Vero appoints ASEAN Culture Lead and forms new region-wide culture team

Vero appoints ASEAN Culture Lead and forms new region-wide culture team

Vero appoints ASEAN Culture Lead and forms new region-wide culture team

Following a regional search for candidates, ASEAN communications agency Vero has recruited a regional Culture Lead and gathered a team of experienced specialists to support him.

The new culture lead, Vu-Quan Nguyen-Masse, has worked in a variety of communications roles since he moved to Vietnam from France seven years ago. As a mediator between subcultures and brands, he has leveraged his eclectic background with roots in political science, passion for fashion and identity, and endless fascination with pop culture. He has been described by collaborators and clients as a “renaissance man with unique perspectives on business and creativity.”

Nguyen-Masse’s experience as a hybrid creative strategist will enable him to study, plan, and develop projects that respond to the question “What is Vero’s culture, and how can we make it compelling to stakeholders?”

“Too often I have seen companies lose sight of their purposes – or not have clear ones in the first place – but as an external or non-strategic stakeholder, I wasn’t always in a position to affect the necessary change,” Nguyen-Masse says. “At Vero, I can draw on and implement all the lessons I have learned about best – and worst – practices.”

ASEAN-based Vero has been expanding across the region since its inception in Bangkok in 2007. Today it counts over 130 consultants in full-service IMC offices in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, and Yangon. Its new culture team will create frameworks in which these individuals and offices can better learn from each other’s practices, attitudes, and methodologies.

This cooperative spirit has been a focus for Vero since its beginning, but as the pandemic has increased the need for regional teams to collaborate virtually, the agency made it a priority to invest further in a regional culture.

The six-person culture team (with room to grow) that Nguyen-Masse will lead is composed of existing Vero members from across the region working in fields such as, internal branding, thought leadership, social media management, corporate communication, and culture. It is designed to function as a miniature brand experience and communications consultancy whose efforts serve to build four cultural pillars:

  • Life: creating an empowering workplace to inspire collaboration and help people enjoy the process of working towards shared goals
  • Excellence: developing and portraying the best selves of the agency as a whole and the individuals who constitute it
  • Editorial: positioning the agency and expressing the unique perspectives of its regional professionals and experts
  • Brand: consolidating the agency’s image to better attract and retain those with shared sensibilities – both clients and team members

The team has two primary strategic foci. The first is to help define and develop the “Vero experience,” which includes internal workflows, interactions with clients, and the work environment. This builds on existing forward-thinking initiatives such as Vero’s wellness and mental health support programs.

The second focus is to guide how Vero communicates its region-wide expertise and strategic positioning.

“Vero has been producing white papers and case studies on topics of high interest to brands since long before I joined, which is of the things that drew me to the agency,” Nguyen-Masse says. “I want to make sure this ever-growing base of knowledge and insight benefits teams and stakeholders across markets and indicates our current and future directions.”

While the team originated from Vero’s desire to maintain a sense of unity during a time of rapid growth – the agency doubled its team in 2020 – and limited in-person interaction, its ambition has since expanded into a desire to create an industry-leading culture by consciously onboarding and developing talent with an eye for those who fit the agency’s identity.

Vu-Quan Nguyen-Masse sees Vero’s identity as an expression of the individual personalities within: generally young, open-minded, and ambitious, but also kind, patient, and genuine. It was witnessing this character – which Nguyen-Masse sees as unusual for the industry – that convinced him to make an unanticipated return to agency life, and it is upon this that he hopes to build the agency’s culture by exploring how individual and collective interests inform its priorities to boost involvement, morale, and quality of work.

“Culture is fluid and amorphous, as it involves complex social and individual dynamics,” says the occasional lecturer. “I try to embody that same spirit by welcoming and seeking to understand all the rich personalities of our agency, and by responding with support and solutions for concerns about work and life balance. And on both the leadership and staff fronts, there is genuine cohesion and ambition, not just when it comes to perks and policies, but also evident in the distinct positivity emanating from everyone I have met so far at Vero. This is particularly exemplified by the urgency with which the agency is working to support the Myanmar team during this time of extreme stress as professionals, citizens, and humans.”

A consistent regional culture will also allow Vero to mirror the structures of its many international clients and provide them with a more unified experience by leveraging the unique capabilities and diverse talent pool of each office for truly regional projects.

“Culture lead is not a common role in Southeast Asia, so we didn’t seek candidates with that specific experience,” says Vero COO Raphael Lachkar. “However, company culture shares with brand strategy its focus on individual and collective identity, which is why we decided to turn to an experienced brand creative strategist to lead our culture team. We’re confident in Nguyen-Masse’s ability to strengthen and grow the group’s culture and to bring our consultants across Southeast Asia together to create work that serves the long-term reputations of our clients and of the agency itself.”

As someone who straddles multiple national identities and has traced an eclectic path from studying the social sciences to managing startups in the fashion industry, questions of individual and collective identity have been central to Vu-Quan Nguyen’s life and career.

Organizations interacting with each other benefit from sharing similar values and personality traits,” Nguyen-Masse says. “Businesses often prioritize securing lucrative deals regardless of whether they are a culture match, but this can be a mistake in the long-term for those seeking to define their brands and attract certain clientele. If we want to be spokespersons for our clients, some level of cultural alignment is highly beneficial. Like a musician trained in certain genres, we will produce better work when we know the field well. It is in the best interest of the agency and our clients to seek out and attract good cultural matches, and even to decline those we feel are not right for us.”

“I enjoyed my work as a marketer, but I felt like I wasn’t living up to my potential to make an impact on people,” Nguyen-Masse adds. “This role, which allows me to focus completely on the wellbeing of an extensive community and empower them to deliver their best while enjoying what they do, is clearly what I was looking for. Also, having been an entrepreneur in a cultural field, I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to build a culture that people would be eager to join.”

A No Rules Rules Agency?

Several Vero team members share their views on the freedom and responsibility highlighted in a book about the Netflix Culture.

By Theerada Moonsiri

Can you still imagine life without Netflix?
We cannot.  

Netflix has totally changed the way we consume content. Today, many of us spend a ridiculous amount of time scrolling through the menu trying to find something *new* to watch, yet end up watching a random episode of Friends that we already watched at least a hundred and sixty-two times. Netflix has also changed business and management.

In 2020, Hired’s survey found Netflix was the #1 company that people in tech want to work.
Besides Netflix’s famous unlimited vacation policy, here is how the big red N sets a new benchmark in terms of leading the way in HR and creating a culture that attracts people.

Vero talks to our very own HR, Culture & Engagement Manager Yaya–Supreeyaporn Sihawong (SS) and HR Business Partner Wan–Sirikhun Tantiyanont (ST) and CEO Brian Griffin (BG), who did their homework on cracking Netflix’s success code thanks to the book No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.

For those who shelve the title on their TBR list (to be reading) since, ahem, forever, here are the deets. It all started when Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, asked Erin Meyer, an author most known for her The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, to observe Netflix’s company culture with the intention of building the brand.

The book explores how Netflix invents the culture of freedom and responsibility and encourages its people to give candid and constructive feedback. Once Netflix’s feedback system works, it enables the manifesto dubbed ‘No Rules Rules,’ providing Netflixers with unlimited holidays and no pre-approvals needed for expenses or strategic decisions—just to name a few.

What is your general opinion of the No Rules Rules system?

SS: Actually, I really like the book – it’s a fascinating story about culture. Not everyone can do what Netflix does and maintains to do so on a global scale. To me, it is definitely worth a try. Still, to build such a culture and keep it from falling apart, the bones must be good; this means a solid feedback system and transparency at work.

