Malaysian marketers and agency leads share their hopes for 2017

Time flies. We are once again in the month of December where we look back over the course of the year and reflect on what we have learnt. Being a fan of Oprah, I can’t help but quote her ahead of the holiday season. She says, “cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

Last year many industry leads we spoke to said they hoped to improve on profit margins and better work for clients, all while maintaining a work life balance. To see how far we have come,  A+M spoke to a few CEOs, industry leaders, marketers who eagerly share their wishlist and hopes for the next year.

Take a look at what they had to say.

Danny Chin, chief marketing officer of RedOne Network Malaysia

Danny Chin

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

I hope the industry to be less procurement but more creative driven. Cheap doesn’t mean the best, insights and results are more important. I wish marketers to be focusing on achieving overall brand benefit than just the cost-saving alone. Other performance indicators such as the overall ideas of marketing budget and media buys, as well as deliveries should be taken into account as well.

Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer of Iflix Malaysia

Azran-osman iflix

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

We are going through a very fundamental transformation of how people consume entertainment, distribution, the whole telecommunications industry. For today’s voracious streaming video on demand users, they are accustomed to on-demand access to pretty much anything.

In fact, drilling down closer to home, the Malaysian audience today are demanding greater flexibility with not only what they watch, but when, how and how frequently they watch it. We live in a world where almost everyone walks around with basically a supercomputer in their pocket in the form of a smartphone. It’s their communication, information and entertainment universe.

I hope that the industry and the agencies that are involved work towards better streamlining and strengthening the infrastructure which enables consumers to gain seamless on-demand access.

Eugene Chan, head of communications and marketing services of Nestle Malaysia

Eugene Chan

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

We need to challenge ourselves and the industry have better conversations with our consumers through digital and social media platforms because that’s where the conversations are. Successful marketers orchestrate agencies to come together in developing a powerful “media-neutral” creative idea based on real insights – it’s about building an ecosystem. Brand-builders also need take risks to discover new storytelling frontiers.

Modern marketers are often challenged to maximise returns on investments, and there should be greater accountability for more transparent measures of success. The secret of brand growth lies in listening to consumers; with good people and the right mind set, any brand will go far.

Cheuk Chiang, CEO of Omnicom Media Group Asia Pacific

Cheuk Chiang 0064_Option 2

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

Make it madder (and crazier).

With so much focus and discussion on big data, we’ve almost lost perspective on what the data should be used for – to help generate powerful insights and provocations – insights that lead to great ideas and innovation. It’s all about having the right balance of math and madness and we are currently paying way too much attention on the math.

Now more than ever, extracting a greater return on media investment is a priority for everyone and the great news is that the new data rich world allows us to track, optimise and plan for more effective campaigns.

But that won’t give brands and marketers the competitive edge. The challenge for both marketers and agencies is to get the blend of art and science right.  To extract insight out of data and more effectively target, communicate and influence with meaningful content. It’s easier said than done and continues to be one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

The best agencies will find powerful insights that lead (through madness) to great ideas. Ideas that allow us to better connect with consumers and ultimately generate a disproportionate and transformation return on investment.

Steve Jobs once said “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things, they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Let’s all be crazier in 2017.

Andreas Vogiatzakis, CEO of Havas Media Group Malaysia

AV_2016_Andreas OMG

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

My hope for next year is for the industry to elevate itself above price wars and breath more dignity in the work we do. Like it or not, price driven pitches are here and going strong. We can run but can not hide from it. The price wars are the single, most lethal cancerous cause of all the key issues of our industry. Unfortunately, there is not much solidarity when it comes to this issue, and most folks avoid tackling it because it is painful and hard to align. Ask any media agency boss how many pitches they lost due to price, you will see, if they tell you the truth. There is the facade, the talk, and then the real situation.

At the same I am a realist. I have been wishing this for the last million years. And therefore I am a hopeful as I still wish it.

Next year we will no doubt see technology advancing more, digital getting more ad spend share, and a lot of other good stuff. At the same time, economy will be tougher, and the financial pressures more intense. ADEX will not increase as anyone would wish, latest forecasts estimate it to increase around 3%, but I think that’s even too optimistic. But even when clients will have shrinking budgets, they will demand more as usual.

They will expect to order a stake but pay for a taco, it’s all beer after all, right? Have you seen that video? Funny and always relevant. So the pressure on price and fees will be more. Let’s see who succumbs and who focuses on value creation.

The real one, not the rhetorical talk…

Kristian Lee, CEO and group executive director of Naga DDB Malaysia

Kristian Lee

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

I think too much focus is being spent on the immediate [results] these days with regards to churning out work that is intent on short-term results and not much else. While a lot of this can be attributed to the current economic climate, hopefully there will be more room for agencies to work on the big picture which would be building brand affinity and equity amongst consumers. It is this kind of work which motivates agency folks, generates higher on-job satisfaction and also the inspirational factor that attracts aspiring talents to the industry.

Ranga Somanathan, CEO of Omnicom Media Group of Singapore and Malaysia

Ranga Profile Pic

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

My new year resolution would be to work on creating a culture that makes us the talent magnet. Creating meaningful gigs our people, enabling them to drive creativity and constantly find better ways of doing things.

Serm Teck Choon, Malaysian Digital Association’s president and country head of CtrlShift Malaysia


What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

The integration of online and offline data is inevitable. Stakeholders should realise that the complete integration of online and offline customer data is a must to win. Personalisation of messages is also very crucial while we always try to reach the right audience with the right message. We should unleash the potential of storytelling marketing to deliver messages to consumers in the digital world with so much fragmented information.

Lorraine Capel, CEO, Carat Malaysia

Lorraine Capel-CEO Carat

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

There’s a saying: competition makes us faster; collaboration makes us better. For this reason, I would like 2017 to be about fostering greater partnerships and collaboration, after all new year’s resolutions are always about being better than the year before!

Kasper Wandi, CEO, Consider iProspect:

What do you hope to change in 2017 for your industry?

In 2017, I would like to see more transparency in the industry. This will allow us to continue on the great progress we have made in 2016. Through a consultative approach we are focusing on building stronger strategic partnerships between the agency and our clients. By better understanding our clients’ core business objectives and challenges, we can move from executing on silo-ed products, to implementing integrated solutions.

What are your wishes in 2017? Share with us below.



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