By M. HAFIDZ MAHPAR
The Malaysian chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) is introducing a young professionals category and ramping up its activities, as it seeks to double its membership by year-end and boost its coffers.
President Harmandar Singh says the chapter, which has just over 40 members, aims for 80 members by the end of the year.
“We are also looking for sustainable members, not just people who sign up for one year,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.
He notes that IAA is the fastest gateway into the industry's networking scene as it is the only advertising trade association that allows for individual membership and the annual fee is relatively low at US$200 per year.
Now it is working on establishing a young professionals category, whose annual membership fee is only US$50. “This is for those age 35 years and below, and it will add to the (membership) numbers. They will be able to mingle around with the senior members,” he says.
IAA, established in 1938 as a non-profit organisation and which has 56 chapters across 76 countries, only has young professional members in certain markets. The association currently has more than 1,000 young professional members worldwide.
The Malaysian chapter plans to roll out this new membership group by year-end.
“It is like a sister chapter and can have its own executive committee and activities,” says Harmandar, who is also Marketing magazine's regional chief executive officer.
He says the young professional members would eventually progress to full membership, which allows them to be the main representatives of their organisation outside the country.
IAA Malaysia chairman (public relations) Peter de Kretser says that with the influx of digital capabilities in the communications field, a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs are starting out at a younger age. “This gives them a great opportunity to network with others in the same field.”
Harmandar says it is too early to tell how many young professional members will join the chapter, adding that in most countries, there are 30 to 50 such members.
Incidentally, earlier this year IAA Malaysia was commended at the IAA regional meeting for being the fastest-growing chapter in Asia.
On its activities for this year, Harmandar says the chapter, together with Malaysia External Trade Development Corp, is organising the inaugural Malaysian Chief Marketing Officers Conference next week.
The event, to be held in Kuala Lumpur on June 14, will be themed Empowering Malaysian Brands to Global Fame. It will feature speakers such as Celcom Axiata Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd managing director Rahul Colaco, Alliance Cosmetic Group (Silky Girl) founder Tan Thiam Hock, and Astro chief operating officer Henry Tan. The Star is a media partner.
“This is the first time we're having a serious conference dedicated to the marketing industry in the country. Our vision is to bring marketing back into the boardroom so the marketing people play a pivotal role in the company's directions and decision-making process,” he says, adding that IAA Malaysia is expected to hold the conference every year.
According to Harmandar, the conference will showcase many award-winning case studies which marketing people can learn from.
De Kretser says that IAA Malaysia also plans to start having social gatherings for members every quarter, apart from the monthly executive committee meetings.
“We hope to organise our first golf tournament in the third or fourth quarter of this year,” he says, adding that it will be an annual event.
Furthermore, IAA Malaysia is preparing its bid to host the 2014 IAA World Congress. “At the IAA regional meeting in Pattaya this year, about six countries have registered interest to be host, including Australia, India and Bahrain,” Harmandar says.
“It's going to be a busy second half of the year,” he sums up.