Eventually, the rain comes and true colours shine

Time to take stock of what’s making you stumble.

This piece was the Cover Story of Marketing Weekender Issue 304

I’m done with doom.

So I reached out to some people who keep me going in this business.

Respectfully, I have edited their responses to fit the flow here.

Personally, I believe there are too few critical thinkers in our industry, the bosses are mostly the ones who have an opinion.

This is sad, as business success is about managing risks and that includes risky ideas.

While politics has been fueling eyeballs, essentially it is a daily distraction. With no immediate consequences to all and sundry.

There is a clear “overload” to our senses.

Marketers know that a news cycle lasts mere hours, and distraction is different from disruption and that consumers want a “break” more than anything else.

Today’s messaging is a real time dialogue. But all that big talk about interactivity was never realised by digital. Not the way it was hyped up anyway.

We need a new narrative.

One that is more hopeful than the one we are living in now. I sense a Marketing Utopia coming on…. a turning point…as we reinvent…yes, call me mad…

But first, listen to what my friends have to say ….

Henry Tan – Group CEO, Astro

So much has changed since the time I was a “frontliner” in advertising and marketing. But core principles remain.

The real gold is not data or more data, but actionable insights.

For best results, effectiveness must precede efficiency. No point doing or buying cheap if it’s not in the right direction or strategy.

Buying and selling will never go out of fashion, but the means to do so is changing. And on that note, results or
sales is the ultimate goal.

Today the 3 points are essential reminders and the means to do so are made easier though digital technology. Easier timely access to data for insights which requires some human decision and judgement.

With increasing digital capabilities, the temptation is to do more which we need to resist, to put doing right first. Again, this requires some human decision. Let’s not forget, at the core, buying and selling is a human activity and ultimately advertising and marketing is to help us sell better.

This is what addressable advertising aims to do – using data to target right to help make more sense and sales.

Watch this space!

Spencer Lee – CEO, BIG Loyalty

After being cooped up for so long, people are ready to get out and we’re bullish that demand for travel and social activities will increase.

We’ve been expanding our services in the fintech, edutech and eCommerce sectors, offering food delivery, ride-hailing, grocery shopping, beauty products and travel bookings.

Local businesses have been more important in the last one year than ever before. This pandemic also accelerated our effort towards enhancing our platform to support local businesses and this will continue after lockdown.

Claudian Navin Stanislaus – Head Of Communication & Consumer Marketing, Baba Products and VP, Malaysian Advertisers Association

The pandemic and multitude of other upheavals have left a trail of black where once was grey. However, if we take a step back from it all, there’s positivity to be found amidst all this gloom.  For one, we’ve never in our lifetimes craved to physically wanting to go back to work as much as we do now.

eCommerce, has seen a boom too, and while it’s still left to be seen if the trend continues when things clear, we’ve begun to see its potential. Many have taken the entrepreneual plunge too, admittedly more from need than indulgence.

And most important of all we’ve seen people put differences aside and even corporations putting profits aside to help our own at this time of need. Are these not all the right ingredients?

Rather than hoping for that Marketing Utopia, can’t we strive to make it so? 

Nizam Sani – Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Bank Rakyat

Customer preference and behaviour change daily with marketers having to personalize more and more post pandemic, as customers become used to the new norm. Marketers cannot assume that today’s customers will remain customers tomorrow. Understanding the needs and wants of today’s customer will be key to tomorrow’s success.

Sue-Anne Lim – CEO, Trapper Media Group

Marketing is a key business activity to revive the economy – it lets money circulate.

If our private sector is the engine of recovery then marketing is the fuel. Local brands need to be more confident in investing in marketing and finding the right partners who can deliver on growth.

Let’s consider this as a market reset, every time we emerge from a full lockdown – everyone is on the same starting line. The pandemic has pretty much equalised all brands and businesses and the ones who can evolve quickly and sustainably will win.

Marketing Utopia sounds like an end destination of what marketing ought to be. I think marketing is always evolving because people are always evolving. As we recover from the pandemic, there’s only one marketing fundamental that will never change – keeping our eyes peeled on consumers’ new behaviour, motivations, thoughts that are constantly influenced by their environment and circumstances.

I look forward to uncharted waters – whatever worked in the past is in the past – the future presents new ways of doing things.

Dato’ Johnny Mun – CEO, Oxygen Advertising & Senior Advisor, Association of Accredited Advertising Agents

Being stuck in the house with the work from home directive has got me reflecting on how the industry has evolved through the years.

