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The Move That Made Jocelyn Tse


The UM Worldwide chief strategy officer speaks to LBB’s Tom Loudon about Cannes, marketing data, and her decision to swap careers in her mid-20s

The Move That Made Jocelyn Tse

Jocelyn Tse is a business, marketing, and brand strategist, a keynote speaker, and a self-confessed data nerd. As chief strategy officer at UM Worldwide, Jocelyn has made a name for herself as a leader of marketing strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Jocelyn has been included in the Creative Data Jury for the 2023 Cannes Lion Festival.

LBB's Tom Loudon sat down with Jocelyn to discuss her business background, the value of data points to marketers, and the midlife crisis that made it all possible.

If you ask her, Jocelyn Tse will tell you she has a hidden agenda.

“I try to use my strategy experience to facilitate creative work, especially with the focus being placed on creativity in China,” she says.

“In China today, everyone's busy doing their own thing. The team chemistry and dynamics are less powerful. That's something I was really missing. Every box is really important to me as a strategist.”

With this in mind, Jocelyn recently met with a group of the most experienced advertising people in China, with the goal of finding ways to drive the region’s creativity .“For many years, creativity in China has taken a back seat,” she notes.“I think a lot of times, creativity is also misunderstood as well, because of the difference in [Chinese] culture, the difference in our landscape, our ecosystem and different forms of media and the application of media.But, I think there's eight of us going to Cannes this year from China and then also some local award judges as well.”

“I'm not exactly a creative person, but I am a creative strategist. From when I was young I've been interested in the arts and have always been curious about the world and curious about people.”

To Jocelyn, advertising is a people business.“It’s something that I stress every day. In advertising, we are talking to real people, and being empathetic is the core of what we do.” 

In turn, Jocelyn adds that this emphasis on people has actually driven her love of data. “Every bit of story that we tell is formed by different data points - front end and back end - qualitative and quantitative,” she continues. “However, numbers are just numbers - they don’t really tell us what people feel. So, it’s all about learning how to take data and reinterpret it in a way that informs and drives creativity, and helps tell compelling stories and build meaningful relationships.”

To this end, Jocelyn’s business background stands out, enabling her to amalgamate empathy and data, creating well-rounded and exciting results… despite not being “exactly a creative person.” 

In fact, she adds that her path to the industry was quite unconventional as a whole. “I actually explored a number of things before I landed in advertising,” Jocelyn notes. “I started off as a banker. Then I went into production, and then broadcasting. I worked at Cartoon Network for a while. I didn't always know I was going to get into this. But, I guess weeding out what you know is not what you want to do makes it clearer what you should do.”

In many ways, Jocelyn is actually thankful for this period of uncertainty, as it allowed her to get that out of the way for good. “I always tell people I was pretty lucky to have done the whole midlife crisis thing in my 20s,” she jokes. “A lot of people spend many years in one career path, and then suddenly they feel like they need to do something else. I did all of that when I was young.”

And since that time, Jocelyn has never looked back - bouncing through the world of creative agencies and “swimming in data” to form more accurate, succinct insights. In advertising, almost all of her work involves leveraging data to make creative decisions in campaigns.

“As a strategist, effective work is always my number one priority,” Jocelyn says. “I think in the last three to five years, access to data has become so much easier and so much more diverse, meaning we have so much real behavioural data on people.”

And due to this abundance, Jocelyn is eager to issue advice for those trying to integrate it into their creative products.“There's the how-to, and then there’s what you really should be doing,” she says. “Data has always existed. It's all about logic and the crystallisation of information. You have clients wanting to list out all fifty product benefits of their product in one static ad, and this is not how data should be used. It needs to be a very succinct point of view, which is not difficult to arrive at. You need that super succinct point of view to enable your vision to transform into inspiration for creativity. Otherwise, you face a situation where you have data paralysis, there's too much information.”

Jocelyn is eager to distil data to avoid this paralysis, setting her apart from traditional creative strategists.

“If you put on the lens of me being a strategist, then there are certain patterns to identify and certain changes in patterns. With the strategist hat on, always refer back to the interesting patterns that actually can make a difference to the client's business in real marketing metrics.”

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IPG Mediabrands, Fri, 26 May 2023 04:48:12 GMT