Marketing Featured East Asia

Japan telecom KDDI unveils metaverse platform brand ‘Alpha-U’ via Geometry Ogilvy Japan

Tokyo, Japan Japan’s leading telecommunications firm KDDI, in partnership with marketing communications agency Geometry Ogilvy Japan, creates a virtually produced film to showcase aU (Alpha–U), its new web3 metaverse platform brand.

In partnership with its parent company WPP, the agency crafts a 30-second clip which showcases four artistic illustrations made by GenZ artist Mayu Yukishita which were used as building blocks connected using AI midjourney and stable diffusion to generate interpolated animation of the platform brand.

The clip was also associated with visual effects to assemble the scenes, mixed with music and narration using japanese language.

Yasushi Arikawa, executive creative director of Geometry Ogilvy Japan, said that this AI-generated creative expression was inevitable for KDDI’s new brand αU that offers services that focus on Web3 and the metaverse.

“This film, in which AI and a virtual singer tell a story about the concept of “Already, one world” that blends the real and virtual worlds, takes us beyond the “uncanny valley” to an emotionally charged story,” Arikawa added.

Geometry Ogilvy supports all the creative direction for the new Alpha U collaboration, including all branding, communication design, events, and press conferences.

The launching was also done in partnership with Sydney-based production house Alt.vfx, and their subsidiary global creative studio T&DA, along with design agency New Holland Creative and THINKR.

Marketing Featured East Asia

Global community The Marketing Society announces new leadership roles for Hong Kong

Hong Kong The Marketing Society, a global community for marketers, has announced new leadership appointments for Hong Kong which include Natalie Truong as its chair and Hina Wainwright being the new vice chair. The appointments aim to accelerate marketing leadership in the city and across the Asia-Pacific region upon entering the post-pandemic era. 

In their new roles, Truong and Wainwright will lead the society in Hong Kong by curating programme of events, conducting trainings, and mentoring marketing leaders and teams which is aimed to be a step for them to perform well for brands, business, partners and wider society.

They will be working with the non-executive board which includes Edward Bell, general brand manager at Cathay Pacific Airways; Nellie Chan, director of customer solutions at Google; Karl Gregory, head of digital channel, sales and customer engagement at HSBC Asia; Kiri Sinclair, founder and CEO at communications agency Sinclair; Seraphina Wong, co-founder and CMO at Women Workplace Index; and environmental service The ESG Consortium.

Truong brings with her experience in leading B2C and B2B organisations from various industries including professional services, financial services, superannuation and telecommunications across Australia, New Zealand and Asia whilst Wainwright also carries with her leadership experience working at global organisations in Asia from various industries including marketing services, life sciences, engineering and the arts.

Whilst serving the organisation, Truong is simultaneously the current chief marketing officer and partner at consulting firm Mercer. Meanwhile, Wainwright is concurrently with independent marketing service adm Group, similarly holding a chief marketing officer position.

Darren Chuckry, outgoing chair of the society said that it is an honour to serve the society in Hong Kong, knowing that they became connected with inspirational marketers.

Sophie Devonshire, chief executive officer at The Marketing Society, added, “As we look towards exciting times ahead, we are delighted to have two formidable marketing leaders at the helm. Natalie and Hina each have a wealth of rich experience, and are ready to steer new energy into our community.”

Founded in 1959, The Marketing Society is a non-profit organisation that builds community of marketing leaders around the world, with its hubs in England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and New York.

Platforms Featured East Asia

HK-based industry body for PR PRHK launches toolkit to help promote work-life balance amongst industry teams

Hong Kong Taking overtime at the workplace is sometimes inevitable, most especially now that the work-from-home set up has blurred the lines between work and rest – this practice can be a challenge for most. PRHK, an industry organisation for public relations and communications professionals in Hong Kong, has come up with a solution to this problem by launching a toolkit called ‘Working Smarter for the Future’ which aims to help industry leaders and working teams to practice better workflow processes and combat overtime. 

Initiated by the next-gen sub-committee of PRHK, the 27-page toolkit gives ample recommendations on planning tools, policy updates, and working tips that industry leaders can use to facilitate a healthy working environment amongst team members, whilst making the work-life balance possible. Meanwhile, resource planning and additional support are also presented for individuals and working teams.

The committee that initiated the toolkit includes Karolis Adomaitis of Fleishman Hillard, Carol Yeung of Golin, Penn Leung and Jesa Amparo of Creative Consulting Group and Sara Cheung of Edelman. 