With the digital age comes a wealth of information available to us on demand. We have software to help us craft the most beautiful pictures that would have otherwise taken us days to draw and assemble. We have spell check software to eradicate mistakes and we have the benefit of using social media to validate our ideas.

So, what are we missing? Are we producing better materials than our gurus of yore? More effective communication that sells and not just wow?

We should be doing that by all counts, considering that these past gurus operated during a period sans the convenience we enjoy now.

Yet they produced such memorable pieces and campaigns that we still use as case studies to this day. How many pieces of present day work is worthwhile, that one can instantly recall and is worth chatting about?

Take a peek into the financials of the agencies and what do we see? Common grouses would be reduced budgets and lower fees.

Personally, I think we have had a great run the past 50 years.

What could possibly go wrong?

Covid 19. 

Perhaps it is HIS majestic intervention and grace to wake us up to today’s harsh realities.

A very realistic and probable scenario is the implosion in the ad industry. The exorbitant salaries demanded by hires are just going to prove too prohibitive for many agencies.

What will the future be?

In my opinion, the future adman is akin to a great magician.

He or she will play multiple roles, aside from the present day title specific assignments. He or she needs to be a suit to help clients with business solutions and armed with creative competencies with the abilities to provide quick and effective fixes.

The future adman will, above all, be a master coordinator if you like. He must be indispensable as far as the clients are concerned. He is not a Jack of all Trades but a master of all and the partner in need.

 Agencies will also need to volunteer to be accountable for all of their  work and take ownership if things go afoul.

Cheong May Yeen – Marketing Manager, Etika

The market is forecasted to rebound as restrictions ease with continuous massive-scale vaccinations, but it will still be an uphill battle to reach pre-COVID-19 peaks. Consumers may have the urge to splurge post-pandemic and undertake “revenge spending” from savings during the pandemic.

This may be rampant when they return to activities like gatherings and dining-out; joys they missed during the pandemic. I feel this will drive quicker recovery in industries like on-premise businesses, local tourism, entertainment, etc.

When the economy shows signs of recovering, most companies will be pressured and expected to close the gap of their initial revenue target. Acceleration in productivity, increase of marketing programs and resumption of delayed and on-hold launches to drive market excitement are all anticipated.

Datuk Michael Chan – Executive Director & CEO at Media Prima OMNIA

Our new playbook must drive growth post Covid-19 with a new marketing reality that embodies a blend of marketing as an art and a science — highlighting the confluence of strategy, operations and technology.

Embracing this new reality will be the path for brands to recover and build long term success.

In short, this is the time for marketers to exercise “trust” opportunities and create brand attachments that will deliver dividends for the company in the coming future.

Perhaps it is time for marketers to move beyond crisis management, it has been two years, and harness missed opportunities by creating value for customers.

By becoming better strategists and valued partners together, we can all sail into the future in one unsinkable vessel.

Bala Pomaleh – CEO, Mediabrands Malaysia

Marketing principles are straightforward. Marketing itself is not. It is a space that continues to evolve, and the idea of a marketing utopia isn’t a destination, but a journey.

As marketers, we look at ways in which to achieve marketing success in today’s hyperactive and always-on world. By being fluid and considering how we reach and connect with our audience through new innovations and products, we are meeting a need (sometimes one that isn’t known yet).

The rapid confluence of technology and data means traditional roles are getting even more blurred.

Machine learning algorithms and AI influences marketers, consumers, and society in many ways, some of which raise privacy concerns that we constantly need to address.

However, we will also see how these advances are being leveraged for the good of society and help address some of our biggest global challenges. The journey ahead brings much advancement in the marketer’s sphere, and I for one, am excited!

Shaun Tay – Co-Owner & CEO, FCB Group Malaysia

It gets you thinking…what is Utopia? I define it as the blessed ability to shrug off the bullshit and just focus on getting things done.

If life has taught me anything…it’s that one should not waste time whining about the unfairness of the cards dealt or expend energies pontificating the glorious What Ifs of missed opportunities.

If anything positive is going to happen it will be because we refused to be beaten and we realise that we’re still ever capable, ever willing to claw our way to the finish line with tooth, fang and no small amount of ballsyness.

See you at the top!

In conclusion, I wish to applaud the Outdoor Advertising Association of Malaysia (OAAM) for its Malaysia Day CSR campaign #message4Malaysia featuring quotes from industry leaders and sparking positive conversations. In the biggest collaboration of out-of-home players, the campaign is running across 440 DOOH screens and supported by 22 media owners. Click here for more.

MARKETING Magazine is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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)


Download Event PDF
Submit Entries Here

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising scene