Out to lunch with: Samson Lam, Rubison Marketing Solutions

Before founding Rubison Marketing Solutions, an award-winning independent agency from Hong Kong that aims to provide integrated marketing solutions to a variety of clients, Samson Lam was a client-side marketer himself. And as such, he sees a lot of things just a little differently.

One of the biggest things that sets Rubison apart is their razor-sharp focus on the PnL side of the business.

“A client may say something like, ‘go do social media’, or ‘go find me a KOL’. But this is not the best way of thinking.”

Instead, he says, we have to start with content. “What kind of content do we want to do, and what kind of problem is the business facing? It’s about the business. If your campaign can generate business results – not just awareness, but dollars – that is the key.”

Really, he says, it’s all about acquiring customers and all marketing should be engineered towards that purpose – and expertise should be leveraged to accomplish that.

“When brand marketers brief an agency with exactly what they want to achieve, they should give room for the agency to think about what would be really effective and relevant.”

Taking the social media launch campaign from February to June of burger powerhouse Shake Shack in Hong Kong as an example, Lam realised it would need to find a very specific group of customers that the brand would appeal to, rather than shoot for the masses – and social media was the perfect avenue to reach this young, self-confident group nurturing them to be the core brand advocates.

With more than 500 established burger places in Hong Kong, and with very little awareness of Shake Shack here, despite its international renown, this was no easy feat.

However, the team figured that a lot of returning expats and students who would be intimately familiar with the burger brand would be a great first target audience.

“So we thought, let’s take that idea – who is Shack? Let’s visualise Shack as a person who is returning to Hong Kong to settle down. What would he encounter in Hong Kong? Even though he might be well-known in New York, how would people perceive Shack here – and how would he perceive Hong Kong?”

While this might seem abstract on paper, the execution was where the idea truly shined, by uniquely appealing to Hongkongers. The team went about shooting regular Hongkongers in a variety of locations and poses that are typically Hong Kong, such as regular people holding a Shake Shack takeaway bag, beautifully shot in front of the iconic street art walls of Hong Kong, reminiscent of the brand’s NYC roots, posted on social media to great success.

“Content is key. If you have not-so-good content, no matter how good your channel, event, relationships, et cetera, it will not sell. If you have good content, the channel will come to you – even through organic reach,” he explained.

“The client gave us the freedom to do what we thought needed to be done on social media – and we went with a one-person view, which you can see on Instagram for example. Not the brand view, not the corporate view – but a one-person view.

“We shouldn’t only aim for likes, we should aim for people to reflect on the post and share it for a better engagement.”

And that personal touch worked wonders for the Shake Shack campaign, and the business results by extension. The premium burger joint still sports queues that stretch all the way out of the shop and into ifc mall – some two months after the launch.

Lunch Box
Venue: Ecriture
Main: John Dory and beef
Service: Knowledgeable and highly hospitable