2023 Vero Wrapped: Bigger Business Wins, An AI-Powered Agency, and Sustainability in Motion

2023 Vero Wrapped: Bigger Business Wins, An AI-Powered Agency, and Sustainability in Motion

2023 Vero

 

If we wanted to sum up 2023 in one word here at Vero, we couldn’t.  

The marketing industry found this year challenging, to say the least. Global economic uncertainty prompted cutbacks in marketing and media budgets, the demand for meeting revenue goals and doing more with fewer resources was especially pronounced. 

Despite various data and surveys indicating a more pessimistic outlook among marketing professionals, the communications industry demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and innovation. The rapid rise of artificial intelligence, once (and maybe still) debated as a potential threat to the industry, has opened new opportunities for transformative growth and efficiency. We also saw a heightened focus directed toward sustainability, transparency, and authenticity, pushing the industry to prioritize ethical practices and genuine engagement with audiences. 

Vero embraced all these challenges and opportunities and strived to stay on top of the game. Though complex to navigate, these industry shifts inspired significant changes in our operational landscape and empowered us to redefine our business goals and client relationships. Our story in 2023 is a testament to our genuine commitment, rooted in resilience, as we adapt and grow in an ever-evolving landscape. 

Before we bid farewell to 2023, we look back at our own transformative journey. 

 

A leap into the future with Rover

Rover - 2023 Vero

AI, as we all know by now, is no longer a buzzword; it is the future of the marketing industry. The official launch of Rover, an AI-first PR agency in Southeast Asia, is additional proof that the “future” is already happening right here, right now. 

Rover, which operates alongside Vero’s existing presence in the region, acts as an incubator for AI-powered brand campaigns and processes, producing work for new and existing clients and seeking partnerships with other AI-focused stakeholders in the PR industry, including AI applications, trade groups, non-profits, academics, and thought leaders. 

Rover provides a wide range of PR and Creative services for clients across sectors, leveraging AI-powered tools to improve workflow efficiency, digital content, and output accuracy. The agency is also equipped to provide AI consulting and literacy training for brands seeking to embed best practices for AI within their organizations and in-house communications and marketing teams.

 

Major partnerships, bigger campaigns

Business wins - 2023 Vero

Amidst lingering macroeconomic concerns, Vero saw pitches and proposals converting into new business wins. Thanks to the exceptional work by our teams across departments in the region and the trust our partners have placed in our capabilities, we pitched 380 new campaigns – more than one pitch per day! – with an impressive win rate of 70%, and we built campaigns for 129 clients this year, many of which resulted in tangible growth metrics.  

We are proud to have welcomed the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to our client roster in Thailand, driving awareness campaigns on all the uniquely Singaporean experiences and increasing travel and tourism from Thailand to Singapore. In Indonesia, we worked with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) to build the organization’s reputation in Southeast Asia and foster its mission to unlock green energy access. In the Philippines, where we just marked our second anniversary, we led Prime Video’s media relations efforts. Across the region in multiple markets, we continued to grow our relationship with partners including Royal Canin, SP Group, Dyson, and Duolingo. 

Strengthening ties with our established client partners while simultaneously cultivating new relationships with prospective clients remains a central focus for us at Vero.

Staying on top of the game

Awards Vero 2023
Our office in Vietnam has come a long way – from a decade of presence through a local partnership to officially setting up a team in 2019 and being named PR Awards Asia-Pacific’s Mid-Size Consultancy of the Year. We owe this sweet victory to the dedication of over 50 talents in Ho Chi Minh City, who have passionately fostered numerous collaborations with leading brands over the years. 

Beyond Vietnam, our “Grow Green” campaign with Booking.com Thailand also achieved exceptional success, clinching three prestigious awards from PRCA APAC Awards, PR Awards Asia, and SABRE Awards Asia Pacific. It stands as a testament to the power of one campaign to make a lasting positive impact—reshaping perspectives, earning recognition, and setting a new standard for excellence in purposeful sustainability narratives. 

These recognitions serve to reinforce our belief in the transformative power of communication and inspire us to future greatness

Vero leaders take center stage

A voice becomes powerful when it carries a message that ignites minds and sparks positive change. In an industry full of noise, our leaders made their voices heard. 

Vero COO Raphael Lachkar’s panel talk at the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France centered on the communication industry’s role in elevating climate communications and curtailing greenwashing. This was also the main topic during VP of Culture Vu Quan Nguyen-Masse and Group VP of Communications and Operations Umaporn Whittaker-Thompson’s speeches at AdFest in Pattaya, Thailand. 

