O&M joins hands with EDB to boost S'pore's marketing scene

O&M's Mr Riley with Mr Wong of the EDB. The advertising and marketing giant is in partnership with the EDB to enhance Singapore's capabilities in modern marketing services.
O&M's Mr Riley with Mr Wong of the EDB. The advertising and marketing giant is in partnership with the EDB to enhance Singapore's capabilities in modern marketing services.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

For example, it will develop people with high potential for leadership roles through secondment to New York HQ

The popular mental image of the advertising or marketing professional - a creative type banging out snappy copy or composing a jingle - is one that is severely out of date.

Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) Singapore group chairman Chris Riley said the modern marketing executive is more likely to be analysing data and working with algorithms to understand what consumers want.

It is an industry that is, like many others, facing disruption from technology and has to transform itself, he added.

To that end, it is collaborating with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on a three- year strategic initiative aimed at advancing Singapore's capabilities in modern marketing services.

Clients these days want to know how they can improve the effectiveness of their marketing content, how to create a better customer experience or how to target customers who have a greater propensity to spend or generate leads for them.

GLOBAL EXPOSURE

Sometimes it is hard to get Singaporeans out of Singapore because this is such a great place to live. So our affiliates programme, for example, will expose them to bleeding-edge marketing services in our global headquarters in New York and to the biggest brands we work for globally.

O&M SINGAPORE GROUP CHAIRMAN CHRIS RILEY

"Navigating that often means a mash-up of data, tech and some automation of marketing and that's really a very new and different area for a lot of marketing services players," Mr Riley noted.

As part of the collaboration, O&M will continue investing in its new modern marketing lab, which began operations last November. The lab undertakes R&D in marketing technology and solutions.

One area of marketing research that few may know about is the study of "audience intent".

"Understanding the correlations between what consumers search for (on search engines) and what they buy is not as obvious as it may seem," he said. "For example, you might find that people who search for credit card deals are three times more likely to be looking for travel ideas after we overlay social data. So in a data-rich environment, you are able to figure out the intentions behind searches. Then you can profile audiences for targeting."

The lab team, which includes data scientists and specialists in programmatic media marketing - the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time - will grow to have at least 40 people over the next three years.

O&M will also start a Singapore affiliates programme, which will develop 20 people with high potential for leadership roles through secondment to the agency's global headquarters in New York.

Participants will be assigned to globally significant client accounts before returning to Singapore to apply what they have learnt to drive innovation and growth in Asia's marketing industry.

A third part of the initiative will involve O&M launching a modern marketing training programme to strengthen its talent pool here. The programme will include modules on data analytics, digital transformation, marketing automation, social media and user experience.

EDB assistant managing director Kelvin Wong said the board's goal is for Singapore to be a leading hub where global brands partner different players in the local marketing ecosystem to develop and pilot digital marketing innovations.

"To achieve this, it is important for the marketing ecosystem here to build up capabilities in areas such as creative technologies and marketing analytics," he said.

"We are therefore heartened by Ogilvy's choice of Singapore as one of its key hubs to grow its modern marketing capabilities."

Mr Riley noted that while the initiatives under this collaboration will mainly benefit O&M itself, he expects Singapore will gain in the long run through the development of modern marketing talent.

"Sometimes it is hard to get Singaporeans out of Singapore because this is such a great place to live. So our affiliates programme, for example, will expose them to bleeding-edge marketing services in our global headquarters in New York and to the biggest brands we work for globally," he said.

"They will then have the ability... to bring that knowledge and experience back to Singapore. Even if they don't work for Ogilvy 10 years from now, they will still be contributing to the development of Singapore's marketing industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'O&M joins hands with EDB to boost S'pore's marketing scene'. Print Edition | Subscribe