HAMBUSHED: Etika’s Ruban picks his favourite brand and shares the new wave of marketing


HAMBUSHED Ruban(marketingmagazine.com.my) – By: Malati Siniah

“Go Big or Go Home” Is how Santharuban T. Sundaram or better known as Ruban, approaches marketing. His impact driven marketing strategies have worked time and time again winning various accolades including a Gold and Silver award at this year’s APPIES Malaysia, a Gold Effie in 2014, MMA Advertiser of the Year 2015, and Marketer of the Year at the AMEA 2015 awards.

No stranger to the marketing game Ruban has been in the industry for about 14 years starting off his career in media then shifting over to the client’s side working with Celcom Axiata and now Etika Holdings (formerly Permanis) where he has been for 7 years.

Currently, Group Marketing Manager of Etika, Ruban is in charge of brand marketing, events and sponsorship, public relations as well as new product development for brands like Wonda, Calpis, Goodday, Mountain Dew, Revive, Tropicana and Pepsi. Most recently he was in the news for successfully growing the value share of its latest entrant Calpis from a 0.5% value share in December 2015 to 5.3% value share in April 2016. He did this by tying up with key influencers including Yuna and Harith Iskandar and creating buzz-worthy creatives in the local dailies.

We HAMBUSHED this busy marketer and made him pick his favourite brand and give us a sneak peek to his session at the much anticipated Chief Marketing Officer’s Conference on September 6th.

You have spent some time on the media side having been with ntv7, NSTP and WOW FM, how has your experience there helped your decision-making process today, sitting on the client side?

I must say that it has indeed been a great help! My days with media entities have certainly helped me to understand and use media effectively and creatively.

When you are with the marketing team of a media owner, you not only have tonnes of inventory to use, which cuts your marketing cost to almost zero (when you market within the same channel), you also have the opportunity to experiment and try new things which you may not necessarily be able to do when you are with an advertiser.

Why? This is because the risk that comes along with the cost is far too high…

While working with ntv7 and NSTP, I was given enough opportunities to use TV and print creatively, especially for our own in-house campaigns and advertisers. These learnings have been valuable to me. Having come from that background, today almost my entire team is made up of personnel from either a media owner or an ad agency.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I would say keeping tabs of the ever-changing and evolving media and consumer landscape. From product development to brand building as well as marketing and communications, what’s relevant last year may be obsolete in a year.

In today’s environment keeping up with the change is the challenge but THAT it is also the key.
If you follow the age old marketing textbook and focus on how thick a line should be, what kind of Pantone colour should be used and go on with debates of whether the logo should be on the left or right corner of the poster THIS is no longer going to help build brands or create awareness.

If you had to pick your favourite brand what would it be and why?

Tough one! I love them all, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Wonda.

Wonda is a testament of how doing things differently and focusing on engagement, innovation and creativity ahead of sheer numbers and reach can bear fruit. I would pick Wonda as it is a brand built on innovative and differentiated marketing. A model that we have replicated for some of our other product launches post Wonda.

You run multiple brands, what is your management style when keeping tabs on what’s going on with each brand?

The key to this is empowerment. Getting the right people to do the job, trusting them and empowering them. It is a culture practised by the management of Etika. I have a very empowering boss and management team, as well as a very responsible and capable team who progressively updates me.

What was the last beverage you had before answering this question?


From drones to Augmented Reality there have been plenty of new technologies revealed in the past year. You have been using it yourself especially for brands like Mountain Dew . What is the next form of technology on your radar?

Something fresh and new for sure. Anything that I can think of at the moment, would most likely be obsolete and irrelevant by the time I’m done with this question. We live in a fast-paced technological era. Something new will be born tomorrow, and hopefully, we will be fast enough to be the first that lay our hands on it.

At our upcoming CMO conference, you will be speaking on Real Lessons from Malaysian Product Launches. Could you give us a teaser on your upcoming session?

It would be a session to share some of our learnings and experience in developing, launching, marketing and sustaining a new product in the marketplace. What worked for us, why we did it, and how we overcame the challenges that came our way.

Want to meet Ruban in person to discuss your thoughts? Join us this September 6th at our annual Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Conference where you can learn from and discuss with industry leaders about this ever evolving yet exciting industry. For more details head here

HANDO speaker

The 5th Malaysian Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Conference is a full day journey into the minds of some of the sharpest and most inspiring minds in the business.

The market is in a state of flux. Media fragmentation has gone wild. Digital is exciting but also a minefield if handled wrong. Marketers need stamina, focus and a scalable approach to strategies. ROI has never been more confusing.

Hear from these dynamic and feisty brand leaders on how they are facing the New Realities:


• Loh Keh Jiat – CMO, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
• Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz – MD & CEO, Hong Leong Islamic Bank Berhad
• Sulin Lau – Head of Marketing Services, Maxis
• Cyril Dhenaut – Head of Marketing, KFit
• Timothy Johnson – Senior VP of Marketing, INTI International University & Colleges
• Eric Wong – Marketing Director, IBM Malaysia
• Srikanth Ramachandran – Executive Director, Moving Walls
• Spencer Lee – Head of Commercial, AirAsia Berhad
• Bala Pomaleh – CEO, IPG Mediabrands
• Rachel Lim – Co-Founder of Love, Bonito
• Edward Ling – Sales Manager, Waze Malaysia
• Santharuban T. Sundaram – Group Marketing Manager, Etika Holdings (formely Permanis) 
• Dato
Seri Vida – Founder, Pamoga & Qu Puteh
•Rafiq Razalli – CEO, Media Prima Digital Sdn Bhd 

Date: September 6th, 2016 (Tuesday)

Venue: Sime Darby Convention Centre, Jalan Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

For details, contact Ruby on 03-77262588, [email protected]

Download event PDF here

More details www.marketingmagazine.com.my/cmo2016 

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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!

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Submissions Deadline
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