BG: One of the things I really like about No Rules Rules is that it helps to articulate some of the philosophies we have had in place, but did not describe anywhere near as clearly. In my opinion, No Rules Rules is the ideal way to manage a creative business so that people can focus on what they do best without unnecessary barriers to working with freedom, responsibility, speed, quality, and an entrepreneurial mindset.  People working in creative industries should read this book.

Our priority is to attract and hire people with good judgment, and as long as we do this, then I think No Rules Rules is a great system. It is also important to note that No Rules Rules does not imply that anything goes. In fact, it is the opposite—and despite no rules, there are a lot of guidelines described in the book. These guidelines are critical, but also can be simple, such as the Netflix policy in the case of expenses, which is basically: spend money in the best interests of the company. And as long as people use this context there is no problem. And when people make mistakes regarding this context, it is openly and transparently shared as a learning experience.

Do you think it is possible to have a No Rules Rules agency?

SS: I believe it is. Creativity that agency people channel and express is what keeps the wheels of agencies rolling. I find Netflix’s unlimited vacation policy intriguing because creative thoughts spark when the mind is relaxed, at rest, and without pressure. When people relax and find balance, they will be back with fresh, ingenious ideas. This really might work for agencies.

BG: Yes, I agree with Yaya. It is possible. Among the best parts of No Rules Rules is that it encourages speed. People can move fast because they do not need to seek numerous approvals for decisions. People can sign contracts, negotiate deals and make purchases without seeking formal approvals. Does that mean that people make big decisions without consulting their teams? Of course not. Consultation and discussion is critical. In fact, the No Rules Rules process requires that people seek out dissent and different points of views in an open and transparent manner, usually via a google doc on which people are invited to make comments. Ultimately, there are many parts of No Rules Rules that we can apply to Vero, and in some cases already do. We can do this because we trust people to make good decisions.

If an agency were to implement a No Rules Rules mindset, where would it start?

ST: It starts with leaders. Before we were to implement anything at all, leaders must buy into the idea and lead by example to actually make it work. Effective leaders engender trust. In their team lead absence, any team members should be comfortable enough to lead the team, liaise with clients and stakeholders, and act in the company’s best interest.

SS: Let’s put it this way. Netflix only hires high-performance individuals and pays top of the market. The book says that one of Reed Hastings earlier companies once faced a crisis where they had to let go of most employees—and the people left were outrageously talented.  And this team remaining was extremely productive because they had a high level of talent density.

Hence, the best place to work for a high-performance or talented workforce is not just beautiful office space but also where they are surrounded by those who can encourage and give you constructive feedback.

BG: The reality is that we are already light on rules and regulations. So part of the way to start is to examine the few rules we do have, and determine ways we can streamline or eliminate these rules.  And then we also need to caution against adding new rules. It is also important we are all aligned on our business goals and communicate our position clearly. As a small business, when we were all able to be together often and sync up easily, it was easy to do this. But now, as we have grown, we need new ways—and we also want to ensure that we are not adding policies and rules that will slow people down and make it more challenging to do great work.

How do you think the No Rules Rules system would work in Southeast Asia?

SS: I am certain it is possible but it sure takes time. Netflix is American; giving feedback is by their nature. However, to implement the said policy to our people, we need to at the least take a long hard look if it is even possible and appropriate for someone to criticize, with the best of intentions, their co-worker of making mistakes. And that is the only beginning.

ST: Even though I like the sound of it, I am still concerned about the nature of people. For example, Americans, especially those working for big companies, tend to adopt a similar mindset in which they strive for companies’ best interest as a whole, and as a consequence, the implementation of new policies can be breezy. However, it is challenging here in SEA to build a solid foundation for the development of such.  For instance, in Southeast Asia, people do not take their leave seriously, and there might be a tendency to work while on leave or ask colleagues to work on leave. This is not healthy.

BG: To a degree, we have already done it—even if we are not calling it no rules. One example: on business decisions, we have enabled team leaders to make their own decisions based on what is good for our teams and what is good for the agency. We are transparent about finances, and working to be even more transparent. My belief is that if people know our business goals and financial goals, they can then make really good decisions. We have also experimented with some rules in the past, and none of the experiments were successful. Our people have good judgment, are professionals, and do not need a lot of policies and procedures to do their work. And when a mistake is made, as will inevitably will happen, we talk about it and share and learn. According to the book, in the netflix culture this is called sun shining. It is about openly discussing mistakes and learning from them. It is the opposite of sweeping problems under the rug.  

Can you talk more about the Netflix culture of sun shining? And how do you apply this to Asian society?

SS: Sunshining is about raising awareness of errors and mistakes and making sure everyone knows about the mistake and how to solve the problem. In the book, there was one team leader who did not want their team to try a new idea because he tried before and it did not work. But their team had a reason to try. And he let his team try and it worked. And then they announced the result and the leader announced that he made a mistake in not allowing his team to try a new approach. This is sunshining the problem. They want to make the culture to communicate to everyone that mistakes are normal and OK and it is ok to try and fail and try again. It really has a huge effect on team members. It encourages them to take risks. And this will move the company forward.
This requires leaders to sunshine their own mistakes so that their team members will also feel comfortable to sunshine mistakes.  

BG: Sunshining is basically a commitment to not sweeping problems under the rug and instead to make mistakes open, accepted and worthy of discussion so that we can all learn. As an agency, we collectively make millions of small decisions every year—and so it is natural that some of these decisions will be in error. But with a culture of sun shining mistakes, we can improve the ratio of our good decisions and learn from our mistakes.

Can you explain the Netflix idea of farming for dissent?

SS: This is something we want to try and make happen in the agency. People’s nature is to defend once we get a comment that is opposite of what we feel. But if we can create a farming of dissent culture we get a variety of opinions and feedback that help us to grow to another level. And once we get the feedback we can improve ourselves.
To make this work, we need to let our guard down and reduce our ego to get comments that can help us become better professionals.

It can make the culture more open and to make us all good listeners. And this will encourage others around us to grow together to get truthful and constructive feedback and can lead to creativity.

BG:  One great tip from the No Rules Rules book is to put “feedback” on every single meeting agenda to ensure that giving feedback becomes the norm and common and happening on a regular basis.  I am trying to do this now—and I find that having a time set aside for feedback in every meeting agenda is helpful.

What are your opinions on the Netflix culture of compensation?

SS: From my perspective, Netflix said they keep trying to pay their team top of the market, that others cannot compete with them. One thing that surprises me is that Netflix has no bonus at the end of the year because they already calculate the bonus and include it in the salary. I am amazed by how Netflix encourages and drives people to work hard without looking forward to the bonus throughout the year. Rewards that people gain along the way as they are working for Netflix is the thing that makes an HR like me curious to know and maybe implement the strategy to our agency.

BG:  The compensation system described in No Rules Rules is very sensible and entrepreneurial, and I think every agency should consider this approach and that every agency professional should consider the point of view described in the book. Netflix is basically reliant upon the market to determine compensation as opposed to salary bands. Netflix makes this work because of their commitment to talent density. But I also think other creative businesses can also make this work.

What part of No Rules Rules makes you the most worried?

ST: I once interviewed a candidate whose company offers unlimited vacation; she shared that the policy was a wow at first, but junior employees did not ‘dare’ to do so. They were worried that, by taking leaves, their colleagues would end up doing more work of theirs. Thus, of course, it is possible to implement the policy, but it is a whole different story to encourage people to reap the benefit.

SS: In this case, I entirely agree with Wan. Additionally, I find giving negative feedback face to face may possibly cause workplace drama. Thus, at Vero, we enable a feedback system in the forms of a survey where one can write feedback on teammates, team leads, and colleagues across the office.