Vu Quan also joined an insightful discussion on the future of work at the Singapore Business Federation Forum in Hanoi, while Indonesia Operations Director Lye Alangdeo talked about the growing power of influencers in branding at the recently concluded Citra Pariwara Advertising Festival in Indonesia.  

We are incredibly grateful and honored to have participated in conversations shaping the marketing industry. We look forward to leading more meaningful dialogues and knowledge-sharing in the coming year!

 

Impactful insights and thought leadership

Vero articles

There’s a good reason we’ve taken center stage in some of the important dialogues in the marketing industry this year: we do our homework. Vero has invested heavily in white papers, surveys, studies, and in-depth editorial pieces that allowed us to dive deeper into topics that matter to our stakeholders, clients, team members, and peers. 

This year, we authored three comprehensive white papers, tackling Filipinos’ evolving focus on health and wellness, the challenges and opportunities in Vietnam’s electric vehicle landscape, and Chinese automotive brands’ position in the Southeast Asian market. Backed by expansive data from our IQ team and thorough analysis by Vero’s comm experts, these papers offered actionable insights for our clients into effectively penetrating the highly competitive Southeast Asian consumer market.  

Our Vero team members also penned thought-provoking articles that dissected socio-cultural issues and trends and provided insightful perspectives that challenged conventional viewpoints. Vu-Quan’s “Let Us Be Seen: Why Diversity Matters,” Raphael’s commentary on Apple’s “Mother Nature” campaign, and Vero’s Operations Director in the Philippines Nicole Briones’ take on the prevalence of gender biases in the communications industry, among many others, earned publication in top-tier trade media and news websites in the region.   

All in all, we published more than 45 insightful articles and exciting business announcements in 2023 that amassed over 143,000 engagements across Vero channels and gained over 100 pieces of news coverage across the region.
 

Sustainability in motion

Sustainability - Vero 2023

We recognize that our commitment to sustainability did not and should not end with signing the Clean Creatives pledge in 2022. So this year, we embarked on more tangible initiatives to practice what we preach and welcomed partnerships with brands and organizations sharing the same mission. 

In May, we published a Greenwatching playbook, providing brands with a conceptual framework to navigate the complexities and grey areas of sustainability business practices. This was followed by a Philippines-focused sustainability paper that allowed us to offer more practical advice on environmental stewardship. 

Our vocal stance on refusing to work with fossil fuel clients also strategically positioned us in a comfortable advisory role for organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Myanmar, UNICEF in the Philippines, and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) in Vietnam. Together with these organizations, we created high-impact campaigns that contribute to our collective mission of fostering sustainability and social responsibility. 

And in case you haven’t heard or seen it yet – we also transformed a part of our Vero Super Campus in Bangkok into “The Good Shop,” a pop-up where our team members can buy and sell pre-loved fashion items. Inspired by our team’s passion for fashion and genuine commitment to a more sustainable lifestyle, The Good Shop is a learning venture for Vero to gain more direct insights into young professionals’ shifting preferences and ethics toward fashion, develop a deeper understanding of the second-hand industry, and become better consultants for clients looking to pivot to slow fashion trends. 

Through these collaborative efforts, we have actively participated in shaping a future where positive change is not only advocated but diligently striven for. In that spirit, we’re excited to be planning more sustainability initiatives for 2024.
 

New Singapore office and groundbreaking business units

We capped off an eventful year in style with the opening of our new office in Singapore. We are thrilled to finally expand Vero’s presence to Southeast Asia’s most competitive market. Vero’s Singapore office will be led by industry veteran Lin Kuek, who brings with her a wealth of strategic insights and extensive experience in consumer and corporate communications.  

We also launched several new business verticals and services this year. The formation of our Mobility team across Thailand and Vietnam builds on Vero’s extensive experience servicing leading mobility actors, spanning the automotive, logistics, travel and hospitality, travel-tech, and ride-hailing industries. Made up of 10 mobility experts, the Mobility team offers bespoke capabilities to navigate the high-octane landscape of mobility in Southeast Asia. 

Vero further intensified our influencer marketing expertise through InFluent, an integrated and regionalized approach to influencer marketing featuring standardized guidelines and tools designed to resonate with brands and creators in the ASEAN region. InFluent was created to replicate the unified processes and workflows powering some of the most successful cultural industries such as A&R, publishing, and distribution in the music industry. 

And we are proud to officially invest in our events management capabilities through the VeroXperience, which is dedicated to redefining brand event experiences across our markets. This new business unit specializes in coordinating and executing various events, from brand and product launches to conferences, fan meets, and VIP workshops.
 

