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6 APAC Leaders Weigh In on What It Takes To Navigate 2023


Agencies focus on reframing perspectives and deepening client relationships on their post-pandemic journey, discovers Esther Faith Lew

6 APAC Leaders Weigh In on What It Takes To Navigate 2023

The rise of alternative media platforms intensifies the battle to win consumer attention in 2023. Data, tech and analytics continue to place pressure on accurate audience measurements, campaign effectiveness and highly targeted and personalised ad messaging. To round it up, there are overarching concerns over economic uncertainty and soaring costs, according to Kantar’s 2023 Media Trends & Predictions Report.

CEOs leading the charge into the year are tasked to navigate such concerns and more. But as the industry has proven with the pandemic, when disruption occurs, opportunity springs forth. What will they bring to the table and how will they continue to deepen their engagements with clients to further maximise efficiency and effectiveness? How will their priorities shift from taking the brief to taking the initiative?

These six agency CEOs give their take on how they will be exploring an empowered journey with their clients.

Troy Ruhanen, CEO, TBWA Worldwide

 “I'm very much focused on what we are doing to get innovative thinking out into the marketplace and making it real. As an industry we need to move from service-driven to a product-driven culture and shifting from a reactive business structure to a proactive, entrepreneurial environment. 

“Then it’s about looking at the totality of the process and understanding it is not just about communications, but about total brand experience. Proactively going to clients with rigour; creating a product or service and owning it; and then pushing it as far as it possibly can to really round out the total experience. That's a much better business to be in. That's much more motivating and exciting for our talent.

 “What we’re hearing from clients today is that many are overwhelmed by the complex world of data and how to objectively make sense of it. Related to data is the issue of privacy and brand safety continues to be an-going concern and must remain a priority. With all these concerns, clients increasingly want someone to make sense of it all; simplify it for them by removing the complexity; and are invested in bringing the experience consistently to life. 

 “That’s the reason why we walk the journey with them as partners and entrepreneurs who are able to help their brands to connect the dots across the customer journey and to drive their brand experience and product differentiation.”

Sanjay Bhasin, CEO of Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand, dentsu International

“Relationships were redefined during the pandemic as face-to-face meetings and connection buildings turned into virtual ones. Both agencies and clients had to adjust the way they create, communicate, and collaborate. That led to both becoming resilient and more trusting in each other as we had to navigate and pivot through unfamiliar/unknown situations and scenarios together. The pandemic also accelerated the need for clients’ digital transformation.

“As we come through the pandemic and face a financial slowdown, this client/ agency relationship will be further tested.  I see the relationship and journey evolve  into a new venture where the agency and client are true partners implementing integrated solutions to the new demands and scenarios emerging in the post-pandemic world. 

“These will be done with agencies that understand, have access, and deliver solutions that require innovation and collaboration, within and across their organisations.  Furthermore, this must be done by bringing people along in an equitable, inclusive way.”

Shamsuddin Jasani, CEO, Wunderman Thompson South Asia 

“The pandemic has changed and evolved our relationship with clients a lot. Clients are expecting a lot more and questioning what an agency is able to bring to the table. But I am feeling confident about 2023 because of our value proposition, which is creative tech and commerce.

“I think clients see us in a very strategic light and consider us as an important partner. Clients now come back to us and tell us they want one strategic partner who can solve a lot of their needs, and we are very happy to be that partner. It plays into our strength, and I believe we are moving in the right direction.

“We also want to be more relevant to the entire consumer journey by leveraging the tech and commerce capabilities that Wunderman Thompson’s reputation is built upon. Aligned with this goal is the need to elevate ourselves from a brand experience agency to being more of a consumer experience agency.”

Ben Lilley, Owner of McCann Australia and Founder of HERO

“Thankfully, all those lockdown screens meetings are behind us. But through them, we gained a unique and deeper insight into the lives of our colleagues and clients alike. All those moments streamed live from our homes and bedrooms, sprinkled with kids and pets and glitchy internet connections may have been awkward at first. But these more intimate moments forged deeper and more intimate relationships. 

“And that’s the basis of the very best creative work: a level of intimacy and trust that allows us to take greater creative risks together. So the best post-pandemic relationships are now better and deeper working relationships, built on a better understanding of each other’s quirks and lives. 

“And this can only lead to better and more effective creative work. That’s what we’re seeing in our business. And I hope it's what we’ll now start to see industry-wide.”

Debarpita Banerjee, CEO, FCB India

“We are in the business of ideas. Ideas that form through not just a thorough understanding of the product, the people and the market place, but also through constant connections and conversations with the larger teams – both at the client’s and at the agency’s end. Hence, collective energy has been a very important part of creating work that works.  

“During the pandemic, while work carried on, and many dead hours of travel become more efficient, one of the cons was the fact that there was a disruption in collective energy. 2022 has been a year of re-evaluating, re-connecting physically, and re-energising. 2023 will hopefully combine the best practises of pre-pandemic and pandemic, and form its own rules of successful engagement.”

Justin Hind, CEO, CHEP Network

“If there’s one thing that we’ve learnt over the past few years it’s that shared success is born from collaboration, and collaboration is needed more than ever in challenging times. 

“Looking beyond how we work together, significant change is ahead of us in terms of the type of work we do together. The data is showing that SVOD and BVOD are growing at the fastest rate of all broadcast channels in terms of the attention those mediums are capturing. When you see stats that show that YouTube has a bigger audience than all of Australia’s terrestrial broadcasters combined, it’s clear that there needs to be a considered shift in how we approach strategy, experience, design and fundamentally, our approach to creativity.

“That shift in behaviour needs to be matched by a shift in approach by agencies and clients, and will see us accelerate even faster into a digitally led future… To deliver against that changing landscape is going to take brilliant people both agency and client side who are willing to work together in closer consultation and partnership than ever before.”

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LBB Editorial, Tue, 17 Jan 2023 10:19:20 GMT