to Campaign Leading Change in 2022, hopefully in person. 

Posted at 12:30 pm

"I think you need to look at both the cause and the symptom. If you want people to feel less burned out and less stressed and less anxious, perhaps try giving them less work to do. I think as the economy reopens, it's a good time to review, what are people's workloads? Because that's where a lot of problems start."

—Jonathan Sanchez, director of corporate relations, Diageo

"Having come through what we've experienced in 2020, I think more companies are starting to look at the whole people versus profit focus. And I think more companies now are going to say, people are our priority at the end of the day, because if we don't take care of them then productivity and performance will suffer, and ultimately as company it is not sustainable. For a long-term sustainable strategy, it has to be something that doesn't just fizzle out when things are back to normal. It has to be something that they continue to focus on and bring to the fore and make sure they have in place the right policies."

—Mandy Wong, MD, TBWA Singapore 

“A lot of companies are investing in the mental health aspect of their employees, and they are more willing to spend right now compared to previous years. But there is really a danger that after the pandemic is over, companies will say, 'OK, it's time to grow again, therefore we need to slash our spending on the wellbeing budget'. We are quite concerned, but I'm glad to say that a lot of our clients, in fact, are putting in programs that are more sustainable. Now they're putting in the budget to create a program to help employees understand the importance of mental health. They want to build that inside the employee, so that when that budget is being slashed in the future, it shouldn't impact the employees. They are putting the skills and the ownership and the techniques into the employee."

—Evelyn Chue, chief passionista, Eunoia 


Posted at 12.30 pm

"It is important that before companies start putting their brands forward that they have their corporate house in order. For any brand to participate, the non-consumer facing portion of their business, IE for their own employees, needs to be fully supportive of all things in the equality space. [They need this] before they start putting anything from a consumer-facing perspective forward."

"We want to give brands the latitude to start doing something from day one...but it is important that they have a plan moving forward for how they will support Pride and equality moving forward. They shouldn't be just looking to put a rainbow poster on their Instagram account, it needs to be consistent with their corporate values and have long-term sustainable investment in place."

—Eric Thomson, global marketing director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers

Posted at 12.00 pm 

"The worst thing we could do about this amazing thing called purposeful marketing is thinking about the two or three minute ad for some award show that my peer group will measure and make me feel good, but really won't matter to consumers or as a marketers. Unless purpose is part of the business model ... its that little tab that lives quarter-to-quarter and becomes a nice-to-do thing or ends up as a three-minute woke-washing item." 

—Rupen Desai, global CMO, Dole 

"This topic has become more important, but traditionally this discussion has focused on the creative aspects--what is your brand purpose and how is it reflected in the creatives you make. Increasingly, we are putting a lens onto the conversation is this idea of intentional investment. It's about the investment decisions a marketer or brand can take on their media plans to really support building a more diverse ecosystem that gives voice to under-represented groups." 

—Anita Munro, chief investment officer, Mindshare 

"We have to get away from the copy-paste syndrome that we derive from the west. Yes, it is great to copy-paste marketing best practices if that is happening there ... we need to elevate the conversation, because if we don't we have nothing else to refer but black lives matter." 

—Arvinder Gujral, managing director, SEA. Twitter 

Posted at 10.25 am

"One of the challenges is, if you are not Google or Facebook, you are going to suffer from not being on the radar of these [engineering] students. They are not going to find these roles at agencies they probably have never heard of, they may not even think they could consider a career in marketing comms even though they are trained as an engineer...There needs to be a rethink about how you promote yourself, and looking at opportunities that are more apprenticeship-driven, for example."

—ShuFen Goh, cofounder and principal, R3

"You can go to an engineering school, you can go to a public health school...the diversity of talent isn’t just on the usual gender and ethnicity, it's also about a diversity of backgrounds and ways of thinking.