The said toolkit is also an answer to PRHK’s latest research data which revealed that the top three causes of overtime are tight deadlines and last-minute requests, lack of manpower, and various meetings. The same survey also showed that 75% of respondents from the industry perceive overtime as normal with another 70% having experienced physical or mental health issues, considering overtime as a factor.

Carol Yeung, co-chair of the PRHK’s next gen sub-committee said, “The launch of our ‘Working Smarter for the Future’ toolkit is another step in moving towards making work-life balance a reality for Hong Kong PR and communications professionals. We especially want the profession to overcome its inertia on the issue of unreasonable overtime.” 

Meanwhile, Carbo Yu, chairperson of PRHK added, “PRHK’s mission is to represent, champion, promote and grow the PR and communications profession in Hong Kong. This project has achieved just that, gaining significant positive response from professionals across the industry. PRHK will continue to be an enabler for working smarter as we help people navigate Hong Kong’s dynamic communications landscape.”

With the toolkit launch, PRHK said it commits to delivering more resources such as conducting workshops to help in drawing boundaries, managing hybrid work, and time management. 

Marketing Featured East Asia

Caroline Slocombe appointed by WPP’s OpenX to lead Coca-Cola business in Greater China

Shanghai, China — Marketing and communications network WPP has brought in industry veteran Caroline Slocombe to lead OpenX, the entirely new offering created for The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) that carries an integrated agency model comprised of creative, media, social, data, tech, PR, and commerce experts from across WPP.

In her new role, Slocombe will be overseeing the relationship of TCCC and its portfolio of iconic brands across all WPP’s agencies in Greater China. 

For 25 years, Slocombe has built her strong working experience with agencies. From directing multi-market and multi-functional teams, she has served for some of the world’s biggest CPG and FMCG brands. 

She was previously an executive director for Red Fuse Communications in APAC where she drove growth for a portfolio of over 10 brands across 15 markets. She was also a general manager in LOWE, currently known as MullenLowe Profero, in Hong Kong where she oversaw office operations and manage the Johnson & Johnson business across APAC.

Considering China as an important part of growth and innovation, Laurent Ezekiel, global CEO of OpenX from WPP & WPP CMO said that Slocombe will be an asset for supporting the company’s transformation in the country. 

Commenting on Slocombe’s appointment, Chris Reitermann, chief executive officer of Ogilvy Asia & Greater China added, “Her strategic marketing understanding, combined with her extensive experience in the region — having worked in Asia for more than two decades — made her an ideal fit for this vital role within the OpenX from WPP framework, which is all about delivering giant ideas that create giant value for The Coca-Cola Company.” 

Meanwhile, Slocombe commends The Coca-cola Company for its portfolio of iconic brands and recognizing its global success. 

She added, “Being able to help lead their marketing transformation agenda forward in this part of the world, which is so vibrant and innovative, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I couldn’t be more excited to be working with all the talented experts that make up the OpenX from WPP team and together push the boundaries of possibility.” 

Main Feature Marketing East Asia

Innovation of the Year: Hang Seng Bank’s virtual influencer Hazel

When brands are about to launch a campaign, oftentimes, enlisting a celebrity or social media influencer to be its face is the no-brainer next step. Earlier in 2022, we saw one banking brand turn this reality on its head. What would happen if a brand takes matters into its own hands and launch its very own influencer instead? 

This was the case for Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Bank through the introduction of ‘Hazel’. Unveiled in January 2022, the virtual influencer embodied both the impressive technology of digital and the power of data to create a persona that would resonate well with consumers. Such direction has led them to become MARKETECH APAC’s ‘Innovation of the Year’ for 2022. 

We spoke with Jordan Cheung, chief marketing officer at Hang Seng Bank, to better understand how ‘Hazel’ was conceptualised, and how, since her launch a year after, she’s remained relevant in the digital world.

Embodying the brand’s goals in a ‘red sea’ of advertising

Whilst banking used to have a bad rap as a complex endeavour saved only for smart and cerebral individuals, contemporary times now show otherwise–the youth are now considerably interested in taking ownership of their finances. This is where Hazel comes in. 

In a bid to connect with the younger consumers and keep the brand’s persona fresh and interesting, Hazel was brought forth. Cheung said she represents a unique way of driving digital engagement. 

The campaign launch video of Hang Seng Bank’s virtual influencer Hazel.

