Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

dentsu bids farewell to three veterans, appoints new group chief creative officer

Malaysia – Dentsu Malaysia bids farewell to Tony Savarimuthu, Huang Ean Hwa, and Szu H. Lee, three executive veteran partners of Merdeka LHS, the creative agency it acquired in 2016. 

Savarimuthu is Merdeka LHS’ CEO, while Huang and Lee are chief creative officers of the agency. 

From left to right: Former Merdeka LHS CEO, Tony Savarimuthu; and chief creative officers, Szu H. Lee and Huang Ean Hwa

Dentsu said that former CEO of dentsu Malaysia, Nicky Lim, and new CEO Kien Eng Tan are both grateful for everything the three have done in building, growing, and subsequently completing the earnout duration of Merdeka LHS and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. 

“As these three ride into the sunset, their everlasting legacy has been imprinted into dentsu’s DNA and it is my honor to have served with them,” said Lim.

Savarimuthu has served the industry for more than a decade, formerly as vice president and president of advertising association 4A’s, introducing many progressive initiatives such as industry awards ‘The Effies’. 

Commenting on his departure, he said, “I’ve had the good fortune of working on some of the world’s most renowned brands as well as go-getters striving to change the status-quo working with the best creatives in the land. I wish to pay tribute to my long-time colleagues and friends Huang Ean Hwa and Szu Lee, and not least Ali Mohamed and the late Yasmin Ahmad who were my past colleagues for their ideas, inspired creativity, and for changing the perception and fortunes of many a brand both in Malaysia and globally.”

Meanwhile, with the current departures, which dentsu shared to be “emotional,” the agency forges a beginning as it welcomes a new group chief creative officer for dentsu’s creative line of service, Andrew Low

Andrew Low
dentsu Malaysia’s new group chief creative officer for its creative line of service, Andrew Low

Low came highly recommended by the three former Merdeka LHS executives. His career spans across three countries in the Asia Pacific region with Ogilvy, Publicis One, and Leo Burnett. His work has won multiple awards such as at D&AD, Cannes Lions, and The One Show, as well as One Show China, China 4As, and Spikes, among many others. 

With the role, Low is tasked to bring together dentsu’s creative powerhouses to solve client’s marketing challenges in an ever-more virtual economy. 

“To spur growth, I believe it is fundamentally important to be agile, especially if we want to thrive in new creative business models. I am looking forward to working with the team and being a part of its unifying force,” said Low. 

The Malaysian arm of the network has also recently announced a new CEO for its Media business, following the re-organization of the network to now operate as three main divisions, namely, Creative, Media, and CRM.

Marketing Featured APAC

Dentsu promotes South Asia Head of programmatic business to lead APAC unit anew

Mumbai, India – Dentsu International has roped in Chief Data Officer and CEO of Dentsu Programmatic for South Asia Gautam Mehra to lead the APAC unit anew. He will be assuming the title Chief Data & Product Officer for the larger region.

The appointment comes as the marketing communications company moves to build a stronger and more unified APAC data and product offering across the network. Based in Mumbai, Gautam will report to Zhengda Shen, APAC president of Dentsu’s data-driven performance marketing agency Merkle.

Gautam joined Dentsu in 2013, where he later assumed the South Asia leadership three years after. In his recent role for the region, Gautam was responsible for driving the data quotient in the market both internally and with clients. Most notably, he led the unification of the Dentsu’s data sciences team and the team of programmatic marketing service Amnet to create Dentsu Programmatic.

Gautam also led the creation of Dentsu’s proprietary adtech product, the Dentsu Marketing Cloud ecosystem, which is a cohesive system that brings together a slew of Dentsu proprietary ecosystems such as the Facebook Marketing Partner (Ad-Tech) Badged DMC Explore, Dentsu Play, Dentsu TrueValue and other proprietary martech tools used in over 32 markets globally.

On the appointment, Ashish Bhasin, Dentsu Asia Pacific CEO said that data is central to the company’s business strategy as it ensures that advertising efforts are in the right direction.

“Having Gautam drive this data agenda for us is crucial in the era of data explosion. He has earned a reputation of developing and delivering highly innovative data-led initiatives while embodying the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism. This is a well-deserved promotion and I look forward to working closely with him,” said Bhasin.

