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Marketing Featured East Asia

SCMP’s magazine division appoints Sophia Yu as managing director

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong-headquartered global news company South China Morning Post has announced the appointment of Sophia Yu as the new managing director of its magazine division, SCMP Hearst. 

Yu currently serves as senior vice president and publisher of SCMP Hearst, overseeing the brand development, business strategy and editorial direction of all of the division’s lifestyle media brands. She first joined SCMP in 2011 as director of advertising and marketing solutions and moved to SCMP Hearst in 2013 as general manager and publisher. 

Prior to SCMP, she previously held both in-house and agency positions at different companies, having acquired more than 15 years of APAC strategy, sales, marketing and advertising experience across Hong Kong, Greater China, and other Asia markets.

“Sophia is one of Hong Kong’s most experienced and knowledgeable leaders in women’s magazines and lifestyle brands today. I am confident that her strong strategic planning, management, and people leadership skills will take our magazine brands to new heights,” said Catherine So, chief executive officer of SCMP Group.

Yu succeeds Josephine Chan, who led SCMP Hearst for the past 35 years. Under Chan’s leadership, SCMP Hearst has grown to operate five renowned lifestyle media brands in Hong Kong, including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Esquire, and ELLE Men.

“Josephine is a well-respected leader in Hong Kong’s lifestyle media industry. We are grateful for her leadership and commitment to SCMP Hearst over the past 35 years. We appreciate the role she has played in driving our magazine business forward and wish her a well-deserved retirement,” said So.

Previously, SCMP has also appointed Kevin Huang, formerly the managing director for Hong Kong at Carousell, as its chief operating officer.

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Marketing Featured East Asia

Ex-Carousell Kevin Huang appointed as SCMP’s new COO

Hong Kong – Kevin Huang, formerly the managing director for Hong Kong at Carousell, has been appointed by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) as its newest chief operating officer. In his new role, Huang will be leading the media company’s advertising and marketing solutions unit.

He brings with him over 25 years of experience from Hong Kong and the APAC region. Amongst his many career achievements is a persistent track record of spearheading digital, mobile, and advertising businesses through high growth and profitability. 

During his stint at Carousell, Huang has driven the development of the overall business strategy whilst overseeing its operations, marketing, branding, and community engagement. 

He was also previously the head of Birdie Mobile, a local digital-only mobile operator and was the CEO of co-founded adtech Pixels between 2002 and 2018. 

Speaking on his new role, he said, “I am honoured and excited to join the South China Morning Post, a premier English news source on Hong Kong, China and Asia affairs for readers worldwide, and a trusted content and marketing solutions partner for business enterprises across the APAC region. In my new role, I look forward to deepening SCMP’s relationships with prospective and existing partners across industries.” 

Huang added, “Building on The Post’s loyal following from a worldwide audience base, I also look forward to scaling the award-winning content studio and advancing the ad tech stack at SCMP as part of the Post’s full suite marketing and branding solutions offering.”

Meanwhile, Catherine So, who was appointed as the chief executive officer for SCMP in 2022, commented, “Kevin brings with him a wealth of strategic, commercial and operational expertise, as well as an extensive local and regional network across industries. His appointment underscores our ambitions to further scale our tech capabilities to offer innovative marketing solutions to our partners. I am confident Kevin’s skill sets will help take us to new heights as we embark on the next phase of our tech-forward strategy.”

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

365 Communities: What are they and how can they be used to monetise brand events

Singapore – Brands are now realising the importance of building communities to build greater relationships with their customers outside of the traditional way of customer retention. Communities are a helpful way for brands to get a deeper understanding of their consumer base. The question is: in a commercially-driven event, how do you monetise such a community organically?

This is what Sophie Ahmed, Senior Vice President of Market Strategy at Hubilo, discussed during her fireside chat in the recently-concluded webinar hosted by MARKETECH APAC and Hubilo.

