Staff Reporters
Feb 13, 2020

WFA promotes David Porter to APAC chief, plans new Asia Leadership Board

Porter replaces Mundipharma's Sameer Desai who previously held the WFA's top regional role.

WFA promotes David Porter to APAC chief, plans new Asia Leadership Board

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has appointed David Porter, Unilever's vice-president of global media for APAC & Africa, as its new regional vice president for Asia-Pacific. He replaces Sameer Desai, Global Head of Consumer Healthcare at Mundipharma, who steps down after four years in the role but will continue working with the WFA.

Porter previously served as APAC chair of WFA's Media Forum. With more than 40 years of industry experience in both agency and in-house roles, Porter oversees one of the largest media budgets in the region at Unilever. 

In his new capacity, Porter will play a central role in shaping WFA’s first Asia Leadership Board, which will start operating later this year. The new Board aims to create a regional agenda for change with brand marketers alongside their agency and media partners. The WFA says its launch reflects a need to address unique challenges that marketers face in the region such as capability development and limited resources. 

Companies represented on the board include current members of the WFA global executive committee such as AirAsia, CIMB, Mundipharma, Singapore Tourism Board and Unilever, with the full list to be announced soon.

“This is an important period of transition for our members, who are reshaping around agile working and data-driven marketing. They face multiple external challenges, particularly in the digital marketplace. I hope to keep up the high standards set under Sameer Desai’s leadership and, through initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, to make sure that brands’ voices are heard as we help to steer the digital ecosystem towards a safer, more accountable and sustainable future,” Porter said in a release.

Sameer Desai

The WFA says its members still overwhelmingly (72%) see Asia-Pacific as a critical source of growth for their brands in the coming years. About a quarter of WFA’s meetings now take place in APAC, with member forums held in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Singapore in 2019. 

Singapore is hosting WFA’s biggest annual event, Global Marketer Week, originally scheduled for 2020 but rescheduled to  April 20-23, 2021 following government recommendations relating to the coronavirus outbreak.

“APAC has become more and more important for global brands over the last three decades – driven by a growing middle class that is increasingly digital-savvy and innovation-hungry. In updating our leadership team for APAC, we want to recognise both the importance of the region but also to ensure we are better placed to address the unique opportunities and challenges faced by our members. Sameer’s contributions to our growth in Asia have given us a strong foundation in the region and we look forward to building on that with David in this role,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of WFA.

"Having doubled the number of our Asian and Asia-based members [in the past four years] has allowed us to have a critical voice in global discussions. We could not have asked for a better person than David to take over the baton of the APAC leadership," Desai added. 

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