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What's keeping me up: McDonald's HK's Tina Chao

What's keeping me up: McDonald's HK's Tina Chao

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In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, marketers have to keep up with the latest trends to help their companies or brands deliver campaigns that stand out from the crowd. With challenges such as the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the shrinking of marketing budget, marketers often have a lot to worry about when it comes to maximising the spend to deliver the best campaigns and expand audience reach.

As such, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE is bringing a new column “What’s keeping me up” to our Hong Kong audience, interviewing marketing heads from globally renowned brands. Leading a team size of 20, McDonald’s Hong Kong’s chief marketing and digital customer experience officer Tina Chao (pictured) currently oversees the global marketing strategy, digital transformation, and customer experience for McDonald’s.

Amid the challenging macro environment and its impact on the marketing landscape, Chao believes that brands in Hong Kong need to stay optimistic and be prepared for all possibilities. Despite this, her team and she keeps driving and executing innovative ideas to wow audiences, such as the recent thematic pop-up store at ComplexCon Hong Kong and the out-of-home (OOH) campaign for its McCafé coconut latte promotion.

Don't miss: McDonald's HK and Verdy launch thematic pop-up store at ComplexCon HK

In this episode, Chao shares with us her biggest worry during her time as a marketing leader and what keeps her going.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is the biggest thing you worry about?

One of my primary concerns, which I’m sure is shared among many marketers, is the overall challenging macro-environment and its impact on the marketing landscape. When business gets hard, the overall marketing atmosphere often becomes conservative, with businesses often falling back on tried-and-trusted tactics, which stifles innovation and creativity.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you deal with this worry?

The worst of times is also the best of times. In such an environment, it’s even more important to invest in the brand and continue to be a champion for positivity and continuous improvement.

As marketers, we act as a connector between people and between ideas. I believe we can only fulfil this role by embracing positivity. Being positive that no challenge is too big to be met, being positive that creativity has value even in today’s environment, and continuing to inject creativity in everyday work with the belief that even a small step is a good step forward.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: As a leader, how do you deal with it when your staff tells you the work is creating mental pressure and well-being issues?

I believe that empathy is one of the most important traits for any successful leader. It is essential to provide support, open communication, and resources to help alleviate excessive pressure and promote overall well-being within the team. As such, I take it very seriously when my staff opens up to me about their mental pressures.

One of the first things that I do is be a good listener and really try to understand where they are coming from. I then try to share some of my own experiences with them on how I handle the day-to-day pressures of the job, such as breaking down an issue into small blocks and tackling them one by one. I also try to instill a positive mindset in my teammates when dealing with pressure, learning to view pressure as a catalyst and springboard for personal growth.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What keeps you going?

What keeps me going these days is the same thing that attracted me to the industry on day one – curiosity and a love of great ideas. It may be quite overused these days, but my favourite quote is still Steve Jobs’ “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

As we progress in our careers, it’s important to be excited about new ideas and welcome new challenges. I try to wake up each morning and face the day with the same excitement as someone who’s just starting an exciting new career.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you boost employee morale when facing obstacles/challenges?

I’ve always believed that the biggest booster of employee morale is each other. As our founder Ray Kroc once said, “None of us is as good as all of us”. It’s of vital importance for me to create a culture that incubates collaboration, teamwork, and most of all to have fun together.

Only then can we inspire each other, boost overall morale, and enhance problem-solving capabilities. Together, we can achieve more than the sum of our individual efforts, fostering unity and shared purpose for greater success and fulfilment.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Anything else you would like to add

It's important to be positive and forward-looking in the current landscape, always keeping our perspective on what's ahead. We must keep in mind that the world of marketing is ever-evolving, and we need to have a pulse on the rapid advancement of technology. The integration of AI and data-driven insights has become indispensable in modern marketing strategies.

By leveraging these innovations, marketers can make informed decisions, personalise experiences, and optimise campaigns. I believe the most important thing right now is to embrace technology because it unlocks new opportunities for customer engagement and drives business growth in the digital era.

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world! 

Related articles:

OOH ads at harbour tunnels part of McDonald's HK's marketing stunt
McDonald's HK introduces new app feature to elevate dining experience

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