Stronger emphasis on healthy office culture and work-life balance

Prioritizing employee welfare has been a constant commitment at Vero, as we understand that our success endures when our employees feel happy and valued. Our quarterly engagement surveys and regular assessments of employee satisfaction have given us insights into what our team needs and how Vero can provide each member with a work environment that fosters personal and career growth and inspires creativity. 

We specifically wanted to make sure we were at the forefront of DEI standards. At our scale and in the context of our region, we looked into specific barriers to women’s growth. First, we researched our own data and found that we did not encounter gender pay gaps. Then, we identified that a critical factor hindering progress for talent identifying themselves as female was confidence and concerns about the perception of their qualifications. In response, our management and shadow board are designing policies set to be launched in 2024. 

Nearly two years since we implemented an unlimited leave policy across our offices, we’ve seen employees take more days off to travel to their dream destinations, develop new hobbies, and prioritize self-care. The Vero team has taken a total of 2,841 days off in 2023! 

But since we know everyone worked extra hard, we’re making sure they can take off more with the introduction of the Vero Company Break, a new annual ritual where all Vero offices go offline for five days. This year, in the holiday spirit, we scheduled our downtime for the last week of the year: from December 25th to January 1st. This is an opportunity for our more than 240 employees in Southeast Asia to fully relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy a well-deserved break. 

We also recognize that giving our teams some days to step away from their work desks and indulge in some carefree fun together fosters tighter bonds and nurtures a greater sense of teamwork and purpose. 

On our offsite team building activities this year, we took the teams to the island of Bali in Indonesia, Ho Tram town in Vietnam, Antipolo in the Philippines, and Bangkok in Thailand for memorable and fun-filled experiences.  

It has been quite a year – one filled with gratitude and a wealth of invaluable lessons. We thank all our clients who allowed Vero to accompany them on their own unique journeys this year in 2023. To our media partners, your collaboration has been instrumental in bringing our creative visions and initiatives to a broader audience.  

So, let’s take time to appreciate the eventful year we’ve had before we look forward to even greater success and good memories in the one to come. Here’s to 2023, and we’ll see you in 2024!    

 

Thailand AI 2023

We look back on the trending AI controversies that have sparked thought-provoking conversations in Thailand this year. | Artwork by Anuphab Buddhaphan

 

With AI taking center stage in the tech world in 2023, there’s no denying that it’s here to stay, and it is starting to make big waves among local businesses and communities. In the meantime, we consumers and end users find ourselves thrown into a whirlwind of sensations and social theatrics. Thailand’s distinctly sardonic online culture is well suited for the zeitgeist, so naturally, AI wouldn’t be excluded from mockery, especially among the tech and art communities.   

As the year comes to a close, join us as we look back on the trending AI controversies of 2023 that have made millions of Thai netizens stop scrolling and engage with brands and artists. We will also explore how marketers and brands can take advantage of this ever-evolving landscape while respecting customers’ diverse views on AI. 

By the numbers  

Thailand is arguably among the most enthusiastic adopters of AI, with various initiatives in both public and private sectors aiming to integrate AI into their systems to improve both productivity and creativity by automating menial tasks.  According to a report by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), over 50% of Thai companies have plans for AI implementation. Among those that have already integrated AI, their objectives include improving production or organizational service efficiency (50%), facilitating internal management (43%), and increasing revenue (36%).  

In a recent survey by Publicis Sapient gauging perceptions of Gen AI across seven countries, Thailand stood out prominently. Of the 2,061 Thai respondents, over a third (35%) had personally or professionally used Generative AI tools, placing Thailand near the top for AI usage, just behind Australia (38%). Additionally, 55% of Thai consumers said they expect that Generative AI will enhance their interactions with brands.  

AI has landed in Thailand, but not safely 

ChatGPT launched in November 2022 and gained significant traction in Thailand in early 2023. Early users were fascinated by its versatility in tasks like answering questions, crafting content, and sparking creative ideas—a boon for students, marketers, and brands alike. 

As the AI phenomenon gripped the online world, it also prompted a shift in how corporate and creative professionals operate. Difficult questions arose: How do we keep up with AI? What sets our work apart from AI-generated content? How reliable are these AI-generated responses? How can we copyright AI-prompted work? With these queries in mind, let’s delve into how the Thai creative community is responding to the rise of AI. 

Thailand’s art scene shaken 

Vero’s examination of social media discussions about AI shows that Thai people are especially concerned about AI’s impact on the art world.  

