MARKETCH APAC and Blogapalooza proudly unveil the first episode of #MARKETECHMondays.
#MARKETECHMondays provides a platform for learning and sharing as we handpick influential marketing leaders and ask them about their careers, marketing journeys, and challenges, and successes. They will also be providing sage advice and rare insights from the most competitive frontlines of APAC marketing.
In our pilot episode, we sat down with #MARKETECHExpert Mark De Joya, the Head of Corporate Communications of Max’s Group, Inc., and the Marketing Director of Max’s Restaurant. Mark De Joya is a recognized marketing professional with 17 years of experience.
He has worked with diverse brands, including Samsung, Huawei, Unilever, and Mondelez. He has also worked as a business leader and strategist for McCann Worldgroup Philippines. He believes in creative excellence and marketing effectiveness through “work that works.”
Mark began his career as a Brand Assistant at Unilever. He handled Lady’s Choice, a popular line of sandwich spreads in the Philippines. Unilever is widely considered as the “marketing university of the world.” He said that he is always grateful for the opportunity that he was able to begin his career the right way. He learned the nuts and bolts of brand development, equity management, portfolio management, and a truly integrated point of view of marketing communications.
He tells us about his first campaign and how he worked with Creative Guild Hall of Famer, Raul Castro.
“The first campaign I ever worked on was this little ad called “Isipin Mo Na Lang” (Think About It) for our Sandwich Spreads line; I’ve seen so many different iterations through the years—updating the food shots, packshots, tagline—but all with the same base ad. This was my first introduction to advertising, working with Creative Guild Hall of Famer Raul Castro.
“He’s intense, intuitive, and naturally brilliant. His team gave me my first taste of insight-based advertising and crafting narratives rooted in universal human truths and tensions—in this case, the innate nervousness of a young mom imagining the “lunchbox wars” that happen in the schoolyard, away from her eyes. But this first experience also taught me so much about the craft itself—pacing, casting, framing, lighting, blocking. I’m glad my first ad gave me hands-on experience both in the science and art of advertising.
“To this day, before the age of viral ads memes, I will always recall the pride I’d feel meeting people off the street who could recite the ad back to me verbatim. Back in the pre-YouTube world, I consider that quite a feat.
I’ve carried the foundations I built in these years throughout my career as I branched out to different industries: consumer electronics, retail dining, the advertising industry, etc.,” he says.
Mentoring is crucial to success in this industry. It gives a career person a head start that may help him get ahead faster than those who have to learn the ropes. While Mark is an independent go-getter, he says that two people also influenced him as he went through his career.
“The first was Gino Borromeo, my mentor at the McCann Worldgroup when he was the Chief Strategy Officer. You need a certain level of creative IQ to thrive in the creative industry. To many people, “being creative” meant being artsy, having a sense of métier, and a natural affinity for the arts.
“I learned from Gino that “creativity” isn’t just those things; it’s the ability to solve problems. Classically defined—something is not truly “creative” unless it solves a real problem for humanity. Creativity, at its core, is an exercise in problem-solving. Therefore, the job of a marketer is to prove his effectiveness by creating real solutions,” he relates.
The second person who influenced him the most was Ariel Fermín, the Group Chief Operating Officer at Max’s Group. Ariel was also Mark’s first Marketing Director when he was still working at Unilever, seventeen years ago.
“His mind is one of a kind. He was trained as a chemical engineer, his incisiveness, and his ability to break down any problem—into its most basic equation. And that makes any problem, no matter how impossible it may seem at first, eminently solvable, because there’s always an equation to solve for X, Y, and Z.
“Under him, I’ve learned the perfect balance that has to exist between building great brands and doing great business. No marketer can say they’ve done great brand work if it doesn’t help the business; likewise, a strong brand makes a great business sustainable. His adage of “brand over time, business overnight” guides me in trying to craft great, effective work that adds value to life, value to the culture,” says Mark.
