What do Asian CMOs focus on?


Nearly 83% of global CEOs see marketing as a major growth driver. According to a 2019 survey by McKinsey, this is a sea change that was beginning to emerge even before the pandemic as the function moved away from its close association with ‘advertising’ or ‘branding’. .

Fast forward to 2022, further exacerbated by the pandemic, today the true value of the CMO lies in leading the organization towards a shared vision – a vision that is in line with the changes felt by the wider community, have said marketers attending a recent roundtable hosted by INTERACTIVE-MARKETINGin partnership with CNN, titled “The New Principles of Marketing – Embracing the Future with Context, Purpose and Creativity.”

According to Singtel’s Vice President of Strategic Communications and Brand, Lian Pek, tactical marketing has become a small part of the equation. Marketing teams today need to talk about a company’s purpose and project it.

“Of course, businesses won’t exist if they don’t serve a business need, but they can no longer afford to do so exclusively. Since the pandemic, the whole mindset in the world has changed. As business leaders and citizens, companies have had to be much more proactive in caring not only for their customers, but also for their employees and communities in the face of the global health and economic crisis. Doing good and doing well, combining purpose and profit is more essential now,” Lian said.

She added that a clear distinction that has emerged post-pandemic is that consumers want to actively associate with brands that they believe have understood the challenges they have been through. As such, from a brand marketing perspective, Lian and his team believe it is so much more important to communicate what Singtel stands for as a company – its purpose and values.

“Increasingly, consumers want to know if our values ​​resonate with theirs. This will determine whether they adopt us as a brand in the long run,” she added.

Communicate in a targeted manner

But simply having a goal isn’t enough to help a brand stand out. Storytelling is key to getting your message across to your consumers, shared CNN’s Rob Bradley, senior vice president of international digital strategy and head of advertising sales for Asia Pacific and Latin America.

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Commenting on which mediums work best not only to reach audiences but also to convey a brand’s story, Bradley said that today more than 75% of CNN International’s campaigns are cross-platform, given that consumers are no longer confined to a single channel or medium.

He reiterated, however, that the real challenge for marketers is the ability to reduce clutter. “There are a lot of marketers out there who are capable of creating amazing content on their own, but it’s really hard to get it through at a consistent pace. The job of marketers has become increasingly difficult considering the myriad of platforms they have to work with and the number of different ways to tell a story,” Bradley added.

However, what CNN finds time and time again when it comes to client success stories is that those who are able to marry storytelling with results and insights from data, often come out on top. It had also led the 42-year-old company to reinvent its own offering to offer not only news, but also data, research, creative agency services, programmatic services and media buying services.

“At CNN, if you look at what we stand for, you’ll see that all of our teams, including sales, are very clear that our goal is to deliver critical information to the world using information that helps inform and make decisions. […] Even when working with our clients, we’re always looking for data to make sure the causes we’re working to promote are not just up-to-date, but have longevity,” he added.

Listening to your employees

As the COVID-19 pandemic threw much of the world into chaos, one brand that really found its voice within the community was Temasek. Temasek Public Affairs Director Lena Goh shared that amidst the pandemic, Temasek and the Temasek Foundation have really played a broader role within the community by providing masks, sanitizers, oximeters and many other equipment needed during the difficult time.

Goh added that choosing to take an active role in the community came about because many of his employees felt the need to become a corporation. “We felt that was where we needed to be and be authentic to our purpose,” she said.

“During the height of the COVID-19 period, we actually went beyond our day-to-day investing jobs to truly care for the community by partnering with organizations such as the World Food Program and our portfolio companies. such as Singapore Airlines, to send essential supplies anywhere in the world,” she added. The initiatives have resonated with the wider community it serves and have also helped Temasek gain greater brand awareness.

However, Goh added that the company did not pursue initiatives in an effort to elevate its brand, but rather listened to its wider community and staff in what was needed during this difficult time. “We felt the need to step in and do our bit for the community because it basically gave us the social license to operate. It is only when the community thrives that we can do well. It wasn’t just about making money from the investments, but rather contributing back to help the community. And that for us was priceless,” she shared.

Listening to its staff and its community has also been a way forward for the global bank BNP Paribas, which actively seeks to meet the challenges of sustainable development. According to a 2020 study by Unily, 65% of people surveyed said they were more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy, and around 57% of employees said they needed more information about their company’s environmental goals.

Speaking on the trend, Michelle Cockrill, Asia Pacific Marketing and Communications Manager for Securities Services, BNP Paribas, said many global financial institutions are now taking the climate crisis very seriously and that BNP Paribas is committed to doing better in this area. The bank has been carbon neutral since 2017 and is a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, a financial initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme.

From a marketing perspective, Cockrill said every small step counts in the right direction. “Internally, we have a defined purpose, and our people live and breathe that purpose. As a marketing team, we look at all of our marketing efforts through a sustainability lens, whether it’s offsetting the carbon footprint of our events, our commitment to ban single-use plastics, or something as simple as reducing the file size of our marketing emails. to reduce our carbon footprint,” she said.

“We’ve created this environment where people can be innovative and come up with blue sky ideas.”

Ensuring that innovation does not stop

Unsurprisingly, during the pandemic, many companies have cut their innovation budgets. According to another McKinsey report, many companies were primarily focused on maintaining business continuity and as a result, investments in innovation suffered.

However, for brands like DBS, investments in areas like martech have actually increased over the past few years. Further explaining the reasoning, Saurabh Singhal, Group Head of Marketing, Corporate, SME and Transaction Banking at DBS, said: “We realized that all the investments we have made over the years in digital have actually materialized in recent years.

“Customers who were previously hesitant to go digital had to adopt technology-driven solutions when the pandemic hit. DBS has been ready for this change for years.

Singhal and the DBS team are convinced that innovation should be an ongoing investment as it helps any business prepare for the unknown. “It’s not when a crisis hits that you start innovating. In fact, that’s when your innovation pays off,” he said.

Mohit Gupta, Head of Marketing and Social Media at Corporate Bank, Deutsche Bank, APAC, added that while many companies can tie innovation to budgets, it’s more about having the right mindset.

“Yes, budgets are important for creating the right marketing, but the vision must first be present within the marketing team,” he said.

He added that innovation doesn’t always have to be a big expense, but rather adjustments that can be made at a lower cost and that can result in greater efficiency for a team or company.

“So rather than thinking about money first, companies need to think about doing more with less.”

Watch the event highlights and interviews here.

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