In the conversation, Sophie explains that a 365 community is a meeting place where all of the brand’s community can come together to do business, meet, network, learn and to feel part of something bigger. Using the example of book and school clubs, she says that a community established is to belong to something, and taps into the tribal part of someone.

“Any brand that can use events to build their leads and grow their business can keep their event alive 365 days. By providing a single sign on access to this community of prospects, customers and partners, they will be able to get greater insight into their behaviours and on a deeper, more emotional level,” she explained.

Sophie noted in the chat that there are two ways to consider when monetising an event: either use it to build growth and indirect revenue, or do it under a subscription model. She notes that in executing these revenue models, brands need to ensure their customers are being offered perks and other advocacy-driven updates in order to retain them in the longer run.

“Within the community, you can have smaller meetups, focus groups, customer workshops, tier it, gate it, host on-demand content [amongst other things] and then have a larger annual event,” she added.

Furthermore, when asked about how these 365 communities allow commercially-driven events to be more personalised, Sophie explained that brands need to use insights from their customer base to decide how an event is oriented to be personalised and deemed effective for a content marketing strategy.

“So you can watch their behaviour, also temperature check their feeling towards your brand and what the market is like. You can now spot industry trends earlier and translate this into how you then personalise their experience at your master event and also pre and post-event messaging, so it resonates,” she said.

Want to learn more about what Sophie has to say in regards to kickstarting your 365 community? Explore how an event tech company can become a partner in your journey. Watch the on-demand webinar here.

The webinar, with the theme ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific’, also gathered industry leaders to deep dive into what it takes for brands to successfully plan their events. Joining the discussion were Amit Wadhwa, chief executive officer at Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing at Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post.

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

How virtual has just made in-person events better: APAC industry leaders’ panel discussion 

Singapore – In the recently concluded webinar, What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific, marketing leaders from different industries came together in a panel discussion to touch base on event marketing as we move forward from pandemic-induced social restrictions. This was joined by Amit Wadhwa, CEO of Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing of Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post. 

Moderated by Sophie Ahmed, the SVP for market strategy at Hubilo, the panel discussion saw the industry leaders agreeing that while the innovation of digital made it possible for brands to continually serve events in the virtual form amidst the pandemic, nothing can replace the engagement brought by in-person events.

“Events were means of physically interacting with the target audience, actually making the brand [be experienced] As senior vice president of marketing, physically. And I think Covid has taught us that nothing can replace that,” said Wadhwa.

“What’s interesting in the times that we’re living in, events…of course it is about physically interacting with the brand, physically interacting with the philosophy of the brand, [and] physically living the brand, but I think, more importantly, the events actually lived much beyond the physical event, the event now can actually [move] to digital,” he added. 

When virtual became the lifeline for events, everyone thought it would now be an either/or situation between virtual and physical. But the sophistication brought by the former just proved that in-person events have just gotten better through it. 

“We all keep talking about how digital is booming, and how that is the new medium to be, but it’s not just creating content for digital,” said Wadhwa. “You can actually do something on-ground and then amplify it digitally.” 

What events are making possible for brands 

Despite the momentum of brand events held back for a period, the ‘show’ must go on for them as it serves many purposes on their engagement, brand message, and consumer retention. 

For Manjaji at SCMP, it is through events that they are able to bring together their most loyal readers and subscribers. 

“[Events are] a platform for us to engage our most loyal readers and most active readers…for you to be participating in an in-person event, those people are really invested in the story and journalism that you tell,” he said.

When consumers, or readers in SCMP’s case, are brought together in one shared space, it follows that the brand is able to engage and get to know its audiences better. 

“If you want to think about First-party data, for example; through events, you’ll get to know readers much, much more. Which event [did] they go [to]…who did they talk to – those data [are] actually gold mine for us, and we start to realise the power of events, virtual and in-person, to collect these data. So for us, we use events for that [purpose],” said Manajaji. 

In terms of events becoming a way to acquire relevant consumer data, Wadhwa agrees. 

