A day of madness, laughter, and a little technology.


September 13 is not just International  Chocolate Day. This September 13, about 170 delegates huddled at the Sime Darby Convention Centre for the annual Malaysian Media Conference (MMC), as the event entered its 16th year.

The theme MarTech’s Love-Hate with Media and Marketing tackled the world of MarTech and tickled the imagination of delegates for its balanced perspectives and exploration of AI, IoT and more…

MMC is when industry players gather once a year to revisit pain points, trajectory thinking, tech tools, and everything in between.

As automation and math collide, we are in an era of abundant marketing power supercharged by AI. The pain and pleasure of that power is not going away.

Is it even possible to love technology while shielding ourselves from the things we fear about it? The Malaysian Media Conference openly debated this dilemma in an honest and though provoking way.

Opening Keynote Speaker Ranganathan Somanathan, Co-Founder & Curator of RSquared Global Ventures laid the roadmap for the discussion as he dissected with pros and cons the theme “MarTech’s Love-Hate with Media and Marketing” to set the tone for the day.

Spotlight Sessions

Next came the popular 20-mins power Q&A sessions with 3 marketing leaders, all winners of the Malaysian CMO Awards, spotlighting them front and centre with direct questions from MARKETING magazine. Random questions were posed to the speakers who answered in a rapid-fire format. Delegates kept their note pads ready, as these quick exchanges were both fleeting and fascinating.

Spotlight Speaker 1, Datuk Lai Shu Wei – Chief Marketing & Sales Officer of Sime Darby Property, took on some bid questions with his trademark charm delighting the audience with personal take  on…

Do you think customer service and marketing requires the same attention?   

How has the home buying journey been since you join Sime Darby Property?   

How are you deploying Martech in your challenges?

Having works across many categories, what is the biggest marketing challenge you’ve faced?   

Can you tell us about your real-time customer journey tracking system?

Spotlight Speaker 2, Linda Hassan – Group CMO, Malaysian, Singapore & Cambodia for Domino’s, always the crowd favourite, addressed the role of MarTech and how it affected her business directly…

How do you track and measure customer experience across various media channels?   

Top marketing skill you look for in a team member?

What do you expect from the brand and data team in leveraging MarTech?

What is your most successful brand+data collaboration that produced best results

What is your favourite way to de-stress after a long day?

And finally, Spotlight Speaker 3 Chan May Ling – Head of Brand & Marketing Services at  CelcomDigi, was put on the spot (in the blinding light) for 20 minutes….

At the end of last year, Axiata Group Berhad and Digi.com Berhad completed the merger of Celcom and Digi. The two telcos not only form the single largest mobile telco in the country but also the largest local-listed technology company on Bursa Malaysia.

Before joining CelcomDigi, May Ling spent more than two years as CMO of KFC Malaysia. Her challenge at CelcomDigi is to help build the first telco superbrand in Malaysia…

With two brands in one basket, how do you work with your respective agencies moving forward?

What strategies are used to retain and engage customers during the brand fusion process?

What marketing possibilities do you see as the No.1 telco now?

What strengths do each brand bring to the table, or you think of all the strengths as one.

Everything, Anything, Nothing.

The morning panel discussion was titled: Thinking Out Loud- Everything, Anything, Nothing.    PREAMBLE: Media Owners play a pivotal role in the marketing ecosystem as drivers and investors in a very competitive and sometime brutal landscape.

The constant challenge for them is to get their platform in front of those who decide how to deploy and spend money with them.

Media decision makers on the other hand are hounded like moving targets to the point of irritation, and fatigue levels are high.

We triangulated a marketer, media person and creative/client management person in a 3-way discussion scripted to explore how peace and happiness is possible in a business environment that does not help, by adding more to more…     

Starring: Neal Pravin Joseph (Mindshare Group), Victoria Chu (VMLY&R) and Chayenne Tan (Standard Chartered Bank). Moderated by the charismatic VK Sailendra,  Founder of Visual Retale.

Over the later part of lunch, delegates were treated to a special screening of winning campaigns from Cannes Lions, AdFest and some old footage of timeless creative gems.

The AI Solution

Lunch, Weldon Fung, Area Director for SEA at Meltwater hit the stage for an inspiring session on “The AI Solution to Marketing & Communication Plot Challenges.”

PREAMBLE: From Skynet to Her; AI has been popularised as either a doomsday or a human like partner. The reality is that it’s somewhere in the middle. Machines have been solving human problems and issues for ages, and most of it has been for manual and tedious work.

But just as the title foreshadows, what if machines could do more including augmenting our creative and intellectual spark? From a writer’s block, to analysing your creative output to even helping you co-create your creative output, AI is on its way to help.