BG:  My worry is that there is misunderstanding about what No Rules Rules really means and this is why we are encouraging people to read the book because this will help people fully understand the thinking behind No Rules Rules. It is definitely not an anything goes mindset. Instead, it is structured, but in a manner that promotes speed, freedom and responsibility. Take for example Unlimited Leave. People might think that this means taking long, unplanned holidays whenever people feel like it. But the fact is that the No Rules Rules system means that people must take their leave with responsibility. That means checking with team members on the scheduling, ensuring the timing is right and ensuring that a proper handover takes place before going on leave. For example, the finance team at Netflix won’t take leave during the time when they are expected to close the books for the year. It would be irresponsible to take leave at this time, so they plan leave for another time of year.

Moreover, Unlimited Leave does not mean that people should take two or three months of holiday every year. That would not be responsible. It also means that people should not skip taking leave.  They must take a healthy amount of leave; it is a requirement.

On the topic of Unlimited Leave, it is also important to note that the whole concept is really about the way in which companies count time. People in creative industries tend to work long hours, and sometimes this may be late at night, on weekends or even holidays. And we never count this time. So the question is why do we count holidays so carefully if we do not also count working hours? Netflix found that it was not logical—hence they created Unlimited Leave. 

What are Vero’s takes on No Rules Rules? Anything for the Vero Squad to look forward to?

SS: First we are definitely going to implement the feedback session which I think is very crucial. I agree with the book as it says at the end of the day people need feedback; even negative feedback when delivered with good intentions can help improve and enhance their performance. Secondly, if the feedback system works, it will most likely lead to unlimited annual leaves.  At Vero, we are constantly experimenting with new ways of working and thriving for the better. The No Rules Rules book has given us a lot to consider.

BG: The big takeaway is that we want people focused on our goals. And by stripping away rules and instead relying on talented people with good judgment and an aligned sense of direction, we can give people a better, more satisfying, entrepreneurial experience.

Note to Vero team members: buy, read and expense the book. We see great value in everybody understanding the No Rules Rules mindset.

A No Rules Rules Agency?
Growing an agency during a pandemic: An interview with Vero Indonesia’s Diah Andrini Dewi

When the world throws obstacle after obstacle in your way, how do you stay motivated and keep pushing forward?

We can learn a lot from Diah Andrini Dewi, an account director at Vero’s office in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is a passionate learner who finds satisfaction in challenging herself and improving her skills, and she has had an eventful career journey delivering communication campaigns for various industries, both B2B and B2C, including consumer goods, beauty, technology, pharmaceuticals, and property. Her strengths as a PR professional include corporate communications, account management, marketing communications, crisis communications, and internal communications. As we shall soon see, her experience in human resources has also proven invaluable during the trials of recent months.

Hi Diah. Can you tell us what it’s like to be in the communications industry in Jakarta right now?

Since the pandemic started, everything has changed, including activities and media. There are no more offline events or publications. It’s an environment that demands creativity and efficiency to maintain positive momentum.

It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, but it’s also an opportunity to build bonds. To succeed, I have to approach everything with positivity and a desire to make the best out of the situation. COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day, so I expect we will be working from home for a while, but I hope that eventually the team I’ve helped build can meet in person and have an office to gather in.

2020 was a hard year for PR in which many companies tightened their budgets, but I believe that communication is worth sustaining for each brand. They can’t give up if they want to reach their target audiences. Agencies that can convince brands of this necessity will continue to have opportunities to build them up with a long-term outlook.

I hope and expect that Vero’s presence here in Indonesia will keep growing, and I plan to nurture it. We think this is the moment to invest in sustainable growth, as Indonesia is an emerging market with potential for many brands from outside to expand here.

How has Vero Indonesia managed to grow in recent months?

Vero has a lot of experience serving companies in the technology, gaming, and software industries, and at a time when technology is more important than ever, expertise in these high potential sectors is very helpful to maintain a steady stream of client opportunities.

We are also really focused on building our team and investing in people.

Ultimately, an agency is a people-focused business. The agency with the most talented, hardest-working, creative and fun team will perform the best. Luckily, I have a background in HR, so I’ve used those skills to find people, along with the help and support of my regional colleagues at Vero. I use local communities on Facebook to find agency people, talk to colleagues, spread advertisements, and directly approach people on LinkedIn. For each new hire, I give them a sample study case and they create a proposal. There has been no shortage of candidates and tests.

In December, I brought on a new account executive and an HR person. I recruited another PR executive in January, and three new people will join in February. I worked at my previous agency for eight years, so I’m quite loyal and committed. I feel like there is a lot I can do to contribute at Vero, and operating in the regional market for the first time has been a healthy challenge for me.

We fill positions based on the needs of the clients we handle. I discuss with Brian (Griffin, Vero CEO) and Pattanee (Jeeriphab, CCO) and propose which positions would be the best fit for our current needs. Most have not been hard to fill because so many talented people in Indonesia are seeking good, sustainable work in the current environment. I’ve been lucky to find team members with extensive agency and corporate experience on campaigns for a variety of industries.

I see a marketing team as like the organs of a body, each of which is essential so the body can thrive. With that mindset, I want to create teams that have great bonds with each other and support each other. So besides experience and expertise, I look at personality. I want someone who likes challenge, has a can-do spirit, is willing to be a team player, and is eager to be a part of the agency’s growth journey.

Our status as a regional agency means that we get to interact with people all over the region, and our USP is that we understand local perspectives everywhere in ASEAN via branches, partnerships, and networks. Since we’ve worked on regional campaigns, we’re already a prominent choice for the regional business community.

How has the pandemic impacted the campaigns you run and the work environment there?

We have worked from home for the entire eight months I’ve been at Vero. Thankfully, we’ve been able to manage it, especially since our clients are mostly from abroad so we’re not expected to physically meet them. I’ve only met representatives of each new client once in person, when we had a group meeting in January.

We’ve been working with several big tech clients on activities and press release dissemination in Indonesia, where we’ve seen continued enthusiasm from media due to the fact that tech is one of the few sectors that is still growing here. People are using technology to help them adapt and support their daily needs, so tech companies have some of the most potential right now, but other industries still have opportunities to reach customers. The biggest focus is on industries that produce things that people need in daily life – more necessities, rather than non-essential consumer goods.

Brands doing social good are also really valued right now. We recently had a campaign with the Australian social enterprise Thankyou that was one of the biggest we’ve ever had, with the involvement of agencies all around the world. We introduced them here. They have a good objective and values based on minimizing poverty, which would resonate here any time, but especially so in the current climate. We’re raising awareness from zero using influencers, which has gone well based on impressions and reach. The campaign has gotten lots of positive coverage despite people’s lack of previous knowledge about the brand.

As for the office environment, we mostly handle things through company chats and video calls. We have frequent group meetings and morning briefings to get clarification and brainstorm about new briefs to more easily express our ideas and insights. There are some people who have joined whom I’ve never met face-to-face, but I feel I know them well since we’re always in touch and collaborating.

We also believe in bringing creative people together and community spirit. So once it’s safe, we will definitely invest in making our office a great place for collaboration.

What do you like about working at Vero?

It’s a positive environment, which is a quality I try to cultivate in myself. I choose to see things in a positive light and focus on solutions rather than problems, as I feel that an affirmative attitude creates more value for myself and others. I see that same attitude reflected in Vero from the top down.

It’s also nice to have a chance to work with people from all around ASEAN, which provides me with unique insights and new experiences due to our different backgrounds. I’m constantly learning more about the process of dealing with multinational brands and colleagues and developing international competency, which broadens and enriches my insight as a marketer and expands the range of ideas I can consider to provide the best service for our clients.