“We are getting more and more richer [with] our insights with each event because of the data we’re getting, because of the understanding that we’re getting, which wasn’t the case earlier,” said Wadhwa. 

Meanwhile, for Javier that helms the marketing of insurance brand Generali, what events enable is the communication of the brand’s story and it becoming a platform to help consumers understand the brand purpose beyond the surface level. 

“Insurance, per se, is seen as very serious or very stiff, but events enable us, [provide] us an opportunity to tell our story, or to tell our purpose,” said Javier. 

During the pandemic, that ‘story’ changed for Generali Philippines – moving from the strong focus on the value proposition of ‘prevention’ to now strengthening the communication on ‘protection’, and Javier shared that events are what made it possible for them to transcend their initial branding. 

“Through our events, we are able to transcend that purpose, to transcend that story, and with that, this creates opportunities for us to create the leads,” said Javier. 

How to create events that stand out 

Now that we’re seeing in-person events getting back on its feet, the more important question is, how can brands make their events stand out and resonate well with the audience? 

For Manjaji, the foundation is important and that means continuing to treat content as king.

“[Connecting] the right dots is still fundamental; if you fail to do that, your event will be crap, [doesn’t] matter if you did it in a five-star hotel,” he said. 

Wadhwa, meanwhile, said that most of all, the event must sit right on what the essence of the brand is. 

Citing an example, he shared, “If I think music is entertaining, but music is not something that’s a pillar of my brand or is not connecting to my audience, I don’t just pick up music because it’s just getting popular.” 

“I think it needs to fit the brand philosophy; it might sound fundamental, but [a lot of] times, brands lose track of it. I think we need to bring that back,” he added.

In terms of dealing with specific challenges in event marketing such as a limited budget, Javier also shared her insights. 

For her, it’s all about prioritisation. 

“You know what is far more important [to] you when you create [a certain] event,” she said. 

Using ‘weddings’ as a microcosm for the larger event marketing organisation, she said you would need to think about which comes more important than others, whether that’s having grade A photography or whatnot. She shared that for Generali Philippines for example, they focus on the content they aim to give to the audience, which would mean the lion’s share of the budget goes to acquiring credible speakers.

Lastly, on the importance of curating attention-snaring and impactful events, Wadhwa shares that the event simply has to ‘feel real’ for the intended audience – events becoming a two-way communication. 

“[You] can absolutely make it exciting, [if] it’s through a celebrity, or through [a] performance…but [unless] I see myself in it, and I see myself completely engrossed in it, and I start living the brand, it almost becomes a two-way communication,” he said.

“And the moment it becomes a two-way communication, I think we’ve hit the bull’s eye,” Wahwa added. 

The webinar, What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific, also conducted a fireside chat with Ahmed, who discussed about the 365 community strategy in events. The conversation talked about how the strategy can be monetised and used for further personalisation of brands. 

Register HERE to get your on-demand access. 

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

APAC marketing leaders gather to discuss the future of event marketing this 2023

Singapore – Last November 3, APAC industry leaders gathered in an industry discussion that talked about the future of event marketing as brands and marketers prepare for 2023. Conducted by MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with events platform Hubilo, ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific’ roped in industry leaders from Dentsu Creative India, Generali Philippines, and South China Morning Post. 

The events industry was one of the worst hit during the pandemic, and now that things are gradually getting back to normal, it’s crucial to take a look at how events have evolved and the new trends that have emerged as it rises from a prolonged halt. 

Kicking off the webinar was a panel discussion graced by Amit Wadhwa, CEO of Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing at Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post. Moderated by Sophie Ahmed, SVP for market strategy at Hubilo, the group of leaders talked about the importance and strategy of leveraging event-led communities. Furthermore, the panel touched on the best event engagement strategies that brands can employ. 

Meanwhile, Ahmed who’s had 20 years of industry experience in events and marketing, further shared her insights into strategising events through a fireside chat with MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope

In the conversation, Ahmed shed light on the burgeoning strategy called ‘365 Community’, and discussed how said marketing direction can be monetised and give way for greater personalisation by brands. 

