Lim Sue-Anne, MD of M&C Saatchi global's marketing and branding consultancy Clear KL, has joined Trapper Media Group as CEO, reporting to founder and group CEO Sivanathan Krishnan. Lim (pictured) will lead a team of 50 individuals, analyse how Trapper is postured in the market and what it is offering to partners, clients, talents, and staff. She will also learn how to balance operational agility and investments in restructuring the business to futureproof the agency, considering all the lessons learnt from the pandemic. Additionally, Lim's aim is to steer Trapper into becoming a more comprehensive and innovative marketing partner to its clients, new and existing.
"Any CEO role is obviously to grow the business. Trapper is not a company that works on brands at arm's length. Trapper has a long history with every single one of our clients and we want to continue to anticipate all their marketing needs. It’s my personal wish for clients to challenge us with the toughest marketing questions because that will force us to be innovative and ultimately, grow," she told A+M.
On why she chose to take on this role, Lim explained that Krishnan has "a very big vision for what Trapper could become and it has an amazing track record", having clocked a total billing of RM1.3 billion since its founding in 2001.
"As we all know, the media and communications industry is being disrupted in light speed, I’m attracted to that challenge – how do we transform this company, blessed with good billing and a great client track record to become a formidable player moving into the future? We want to be able to offer more to our clients, be adaptive to how they want to grow their business, be innovative in ways that matter and we do not want to limit our opportunities within these Malaysian shores," Lim explained to A+M.
According to her, Trapper's keyword is "growth", as it aims to grow at the right speed, be complementary to the ecosystem and grow together with other players in the industry. Among the list of clients Trapper currently works with include Texas Chicken Malaysia, Petron, and Watsons.
Meanwhile Krishnan told A+M that Lim is the leadership pivot that it has been looking for that brings in new dynamics to the current offerings of Trapper Group. "We are extremely delighted to have her on board as CEO of Trapper and to drive our ambitious business goals for the future. All that I have envisioned for Trapper, I sincerely believe she will take us to new heights, consolidate and continue to deliver our promise to all our clients and create a clear and visioned path to achieving our business objectives," he added.
Lim was previously with Clear KL for more than a year, leading the new unit in KL to offer rigorous transformative strategy and proprietary insights for brands seeking to close the experience gap or accelerate growth at a time of disruption and complex digital transformations. Clear is a separate entity from ad agency M&C Saatchi Malaysia and used to be known as Clear Ideas before it was acquired by M&C Saatchi in 2007 for about US$22.8 million. Lim's replacement has yet to be named.
Before joining Clear, Lim was chief data and strategy officer at Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia (now known as dentsu Malaysia), where she drove integrated and strategic synergy at the group level. Lim also worked at McCann and Bates. She has 17 years of industry experience working with brands including Honda, Air Asia, Abbott Nutrition, and Celcom.
What does 2021 hold for the ad industry?
Lim predicts that the economy will continue to pose challenges to businesses despite a vaccine being found. Neither does she foresee business revenues returning to pre-COVID performance organically. "But that’s what Trapper exists to do – to be that catalyst for business growth. Businesses need to work harder and smarter to regain their previous top-line position so agencies need to be able to provide the right solutions, maybe something even the clients themselves have not considered before. There’s no better time for innovation than now," she explained.
As established media owners continue to be disrupted by digital channels, the consumer journey from being passively aware of a brand, right up until click-to-purchase will continue to evolve, Lim said. It is also increasingly important to understand channel roles and be innovative in using and managing them.
Meanwhile, despite news about third-party cookies being phased out making headlines nowadays, Lim believes that privacy "is not going to be a thing of the future". "The industry needs to consider the impact of customer privacy in all their marketing endeavours. A fine balance between efficiency and ethics. To this, I wish our industry will lead greater discourse efforts on data ethics. Everything can happen on digital but not everything should," she added.
Lastly, she acknowledged that the marketing and sales department is converging. Such a convergence, according to Lim, is usually seen in B2B companies where marketing skills play a support role to sales teams. However, the lockdown has caused "a catalytic growth" in DTC strategies. "Firms are reaching out directly to customers via digital solutions. Hence, marketers now need to consider the sales role as well where in most B2C businesses, marketing and sales or trade are separate roles. Agencies will need to adopt new skills to adapt to this change if they want to continue being on the same page as clients," she explained.