MỸ PHẨM NGOẠI, GƯƠNG MẶT VIỆT: NHÌN LẠI SỰ KẾT HỢP CỦA M.A.C VÀ NGÔI SAO V-POP HOÀNG THÙY LINH

Khi bắt đầu gia nhập thị trường mới, một thương hiệu toàn cầu luôn cần có giai đoạn điều chỉnh để bắt nhịp với văn hóa địa phương và tìm cách truyền tải thông điệp của họ đến khách hàng nội địa. Họ có thể tái thiết kế các chiến dịch cũ từng triển khai tại thị trường khác nhằm thăm dò thị trường mới. Nhưng sau cùng, các thương hiệu ngoại vẫn cần tiếp cận đúng thị hiếu của người dân bản địa nếu muốn tiếp tục phát triển tại vùng đất mới này. Và bởi đây là kỷ nguyên của “influencer” – những cá nhân có tầm ảnh hưởng trong cộng đồng, các thương hiệu sẽ tập trung tìm một gương mặt nội địa để giúp họ truyền đi thông điệp. Đây cũng là bước đi tất yếu tại Việt Nam với M.A.C Cosmetics (sau đây gọi là MAC), một thương hiệu mỹ phẩm phương Tây từng hợp tác với rất nhiều nghệ sĩ từ Mariah Carey, Rihanna tới Rupaul.

Be Your Own Queen, chiến dịch mùa hè năm 2020 mà Vero sáng tạo cho MAC, cũng là dự án đầu tiên công ty mỹ phẩm Canada này kết hợp với người nổi tiếng tại Việt Nam. Cùng khám phá hành trình hiện thực hóa ý tưởng qua những chia sẻ của Phạm Hoài Anh – Account Executive từ Vero trực tiếp quản lý chiến dịch.

Phạm Hoài Anh

Khi MAC đến với chúng tôi, họ đã có ý định cộng tác với ca sĩ – diễn viên Hoàng Thùy Linh bởi hình ảnh táo bạo, thẳng thắn, sẵn sàng thách thức định kiến thông thường về phụ nữ Việt Nam của nữ ca sĩ. Tuy nhiên, tại thời điểm đó nhãn hàng đang cần tìm một concept cụ thể. Bước đột phá của chúng tôi xuất phát từ ý tưởng chuyển ngữ chữ “matte” – đặc tính nổi bật của những thỏi son MAC – về nét nghĩa “lì” trong tiếng Việt, từ đồng âm cho tính từ mô tả sự “cứng đầu và dũng cảm”. Từ đó, chúng tôi đưa ra concept “Be Your Own Queen” (Hãy là Nữ Hoàng của chính bạn), tận dụng hình ảnh của Hoàng Thùy Linh để định vị MAC là sự lựa chọn của những người mạnh dạn, dũng cảm, không sợ hãi thể hiện bản sắc cá nhân theo nhiều cách khác nhau.

Thêm một xúc tác thúc đẩy chúng tôi đi cùng concept này chính là sự trở lại thành công của Hoàng Thùy Linh với album “HOÀNG” vào cuối năm 2019. Các ca khúc trong album khắc họa chân dung người phụ nữ Việt Nam qua các thời kỳ lịch sử luôn nỗ lực tìm kiếm sự tự do, hạnh phúc trước những giới hạn chuẩn mực văn hóa. Nữ ca sĩ từng chia sẻ mong muốn sử dụng âm nhạc của mình để thúc đẩy phụ nữ vượt qua định kiến xã hội, đó là một phần lý do giúp cô được biết đến rộng rãi trong nhóm khán giả mục tiêu là nữ giới 18-35 tuổi. Hoàng Thùy Linh ngay sau đó đã tham gia sâu sát vào quá trình chuẩn bị chiến dịch, tự tay lựa chọn bốn màu son (có sẵn trong bộ sưu tập của MAC) để phù hợp với những cá tính cô muốn thể hiện trong kế hoạch branding này (đây không phải chiến dịch tung sản phẩm mới). Bốn màu son lì được lựa chọn, kèm sản phẩm son nước tương ứng và phấn nền phù hợp với tông da của người Việt, được MAC tập hợp thành bộ sưu tập trang điểm với bao bì phiên bản giới hạn, một túi tote và thiệp viết tay có chữ ký của Hoàng Thùy Linh.

Về hình ảnh chủ đạo của chiến dịch, Vero đã tạo ra một biểu tượng kết hợp từ yếu tố vương miện (đại diện cho nữ hoàng) và bốn loài hoa theo mùa khác nhau. Song song đó, ekip của Hoàng Thùy Linh thực hiện các buổi chụp ảnh với chủ đề theo mùa sử dụng cách phối màu đa dạng, kết hợp phong cách của phụ nữ Việt Nam hiện đại và truyền thống để thể hiện tính thẩm mỹ cho một số MV từ album “HOÀNG”.

Trước ngày ra mắt, chúng tôi đã công bố hai video tiết lộ về sản phẩm hợp tác M.A.C x HTL trên các trang mạng xã hội của cả hai phía. Vào ngày 14 tháng 8, bộ sản phẩm giới hạn chính thức được giới thiệu thông qua việc đăng tải chuỗi hình ảnh Hoàng Thùy Linh trang điểm theo 4 tông màu trên kênh social của MAC, các gian hàng trung tâm thương mại tại Hà Nội và TPHCM, và qua thông cáo báo chí gửi đến các đơn vị truyền thông giải trí và phong cách sống trong nước.

Chúng tôi cũng gửi bộ trang điểm đến 10 micro-influencer trong nước để thu thập đánh giá về sản phẩm. Sự tham gia của các micro-influencer nhằm nhấn mạnh thông điệp cốt lõi rằng tất cả phụ nữ đều có thể tự tin trở thành Nữ Hoàng của cuộc đời mình, họ không cần phải là người nổi tiếng để có được sự mạnh mẽ, can đảm và dũng cảm. Một số bài đăng của nhóm influencer này nhận được hàng ngàn lượt thích trên Instagram và Facebook.

Cùng lúc đó, các nội dung hướng dẫn làm đẹp và minigame đoán số tặng quà (bao gồm cả bộ sản phẩm giới hạn) cũng được triển khai trên kênh social nhằm gia tăng lượt tương tác từ follower.

Chúng tôi vẫn chưa thể biết được chiến dịch “Be Your Own Queen” sẽ có tác động như thế nào đến lượng tiêu thụ sản phẩm của MAC tại thị trường Việt Nam. Nhưng ngoài các chỉ số đo lường, tôi nghĩ sự hợp tác với Hoàng Thùy Linh đã rất thành công bởi cô ấy hoàn toàn phù hợp với bản sắc, thông điệp và gu thẩm mỹ của MAC. Nhờ sự hiện diện của cô ấy và cách triển khai chiến dịch đầy sáng tạo, dự án này đã tạo ra tiếng vang lớn trên các kênh social và củng cố hình ảnh của MAC như một thương hiệu luôn nỗ lực gắn kết với khách hàng Việt Nam, thúc đẩy ý tưởng mạnh mẽ và độc đáo về việc trao quyền cho phụ nữ. Điều đó chắc chắn đã giúp họ trở nên nổi bật trong số đông các thương hiệu mỹ phẩm nước ngoài, và đặt ra một chuẩn mực để những thương hiệu khác trên thị trường cùng học hỏi.