Merkle APAC president Zhengda Shen also commented, “Organizations are constantly challenged to evolve with agility and speed and adapt to ever-changing consumer dynamics. Providing leadership for clients by integrating data, media, content, and technology to navigate through this shifting landscape is a critical function of agencies. Gautam’s track record for driving innovations and developing globally scaled solutions makes him perfectly placed to help our clients in the region and to ensure that Dentsu International continues to lead through innovation.”

Meanwhile, Gautam, on his new role, said, “There are almost no limits to what we can uncover by studying consumer behavior and their interplay with brands. I’m excited to apply my leadership, knowledge, and experience in delivering globally adopted tech-driven products and solutions to further the data-driven culture of Dentsu International and to build the practice across APAC, further cementing our dominance in this area within the region in using cutting edge technology to solve everyday client challenges.”

Very recently, Dentsu announced its rebranding from Dentsu Aegis Network to now Dentsu International. The new brand will see the union of thousands of global employees under one Dentsu name.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC’s Top 5 Stories For September

This month, MARKETECH APAC truly lived up to its name. For the top 5 stories this September, we saw a diverse set of newsmakers hailing from around the APAC region.

The top stories were identified based on Google Analytics from August 17 to September 15. In the list, two great brands from Southeast Asia and East Asia flexed their creative prowess to showcase novel brand marketing moves. Marketing leaders also continue to dominate the list; a marketing executive from South Asia recounted her almost two-decade marketing journey, another one, an APAC business director filled us in on a growing buying trend that no one saw coming amid the pandemic, while a significant appointment from ANZ also grabbed people’s attention this month. 

Top 5: Shopee gets fictional character Phua Chu Kang as new face of the brand

Ever since eCommerce platform Shopee was launched, it has only been putting its trust to big, international names to represent its brand – that would be Kpop girl band Blackpink and professional footballer Cristian Ronaldo. During its 9.9 super sale, the brand decided to show what hyper localization really means by getting not just any local personality, but a deeply rooted cultural icon – sitcom character Phua Chu Kang.

Phua Chu Kang, played by actor Gurmit Singh, is the title character of the longest-running sitcom by network Mediacorp, which revolves around the misadventures of the Phu family.

The show ran from 1996-2007, and within that time, Singaporeans grew to love the eccentric, overly confident, and yellow-boots wearing contractor. So what has truly made the Shopee team go for this rather unconventional stint?

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Head of Marketing Tiger Wang said, “The [appointment] marks another milestone for us as we continue to build on the hyper-localized approach and deepen our engagement with the local audiences. Phua Chu Kang is a household name and a celebrity, [and] local icon. His ability to resonate with and unite local communities aligns with Shopee’s vision, making him the best choice for us.”

Top 4: Hong Kong-based Towngas cooking academy extends its expertise to YouTube 

Amid in-person limitations during the ongoing pandemic, many brands and businesses alike have turned to the virtual side of things. Take Hong Kong-based cooking school Towngas Cooking Centre as an example. The culinary academy which has flame cooking at the core of its program, has gotten things rolling this September as it forayed to YouTube this month, and it doesn’t stop at that. It has a bunch of high-caliber celebrity chefs to boot, tapped to showcase the school’s virtual sessions.

Healthy Monday, French Wednesday, Culinary Tips4U, and Star Chef Weekend and Sunday Mom & Dad are just some of the quirky-titled lessons that are slated for its YouTube viewers.

General Manager for Retail Marketing & Sales Catherine Wong said that the occurrence of COVID has definitely pushed Hong Kongers to prefer home-cooked meals to dining out, and this is what ultimately brought the brand to make the most out of the situation. 

Top 3: Healthcare marketing maven Jasrita Dhir

Last month, the #MARKETECHMondays episode of Philippines’ Mark De Joya entered the top five list, and this time, another one of the webisode’s guests – India-based marketing leader Jasrita Dhir has been one of the stories that garnered the most views.

Jasrita’s marketing expertise expands almost two decades, where she’s worked with a list of well-known brands such as consumer product giant Procter & Gamble, hospitality brand Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, and television media company NDTV before having focused entirely on brand and marketing for healthcare services. 

Currently, she is the assistant vice president for healthcare provider Fortis Healthcare in India. When we sat down with Jasrita during her #MARKETECHMondays episode, she shared some very helpful advice that could be very well treated as a guiding light to budding marketers. 