The Loopsie app has thrown Thailand’s art and literature community for a loop. Leveraging AI, Loopsie transforms existing photos into anime-inspired images, creating an overnight sensation. The controversy was heightened when Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Painting, Sculpture, and Graphic Arts shared a Loopsie-generated creation of their faculty common space on their Facebook page. An outcry ensued, with existing students and alumni condemning the faculty’s decision to use AI over genuine student art to promote their program, and concerns were raised about the ethical use of existing art references without clear consent. Given the context of an art department within Thailand’s foremost university dedicated to arts, the choice to employ AI-generated art is undeniably ironic — and apparently misguided. AI certainly has its place, but we shouldn’t underestimate the backlash that results when it usurps human creativity.  

Thailand AI 2023

New job of 2023: AI Artist 

Case in point: On October 19, 2023, The Ghost Radio, an online radio show in Thailand renowned for horror storytelling, took to their social media to announce a job opening for an “AI Artist” role. The objective was to assist the team in creating illustrations for the ghost stories featured in the program. However, the posting was promptly withdrawn in the wake of backlash, with critics questioning the ethics of AI, particularly its training from pre-existing works where the consent of the original artists remains uncertain. 

The team quickly issued an apology to their audience, affirming that internal discussions and viewer feedback were considered, and they ultimately decided to cancel the recruitment:

“The team acknowledges the public outcry and comments and has extensively deliberated on the matter internally. Consequently, we have reached a decision to cancel the recruitment for this particular position. The Ghost Radio sincerely apologizes for the events that transpired and is open to hearing every opinion of our viewer.”

 

– Statement from The Ghost Radio, posted on Facebook page, October 19, 2023 

 

While some expressed disappointment with the show and even threatened to stop tuning in, most of the audience praised the team for their courage and for paying attention to public sentiment, particularly in supporting artists and genuine art. 

#WriterSaysNoToAIArt  

In September 2023, another controversy surfaced when online novelists formed a coalition against the use of AI-generated cover art, which has been one of the primary avenues for new artists to have their work seen. This sparked a heated debate on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the impact of AI on artistic expression and job opportunities for emerging artists with the hashtag #นักเขียนไม่เอาปกAI (#WriterSaysNoToAIArt). On the other side, some have argued that novelists have the freedom to choose AI-generated art, provided they are upfront with their readers about it, and those readers can choose whether to support such choices. 

Thailand AI 2023

Transparency is key 

The overarching theme is clear: concerns about AI dominance have brought to the forefront a profound appreciation for artistic integrity. Artists and their audiences care about the essence of art, the effort invested in its creation, and fair compensation for creators. Transparency has emerged as a critical value in this evolving landscape. 

Adobe, the vanguard behind the renowned Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, has taken a unique approach to AI in art. Adobe Firefly, a web app, explores generative AI’s potential in art creation, incorporating a compensation model for contributing artists. In publicizing the app, the company emphasizes responsible AI development:

“Adobe is committed to developing generative AI responsibly, with creators at the center. Our mission is to give creators every advantage — not just creatively, but practically. As Firefly evolves, we’ll continue to work closely with the creative community to build technology that supports and improves the creative process.”

 

– Adobe’s approach to generative AI, as seen on the Adobe Firefly landing page.

 

What this means for AI adopters 

While some software providers are making efforts to be transparent and ethical when deploying AI, the majority lack clear guidelines, which raises concerns about the potential for creators to face plagiarism in their work. 

Although many businesses are now implementing AI into their products and services, the backlash from the public and artistic communities shows that there is strong resistance to AI art taking the place of art made by humans, which stems both from the typical fear of people losing jobs to AI but also broader societal concerns about the loss of original, disruptive ideas. While it’s true that humans draw inspiration from past artistic works and sometimes imitate or train from existing materials, human creative expression also draws from an individual’s unique life experiences, feelings, and perceptions and combines those in ways that can be powerful and revelatory. As such, AI can never meaningfully replace human artists. 

For brands and marketers, one thing is clear: transparency and honesty with audiences are invaluable. This is always the case for earning brand trust, but it’s especially crucial when dealing with sensitive topics such as AI. For most brands, having the public perceive that they support artists is worth more than the time or money might save using AI. 

Few things are certain about the future of AI, but it’s clear that this is not just a passing trend; it’s an inevitable transformative force that has become an integral part of our creative landscape. For brands, it will be essential to navigate this landscape responsibly and stay attuned to the evolving dynamic between AI and artistic expression. 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Chanon Raopanya consults on communications strategy for tech brands and corporate clients such as Intel, Sennheiser, and Mastercard. As a technology, film, and gaming enthusiast, he is always excited about technological advancements and innovation in products and services.