MỸ PHẨM NGOẠI, GƯƠNG MẶT VIỆT: NHÌN LẠI SỰ KẾT HỢP CỦA M.A.C VÀ NGÔI SAO V-POP HOÀNG THÙY LINH
MỸ PHẨM NGOẠI, GƯƠNG MẶT VIỆT: NHÌN LẠI SỰ KẾT HỢP CỦA M.A.C VÀ NGÔI SAO V-POP HOÀNG THÙY LINH
MỸ PHẨM NGOẠI, GƯƠNG MẶT VIỆT: NHÌN LẠI SỰ KẾT HỢP CỦA M.A.C VÀ NGÔI SAO V-POP HOÀNG THÙY LINH
MỸ PHẨM NGOẠI, GƯƠNG MẶT VIỆT: NHÌN LẠI SỰ KẾT HỢP CỦA M.A.C VÀ NGÔI SAO V-POP HOÀNG THÙY LINH
Giá trị của một PR và Digital Agency tại khu vực Đông Nam Á: Trò chuyện cùng Giám đốc Điều hành Brian Griffin

Ông yêu thích điều gì nhất trong công việc của mình?

Mỗi ngày đi làm là một niềm vui.

Với tôi, được ở quanh những người đầy sáng tạo, mỗi ngày trôi qua đều vô cùng đáng giá. Tôi rất vui khi nhìn thấy họ đạt thành công trong những dự án cho khách hàng của Vero.

Làm việc tại thị trường Đông Nam Á cũng là một yếu tố thú vị, tôi luôn cho rằng đây là khu vực kinh tế sôi động nhất trên thế giới.

Hợp tác cùng những thương hiệu lớn và những khách hàng đầy năng lực cũng là yếu tố quan trọng.

Kinh doanh và thử nghiệm những ý tưởng mới cũng luôn là điều tôi yêu thích.

Nhưng tôi nghĩ, điều tôi thích nhất trong công việc của mình – cũng chính là điều thích nhất khi sáng lập Vero: chứng kiến một trong những campaign của chúng tôi tạo nên kết quả tích cực cho khách hàng. Những người làm công việc sáng tạo luôn có sự hài lòng nhất định khi thấy các kế hoạch và ý tưởng của họ được thực thi hiệu quả và cảm xúc đó vẫn luôn thôi thúc mạnh mẽ trong tôi.

Theo ông, vai trò của ngành truyền thông trong thời đại hiện nay là gì?

Chúng tôi làm việc để tăng giá trị cho khách hàng của mình theo nhiều cách khác nhau, nhưng vai trò của chúng tôi được thể hiện trong một số yếu tố cơ bản nổi bật nhất.

Đầu tiên, chúng tôi xây dựng niềm tin giữa các thương hiệu và khách hàng của họ. Ngày nay, các thương hiệu được tôn trọng là những thực thể đáng tin cậy trong một thế giới mà niềm tin đang thiếu hụt, và điều quan trọng là họ phải xây dựng và bảo vệ niềm tin đó bằng cách làm và nói những điều đúng đắn ngay cả khi điều đó có thể bất tiện trong thời gian ngắn.

Chúng tôi cũng giúp các công ty điều hướng hoạt động marketing để phù hợp với thời đại mới. Khi dịch vụ marketing chuyển từ analog sang digital, đã có sự thay đổi lớn. Điều quan trọng là chúng tôi phải sẵn sàng đón nhận những cách thức mới giúp thương hiệu tiếp cận công chúng theo cách họ muốn được tiếp cận. Ví dụ: rõ ràng rằng phương pháp quảng cáo truyền thống đã không còn hiệu quả khi hiện tại công chúng có thể tiếp cận với lượng lớn khán giả thông qua quảng cáo trên truyền hình và báo chí. Công chúng giờ đây có nhu cầu lớn hơn về nội dung, đặc biệt là nội dung chất lượng cao mang tính kể chuyện và trải nghiệm được truyền tải đến họ theo cách độc đáo.

Ngành PR và truyền thông cũng trở nên phổ biến hơn khi góp phần thúc đẩy các ý tưởng và chiến dịch xã hội nhằm làm cho thế giới trở nên bình đẳng và bền vững hơn. Ví dụ: chúng tôi đang thảo luận với các thương hiệu và công ty về việc Shared Value Creation (Tạo giá trị chung), với ý tưởng cơ bản rằng, để các công ty và thương hiệu phát triển tốt, cộng đồng người tiêu dùng của họ cũng phải phát triển tích cực. Điều này vượt lên trên các chiến dịch CSR thường được thực hiện với mục đích truyền thông, bởi vì Tạo giá trị chung liên quan đến việc xây dựng các kế hoạch kinh doanh đi liền với xây dựng phát triển xã hội, bằng cách cân bằng hài hòa giữa lợi nhuận kinh doanh và lợi ích xã hội.

Tại sao ông lại chọn Đông Nam Á là “nhà” của Vero?

Trước đây, tôi đã may mắn được tiếp xúc với một agency lớn mang tên Aegis tại Việt Nam, đây thực sự đã trở thành nguồn cảm hứng cho Vero.

Và tôi rất vui khi tiếp tục sống và phát triển tại đây, vì Đông Nam Á là một phần tuyệt vời của thế giới.

Một điều tôi thực sự thích ở Đông Nam Á là sự thay đổi nhanh chóng và phát triển không ngừng. So với nhiều nơi khác, các quan niệm và lối tư duy truyền thống ít ảnh hưởng tại đây. Tuy các quốc gia có sự khác biệt rõ rệt, nhưng luôn tồn tại một điểm chung chính là người dân trong khu vực ASEAN không ngại sáng tạo và thay đổi. Triển vọng của khu vực rất tích cực, hiện đại và không ngừng hướng đến tương lai, điều này khiến nơi đây trở thành một khu vực thú vị để tạo ra các chiến dịch ý nghĩa.

Đó là chưa kể đến việc người dân nơi đây rất thân thiện và nồng hậu, và thật tuyệt vời khi tôi có thể dễ dàng di chuyển qua các quốc gia, các nền văn hoá khác nhau chỉ trong vòng một giờ đồng hồ.

Bối cảnh marketing đã thay đổi như thế nào kể từ khi Vero bắt đầu, và ông đã thích nghi với điều đó như thế nào?

Sự nổi lên của Facebook và mạng xã hội nói chung là một yếu tố thay đổi cuộc chơi trong ngành.

Trước Facebook, ngành PR thường đứng thứ 2 sau các agency quảng cáo về những chiến dịch tập trung vào lượng lớn người tiêu dùng. Các công cụ được cung cấp bởi những nền tảng social media như Facebook đã mang lại cho ngành PR cơ hội tiếp cận công chúng theo những cách mới và điều này mang đến nhiều brief hấp dẫn cho PR agency để sẵn sàng đón nhận và tiếp cận với công chúng thông qua social media.

Đồng thời, trong khi các phương tiện truyền thông chính thống liên tục gặp hạn chế về mặt doanh thu thì influencer marketing thu lại lợi nhuận ổn định. Với những vấn đề xung quanh Facebook, chúng tôi hy vọng sẽ có nhiều thay đổi hơn.

Ông tin điều gì khiến Vero nổi bật với tư cách là PR và Digital Agency?

Nhìn chung, marketing là ngành xoay quanh về con người và đội ngũ. Hiểu được rằng cần phải có một đội ngũ tốt để thành công, chúng tôi tập trung vào việc tập hợp những người thông minh, chăm chỉ, những người rất giỏi hiểu nhu cầu của khách hàng và đồng nghiệp, đồng thời biết bổ sung phần khuyết cho nhau và làm việc tốt cùng nhau. Đây là lý do tại sao khách hàng chọn chúng tôi – tất cả vì yếu tố con người tại Vero.

