Matthew Miller
Apr 8, 2014

Marketing Society marks official APAC launch

HONG KONG - A cocktail reception in the HSBC building here tonight represents the official Asia-Pacific launch of The Marketing Society, but the organisation is already working towards its goal of providing peer connections and inspiration for the region’s marketers.

Ruth Rowan
Ruth Rowan

“We see a huge opportunity for us to spread marketing leadership to Asia, and equally for the rest of the world to learn about the leadership that is happening here,” Ruth Rowan, the society’s Asia-Pacific chair, told Campaign Asia-Pacific

In fact, the Hong Kong launch is the first step toward a longer-term goal of being the leading global network of senior marketers, Gemma Greaves, the society’s London-based global managing director, said this morning.

“We aim to have a hub in every major global city by 2017," Greaves said, adding that Singapore should have a chapter quite soon, and that the organisation is making progress toward launches in Dubai and the US. The society has a 55-year history in the UK.

“This is the beginning of an exciting journey in Asia,” Greaves said. “The society aims to lead the agenda across all areas of marketing and inspire bolder marketing leadership--we strive to deliver the things marketers need to know but don't know they need to know.” (See the society's manifesto below.)

In its first year in Asia, the society plans to sign up the region’s 100 most senior marketers, and already has more than 50 on the roles, said Rowan, whose day job is CMO for AMEA at BT Global Services. About 70 per cent of those members will be from the client side.

The Marketing Society’s Asia-Pacific steering committee

  • Ruth Rowan, CMO, AMEA, BT Global Services, as chair
  • Guy Parsonage, chief executive officer, Fluid, as vice chair.
  • Seraphina Wong, executive director, marketing communication, UBS
  • Judy Sun, executive manager, branding & programme services, HKJC
  • Erica Kerner, VP, marketing and communications, Asia Pacific, Tiffany & Co
  • Adam O'Conor, chief executive officer, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong
  • Tricia Weener, head of marketing, HSBC Asia, Business & Investment Banking, HSBC
  • King Leung, chief executive officer, Clix Ltd
  • Laura Crampton, managing director, brand and communication, FedEx
  • Sue McCusker, chief executive officer, Publicis Hong Kong 

Founding members come from companies including AIA, Bacardi-Martini, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BlackRock, BAT, BNY Mellon, Carlsberg Asia, DHL Express, Edrington, J.P. Morgan, KPMG International, LinkedIn, Manulife, SCMP, and Williams Lea and Tag Worldwide.

Rowan said she greatly valued the access to peers and thought leadership that membership in the society provided when she was based in the UK, but struggled to find a similar networking experience after relocating to Asia about three years ago. “Having worked with a lot of the bodies that are here in Asia, what makes the Marketing Society different is the seniority of the business leaders that make up the membership,” she said. “Because of that, most of the content is about business leadership and growth, and the role of marketing in driving that.”

The society will host a series of “quite intimate dinners” through the year to provide opportunities for members to build relationships and use each other as sounding boards in a frank, private environment, she said, adding that the organisation will also bring in top-level business speakers.

“We’ve taken the best of what we’re doing in the UK and are starting a hub in Hong Kong with complete autonomy,” she said. “Our objectives and manifesto will stay the same, but the society is a startup brand [in Asia] and we want to embrace the diversity here to ensure we’re reflecting the population. We also know there are topics we should be addressing that are unique to Asia.”

The initial focus on only the most senior marketers is crucial, Rowan said. “There are qualification gates to make sure members are of an equal level to each other, because there’s real value in being able to sit with other people who are leading significant marketing efforts in the region.”

As time goes on, however, the society also plans to provide opportunities for less senior marketers to get involved through its corporate memberships. These allow senior members to reward their direct reports with access to society events such as training, Greaves said, adding that the society is aiming for about 10 corporate memberships in APAC initially.

As a non-profit organisation, the society’s primary source of funding is membership. “We have a rule that we don't do anything unless it’s of value to our members,” Greaves said. Events represent a smaller source of revenue, as many are designed only to break even. The society also forms commercial partnerships with companies such as Yahoo and Shell. “We select our partners very carefully,” Greaves said. “We look to build a commercial partnership programme to give value to them and to our members.”

In celebration of its launch, and as an example of the type of content it seeks to provide, the society recently hosted an ambitious global conversation called Around the World in 24 Hours. Over the course of a single day, marketing leaders from five continentscame together over video links to discuss one question: 'What is the greatest opportunity and greatest challenge for growth in your market in the next 10 years?'.

The event drew leaders from Expedia, Live Nation, Galaxy Entertainment, HSBC, IBM, LinkedIn, McLaren and Microsoft, among others. The insights will be shared exclusively to members over the course of the year.

The Marketing Society's Manifesto

The Marketing Society launched its Manifesto for Marketing to create a framework for excellence. The manifesto starts with a definition of marketing: “to create sustainable growth by understanding, anticipating and satisfying customer need”.

The manifesto challenges marketers to do three things in order to become bolder leaders:

Pursue your purpose

  • 1.1 Define your organisation’s purpose
  • 1.2 Make sustainable growth your central aim
  • 1.3 Leave a positive legacy

Champion customers

  • 2.1 Anticipate customer needs
  • 2.2 Shape the customer experience
  • 2.3 Find creative ways to engage

Mobilise the organisation

  • 3.1 Collaborate with your peers
  • 3.2 Bring the voice of the customer into the boardroom
  • 3.3 Quantify the cost and value of your work manifesto


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