“The launch of Hazel aims at helping Hang Seng to [break through] from the advertising red ocean to secure the brand with top-of-mind awareness [showcase] our advantages on our online capabilities and offline networks, and [create] lasting impressions among our customers,” he said.

But before Hazel could be launched, Hang Seng Bank revealed that there had been a more intricate process which involved conducting a study amongst its consumer base – the 18 to 30 year-old bracket. Therefore, the Hazel we now have is the culmination of today’s youth’s unique values and persona.

As true to her slogan #AllOfTheAbove, she aspires to be independent, not wasting time to lead a life full of excitement; and is able to explore at will, try new ideas and experiences, and always ready to take on new opportunities. 

“From a [post-campaign] research tracking, we got [around] 69% of positive verbatim from [the] young generation, with 59% [of] frequent digital users showed liking towards the campaign and 68% of [the] interviewees saying they will consider Hang Seng digital banking,” shared Cheung. 

How Hazel built and retained her relevance 

In the wide world of the Internet, influencers will always rise–and then some will fall. In order to stay relevant within social media, Cheung explained that they never stopped at Hazel appearing in one video, but instead took on multiple collaborations and launched new projects over time.

When Hazel was first introduced in January 2022, she already had a dedicated Instagram account, plus a song collaboration with Hong Kong-Canadian singer Jay Fung, ‘Always By My Side’. This was then followed by another partnership with actress-singer Laiying, which further got the attention of the music industry. 

Hazel, as she appears on a collaboration with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

But what would be the biggest one would be the tie up with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), which featured Hazel donning concept sustainable costumes made by the institute’s graduates in Textiles & Clothing. 

Among the highlighted collections are designs which symbolised the beauty and independence of modern-day women and the ‘beauty’ created by eco-friendly materials.

At present, Cheung revealed that Hazel is set to appear this 2023 at the bank’s metaverse branch in the virtual world, made in partnership with The Sandbox.

When asked about how they are able to manage to keep up with the trends while handling a virtual influencer, he noted that continuously understanding its fanbase helps keep them relatable. 

“Understanding the trend (like how consumers are following authentic & relatable influencers

than those offering picture-perfect lifestyles), leveraging data & result to draw [insights,] and [to] keep exploring the newest technology is all what we have been focusing on,” Cheung said.

So, what’s next for Hazel?

With the launch of Hazel, Cheung said they have observed the market’s positive reception of virtual influencers, seen through the wide traction on Hazel’s Instagram page, with people voicing out that they want to see more of her. 

“From YouTube Brand Lift Survey (BLS), we also [saw] a 10.7% increase in relative lift for ad recall, which is higher than industry average of 7 – 8%,” he noted. 

As of this writing, she has garnered around 3,000 followers on Instagram, with contentincorporating a combination of her adventures and amplification towards the bank’s latest offerings, from promos to their services.

Cheung later said that for the foreseeable future, they are looking forward to combining the best of technology in AI and analytics to further improve Hazel’s digital reach. 

“We’re working on bringing Hazel to the next level through latest technology like motion capture and AI that allows virtual and augmented interactions with customers – by then, Hazel can attend live interviews and offer live unboxing experience to audiences. We’re also actively looking at other collaboration ideas that can bring to live Hazel’s character and personality more,” he concluded.

This recognition is based on Google Analytics results on the most-read stories of 2022, along with editorial validation on the significance of a leader’s contribution, campaign results, and overall impact.

SME Featured East Asia

DBS, CLP Power partner to make sustainable financing solutions accessible to SMEs in Hong Kong

Hong Kong – In line with their commitment to providing sustainable financing solutions to SMEs, consumer bank DBS in Hong Kong and investor-owned power business company CLP Power Hong Kong have partnered to help companies, regardless of their scale, transition to more sustainable business models.

Both companies have recognised the need to make sustainable financing solutions more accessible to SMEs, as sustainable financing tends to be rarer amongst SMEs, who are often constrained by the lack of resources, time, expertise, and funds. This also applies to energy audits, which often require expertise and additional funding.

To help alleviate these challenges, DBS Hong Kong and CLP Power will be offering flexible and innovative financing loan solutions to businesses. These solutions are pegged to CLP Power’s energy-saving services, which include sustainability performance targets (SPTs). SPT performance is measured with reference to the assessment methodologies under CLP Power’s present energy-saving funding schemes. 

By combining CLP Power’s comprehensive energy expertise with DBS’ extensive experience in strategic green advisory and financing, the two companies will be able to deliver comprehensive support and capital for clients, allowing them to invest in enhancing energy efficiency and expanding their businesses sustainably.