Power of Generative AI

Then came the turn for Netcore to flesh out the topic: How to Harness the Power of Generative AI in MarTech… some of the key takeaways…

Generative AI delivers customer delight at much higher levels through hyper personalisation

Gen AI helps brands and marketers Ideate (create content, campaigns, journeys, segments, etc.) and Accelerate (high efficiency and much faster experimentations at scale).

To ensure that generative AI doesn’t breed complacency or over-dependence, it should be strategically harnessed to enhance communication, ideation and cognitive functions. Humans may still need to work with Generative AI to make it more organised get the best outputs.

The lineup was moderared by Triton Dsouza – Senior VP, SEA Netcore Cloud and featured panelists Salihah Noh – Head of Digital at Boost; Azeem Abu Bakar – MD of FMT News; and Benny Chee – Co Founder & CEO of Mulaaa.

Power of Content

And finally, Audience2Media discussed the topic of The Power of Content Made Meaningfully.

PREAMBLE: In an era where technology has reshaped the landscape of media and advertising, the quest for meaningful content has taken centre stage. This panel presented a curated discussion encapsulating the dynamic interplay between technological advancements, ethical considerations, and the pursuit of authentic engagement in today’s media ecosystem.

Moderated by Audience2Media’s Brand Solutions Director Gurmeet Gill with panelists Tony Laskar, CEO of BCMA; Melwinder Gill, VP Asia of Audience2Media; Saiful Ameen Harun, Lead, Digital Strategy & Performance for TNB; Liana Jasmin, Head, Corporate Branding & Marketing at KWSP; and Ken Yap, General Manager of iMoney.

MarTech – Boon or Bane

The highlight of the day was an hour-long debate: a robust but light-handed pros and cons argument on MarTech as it invades everything we know. There is no right or wrong in this debate, but we bring all points to the fore in a lively, table thumping session in the name of good fun and discovery.

TEAM BOON (in the affirmative):

Stanley Clement – CEO of MBCS.
Eileen Ooi – CEO, OMG.
Darren Yuen – CEO, Initiative Malaysia.    

TEAM BANE (in the negative):   

Kshitij Pradeep – Head of Digital Strategy, Publicis Malaysia.
Chen Shi Yen – Strategy Director, Mindshare Group Malaysia.
Arqam Tabani – Strategy Director, Mindshare Group Malaysia


To say that this session was exciting is and understatement. Electrifying is the word. Sparks flew, there was much power play, sudden jumping into the fray, microphone grabbing and there was even a hammer in between.

After all the fun and fury, Team Boon edge out Team Bane in the final count by micro-points. Best Speaker went to Eileen Ooi, and close runners-up were Stanley Clement and Arqam Tabani.

A special Thank You to our sponsors, supporters and friends, notably Audience2Media, Meltwater, Netcore, Zoomer Media, Visual Retale and RUP.

“To de-stress, I like to drive fast. I still have my Mazda RX8, dressed in Yakuza stickers.”

Linda Hassan – Group CMO, Malaysian, Singapore & Cambodia for Domino’s.

“I see many of you are lying. Of course, you use AI in some way or another in your work.”

Weldon Fung – Area Director SEA, Meltwater.

“After a long day, I chill on truncated 10-12 minute versions of movies I haven’t watched.”

Gurmeet Gill – Brand Solutions Director, Audience2Media.

“At SDP, from viewing the home to getting the loan approval, and everything along that ecosystem, can be done online.”

Datuk Lai Shu Wei – Chief Marketing & Sales Officer,

Sime Darby Property.

“You can be in Singapore, yet manage and deliver to expectations for a client in South Africa, being in a geographical location is not a box to tick.”

Ranganathan Somanathan – Co-Founder & Curator, RSquared Global Ventures.

“On a proposal to a client, one by our contractor with over 20 years of experience, and another one done using ChatGPT by a recent inhouse hire, and…. the client picked the AI version!”

Azeem Abu Bakar – Managing Director, FMT News.

“I have things in my life that gives me balance, like my collection of computer games, that go back to Atari days.”

Saiful Ameen Harun – Lead, Digital Strategy & Performance, TNB.

“MarTech need not run your business, but it can certainly boost it along with your life; there’s no escaping it.”

Triton Dsouza – Senior VP, SEA Netcore Cloud.

“We’ve policies in place, in that agencies and media owners are entitled to what they are entitled to.”

Chayenne Tan- Head of Marketing, Consumer & Private Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia.

“Even ChatGPT doesn’t just churn out stuff; it depends very much on how specific you are in your prompts.”

Eileen Ooi – CEO, Omnicom Media Group Malaysia.

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

Campaign entries must have run between June 2023 to May 2024

Submissions Deadline
30th June 2024

APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
11th – 12th July 2024 (Malaysia)


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