The webinar drew marketing professionals hailing from the industries of media, airlines, financial services, retail, and hospitality, amongst others. Attendees come from the markets of Singapore, Australia, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Furthermore, those who took part represented brands such as ByteDance, CIMB, Crimson Hotel, Foodpanda Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines, MetroMart, Netflix, and Tickled media. 

Teope commented, “We can’t just expect the growth of events to be a one-way, straightforward path. Just because it was the in-person format that we left behind, does not mean we’re simply going back to how it was. Events have been forever changed and this is what this industry discussion is for – to get us back on track and open our eyes to newer innovations and strategies.” 

Register HERE to get your on-demand access to the webinar. 

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Platforms Featured East Asia

SCMP’s latest brand initiative showcases journalism as more than the sum of its parts

Hong Kong – The South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Hong Kong-founded and -headquartered global news company, has released its biggest brand initiative in five years. Called ‘More than a story’, the campaign aims to tell that ‘a story’ is not to be digested at face value as its purpose and essence transcends more than just it being a set of facts or a trove of words. It seeks to share the message that it is more than just reporting, words on a page, facts, and a story – it is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Adrian Lee, SVP of audience growth at SCMP, says the campaign serves as a ‘love letter’ to the city the Post calls home, that is Hong Kong. The brand initiative honours the vocation of journalism and how it is an enabler of keeping the principles of truth, responsibility, and community intact within society. 

“[It is] a reminder of the resilience and tenacity which we share with our home audience, made possible because of a vocation informed by purpose and mission,” added Lee. 

He continues, “This shared mission by our people is fuelled by a deep sense of belonging, serving as their beacon every step of the way as they report on the entire spectrum of social issues in our community.” 

The latest campaign builds on its previously-launched messaging ‘Journalism that Hong Kong Deserves’. Divided into three parts, the inaugural episode of ‘More than a story’ brings us behind the scenes to offer a candid and unvarnished close-up of the deep commitment Hong Kong desk reporters exhibit in. 

The campaign turns the focus inwards and allows readers to hear straight from the source – SCMP’s journalists and its people – of what motivates and inspires them, as they explain why they do what they do and are driven to effect positive change in their home city. 

Episode one debuts across SCMP’s website, news app, and social media channels and will also make an appearance on the iconic videowall at Times Square in Causeway Bay, a location which has served as the Post’s newsroom headquarters since 2018. The campaign’s citywide rollout will extend to a wide range of locations in the coming weeks — a tribute to its journalists, readers and fellow Hongkongers who have been with the Post “every step of the way.” 

Throughout the year, subsequent videos will be released featuring different aspects and individuals working in the Post’s newsroom. 

“As our global coverage continues to evolve and expand, the Post remains committed to honouring its roots and origins as Hong Kong’s home-grown international newspaper of record,” said the Post.

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Marketing Featured APAC

Ex-Expedia’s Catherine So appointed as SCMP’s new CEO

Hong Kong – The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has appointed Catherine So as its new chief executive officer. The appointment takes effect 15 June as she succeeds Gary Liu.

Liu will be transitioning into a new role to oversee the development of Artifact Labs, a new blockchain and NFT company created by SCMP.

So joins SCMP from Expedia Group where she was the managing director of Asia-Pacific, overseeing its consumer brands in all APAC markets. She was previously the managing director of Groupon Hong Kong as well, and has previously held leadership positions at iProperty Group which is now REA Group, Tom Group, News Corporation, and AOL Time Warner.

She brings into SCMP a background in digitalisation, audience development, and content commercialisation. This is in addition to her extensive media and technology leadership experience, strong track record for corporate transformation and innovation, and success in growing consumer-focused companies.