Jolynn Wong, head of business banking at DBS Bank Hong Kong, noted, “This marks DBS Hong Kong’s first SME banking package that comes with a pricing discount upon the completion of [an] energy audit with CLP Power.”

Meanwhile, Lena Low, senior director of customer success and experience of CLP Power, commented that as a trusted energy partner for business customers, CLP Power has introduced different energy management solutions such as energy audit service and offers different subsidy schemes to assist their customers to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. 

“We are excited that these initiatives are being recognised to support the assessment of the sustainability performance for customers which we believe will further motivate our customers to save energy and help Hong Kong achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Low.

Platforms Featured East Asia

Lalamove HK mounts indoor ‘CAR-nival’ to promote cross-district food delivery

Hong Kong – On-demand delivery platform Lalamove in Hong Kong has launched an indoor ‘carnival’ called ‘Lalalicious CAR-nival’ which aims to showcase four top Lalamove F&B merchants and promote the platform’s cross-district food delivery. The on-ground activation is slated to run for seven days at the K11 Art Mall in Hong Kong,

Lalamove has teamed up with four popular online businesses and transformed them into a Lalamove Food Van. The line-up includes Monsoon Baking Atelier, a popular online bagel store, Nuttie B, a healthy handcrafted nut butter specialist, Heng Fook Bakery, an artisanal cookie baker specialising in home-backed chewy cookies, and Hong Kong Whistle, a Hong Kong-style craft beer brewer. 

To make the event more memorable, Hong Kong Whistle, Nuttie B, and Heng Fook Bakery will also be offering exclusive crossover products at the ‘CAR-nival’, including a passion fruit flavoured ‘CAR-nival’ NEIPA wrapped in a poster design of a vintage local movie, a brand-new Genmaicha Pistachio Butter, and limited-edition Orange Earl Grey Mochi Soft Cookie.

Meanwhile, the Lalamove Food Van is painted in the bright orange colour of the brand and adorned with ‘CAR’ elements. It features a 2-meter-tall truck photo frame where guests can instantly transform into a Lalamove driver-partner to take photos with fun handheld props for the gram. The ‘CAR-nival’ also offers fabulous prizes, as participants are invited to download the Lalamove app, and become Lalamove Rewards members, to redeem coupons with designated promotion codes for the lucky draw at the mega capsule toy machine.

“Through our curation of the ‘Lalalicious CAR-nival’, we are set to usher in a new delivery trend for the local F&B industry by encouraging Hong Kongers to break through the geographical barriers of traditional food delivery and take advantage of Lalamove’s service for cross-district delicacy delivery. Moreover, our merchant partners could enjoy free promotion opportunities to expand their customer base at the CAR-nival,” said Kristie Cheung, head of marketing communications at Lalamove.

She added, “We also hope to continue to elevate the user experience for our loyal users, especially members of the Lalamove Rewards Program, by providing prizes and perks at the CAR-nival. Currently, one in every four users on the platform is already a member of the program.”

Platforms Featured East Asia

Hivestack launches Uber Taxi’s first pDOOH campaign in Hong Kong

Hong Kong – Programmatic digital out-of-home (pDOOH) adtech Hivestack has launched the first pDOOH campaign for Uber Taxi in Hong Kong through their agency Mediacom Hong Kong. The ‘Go your way, Live your way’ campaign ran from July to September 2022 on multiple channels, including bus shelters and large format digital billboards.

Mediacom Hong Kong has selected Hivestack to deliver on Uber Taxi’s core proposition in empowering target audiences to be in control of the way they travel around the city. According to Hivestack, one of the challenges that come with launching a pDOOH campaign in July and August is the heavy rainfall. It shared that in order to enable the ride-hailing brand to launch its campaign, it had to leverage its advanced weather trigger and Moment Targeting capabilities so that Uber can activate its contextual ads during changing situations. 

Troy Yang, managing director for North Asia at Hivestack, shared that by utilising the agility of the platform, the brand was able to more effectively alter campaign parameters in-flight, plan dayparts, adjust ad spend, and evaluate the campaign effectiveness by understanding the audience concentration rate, performance breakdown by screens/locations and more actionable campaign insights. 

“The campaign ensured Uber Taxi was able to resonate stronger with their target audiences at the right location, with the right ad, at the right time,” said Yang.

