Berjaya Sompo's Mawarni Adam steps down as brand, marcomms and CX lead

Mawarni Adam has stepped down as Berjaya Sompo Insurance's head of brand, marketing communications and customer experience, More than two years after joining the company. Adam (pictured) first came on board as head of brand and marketing communications before adding customer experience to her list of responsibilities early last year. Shortly after in May 2019, she took on the dual role of regional brand and PR advisor for Sompo Holdings (Asia), the company's Singapore entity.

Before joining Berjaya Sompo, Adam was with BIG Loyalty as head of marketing and programme development for more than a year, according to her LinkedIn, and was also Tune Protect Group's head of marketing for over a year. She also founded branding, marketing and communications firm M Consultancy in 2015, working with clients such as Sime Darby, Tune Hotels Group, and iflix. Adam was also founder and MD of eCommerce platform Magnoliya, marketing manager, cards at Citi and brand executive at McCann Worldgroup. A+M has reached out to Berjaya Sompo for comment.

Adam told A+M that she left to pursue a new challenge. One of her key takeaways during her time at Berjaya Sompo was that curiosity when combined with courage and creativity works wonders. According to her, it gives birth to new ideas and inventions. Therefore, innovation in insurance should be given at least the same amount of attention and weightage as compliance.

"Insurance is prime for digital transformation – this is nothing new. The pandemic however, has made clear how big the gap has been so far, both internally and externally. Insurance has a huge potential to become an affordable and easily accessible essential item to purchase, as well as become an attractive career option for the younger generation when transformation can happen," she explained.

Adam added that a significant percentage of the current workforce in insurance will reach retirement age in the next five to 10 years and this presents an opportunity as well as a challenge. Therefore, technical knowledge transfer by the older workers to the incoming younger workers, in addition to embracing digital transformation should be given some attention, in order to bridge the knowledge gap between the two generations, she said.

Berjaya Sompo is known for its Silent Guardians campaign featuring the five iconic Japanese warriors, Ninja, Samurai, Karateka, Sumo and Kendoka. First introduced in 2018, it rolled out the second campaign "Silent Guardians - The Prequel" in 2019 and brought the characters back in August this year in the midst of COVID-19. FCB Kuala Lumpur and Trapper Media were involved in the latest campaign.

"The Silent Guardians trilogy, an annual thematic brand campaign, will always be one of my all-time favorites. It was an honour and privilege to be able to execute this unique and unconventional idea for an insurer over three consecutive years and to deliver the brand message with a lot of heart, purpose and humour," Adam said.

Additionally, Adam is also proud of the company's brand and marketing transformation. According to her, it went from "a fairly unknown brand" to one of the top insurance brands in Malaysia. She was also responsible for building and rebuilding the structures from ground up to effect people and process transformation. Adam told A+M that she also simplified plenty of internal processes and laid out a stronger foundation for the brand to grow and thrive.

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Read the rest of the interview here:

A+M: What is the experience of being a marketer during COVID-19 like?

Adam: A mix of excitement and anxiety. Simple decisions like budget and campaign activations are now being made with a lot more care and caution. Ideation and activation emphasise more on purpose, being closer to the core of humanity, equality and everyday practicality.

Essential purchases have overtaken indulgence purchases, so as a marketer, it is crucial to pivot and change directions accordingly or might be considered insensitive, excessive or frivolous.

Meanwhile, there are also budget limitations, possibly slashed in the range of 40% to 60%. So as a marketer, one needs to get really creative and resourceful, more so than usual to achieve similar results with a lot less money. The speed to market has changed. I think before it used to be like a sprint to get from point A to point B but now it feels more like a jog or even a brisk walk, possibly attributed by the work from home situations and the major shift to remote work and management.

A+M: Has the pandemic changed you as a professional, in terms of your thinking or goals, for example? If so, how?

Adam: Maybe it has a little. I know that it has amplified the purpose and accelerated priorities even more - pushed me to do a much more in-depth audit and edit of my professional path towards my goals than I normally would.

Creative writing for example is something that I’ve always been intrigued and interested to do but had not made the time to do so nor really entertained the idea so far. Inspired by my father who wrote and published eight books while having a successful full-time career and raising a family, and prompted further by the pandemic situation, it did trigger that creative writing flame in me as a small side passion project to pursue, in my spare time now.

A+M: What do you think the new normal of marketing will be like?

Adam: The frequency of marketing activations may be less, reduced and farther in between which could be a direct correlation to the availability of budget in the new normal. Due to the possibility of reduced resource and the added pressure to find more ways to be creative and purposeful, we may see more meaningful marketing work getting done, which in my opinion, is a very good thing. It may also force brands to hold themselves to higher standards.

There will also be an increase in digital tools collaboration or cross-promotion between brands to leverage on eservice platforms to market to a wider audience.

For example, a bundled service or a packaged deal tied into a single experience versus having to visit multiple touchpoints to procure the products or services. With limited travels beyond the borders, hyperlocal experiences have become much more important, therefore localising marketing messages, connecting with local neighbourhoods and community networks will potentially reap more benefits.

There is also the emergence of the “homebody economy”. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed made the home as the new command centre, a multifunctional hub, a place where people live, work, learn, shop and play. Marketing messages and media mix will then have to be rethink across a larger set of channels anchored in their homes.

A+M: What are some trends marketers should keep an eye on?

Adam: Marketing through messaging apps - increased convenience due to the need for social distancing and reduced physical interactions. Consumers now gravitate towards messaging apps to connect, engage and purchase.

A+M: What is one overhyped area of marketing?

Adam: AI and chatbot. It's an awesome area of marketing but indeed overhyped.

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