“I just have two things to say to [marketers]; the first is, please never forget why you decided to become a marketer. There would be times in your journey when you’re feeling low, but constantly remind yourself [your why], [which is] because you want to be your consumer’s voice inside your organization,” said Jasrita. 

‘The second is keep upgrading; it’s nobody else’s responsibility to upgrade your skills. Because your consumer is going to keep changing; there are new avenues, [mediums], [and] new platforms. You have to have their pulse,” added Jasrita.  

Top 2: Stella Berry’s take on a new phenomenon in shopping amid the pandemic

Have you heard of revenge shopping? We bet not, but we too are sure that it would be a term soon to ring bells. In a nutshell, revenge shopping goes hand in hand with luxury shopping. It is a phenomenon that sees luxury stores opening their doors to shopping-starved consumers looking to avenge their months spent holed up at home during the lockdown.

This month, Regional Business Director of mobile advertising solutions Adludio, Stella Berry dedicated a full thought leadership article on the buying trend.

Stella said that it is a testament to the unique relationship consumers have with luxury. 

“No one could have predicted that after months of lockdown, the need for luxury goods has resulted in long queues outside of boutiques. This phenomenon is the result of brands, really making the effort in continuing to engage with people even during the lockdown,’ shared Stella.

All looking positive for brands and consumers, but Stella also puts out a caution.

“Returning to business as usual at this [rapidly] accelerated pace could bring about a negative impact [on] the environment, and consequences on sustainability. So luxury marketers need to find their balance to ensure the brand continues to remain sustainable, but also well-loved,” said Stella.

Top 1: Cognizant ANZ ropes in former PwC executive Jane Livesey

Our top story for the month comes from Australia and New Zealand, and from global IT firm Cognizant at that. In August, former PwC managing partner Jane Livesey was roped in by the firm to become CEO

Livesey breathes and lives IT. At PwC, she led over 800 IT professionals for the company’s technology consulting practice team in Australia; while for 12 years, she served as tech managing director for Accenture. With a seasoned IT experience under her belt, Livesey has also become an active advocate for women in the field of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, or STEAM. 

It hasn’t been very long since Jane settled into the role, and as we checked up on her, she shared with us, “It’s been great to join Cognizant and hit the ground running in Australia and New Zealand. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with both our clients and our teams. At Cognizant, we are focused on how to enable organizations in ANZ to keep on top of era-defining innovations and drive growth in the face of continuous technological and market changes. As CEO of ANZ, my priority is to provide local enterprises and governments with high-quality, market-leading digital transformation capabilities that enhance the lives of people and support digital-first.”

Watch the MARKETECH APAC REPORTS of these top five stories, with exclusive appearance and commentary from the newsmakers themselves.

If you have interesting stories, thought-leadership pieces, and case studies in the area of marketing, technology, media platforms, and SME, please send us an email at [email protected] Who knows your story could be part of our top 5 next month.

Marketing Featured South Asia

PHD appoints new CEO for India

Mumbai, India – Omnicom Media Group-owned media agency PHD has roped in communications veteran Monaz Todywalla as its new chief executive officer for India. 

Todywalla comes with close to two decades of extensive experience in the field of media and marketing and communications. She served as vice president of growth & strategy at media planning agency Wavemaker India for 11 years, and prior to that, she was deputy general manager and later on, senior vice president of communications agency Madison Communications from the year 2003 – 2014.

Talking about her new role, Monaz said, “I am excited about working with the talented and diverse team at PHD India, fostering creativity and inclusiveness in a space that is already abuzz with innovative thought. Coupled with a solution-oriented and richly-curious ethos at PHD, I am looking forward to leveraging my experience and helping our clients make the leap in a rapidly changing business landscape.”

CEO of PHD APAC James Hawkins believes that with Todywalla, PHD could not have asked for a more experienced, skilled and innovative thinker to lead the India team.

“With Monaz’s strong emphasis on cross-functional, multi-disciplinary work, and her focus on creating an inclusive work environment, I am absolutely confident that Monaz will lead PHD India to greater heights,” said Hawkins.

PHD is a global communications planning and media buying agency network. Its operations expand North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Marketing Featured APAC

Dentsu Aegis Network names new head of business growth, solutions for APAC

Singapore – Dentsu Aegis Network today announced the appointment of Dominic Powers, former CEO of Singapore-based advertising technology company CtrlShift, to the role of head of business growth and solutions for APAC. 

