'Half-yearly marketing plans are a thing of the past.'

The Malaysian telecommunication scene is a competitive one. Strong players, with strong brand equities need to constantly break through the clutter, and grab hold of the consumers' attention. Known as one of the oldest mobile telecommunications provider in Malaysia, Celcom Axiata has been one of the most aggressive players in this space.

Last July, the group went through a major management shakeup with the appointment of two corporate EVP and regional CEOs, three CEOs and several other senior appointments. The move was part of the group's strategy to accelerate transformation into a regional digital company. Speaking to A+M post the restructure, Grace Chan, head of brand marketing said the restructure has kept the team on its toes to stay relevant with the right content, enhance its agility to manage digital campaigns more efficiently.

As such, the company is now putting all the right measurement tools in place to drive success, campaign after campaign.

“Given the industry we are in, coupled by digitisation, marketing plans are now even more dynamic, making annual or half-yearly marketing plans a thing of the past, because now we review plans as frequent as weekly,” she said.

She added given the state of marketing today, with the quick speed of change, her team’s marketing plans are always evolving to keep up with trends. However while trends are important, Chan is a believer that brands need to “reshape trends” to fit to the unique nature of the Malaysian market.

Chan’s role too has had to shift with the changing times. Her role is now threefold, looking over strategic, business and marketing operations.

“Roles around brand and marketing have evolved so much that it requires us to be extremely energetic and effective,” she said, adding:

I always tell people I’ve got 140 tracks in my head running concurrently. Why 140? It’s because at one point, I literally had 140 things to juggle and think about.

She said marketers need to embrace planning more as a guide, but enhance the ability to think, adapt and evolve at lightning speed.

With so much on her plate, Chan said one challenge on the work front she faces is striking the correct formulation for churning and sustaining effective and exciting initiatives for every channel, stakeholder and consumer. On the leadership front, she also strives to motivate her team ( internal and external) in sustaining the energy and momentum to create great pieces of work.

Recent works and agency partnerships

One campaign the brand recently created ahead of Malaysia day, which got a fair bit of traction, was “Lagenda 5 Sekawan” or The Notorious 5. The campaign was created to remind Malaysians of the things precious to the country, and of course, the hard hitting issue of multi-racial and cultural diversity.

The nearly five minutes long ad gives an interesting twist on how our unity, friendship and love for each other could help build a better nation. In the story of “Lagenda 5 Sekawan” we are introduced to five good friends – Hasnah, Bom Bom, Maria, Kumari and Su Mei. Although mischievous in nature and hailing from different backgrounds, their close friendship kept them together in school and through the years.

The ad was created with Celcom’s creative agency M&C Saatchi. Within hours since it was first published around the midnight of 12 September 2017, the spot saw with more than 1.3 million views and over 21,700 shares. Meanwhile, other agency partners the telco works with include McCann Worldgroup and Mediacom.

Chan added that good agency-client relationship is definitely needed for great work to be produced.

“That is definitely achievable, most importantly to have an understanding that transparency, directness with no hypocrisy and tap-dancing around expectations. A regular 360 feedback should be in place for a healthy relationship,” she said.

“My most enjoyable moments with the agencies are sitting with the ECDs to craft stories, discuss art and cinematography and with the master media experts, to achieve the correct formulation for all things digital media - which is still a WIP, by the way,” she said.

Chan also believes that to create good work, marketers need to find at least “half an hour daily to maintain a love affair in acquiring knowledge and growing as a person.”