"All companies need to focus on that employer branding piece, and as part of that branding, it is important to offer people a decent salary. Sorry to say, my experience in the advertising industry, the salary is not great, not until you get to a certain level. But also this idea of what is your life going to be about when you work in this industry? I loved working in advertising and communications, I thought it was super fun. Young people really are very mission-driven, purpose-driven. How are you going to help them explore and innovate?"

—Hsien-Hsien Lei, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce

"If we look at our industry, who's suffering the most in terms of this fight for talent? It would be the agencies. Why? Because we pay really poorly at the start."


Posted at 10:20 am

"What the last year-and-a-half has shown us is, if any of us have ever used a diversity playbook, now is probably the time to put that aside. It is such a completely different time.

"We have to react in a really thoughtful manner. And so some of the things that we've done in the past may not be as applicable to what we do and also do what feels right for your specific culture. When something has worked somewhere else, use that as inspiration. But custom-, custom-, customize it. Because if it feels like an off the shelf solution that we've just tried to slap on top of it, it won't have the impact and it will feel that way."

—Hermon Ghermay, global chief cultural officer, Mediabrands

Tuesday June 8

Posted at 5:20pm

"We need to do what makes us laugh the loudest and cry the hardest. When you put your heart into what you do, you will go through big swings of emotions. But you will also walk through life with a little bit of bounce, and a lot more sparkle, especially during tough times. And boy, last year was really tough.

"When I have a very bad day, I always say, today I worked, tomorrow will be better. To achieve more than what you've ever set out to do, you've got to live on the edge, you've got to test the boundaries, and then push. You'll never know what's out there otherwise. If you're given a platform, take advantage of it by speaking your truth. If you're not given a platform, create one for yourself, for your team and for your organisation. Speak up and make sure you are heard.

—Elly Puyat, CEO, Ogilvy Philippines

Posted at 5 pm

"One way that corporates can really make a big difference is when they think about what they are really good at, and find a way to use that to strengthen the capacity of a non-profit. Non-profits really struggle because there is a huge reluctance to spend money or put manpower behind anything that could be considered an administrative expense. The challenge with that is charities are often forced to be so lean that their infrastructure really doesn’t support the kind of impact that they want to have and their systems, processes are not very efficient or even effective. Just like a for-profit business needs to invest in building up their organisational capacity, so do non-profits. Oftentimes when a for-profit company comes along and brings that capacity-building to the charity, it makes all the difference. I am thinking about areas such as IT and technology, HR and training, systems design and management consulting, and any areas of specific expertise—including and especially marketing and communications."

—Alia Eyres, CEO, Mother’s Choice

Posted at 3:45 pm

"Flexibility really has to be built around outputs and not inputs. When we think about flexibility in terms of time, be that days or hours worked, we're thinking very much around the inputs that people are bringing in. We need to change the debate to talking about the outputs that people are delivering on."

—Jennifer Woollford, fouder and director, Neon Leaders, making a case that flexible working arrangements (not just WFH!) can help companies boost their diversity in many aspects.

Posted at 3:40 pm

Some reactions to the findings of our fifth DEI survey

"We still have have a long way. ... There is a lot of effort being made, and there is a lot more awareness. Looking at the results of this survey, I would say it is a long journey and there is lot of distance to cover."

—Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO APAC, GroupM

"I find it quite confronting and disappointing that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked." 

—Leigh Terry, CEO APAC, Mediabrands

"I don't think there is a lack or intent or awareness, but perhaps there is a lack of expertise. The whole DEI area is not where you can have ad-hoc champions like you used to in the early days--you need domain specialists—people who have understood and handled complex situations across markets." 

—Ashish Bhasin, CEO, APAC, Dentsu

Posted at 3:30 pm

Campaign Asia-Pacific has just published a feature-length article exploring the results of the DEI survey, which was revealed at the start of the Women Leading Change conference.

Campaign-Kantar DEI survey: Policies in place, but genuine change yet to be seen
EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH: Our annual report, now in its fifth year, is yet another sombre snapshot of gender and racial equity in the marcomms industry amid an ongoing mental-health crisis. But some small improvements occur.

Campaign Asia

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