Speaking on her appointment, So said, “I am honoured to take on this position and thrilled to lead the South China Morning Post. The need for quality journalism has never been higher in today’s complex and polarised world. As a trusted news media company in Hong Kong and around the world, the Post is well-positioned to shape the global dialogue on Greater China and Asia.”

She added, “Building on SCMP’s world-class editorial, I will focus on strengthening business fundamentals: growing our global readership base, and expanding commercial opportunities, through both product and technological innovations. I look forward to leading and working with the team to achieve the next phase of transformation and growth at SCMP.”

Meanwhile, Joe Tsai, chairman of the SCMP Board of Directors, commented, “We are thrilled to have Catherine as our next CEO. She brings exceptional leadership acumen to the company, and she will drive continued business growth with a deep focus on editorial excellence and user experience.”

He added, “We also thank Gary for his dedication and contributions over five-and-a-half years as CEO. He has created a lasting legacy by transforming the Post digitally and culturally, and has empowered the company to further innovate with purpose and passion.”

Lastly, Liu commented, “SCMP is in great hands with Catherine as our next CEO. The Post will benefit from her deep digital and commercial expertise and her leadership experience. I look forward to SCMP’s continued growth under Catherine’s stewardship.”

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Platforms Featured East Asia

SCMP launches first-ever NFT collection centred on HK’s historic year

Hong Kong – The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has announced the launch of its inaugural NFT collection called ‘1997 Premium Series’, which gives Hongkongers, history buffs and NFT enthusiasts the opportunity to own a piece of history–all from Hong Kong’s historic year of 1997.

The year 1997 has been a pivotal year for Hong Kong, primarily because of the British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese authorities on July 1, 1997. Other notable events in 1997 that shaped Hong Kong’s history include the Asian financial crisis, the deaths of Deng Xiaoping and Princess Diana, the Avian flu outbreak, among others.

The first drop of the NFTs will release more than 1,300 unique mystery boxes, with each box containing five random NFTs of the Post’s front pages from 1 January to 1 July 1997. An upcoming second drop will release a further 1,300 boxes covering 1 July to 31 December 1997.

As part of the NFT release, SCMP has named portto, the company behind Blocto, as its exclusive wallet partner for the ‘1997 Premium Series.’

For Gary Liu, CEO at SCMP, the publication has witnessed many historic moments as Hong Kong’s newspaper of record and the launch of the ‘1997 Premium Series’ is significant as the city marks the 25th anniversary of the handover this year.

“ARTIFACTs by SCMP brings together collectors and history enthusiasts, and we’ve been delighted by the growth and enthusiasm of our community in the lead-up to the launch. We look forward to releasing more of the Post’s 118-year-old media archives as NFTs as well as partnering with other guardians of history to preserve historical assets on the blockchain,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, Hsuan Lee, CEO of portto, commented, “Blocto has a lot of experience in the deep blockchain having cooperated with large enterprises, from Vault by CNN, MotoGP Ignition and the South China Morning Post. We have been continuously focusing on co-creating an easy-to-use experience that is intuitive to both users and the companies we work with.”

The new NFT launch by SCMP is part of ‘ARTIFACTs by SCMP’, the first NFT collection released using the ARTIFACT metadata standard, serving as the foundation upon which history can be discovered, connected, and collected on the blockchain. The project aims to seed a community of collectors and eventually produce an ecosystem around the preservation of historical accounts and assets.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

What’s NEXT: Guide to help you master the art of content marketing in 2022

More marketers are recognizing the power of branded content in our rapidly evolving digital age. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with all sorts of adverts, so it is vital for brands to tell stories that resonate with their customers to ensure they stand out from the crowd. 

Content marketing also offers a range of other business benefits, including helping companies to build brand awareness, cultivate consumer loyalty, and generate organic growth through publicity.

Up to 80 percent of marketers regard content creation as one of the top priorities, according to a 2021 report by Hubspot. It also shows that content marketing makes up 26 percent of their business-to-business marketing budgets, while spending is on the rise.