Một yếu tố quan trọng khác là vị trí địa lý – đội ngũ Vero có mặt khắp nơi trong khu vực Đông Nam Á với chuyên môn cao, khả năng thích nghi tốt với môi trường và tiêu chuẩn trong khu vực. Điều này cho phép chúng tôi cung cấp cho khách hàng dịch vụ toàn diện cho các chiến dịch toàn khu vực, điều mà agency độc lập khác thường không làm được.

Yếu tố quan trọng thứ ba là sự sẵn sàng đổi mới và sẵn sàng chấp nhận rủi ro khi nỗ lực tạo nên những điều khác biệt và ý nghĩa. Bởi chúng tôi tập hợp những người tài năng và biết hỗ trợ lẫn nhau, nên chúng tôi có nhiều cơ hội thành công hơn. Điều gắn kết tất cả những điều trên chính là khả năng lập kế hoạch dài hạn và sự độc lập của chúng tôi – mỗi văn phòng tại các quốc gia đều độc lập trong quản lý.

Ông tìm kiếm những tiêu chí gì ở một nhân viên Vero?

Về cơ bản, chúng tôi tìm kiếm những người thông minh, yêu công việc, hiểu biết và có tư duy quốc tế. Hơn nữa, môi trường agency của chúng tôi đòi hỏi những người có thể phục vụ khách hàng một cách nhanh chóng, chất lượng với khả năng thích nghi và tính linh hoạt cao.

Vero muốn làm việc với đối tượng khách hàng nào?

Chúng tôi muốn làm việc với các thương hiệu tốt và những công ty với hoạt động kinh doanh thú vị. Họ có thể đến từ mọi nơi trên thế giới và trong bất kỳ ngành nào. Hầu hết các khách hàng của chúng tôi đều là doanh nghiệp quốc tế, nhưng chúng tôi cũng có một số khách hàng trong khu vực và địa phương. Nhìn chung các khách hàng của chúng tôi đến từ Đông Nam Á, Mỹ, Trung Quốc và Châu Âu. Bên cạnh một phần lớn khách hàng trong lĩnh vực công nghệ, chúng tôi cũng làm với những khách hàng trong nhiều ngành khác.

Ông sẽ đưa ra lời khuyên nào cho những người mới bước chân vào ngành marketing?

Đầu tiên, hãy luôn tin rằng bạn có khả năng tạo ra giá trị gì đó và cố gắng tìm ra đó là gì.

Tại Vero, chúng tôi quan tâm đến khả năng hơn là kinh nghiệm. Những người trẻ với tinh thần học hỏi, tập trung vào sự nghiệp và có đam mê về truyền thông đều có thể tạo nên những tác động đáng kể trong ngành PR và digital marketing. Mỗi ngày tôi đều học được điều gì đó mới mẻ từ những người có ít kinh nghiệm hơn tôi.

Các chuyên gia đầu ngành sẽ tiếp tục học hỏi và phát triển khi làm việc với đội ngũ tuyệt vời và khách hàng đầy năng lực, đọc những cuốn sách giá trị và tham khảo nội dung của các chuyên gia trong lĩnh vực kinh doanh marketing. Một tấm bằng MBA mang lại giá trị cho việc học và xây dựng sự tự tin, nhưng không phải là điều thiết yếu để thành công trong ngành này. Các agency sẽ được hưởng lợi khi nhân viên họ có nhiều kỹ năng khác nhau. Chúng ta nên cố gắng phát triển những kỹ năng đó và trau dồi kiến thức khi chúng ta làm việc.

Điều đó cũng mang giá trị để đạt được sự phát triển trong khu vực. Một điều mà chúng tôi đã thực hiện có chủ đích tại Vero là thay đổi sự tập trung trong cách thức marketing truyền thống ở Đông Nam Á. Trong một thời gian dài, Singapore được coi là trung tâm của các chiến dịch trong khu vực, nhưng chúng tôi tin rằng đó không phải lúc nào cũng là mô hình hiệu quả nhất. Thay vào đó, chúng tôi tin rằng những người làm marketing và PR tài năng ở bất kỳ quốc gia nào cũng có thể xây dựng kế hoạch, sáng tạo và quản lý các chiến dịch khu vực. Nhờ sự hiện diện trong khu vực, chúng tôi có thể mang đến cho các thành viên tài năng cơ hội tạo ra các chiến dịch trên toàn khu vực Đông Nam Á nhưng vẫn phù hợp với từng thị trường.

Điều quan trọng nữa là đánh giá cao và tận dụng lợi thế của cộng đồng agency. Trong số gần 100 thành viên của chúng tôi ở Đông Nam Á, khoảng 90% nhân viên đóng góp sáng tạo cho các chiến dịch của khách hàng. Điều đó có nghĩa là những nhân viên tại Vero được tiếp xúc với những nhà truyền thông, nhà tiếp thị và chuyên gia sáng tạo – những người có nền tảng và kỹ năng khác nhau nhưng có mục tiêu, tư duy và thách thức giống nhau. Không có cuộc hành trình nào diễn ra một cách đơn độc mà không có sự giúp đỡ của những người khác, và PR agency có thể là một nguồn hỗ trợ cần thiết đáng kinh ngạc cho doanh nghiệp. Làm việc trong một công ty PR tập hợp những người có cùng chí hướng khác rất nhiều so với một công ty truyền thống, nơi những người làm về marketing và sáng tạo thường bị cô lập và dễ bị đánh giá thấp.

Vero đã hoạt động thế nào trong cuộc khủng hoảng Covid-19 và dịch bệnh có dẫn đến bất kỳ thay đổi lâu dài nào cho công ty không?

Nhìn chung, chúng tôi đã hoạt động tốt bởi vì chúng tôi là một đội ngũ linh hoạt và các dịch vụ chúng tôi cung cấp phần lớn trên nền tảng digital, vì vậy chúng vẫn rất phù hợp với khách hàng. Đó không phải là một khoảng thời gian dễ dàng đối với đại đa số các công ty, khi chúng ta xem xét Covid-19 đã tác động như thế nào đến thế giới, hầu hết chúng ta đều có thể coi mình là người may mắn khi ở vị trí hiện tại.

Về những thay đổi dài hạn đối với công ty, tôi không chắc liệu sẽ có nhiều thay đổi thực sự quan trọng . Chúng tôi đã có chính sách làm việc linh hoạt , thời gian cách li khiến chúng tôi nhận ra rằng làm việc tại nhà là điều hoàn toàn khả thi . Phần lớn công việc của chúng tôi đã và đang tập trung vào digital marketing, lĩnh vực mà nhiều công ty đang muốn chuyển sang. Chúng tôi đang tập trung duy trì sự vững mạnh bằng cách xây dựng doanh nghiệp của mình, phát triển đội ngũ và đảm bảo chúng tôi có ưu đãi tốt nhất cho khách hàng của mình.

A Look Back at MAC’s Collaboration with Vietnamese Pop Star Hoang Thuy Linh

When global brands enter a new market, there is usually an adjustment period while they get used to the local culture and how to communicate and spread their messaging within it. They may begin by recycling campaigns from elsewhere to test the waters, but eventually they’ll have to speak to local people’s interests if they want to keep growing. And because this is the age of the influencer, that usually means finding a famous local to speak for them. For M·A·C Cosmetics (hereafter MAC), which in the West has collaborated with celebrities ranging from Mariah Carey to Rihanna to Rupaul, taking this step in Vietnam was inevitable.

Be Your Own Queen, the summer 2020 campaign that Vero designed for MAC, was the Canadian cosmetics company’s first time engaging an influencer in Vietnam. Here’s how it all went down, courtesy of Pham Hoai Anh, the Vero account executive who managed the campaign.

