Gunjan Prasad
Jul 14, 2015

Jakarta City Spotlight: Experimentation and entrepreneurship (Part 2)

JAKARTA – In this second part of our spotlight on the advertising and marketing industry in Jakarta, we explore some of the big opportunities and challenges in Indonesia’s capital.

Many advertising professionals in Jakarta are entrepreneurs on the side
Many advertising professionals in Jakarta are entrepreneurs on the side

You can read part one of this city spotlight, here: Happiness, celebrity endorsements and the rise of boutique shops are just some of the traits that define Jakarta's advertising and marketing landscape.

Growing experimentation

“Indonesia is one of our key markets globally,” says Jo Semidang, corporate marketing director at Samsung Indonesia. “The market has low penetration of many consumer electronics such as air conditioners, smartphones and washing machines. With a growing middle class and the size of the population, potential to grow is still very high compared to other markets.”

According to a report by McKinsey & Company (The evolving Indonesian consumer), across most product categories, Indonesians are not only faithful to brands but also show a strong preference for local brands, and most consumers are not actively looking to switch. Despite valuing brand loyalty, however, consumers are becoming increasingly experimental in Indonesia.

“What is unique about the Indonesian consumers is that they are willing to experiment with products, brands and content,” says Yogesh Anand, director of marketing for chocolates, Asia at Mondelez International. “While at one end of the spectrum there are traditional Indonesian food habits, on the other there is a growing trend towards adopting new tastes and experiences which opens the door for up-trading consumers.”

A common issue across the region, Jakarta is not immune to the talent challenge, where the demand for quality talent outstrips the supply. According D.D 'Lulut' Asmoro, CEO, JWT Indonesia, even as late as ten years ago, advertising was a fairly unknown industry, with no status attached to it. 

With a few exceptions, such as Irfan Ramli of Hakuhodo, Dini Makmum, ex-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and Anne Ridwan of Leo Burnett, heads of most other international agencies are expatriates. Given the rapid pace at which the country is moving, the “bules”—local term for foreigners—aren’t complaining.

Indonesia is one Samsung's key global markets

“Except for the traffic, I love being an advertising professional in Jakarta. It’s a large market for Y&R and I am honored to lead it here. We have a large group with four companies and plenty of opportunity,” says Matthew Collier, group CEO at Y&R Indonesia.

Entrepreneurial spirit 

Indonesians have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and are not afraid to jump into new experiences and take on a new challenges. “Most of my young creatives have interesting side jobs like making furniture, specialty foods, music, graffiti, and running restaurants,” says Joseph Tan, CEO of Lowe Indonesia. “Piggybacking on this inherent eagerness to work for themselves, a lot of individual investors are offering kick-start funds to promising advertising professionals to start their own ventures.”

Agencies such as Bujuk Rayu, The 1984 and Pantarei have been started by former creative stars and are doing project-based work for a good mix of traditional and new clients including Google and Toko Bagus (an ecommerce site).

That said, there exists a crop of young creative talent that is slowly injecting a fresh approach into advertising, riding on the wave of social media explosion in Indonesia (it has the world’s fourth-largest Facebook population). Many have been educated abroad or have experience of working in overseas markets. The pack is lead by Roy Wisnu, Indonesia’s prodigal son, who recently took over the creative reins of Lowe Indonesia, after doing some award-winning work across the globe. Havas’s Roy Sagala, Bates’ Satriono Kartodimedjo and JWT’s Ivan Hady Wibowo are other names to look out for.

But then, of course, with good talent come the challenge of poaching. “There are times when agencies are ready to quadruple salaries to get the right talent,” says Tan.


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