Listen to CEOs share at CMO Awards judging

This year’s Malaysian CMO Awards judging was recently concluded at the Sime Darby Convention Centre, KL. Nominations from several categories were received and it was indeed a tough decision for the judges to rank.

MARKETING Magazine had the chance to interview this amazing judges after the judging session on their overall opinion of the judging itself, impression on the nominations received and intriguing factor of the nominations.

Here are what the judges had to say on the CMO judging session:

Prof. John D. Chacko, President, International Advertising Association (IAA) Malaysia Chairman 45th IAA World Congress 2024, Penang

“Judging is never easy. The ability to tell your story is critical. Judges are not robots. They need to hear your human, business and brand stories that exude empathy and compassion for the plight of people. If you don’t have a real one that you can tell passionately, don’t enter.

Sure results of viewership, eyeballs, reach, volume, revenue, share are relevant but what was your brand’s real intent in the midst of the pandemic or to use that overused textbook soundbite, purpose. Do you think you fulfilled that human and business purpose? There is always room for improvement in the entries each year and we hope to encourage stronger entries every year.

As a judge, I look for examples of the truth well told of how you made a difference to people’s lives. Brave businesses and brands that put people before profit fosters Trust and must be recognised”.

Datuk William Ng, Founder & Group Publisher Business Media International Chairman, SAMENTA

“This year continues to be a watershed year for the marketing profession. The pandemic continues to create uncertainty and unpredictability; and this calls for greater creativity and courage from marketers looking to break through both the clutter and fear prevailing in the market.

This year’s entries to the Awards continue to be of very high quality and exemplifies how adversity is indeed the mother of innovation.

Congratulations to all the recipients of the awards this year”.

Dato’ Samson Anand George, Chief Operating Officer & Director KIA Malaysia Sdn Bhd

“A very well coordinated session and sufficient time was given to us with a good brief which preceded the judging process. In general, it was good and transparent.

It comes from a very wide spectrum looking at different industries and the categories of the awards were very interesting. Also, the standard, quality and personalities that have been proposed were of very high value and high quality.

I think what I’ve seen is that the level of people who are passionate towards marketing and all aspects of marketing, especially how people have managed to think out of the box and evolve in situations we have today such as post-pandemic, pre- pandemic etc. So, It is a very good touch as where I come from, we only look at macro level while here there are more micro details being managed for the good of society and the business itself”.

Santharuban T. Sundaram, Chief Executive Officer Etika Holdings Sdn Bhd

“For starters, they are industry experts and some of them are very familiar as I have judged them more than once. Also, the criterias set as well and submissions are pretty detailed. It is a rigorous process and I think it sort of guides us towards finding a worthy winner.

Well, at least from the ones I’ve seen, some of them are very seasoned marketers, good campaign execution and not really just about the campaign but it also speaks about individuals, personality, their leadership styles and all of those which contributes to success. This is because in most cases you are just judging a campaign per say and looking at the individuals from multiple facets.

I think the difference here that I have mentioned earlier is that it does not look at just the campaign. From judging many award campaigns, it has always centered around the campaign and the business result. Here, you can see a holistic view of an individual, their leadership style, how they have groomed others and processes that are set to structure their team where all these things are steps taken by an individual to build a successful marketing team and campaign.

Since Santharuban is one of the inaugural CMO winners in the past, MARKETING Magazine asked him how it feels to be on the other side of the table this time round?

Well, of course it is a totally different experience and I get to see today, inside out how my submission in the past would have been viewed. Also, looking at it from a different lens and I am honored and privileged to be part of the judging committee”.

Caryn Loh, Managing Director, Watsons Malaysia

“It was a very interesting and awesome session where I could make friends with those from different industries and the interesting part is that I expected a big group, however this time round it is confined to a smaller group. Also, those shortlisted are very talented contestants this year that amazed me.

All of them are of high quality as they have achieved a lot and I can see that their experiences are indeed vast. Also, the nominees have put in their heart and soul to provide their best to their organization”.

Karen Chan, Group Chief Commercial Officer AirAsia, Independent Non- Executive Director QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd

“It has been a very eye-opening session in terms of welcoming everybody back to this particular event. Also, the entries are very high caliber and across multiple industries. So, it is good to go and basically have that perspective again and welcome everybody back.

Quite a few actually stand out especially post covid where the ability to go do events, festival marketing campaigns and how do we actually engage consumers across multiple channels whether it is offline or online. The coming together of hybrid marketing is something here to stay. It is interesting that the trend whereby different industries and different protocols are adapting this particular method. 

There are common things across most of the campaigns we have seen which are sustainability. Nowadays, it is no longer just a brand governance statement instead how do we actually cascade the need to be environment positive. Not just in profit, but also in the way we actually interact with consumers.

This trend is actually quite well lifted up by various brands and entries that we came across. Also, an interesting fact is the creation of campaigns where they are rewarded and including children to start thinking about sustainability led by examples by parents”.

Jeffrey Seah, Partner, Quest Ventures/ Vice Chairman HEPMIL Media Group

“Chief Marketing Officer, the category itself is very wide ranging and it is very difficult to attribute something specifically to someone or take credit for it. I think the questions asked in the entry form were much vaster than they used to be. Normally, people look at what really touches the bottom line and top line which actually removes the stigma that marketing is always about cost interest. 

The nominations coming through are very comprehensive and there is also quite a bit of mention of collaboration from holders to get to the market. At the same time, putting campaigns together that they submitted was not a very sequential way of doing things. The measurements were also a bit wider ranging so that was a good sign. It further advances the impact of marketing officers overall.

There seems to be a cultish personification in each entry that they were the cult leader that brought everyone along in that journey. In reality, marketing has advanced into a place where it becomes the whole of a company’s impact.

So, more should be brought to talk about which are the results that really impacted the marketing work, and which are the collaborations partnership that they do. Whilst having an alpha influencer CMO but we cannot succeed unless you have a whole entire army behind them”.


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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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