Prior to joining Dentsu, Powers served as executive vice president and managing director for international affairs of advertising cloud solutions provider, Epsilon, for 14 years until 2016.

Currently, he independently offers advisory services in the area of technology and marketing, and acts as a connector among brands, agencies, and tech companies for consumer engagement projects, with which he operates a self-domain website,, to promote his services.

Based in Singapore, Powers will be reporting to Dentsu Aegis Network’s CEO for APAC Ashish Bhasin, as well as to the company’s CEO for solutions in the region, Yusuke Kasahara. 

Within the new role, Powers will be tasked with driving organic revenue growth for clients by identifying innovative solutions to maximize growth opportunities across media, creatives and CRM. 

He will also be overseeing the APAC region’s new business strategy and opportunities within the company’s existing client base, working with regional teams to grow C-suite relationships as well as the solutions unit to deliver business value to clients through integrated solutions, strategies and products.

Commenting on his appointment, Powers said, “Industries across the world have seen more disruption and transformation in the past six months than they have in years.” 

He adds, “Brands need an agency that can guide them through the changing consumer landscape, maintaining their relevance while identifying the next growth opportunity. I am looking forward to working with our teams across the APAC network to identify these challenges and deliver growth for our business and importantly, that of our clients too.”

Meanwhile, Kasahara said, “Marketing transformation is central to Dentsu Aegis Network’s proposition. While we are built in a way that enables integration across multiple capabilities, Dominic’s role will be paramount in making sure [that] the way we organize ourselves benefits our clients while bringing new brands through the door.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

OMD Singapore goes to home-grown managing director Chloe Neo for COO appointment

Singapore – Omnicom Media Group (OMG) has announced today that OMD Singapore has tapped its own managing director Chloe Neo to take on the role of chief operating officer. 

OMD Singapore vouches for Neo’s seasoned experience in the industry, where 12 years have been dedicated to OMD.  

Neo started out in the company as business director in 2008, eventually rising up to assume the role of managing partner and later on, managing director.

“During her time with us, Chloe has been instrumental in driving growth and innovative solutions for our clients, as well as mentoring and nurturing the talent within our organization,” said Tony Harradine, CEO, Omnicom Media Group, APAC. 

Aside from full-fledged corporate work, Neo has been active in spearheading advertising associations in Singapore, having served senior capacities at the 4As in Singapore. Just this last month, she was appointed as the first vice president for the Association of Advertising & Marketing Singapore for 2020. 

Marketing Featured ANZ

International video ad platform Unruly appoints new CEO for ANZ

Sydney, Australia – International-wide video advertising platform Unruly has announced that it has appointed former CEO of media agency IPG Mediabrands David Haddad as its newest CEO for the APAC division

Unruly connects advertisers and publishers through its omnichannel marketplace UnrulyX to distribute video ads across a range of screen formats including CTV, mobile and desktop. 

Haddad will be responsible for accelerating the company’s growth in the key Australian and New Zealand markets, working closely with the company’s key strategic partner News Corp Australia with which Unruly boasts its video distribution access to 50 publishing titles. 

Haddad brings with him over 17 years’ experience of working in the advertising industry having serviced in functions of trading, planning, and client management as well as strategy and agency management.

Aside from his leadership in IPG Mediabrands which he ran in Singapore, he oversaw media agencies UM Australia as general manager and also assumed a directorial position for agency Bellamy Hayden.

Haddad will be based in Unruly’s Sydney office and will report to Alex Khan, the company’s managing director for international affairs.

Commenting on the appointment, Khan said, “The Australian and New Zealand markets are key growth territories for us, so having David’s incredible leadership skills, vast knowledge, and industry know-how will be crucial as we continue to roll out our exciting all-screen capabilities to our clients.”

Meanwhile, Haddad said,  “I’m delighted to be joining Unruly, one of the most well-known, innovative companies in the global video advertising ecosystem. Bolstered by Tremor’s enhanced capabilities, I’m excited to unleash Unruly’s multi-screen, market-leading proposition across Australia and New Zealand.”

Unruly one of the business divisions of global advertising technology firm Tremor International, alongside Tremor Video and Rythmone.