Pham Hoai Anh:

When MAC came to us, they had already been in talks about a collaboration with the pop star and actress Hoang Thuy Linh – known for her bold and outspoken image that defies conventional ideas of Vietnamese femininity – but they were in need of a concept. Our breakthrough came from an unusual place: the translation of “matte” – the lipstick texture MAC is known for – to the Vietnamese “lì,” a homonym of the word for “stubborn and brave”. From there, we came up with the concept of “Be Your Own Queen,” leveraging Hoang Thuy Linh’s image to position MAC the choice of bold, brave, and fearless who can choose multiple ways to boldly express their identities.

It helped our cause that Hoang Thuy Linh’s highly successful comeback album “HOANG” – released in late 2019 – was built around songs that portray women from different eras of Vietnamese history trying to find freedom and happiness in the face of restrictive cultural norms. The singer has stated that she wants to use her music to empower women to transcend social prejudice, which is part of the reason for her popularity among the target audience of 18 to 35-year-old women. Hoang Thuy Linh soon became deeply involved in the preparation of the campaign, personally choosing four lipstick colors (all of which were previously available – this was branding, not a product launch) to fit the different personalities she wanted to express. These became the “looks” – consisting of lipstick, matching liquid lip color, and a powder foundation suited for Vietnamese skin tones – which MAC collected into sets with limited edition packaging, a tote bag, and a card signed by Hoang Thuy Linh herself.

For the key visuals for those looks, Vero created a campaign icon that’s a combination of a crown (to represent a queen, naturally) and four different seasonal flowers, while Hoang Thuy Linh’s team

conducted seasonally-themed photo shoots whose color schemes and combination of modern and traditional Vietnamese women’s style reflect the aesthetics for Hoang Thuy Linh’s elaborate music videos for several songs from “Hoang”.

Before the launch, we published two videos teasing the M.A.C x HTL collaboration on social media accounts owned by both. Then on August 14th, we officially announced the collaboration by spreading the key visuals of HTL wearing the four collections across MAC’s social media, their mall kiosks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and in the press release we sent to local lifestyle and entertainment media.

We also sent the look bundles to 10 local micro-influencers to unbox and review. Bringing in micro-influencers was meant to reflect the core concept that all women can find the confidence to be the queen of their own lives – they don’t have to be celebrities to be bold, brave, and fearless. Some of their Instagram and Facebook posts went on to receive thousands of likes.

At the same time, we posted how-to content on MAC’s social media and used number-guessing minigames with prize giveaways (including the “looks”) to increase engagement from their followers.

We can’t know yet what impact the Be Your Own Queen campaign has had on sales of MAC products in Vietnam. But beyond metrics, I think the collaboration with Hoang Thuy Linh was highly successful because she was a perfect fit for MAC’s identity, messaging, and aesthetic. Thanks to her presence and the creative execution, the collaboration created serious social media buzz and solidified MAC as a brand that makes a genuine effort to engage with its Vietnamese customers and promote a strong and unconventional concept of women’s empowerment. It’s certainly helped them to stand out among the crowded field of foreign cosmetics brands, and it set a benchmark for others in that market space to follow – or be left behind.

A Look Back at MAC’s Collaboration with Vietnamese Pop Star Hoang Thuy Linh
A Look Back at MAC’s Collaboration with Vietnamese Pop Star Hoang Thuy Linh
A Look Back at MAC’s Collaboration with Vietnamese Pop Star Hoang Thuy Linh
A Look Back at MAC’s Collaboration with Vietnamese Pop Star Hoang Thuy Linh
The value of an ASEAN region PR and digital agency: An interview with Vero CEO Brian Griffin

What do you like most about your job?

Every day I am happy to come to work.

Being around creative people, every day is a big factor, and I enjoy seeing them succeed in doing great work for our clients.

Getting to work in Southeast Asia, which I think is the most exciting economic zone in the world, is enjoyable.

Working with great brands and smart, capable clients is important.

And being entrepreneurial and testing out new ideas is always something I like.

But I think the thing that I like most is the same thing that I most enjoyed when I entered the business: seeing one of our campaigns create positive results for our clients. There is a very real level of satisfaction for creative people in seeing their plans and ideas work out well, and that feeling hasn’t lost any of its power for me.

What do you see as the role of the communications industry in the current era?

We work to add value for our clients in a variety of ways, but there are a few basic elements of our role that are most prominent.

First, we build trust between the brands we serve and their audiences. Today, respected brands are trusted entities in a world where trust is in short supply, and it’s crucial that they build upon and protect that trust by doing and saying the right things even when that may seem inconvenient in the short-term.

We also help companies navigate new-era marketing services. As the marketing services industry moves from analog to digital, disruption is in full force. It’s important for us to be ready to embrace new ways of helping brands reach people in the way they want to be reached. For example, it’s become very clear that the traditional advertising approach has lost effectiveness since the days when you could reach a mass audience via TV commercials and newspaper ads. People now have a greater appetite for content, particularly high-quality storytelling and experiences delivered in a modern manner.

It’s also becoming more common for the PR and communications industry to help promote pro-social ideas and campaigns that make the world more equitable and sustainable. For example, we are talking with brands and companies about Shared Value Creation, which is basically the idea that, for companies and brands to prosper, the communities in which they operate must also prosper. This goes beyond the CSR campaigns that are often linked to the communications industry, because Shared Value Creation involves building considerations for society into business plans by creating overlap between profitable activity and societal benefit.

Why did you choose Southeast Asia as the home for Vero?

Early on, I was fortunate to gain some exposure at a great agency called Aegis in Vietnam, which was really the inspiration for Vero.

And I’m so glad to remain in the region, because Southeast Asia is such a great part of the world.

One thing I really like about Southeast Asia is how fast it changes. Compared to many other places, traditional models and conventional wisdom hold less sway here. Obviously there are differences from country to country, but one common thread is that people in the ASEAN region are not afraid of reinvention and change. The general outlook of the region is positive, modern, and forward-looking, which makes it an exciting place to work and create campaigns.

That’s not to mention that the people are friendly and warm, and the opportunity to easily fly from one fascinating culture to another in as little as an hour is amazing.

How has the marketing landscape changed since Vero began, and how have you adapted to it?

The rise of Facebook, and social media in general, was a game-changer for our industry.

Prior to Facebook, the PR industry often played second fiddle to advertising agencies regarding large consumer-focused campaigns. But the tools provided by social media platforms gave the PR industry an opportunity to reach people in new ways, and this opened consumer briefs to PR agencies willing and ready to embrace social media.

At the same time, mainstream media has suffered steady losses while influencer marketing has achieved steady gains. Given the current issues surrounding Facebook, we expect more change to come.

What do you believe makes Vero stand out as PR and digital agency?

By and large, the marketing business is all about people and teams. Knowing that it takes a good team to win, we focus on bringing together smart, hardworking people who are very good at understanding the needs of our clients and our colleagues, and who complement each other and work well together. Ultimately, this is why clients hire us – it’s all about our people.

Another key factor is our geographic footprint, and the fact that we have teams spread across the region that are adept at working regionally. This allows us to offer clients a one-stop service for region-wide campaigns, which other independent agencies usually can’t do.

The third key factor is our willingness to innovate, change, and be willing to risk failure in the attempt to do something different and worthwhile. Because we’ve brought together these teams of talented people who have each other’s backs, we succeed more often than not. What ties all of this together is our independence – each office is self-sufficient and we’re beholden to no global mandate – and our ability to make long-term plans.

What traits do you look for in a Vero employee?