Meanwhile, Kenny Ip, head of investment at GroupM, commented that they were excited to partner with Hivestack to deliver their omnichannel marketing campaign via programmatic DOOH for the first time, and as the pioneer of programmatic DOOH, they trusted Hivestack to raise their brand positioning in the market and drive consideration for Uber Taxi. 

“We were delighted with the ease of trading DOOH in this way, in comparison with traditional planning and Hivestack were able to provide the full scope of services for campaign setup, optimisation strategy, weather/moment targeting and post-campaign reporting just like what we are seeing possible on other programmatic media channels. Through programmatic DOOH, we were able to deliver more scale and precision than ever before in this channel,” said Ip.

SME Featured East Asia

DBS Hong Kong, GS1 HK adopt HKMA’s CDI initiative to power digital ‘one click’ trade financing for SMEs

Hong Kong – Consumer bank DBS in Hong Kong and non-profit organisation GS1 Hong Kong have joined hands to further enhance their innovative SME trade financing solution with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Commercial Data Interchange (CDI) platform. 

The move is part of DBS Hong Kong’s commitment to providing enterprises with tailored, efficient financing services while also supporting the fintech ecosystem development led by the HKMA in Hong Kong.

DBS Hong Kong said that it plans to leverage CDI’s platform capabilities to further enhance its recently launched trade financing solution and accelerate its ecosystem strategy in Hong Kong.

Alex Cheung, managing director and head of Institutional Banking Group of DBS Hong Kong, said that the latest trade financing solution enhancement demonstrates the bank’s strong commitment to developing Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem. 

“As a leader in SME banking, DBS is proud to be a part of HKMA’s CDI platform. Since launching our innovative digital trade finance solution with GS1 Hong Kong earlier this year, we have successfully provided SMEs with enhanced and simplified access to working capital. DBS Hong Kong is proud to be an early adopter of CDI and we look forward to working on additional use cases that leverage the platform and find new ways to increase access to funding for SMEs,” added Cheung.

In June 2022, DBS Hong Kong and GS1 Hong Kong launched a digital post-shipment trade financing solution powered by alternative data. The solution enables SMEs on GS1 Hong Kong’s ezTRADE platform to utilise their trade data to access trade financing in a digital and straight-through manner.

With the new solution, SMEs can access much-needed working capital with just one click via the bank’s corporate banking platform, DBS IDEAL. This means that SMEs no longer need to manually submit hundreds of invoices and supporting documents, reducing time and effort through the adoption of a more digital and sustainable way of doing business and seeking financing. 

Moreover, the solution redefines the trade financing journey for SMEs with DBS availing financing through a streamlined credit assessment process. Through DBS’ predictive analytics capabilities, invoice data is used to assess the financial health of SMEs, with the amount of financing available to SMEs updated on a dynamic and recurring basis.

Anna Lin, chief executive of GS1 Hong Kong, shared that the collaboration between GS1 Hong Kong and DBS Hong Kong on digital trade financing has borne fruit to many SMEs enjoying trade financing in a much simpler and digitised manner already. 

“With the CDI, I look forward to unleashing the full potential of more alternative data, enhancing SMEs’ access to financial services and nurturing the trade financing ecosystem in Hong Kong,” said Lin.

Meanwhile, Sandy Tan, head of ecosystems for Institutional Banking Group at DBS Bank Hong Kong, noted that their digital solution has redefined the trade financing journey for SMEs on GS1 HK’s ezTRADE platform, and via their collaboration, they have enabled a digital ‘one click’ transaction experience and greatly reduced the time and effort needed to acquire working capital.

“DBS Hong Kong is committed to taking an active role in further developing and growing Hong Kong’s robust fintech ecosystem. Building on the launch of CDI’s capabilities, we expect to bring our solution to the next level in customer experience while providing more offerings to support the business growth of the SME community,” said Tan.

Marketing Featured East Asia

HSBC launches new duo real-world and metaverse music show experience ‘DuoVerse’

Hong Kong – Financial services giant HSBC in Hong Kong has launched ‘DuoVerse’, a new duo music show experience that seeks to take audience interaction to the next level, featuring the first collaboration of two local artists Tyson Yoshi and Serrini.

The first-ever duo real-world and metaverse live music show will be happening on 11 February 2023 at Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre and the HSBC Metaverse Stadium, allowing the audience to feel the powerful performance while enjoying the zero-distance interactions.

Moreover, audiences can switch up their avatar’s outfit whenever they want, and also get a chance to enter the ‘Metaverse best dressed’ competition during the show to win special prizes.