Marketers and agency leads in Malaysia share their wishlist for 2018

Hooray! In a blink of an eye, it's our favourite time of the year once again.

Last year, hopes for the agency leaders include for the industry to elevate itself above price wars and breath more dignity in the work, as well as, creating a culture that makes them a talent magnet. This year, A+M spoke to a few marketers, agencies CEOs and industry leaders, who share their wishlist for 2018.

Let's have a look at what they have to say this time around about their hopes and what they would like to change for 2018.

Grace Chan, head of brand marketing, Celcom Axiata

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I’ll take the old-fashioned route and hope for a conflict-free world and human beings to be kinder to animals. In our pursuit to build awesome moments for consumers, we may unintentionally forget our eco-system and that it takes all living things to make the world a balanced and blessed one. I hope to see more organisations champion causes related to animal well-being and we start to recognise their rights to live healthily and peacefully, just as we acknowledge ours.

If I could write 2018 and the inevitable happens - agencies are eaten up by mega consulting firms. I’d love to see how we effectively resolve the old adage "left and right brain" and finally corner the market on brilliance!

Eugene Lee, marketing director of McDonald's Malaysia

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In a recent 2018 planning session with our agency, media and digital partners, I only had one brief to them, which was to put aside our differences and come together to do “cool stuff” and shake up the Malaysian marketing landscape next year.

As for the industry, instead of focusing on tactical “one hit wonder” campaigns, it's more important to build strategic long term plans grounded in genuine consumer insights. Execute a calendar that will bring you long term baseline growth instead of short term spikes.

Danny Chin, chief marketing officer of redONE

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In 2018, I hope the market sentiments recuperate and improve as it will help to instill consumers’ confidence back into our market and simultaneously increase the buying power. To achieve that, we need the advertisers, agencies and media owners to work together by strengthening our partnership and empowering our collaboration with new ideas, creativity and excellent work ethics. This, to ensure that we can rise above this tough time and able to achieve high quality results.

Kristian Lee, CEO of Naga DDB Tribal 

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I hope that 2018 will be the year where we really begin to witness new talent within the industry coming to the fore and taking up leadership positions in agencies. It is about time that those raised in the digital age realise that there are ripe positions and opportunities for those with innovative and daring mindsets coupled with their inherent ability to understand, utilise technology and new media.

I believe that if these individuals push the envelope and emerge as new leaders, advertising as a whole will begin to thrive again.

Tan Kien Eng, CEO of Publicis One Malaysia

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I wish for all players to value the power of effective creative ideas and unite, to ensuring we price our product correctly. Pricing should reflect the power of great ideas, as well as the current social economic situation. Staying financially healthy is especially vital for the Malaysian creative industry to progress and continue to invest in attracting, growing and retaining our best people for our clients.

Price cutting is only a short-term win but in the longer-term will destroy the industry’s reputation. Those agencies that apply under-cutting of price will eventually struggle to provide the best talents and tool to solve the client business problems. I hope business leaders will think longer term and value the role of our people for a healthy and sustainable business. I remain positive and I wish all readers a happy and prosperous 2018.

Nicky Lim, group CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia

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First and foremost, I think I can speak for all when I say I hope to see a stable and healthy Malaysia, where we as a nation go back to focusing on the agenda of nation building. With stability comes confidence - and that’s my other hope for 2018, which is to see an improved consumer confidence or sentiments in Malaysia. This will bode well for our industry, as it affects client-marketer’s marketing spend in general. That said, I also hope that more marketers would be brave enough to embrace and adopt technologies such as AI and blockchain technology.

Finally, I hope for the industry to come together of sorts to address the shortfall of talent, an issue which I believe is challenging the entire industry. The industry needs more good talent to produce quality work for brands to excel, so I think we as an industry ought to do more to entice top talent to join this field. Make advertising great again!

Andreas Vogiatzakis, CEO of Havas Media Group Malaysia

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My wish for 2018 is to add more love to our industry. Price wars, stagnating ADEX, faltering economy and rate cards, the debate will never stop. Our industry and its current state of affairs is our own creation. We made it and brought it to what and where it is today. So in this mad ad world we made, for many good reasons there may be, my wish is to add love in all we do. Adding value in our teams and our industry is just as critical as the price we command. We spend 69% of our lives at work, so why not put more love into it?

Our work, our industry is who we are, and unless we embrace it with care, it won’t serve us any better. So let's put more love into our industry. Simple as that.

Bala Pomaleh, CEO of IPG Mediabrands

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We are marking the end of the year with a “Back to School” themed party. This may sound playful, but there is a serious underlying message here.

Our industry is undergoing rapid transformation. To stay relevant, advertisers, agencies and media partners need to understand these new challenges and learn to counter and take advantage of new opportunities. We need to learn, unlearn and relearn in order for us to navigate through new realities.

For IPG Mediabrands, there will be a strong focus on L&D and building a culture of continuous and curious learning to ensure we are able to stay ahead of these challenges, hence the message of going “Back to School”.

 Amit Sutha, managing director of UM and Ensemble

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2018 is when the rubber hits the road, where we as an industry will do more and speak less about the analytics-technology-content nexus. We can’t afford not to!

An interesting area of development will be deep emotional analytics, where unstructured (read qualitative) consumer data will be mined for magic. Then, there is the entire unexplored space of predicting a consumer’s journey to sale; a seminal step to move us from being a top-of-mind driver to actually impacting sales.

CRM’s rebirth in the age of the cloud will accelerate, and while in the short-term this will heavily impact the brand side of things, it will soon spread to the supply side as well. I for one, am looking forward to these challenges ahead.

Hasnain Babrawala, managing director of Amplifi Malaysia

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It’s about time that all folks in this industry – agencies, media owners and publishers, as well as marketers – rally our efforts in attracting more young and bright minds to join our industry.

I hope that we will all collectively put in effort to create a better atmosphere, eliminate mundane tasks, invest more in automation, tell inspiring stories, spur more exchange of ideas, and break hierarchies. The next generation needs to be ready, excited and fired up to join the industry and make lasting changes.

The pace at which the marketing industry is evolving is no joke and we need to equip ourselves with the best talent to not just navigate through it, but to also capitalise on the opportunities presented by the changes. Take the bull by the horns. Personally, my mantra for 2018 is simply to keep to two powerful fundamentals – work harder and stay positively alert.

Prashant Kumar, senior partner at Entropia 

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I think there are too many naysayers, bemoaning all that’s wrong with our industry. Plus, often the "baby is getting thrown out with the bathwater." Our industry has become the favourite punching bag for anyone with a snazzy toy and a half to sell.

The reality is that a lot of these cynics - not all - are salesmen in disguise. I hope in 2018, the industry can be a lot more discerning, and get on with the job of actually solving the genuine problems, that matter.

Adrian Lim, CEO of VLT Kuala Lumpur

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There has been a major shift in the way content and services are consumed. In 2018, even more traditional platforms and channel are going become irrelevant.

We hope to see more brands and products being built to engage and meet needs, rather than be pure communication campaigns. We’d love to see bolder brands which dare to innovate, and build a user-centric thought process into the product marketing.