The CMO's MO: 9 questions with dynamic APAC marketing leaders, insights and personalities revealed.
In 2018, HP hired a B2C marketer with a wealth of experience across brands like Unilever, Mars and Diageo as its JAPAC CMO. A champion of DEI, of building global workplaces with a local soul and mastering what she repeatedly calls the “art and science of marketing”, Siew Ting Foo is an innovation- and more importantly human-centric trailblazer.
With a deep understanding of a landscape as colourful and nuanced as Asia-Pacific, Siew Ting Foo doesn’t get caught up in marketing tactics – wrangle over the creative execution of each campaign, price change and debating optimisation; instead, she steps up strategically to become the innovation driver and a change maker. Her guiding principle remains what she calls M.A.G.I.C: mastery of brand, agility, growth mindset, integration with other functions, and customer journey. MAGIC is also her personal purpose, her mantra in life: to trust the human potential and bring out the best in others.
Campaign Asia-Pacific sat down with Siew Ting Foo, HP's global head of brand insights—an empathetic leader and a five-time member of our PowerList, to understand the evolving changes and challenges in store for HP, the role of AI in her marketing mix, her favourite brand (outside of HP) and campaigns she wished she was a part of. Keep scrolling.
1. What are the three biggest marketing challenges for your brand right now?
- Driving short-term demand with speed and agility.
- Balancing with longer-term brand impact and customers’ lifetime value
- Transforming our business model
2. What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?
Hybrid work transforms the way people work, play, and learn and creates the need for a ‘seamless’ experience that provides opportunities for innovation and new business models. For example, we launched a subscription service Instant Ink for our printers to provide quick replenishment of cartridges to your home when you are low on ink. In gaming, we evolve our products and find solutions by providing a seamless holistic ecosystem of products and services.
HP is a trusted brand. Big tech creates lots of irresponsibility and opportunity for us to embed HP brand culture by leveraging our strength in trust
We are big believers of DEI and sustainability and that is our DNA In how we operate.
3. 2023: survive or thrive? Elaborate.
Definitely, thrive. I am a firm believer that turbulent times or crisis creates opportunity. In my opinion, it boils down to humility and the willingness to listen with empathy to seek penetrating insights to drive new growth ideas.
4. Are you missing the AI boat? What’s your C-suite AI strategy?
It is still early days but currently, we are learning and experimenting with AI—we know that AI will start impacting the way we do business but there needs to be a holistic way of evaluating this end-to-end. In marketing, it will start impacting content production, media execution, and how we conduct research and insights—we are starting by creating used cases so that we learn, iterate and experiment with it, yet still sticking to strict brand compliance guidelines.
5. What do you feel separates your brand culture from others?
The HP Way.
We are an 80-year-old brand that founders Bill and Dave Packard started in a garage in Silicon Valley. The HP way has people at the heart of what we do, we care about the community, planet and customers we serve, and that results in multiple innovations. Today the HP brand is rooted and seen as a ‘trusted’ brand. Many of these innovations, coupled with the HP way of operating business, help lots of customers and partners progress and realise their potential around the world. With the big technology issue, there likes a huge opportunity for HP to lead the way with our people and customer-first culture by delivering innovation that contributes to humanity.
6. Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must be ….”
Siew Ting Foo with teammates
A human-centric multi-stakeholder leader. One that needs to balance the short-term business impact, together with long-term brand and shareholder value creation. Commercially astute with data (the science of marketing), yet can balance creativity, storytelling and people-driven leadership. I sum it up as the Da-Vinci CMO.
7. Tell us one personal thing about yourself that others might not know.
I paint in my downtime. It’s my ‘me-time’ and a bonding routine with my 10-year-old daughter. Painting also helps me connect with my inner self. I also keep a ‘gratitude’ journal to keep me anchored.
I also believe in people's potential and my north star is helping people unleash their potential. When people can bring their authentic selves to work, this is when their best potential is unleashed. That’s also why most people I’ve worked with remain in touch.
For the past few years I have also been actively involved in mentoring young graduates and female potential leaders both internally in the company and externally in the industry.
8. What’s your favourite brand campaign that you participated in or wish you had?
It was a brand campaign I worked on a decade back in 2013. At the time I was heading the marketing for Johnnie Walker in China. The objective was to reposition Johnnie Walker from a traditional whisky brand to make it relevant for the younger GenZ consumers. We found a penetrating insight that the progressive Chinese GenZ wants to play a role in the nation’s growth story. We developed on this insight with 12 established influencers and progressives in China and also roped in renowned local documentary filmmaker Jia Zhang Ke. The brief to this group of 12 progressives was simple: keep walking the story.
The stories were expressed in 3-minute video films and launched in digital space, it started an online movement. The campaign not only created a huge participation, increase equity, won numerous awards, and most importantly started the ‘wei dian ying’ (mini video film) trend in China.
9. Name another brand (can’t be yours) with an amazing customer experience that you really admire. Why is it great?
It is great because it is consistent everywhere globally and distinctive with a personality just for me and my family, yet has sufficient innovation velocity. Secondly, their product/services are available for all ages of the family. The purchase experience both online as well as offline is seamless and lastly, it can be personalised.