Fundamentally, we are seeking smart, hardworking, understanding, and internationally-minded people. Moreover, our business requires people who can serve our clients with a combination of speed, quality, responsiveness, and flexibility. If we can bring people to our team who meet this criteria, we will do well and have fun.

What sort of clients does Vero aim to work with?

We want to work with great brands with interesting businesses. They could be from anywhere in the world and in any industry. Most of our clients are global in nature, but we also have some regional and local clients with large, interesting businesses. The general mix of clients we have come from Southeast Asia, the US, China, and Europe. And while these days many are in the tech sector, we also serve many other industries.

What advice would you give to those just entering the marketing services industry?

First, believe that you have something to offer and try to figure out what that is.

At Vero, we care more about ability than experience. Young people with an educational and professional focus and passion for communications can make an immediate and strong impact in the PR and digital marketing business, and every day I learn something new from people who have much less experience than I do.

The best professionals keep learning and evolving by working with great people and smart clients, reading quality books, and consuming content by experts in the marketing business. While an MBA is useful for both some learning and building confidence, it is by no means required for success in our industry. Most of us are generalists, and agencies benefit from a variety of skillsets. We should strive to expand those skills and build our knowledge as we work.

It’s also valuable to gain regional exposure. One thing we’ve purposefully done at Vero is to decentralize the way marketing was traditionally organized in Southeast Asia. For a long time, Singapore was considered the hub for regional campaigns, but we believe that isn’t always the most effective model. Instead, we believe that talented marketing and PR people in any country can plan, create, and manage regional campaigns while relying on the expertise of locals. As a result of our regional presence, we are able to give talented team members the opportunity to create campaigns across the region that are nonetheless tailored to each market.

It is also important to appreciate and take advantage of the agency community. Of our nearly 100 team members in Southeast Asia, about 90 percent make creative contributions to our client campaigns. That means that people who work at Vero are surrounded by other communicators, marketers, and creative professionals – people with different backgrounds and skillsets but similar goals, mindsets, and challenges. No career journey happens in isolation without the help of others, and PR agency teams can be an incredible source of essential support. Working in a PR agency made up of like-minded people is vastly different from a traditional company where the marketing and creative people are often on an island to themselves and too easily under-valued

How has Vero navigated the Covid-19 crisis, and has it led to any long-term changes for the agency?
Overall, we have navigated well because we are a resilient group and the services we offer are largely digital, so they remain very relevant to clients. It hasn’t been an easy time for the vast majority of companies, but when we consider how Covid-19 has impacted the rest of the world, most of us can consider ourselves fortunate to be where we are.

In terms of long-term changes in how we work, I am unsure if there will be many truly significant ones. We already had flexible workplace policies in place, though the lockdown period made us realize how viable working from home can be. Much of our work is already focused on digital marketing, which means we’re in the position that many others are now transitioning to.
We’re focusing on staying strong by building our business, growing our teams, and ensuring we have the best possible offer for our clients.

It’s time to get familiar with TikTok Ads!

TikTok. TikTok. TikTok. There’s no doubt that it’s super easy to lose track of time when you’re on the app browsing through awesome dance challenges, hilarious clips and mind boggling videos. Now with over 800 million monthly active users, TikTok is climbing up the ranks and shows no signs of slowing down as an engaging social platform.

If you’re looking for ways to reach a younger audience, you should definitely be thinking about advertising on TikTok, especially if you are selling consumer products.

In early 2019, TikTok launched a beta version of its ad offering, and now its ad platform is already available in key regions in Southeast Asia including India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore among others. If you are already familiar with the Facebook Business Manager, the TikTok ad platform is fairly similar with features like lookalike audiences, custom audiences, a tracking pixel, and a three-part ad structure:

Campaigns > Ad Groups > Ads

The key differences are the ad types available with TikTok.

Before we dive into ins and outs of running TikTok ad campaigns, let’s first get to know why you should run ads on TikTok in the first place.

  • With 800 million monthly active users, TikTok beats LinkedIn (660+ million), Reddit (430+ million), Snapchat (218+ million), Twitter (340+ million), and Pinterest (322+ million).
  • Apple and Google Play users have downloaded the TikTok app over 1.5 billion times.
  • TikTok is the sixth most popular app globally based on the number of monthly active users.
  • TikTok users span 150 countries worldwide.

Source

TikTok Ad Types

Below are the TikTok ad types that work best for brands:

In-feed ads

An in-feed ad appears as a full-screen native video and is embedded within the ‘For You’ feed. It has the sound automatically played and allows users to comment, share, like, etc., directly from the feed.

Using in-feed ads is a great way to drive traffic to internal pages (like hashtags or challenges) or external landing pages (like websites).  

Brand takeover

A brand takeover ad is a full-screen ad that pops up when a user first logs into TikTok. It lives on the first screen they see when opening TikTok. Simply tap the ad, and they’ll be directed to the brand’s website. 

A brand takeover ad can be an image or a 3-5 second GIF/video. 

Top view

A top view ad showcases your brand as soon as users open TikTok, which helps reach and engage audiences in a visually impactful way. It’s a version of the brand takeover ad unit that fades into an in-feed video ad, lasting 15 seconds in total. 

Branded hashtag challenges

Branded hashtag challenges help you maximize engagement by tapping into user-generated content. You can choose a branded hashtag, create a challenge, and encourage users to join your challenge as well as include your branded hashtag into their post. 

According to TikTok Ads, “the branded hashtag challenge is a new and unique way to engage users. It taps into users’ passion for creation and expression by inviting them to join in on a collective movement. Over 50% of creators have participated in a hashtag challenge with an average engagement rate of 8.5%, generating huge brand buzz and affinity.”

It’s time to get familiar with TikTok Ads!

Understanding TikTok’s Advertisement Goals

There are 4 different advertisement goals (bidding methods) based on what your campaign anticipated results are. Using CPC (cost-per-click) goals will enable you to get more clicks or any of the view objectives to increase awareness and gain more ad impressions.

CPC (cost-per-click)

Pay for clicks. Acquiring more clicks will serve as the optimization goal.

oCPC (optimized cost-per-click)

Pay for clicks that lead to conversions. The system optimizes delivery to get more conversions (e.g. app download, purchase, or sign-up).

CPM (cost-per-mille)

Reach and thousand impressions are the optimization goal.

CPV (cost-per-view)

Pay for every 6-second video viewed. 6-second video views will serve as the optimization goal. 

How much do TikTok ads cost?

If you’re looking to gain the most visibility amongst TikTok users, be prepared to invest and pay a premium in your TikTik advertising campaign.

Brand Takeover: $50,000 per day.

Hashtag Challenge: $150,000 for six days.

For those with access to the self-service TikTok ads platform, advertisers are able to set daily or all-time budget caps for in-feed ads. TikTok sets a minimum budget of $500 at the campaign level and $50 at the ad group level. This minimum spend is meant to ensure that your ad has enough budget to spend to reach your ad objectives.

Advertisers with smaller budgets should wait to see if the cost of advertising on TikTok will decrease. This has happened on other social networks as more advertisers join the platform.

Visit the TikTok For Business site to register an account and start deploying ads on a brand new highly engaging platform. For a step by step guide on how to register click here, and for inspiration of ads that brands are running across the region click here

* TikTok has engaged Vero in Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar

How Social Distancing is Changing Social Media

Over recent months, we have seen dramatic changes in people’s lives and routines around the world.

With many of us self-isolating and staying home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our collective attention has turned to online social platforms unlike ever before, in an effort to keep us connected and entertained. Innovation in content creation coupled with creative features being rolled out on platforms themselves is contributing to this shift in the way in which social media is being used. Here are a couple of things we’ve noticed

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