Plan your next successful content marketing campaign

To better plan, manage and evaluate a successful content marketing campaign, it is important that companies put a clear structure in place. Here is our five-step guide to help you plan your next content marketing campaign.

1. Define your strategy with a framework for measurement

Brand equity modeling is a useful tool to assess the impact of measures of brand equity on long-term brand performance. Marketers should first include metrics such as ‘trust’, ‘quality’, and ‘reliability’ with a definitive monetary value and hierarchy, alongside other tangible indicators such as the audience engagement level or sales conversion.

With such a framework, marketers can constantly measure the effectiveness of each campaign and adjust their strategy to optimize the results.

2. Know your audience through data

Storytelling is a form of art, but tailoring your content to the right audience is a science. Making use of first-, second- or third-party data is instrumental in mapping out the key communications challenges of engaging your target audience.

By analyzing the data, which shows such things as who your audience is, what content they consume, and how they behave; marketers will have a better idea about how to strengthen the brand relevance to the target audiences in the right context.

3. Internal support for creative process 

Compelling content requires creativity, but the bureaucratic approval process sometimes kills imaginative thinking. As such, marketers should lobby internally and get the backing of C-suite, or senior executives, to ensure the least intervention in the creative process, while gatekeepers are in place for quality assurance and crisis prevention. Ideally, two to three sign-offs would be sufficient in keeping the right balance between gatekeeping and the creative process.

4. Tailor your distribution plan to match user journey

With a massive volume of content available, both online and offline, marketers need to work towards more than just clicks and eyeballs. Instead, they should curate a content journey – through the right distribution channels at the right time for the right audience – that allows people to discover your brand, generate interest and build brand loyalty.

5. Focus on long-term benefits

Most content marketers define the success of a content marketing campaign by the number of sales conversions. This overemphasis on short-term results prevents marketers from benefiting from the long-term returns – gained from: creating real bonds with your customers and cultivating customer loyalty.

This article is written by Darryl Choo, regional sales director for APAC at South China Morning Post.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT.

This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought leadership published on the platform.

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Marketing Featured APAC

SCMP names David Wightman as global head of advertising

Hong Kong – Global news company South China Morning Post (SCMP) has appointed David Wightman, former group director of business operations at independent marketing and media consultancy Ebiquity, to assume the newly created role of global head of advertising.

Wightman brings more than two decades of industry experience, gained at the intersection of media, data, and technology. He has previously built and led local and international sales and operations teams within digital and traditional media companies. 

Aside from his previous role at Ebiquity, Wightman has worked as the managing director of GroupM’s audience intelligence and activation solution arm [M]Platform, where he launched and scaled the regional programmatic, data, and technology division of GroupM APAC. He has also worked as the chief operating officer of sports publication GiveMeSport, where he overhauled the editorial and content marketing approach, increasing readership, revenues, and investment.

In his new role, Wightman will be spearheading the ongoing growth and international expansion of SCMP’s global advertising business, leading a department spanning Hong Kong, mainland China, Asia, the USA, and Europe. He will also be overseeing the company’s global media sales, marketing, and creative solutions, as well as branded content, and advertising technology, among others.

Commenting on his appointment, Wightman said that he is energized and enthused to be joining SCMP.

“The award-winning history of the brand, coupled with an innovative approach to how we harness data and technology, offers an unprecedented opportunity. I believe the future is very exciting for our company, our advertising partners, and our audiences,” added Wightman.

Gary Liu, SCMP’s CEO, commented that they are delighted to add a leader of Wightman’s global expertise and reputation, and they look forward to broadening their business reach and international relevance with his strategic, operational, and commercial experience.

“His C-suite exposure across the EMEA and APAC markets will greatly benefit SCMP’s growing portfolio of international clients,” said Liu.

Just recently, the news company’s advertising arm announced the launch of the next version of its existing brand sustainability tool, SIGNAL 2.0, which features a suite of new functions to help drive optimization for advertisers and brands in their return of investment (ROI).