Ad­ver­tis­ing vet­eran talks about how old con­cepts, thoughts must die in this dig­i­tal era.



WITH more than 30 years be­hind him in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, Kitti Chambundabongse has ex­pe­ri­enced many changes in Thai­land’s cre­ative scene – not least the dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion brought about by dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies.

“I am still ne­go­ti­at­ing the path in the new era of change and dis­rup­tion in mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing,” says Kitti, 73, who is now hon­orary chair­man of Spa-Hakuhodo and Fu­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Group.

“It’s more true now than ever that my long ex­pe­ri­ence over the years con­firms the shifts un­der way in the in­dus­try.”

Kitti says the busi­ness mod­els of ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia agencies are ad­just­ing to what is emerg­ing as the new nor­mal in the in­dus­try, as part of a new busi­ness land­scape.

“The dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion cre­ated by in­no­va­tion and tech­nolo­gies have em­pow­ered our con­sumers, our new gen­er­a­tions of clients to ex­pect mea­sur­able out­comes, be they in terms of brand pref­er­ence or sales per­for­mances,” he says.

“Gone are the days that we as an agency can rely on our ex­pe­ri­ence or gut feel about the ex­pected re­sults of a cam­paign.”

He says that data-driven cam­paigns, draw­ing on fewer as­sump­tions, to­gether with more demon­strated knowl­edge of the mar­ket in tar­get­ing con­sumers are the el­e­ments that make up the core platform of cam­paign devel­op­ment.

“I ex­pect that it will be­come more dif­fi­cult to man­age the new land­scape of agency busi­ness as ev­i­denced in the ma­jor net­work shift of lo­cus in the US and Europe. There will be more changes and dis­rup­tions caused by dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion,” says Kitti, ad­ding that the con­sumers of to­day and to­mor­row will more so be­come brand ad­vo­cates, ca­pa­ble of speak­ing pow­er­fully about them.

“Our brands over the past few years and long into the fu­ture will need to tell more sto­ries to en­gage and sus­tain re­la­tion­ships with our tar­get con­sumers,” he says.

Kitti says that a data-driven strat­egy has al­ready be­come the key to suc­cess and this shift will be­come even more strongly pro­nounced in the fu­ture when in­dus­try cre­atives will as­sume noth­ing.

“En­sur­ing that we are dig­i­tally savvy and able to cre­ate an ex­cite­ment about how we tell our brands’ sto­ries will be the key to our suc­cess,” he says.

“Cam­paign devel­op­ment will never be a ‘one night stand’ or a one-shot deal like how we tra­di­tion­ally used to do it.

“Build­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with our se­lected clients and our tar­get con­sumer base are the nec­es­sary re­quire­ments for our in­dus­try peo­ple.”

Kitti says that ad­ver­tis­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions now must be dig­i­tally savvy and har­ness some ex­cite­ment to main­tain a high level of con­sis­tent en­gage­ment.

“In an­other sig­nif­i­cant change, I feel that size is not an ad­van­tage any­more,” he says. “To be small, fast, en­gag­ing and true to our­selves, act­ing like a part­ner with our clients, are the ne­ces­si­ties in op­er­at­ing to­day.”

Above all, Kitti says that ad or­gan­i­sa­tions must be dy­namic. “We need to rein­vent our or­gan­i­sa­tions not only to sur­vive but to be small enough to be big in cred­i­bil­ity, cre­ativ­ity – and to be suc­cess­ful,” he says.

“Con­sumers, and also clients, are be­ing em­pow­ered with tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge. They are in­ter­con­nected and pre­fer to ques­tion ev­ery­thing.

“I think that brands are seek­ing to dis­tin­guish them­selves from their ri­vals in the mar­ket and wish to con­nect with con­sumers over the long term at an emo­tional level. That means agencies will need to get bet­ter at sto­ry­telling.”

Kitti says these trends are be­hind some of the changed ex­pec­ta­tions that clients have of the agencies they use. Copy­writ­ing is not just a short-term act of writ­ing but it is done so as to emo­tion­ally en­gage and con­nect with con­sumers. In this way, the level of in­ter­est in a brand can be sus­tained via the dif­fer­ent me­dia chan­nels. How­ever, com­ing up with a good idea is still a must for any cre­ative agency to cre­ate im­pact and aware­ness.

“But our role into the fu­ture will be of client part­ner­ship whereby we will help cre­ate trust and build up trans­parency be­tween our clients’ brands and our con­sumers.” Kitti says.

More broadly, the in­dus­try vet­eran notes that 2019 and 2020 will most likely bring more changes to the political land­scape.

“Dis­rup­tion in pol­i­tics is hap­pen­ing right now when we see new and old par­ties and faces emerg­ing prior to the elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary,” says Kitti, in draw­ing par­al­lels with the dis­rup­tive forces re­shap­ing the ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia in­dus­tries.

“Changes now af­fect­ing the agencies will bring about the ad­vent of more small to medium-sized agencies that break loose from the net­work agencies.

“The new star­tups will be more dy­namic in most busi­ness sec­tors, in­clud­ing in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor.”

Kitti says tal­ented cre­atives and lo­cal pro­duc­tion houses will likely band to­gether to form their own en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­pa­nies.

“New sets of value are emerg­ing among the new in­no­va­tive tal­ents, along with the changes in tech­nol­ogy and in con­sumer de­mand,” he says.

“The net­works with long-es­tab­lished rep­u­ta­tions will con­tinue to thrive but, then again, we need to re­view the busi­ness model to­gether with the way we han­dle our clients and the way we han­dle our tal­ent.

“As clients ex­pect more from the agencies, so will the ex­pec­ta­tions of our new crop of employees.

“We no longer need merely av­er­age tal­ent. The agencies of the fu­ture need above-av­er­age tal­ent – peo­ple who can rein­vent them­selves of­ten enough to keep the bot­tom line afloat.

“To keep pace with com­pe­ti­tion, one must have the pas­sion to man­age the changes and hit the fast-for­ward but­ton with our clients and con­sumers.

“Soon, in 2019, we will see the new nor­mal and the new bench­mark. This is a space where it’s not go­ing to be busi­ness as usual for all agency net­works.”

For mu­sic lover Kitti, the of­fice is not just a work­place but a space where you can cul­ti­vate artis­tic pur­suits with those around you.

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