Mark joined Max’s Group three years ago. He currently holds dual roles: Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing Director for Max’s Restaurant, the group’s flagship restaurant.
According to Mark, there is the prestige of playing a critical role in the country’s largest casual dining group. In addition to Max’s Restaurant, Max’s Group also operates Yellow Cab Pizza, Pancake House, and Krispy Kreme.
“It is an honor to be part of an organization that is firmly rooted in heritage and tradition while being relentlessly geared toward reinvention and renewal.”
What’s fascinating about the retail industry is how it demands discipline in bridging the end-to-end the links, from high-level brand thinking, nuanced product development to intimate one-to-one relationships with our end-users in our stores and e-commerce platforms.Mark De Joya, the Head of Corporate Communications of Max’s Group, Inc.
“Much of my career was spent leading FMCG and consumer electronics brands—where, to be honest, the ability to connect directly with our consumers is not always as direct, given the layers of distributors and retailers between the brand on its pedestal and real human beings in the market.”
“These realities challenged my teams and me to be the best-in-class in five-sense marketing. Experiences and communications go hand-in-hand 24/7, not just as one-off branded activations.”
Mark says he is blessed to have served under excellent leaders of his time. He believes that he learns as much from people as people do from him. He also believes that there are different kinds of leadership, but not all of them are ideal.
“Some of them lacked humility and self-awareness. So early on, I promised myself that I would try to do better when I was finally serving in the same position. Everyone has something to learn. Everyone has something to teach. That’s how teams grow together,” he tells us.
Failures & Successes
Mark doesn’t mince his words about the failures that he experienced in his career. But he takes it all in stride. He firmly believes that it is part of the process, and marketers must develop the right mindset when encountering failures in life.
“As the great Conor McGregor says, there’s no such thing as losing—either you win or learn. I’ve done it all in my career. I’ve made a bad strategic choice, played the wrong game, positioned something wrong, priced something wrong, built the wrong mix. But for every “whoops” I’ve made, I believe I’ve had the opportunity to say, “I’m grateful I learned this. So next time, I’ll do that.”
To Mark, his greatest achievement in life was being named the 2019 Innovator 25 for Asia-Pacific by Provoke Media. Provoke Media was previously known as The Holmes Report. It is one of the world’s leading resources on public relations.
When asked why he treasured this award more than anything else, he responded: “This mattered to me more than brand awards. I believe it was recognition built less on hard metrics and more on the accumulated body of work that I consistently built while working on meaningful brands and standing for making positive change in the world.”
Mark’s mantra is also the core of his work philosophy.
“I could state my orientation and professional philosophy as a marketer: Solve great problems, build meaningful brands, create great value.
“Or, in the words of one of the wisest men I’ve ever met, “Math + Meaning = Magic.”
“There is a growing public distrust of their sincerity and authenticity. There is also this sense that with growing commercialization, there is this inevitable invasion by people whose intentions are less sincere. The world needs less salesmanship, more soulmanship.”
He shares with us his essential list for career and life:
- Play with joy. Grit is great, but not when it starts to chew away your passion.
- Don’t wait ‘til you’re ready. Always say yes, then have the courage to figure things out along the way.
- Martyrdom is not a career path. Guaranteed, 100% of the time, martyrs end up dead.
- Focused bigness, not scattered smallness. Conserve your greatness for the moments that matter—then go to town.
- Be curious. The right questions can be as powerful as the right answers.
- Choose to say, “Yes, and…” Bring out the best in people by building them up, not breaking them down with a “yes, but…”
- Always be in beta. You are never a finished product. Progress is the goal, not perfection.
- Just do it. The world cares more about actions than about ideas.
- Choose to unite, not to divide. The things that bring us together will always be stronger than those that drive us apart.
- Be interesting. Your job is not your life. Find three hobbies to make your life more meaningful: One to make you creative, one to make you healthy, and make you rich.
If you’re a marketing leader and you want to share your career experience to inspire the marketing industry, please reach out, we want to hear your story.