Always be useful first

A constant theme in my professional life that I openly express to clients, and also write about on this blog is how technology and digital channels continue to drive people to become more demanding of brands and businesses.

People are expecting to be able to do anything they want, anytime and everywhere with the companies and brands that they deal with.

This means all manner of industries are changing their business approaches and becoming increasingly digitized, seeking and demanding a variety of new interactive services to meet what is the most demanding consumer the planet has ever experienced.

In my professional career, I have always been passionate about three key business strategies for brands. Each hyperlink provides further details on this theory.

1. Be customer centric in everything you do and make your brand useful to people first, before doing anything else.

2. Understand the entire customer experience you are operating in and advance the user’s purpose pre, during and post any engagement and transaction of value.

3. Don’t create friction or worse take up oxygen with messages that are not important at that point of the user’s goal. Always attempt to create twenty-four seven customer led experience that continues to be optimized both online and offline.


Creating a mindset change that a unique brand experience is for your minimal viable audience

Adam Good Baby Photo

When I first joined the world of advertising many moons ago (yes that’s me above), the purpose, the business discipline and group of people who worked in and around it had a mindset geared towards trying to create a brand to reach a maximum audience.

To be seen by millions to have a huge impact was the goal of any advertising brief and piece of work.

We ran around the agency with our clients spending time looking backward from past advertising, admiring great memorable ads as well as digging into research on what people liked and didn’t like about ads.

We researched what had happened, generally believing that past advertising techniques would show us the way to great future advertising programs of work.

While there is no doubt the advertising science has matured over the last twenty-five years. We have learned to talk about a mass market ambition via using data, target audiences, look-alikes. We also use consumer research to produce a brand proposition that is the basis to drive an Omnichannel idea.

However, I still wonder often when in the day to day of work if we have the right mindset on what a great brand experience should be?

If we look closely, advertising has not evolved anywhere to the levels and changes that consumer media behavior has.

The millions of media channels we have in the world today has resulted in an explosion of ‘ad noise,’ and the result is people actively go out to resist advertising and focus on their own personal content consumer journey with the mobile phone the prime access point.

I think many of the problems with the advertising industry we are experiencing today, means the industry transformation we are on today fundamentally is not addressing the one major issue. Our advertising industry mindset.

The advertising industry still thinks its role is to create mass marketing.

Today the always-connected consumer is far from a mass target yet the advertising process we have in place, and the conversation that results around it still has a mindset advertising is for the mass market.

I think the tipping point was ten years ago. We still had limited media channels to chose from and social media was not mainstream or making the impact it does today on owned media. The professional advertising solution could do a mass marketing campaign. Alternatively, at least it was possible to make a significant impact pending on how much press spend you put behind your campaigns.

Today, however, paid media is not a silver bullet.

Paid advertising is being filtered out both with ad blockers but more by a changed content behavior where we just don’t want ads in our life. Alternatively, as few as possible.

The growth of Netflix with no advertising is an example of change, and you only have to look up from this screen you are reading this blog, and you will see all the world’s faces staring down into their mobile phone for hours per day viewing a personally delivered channel of content.

While this goes on and more often than not old tied advertising processes are being rolled by agencies with clients saying they have the magic approach to do some mass marketing and to appeal to the mass.

They are saying there is now a promise paid media can find your exact audience target and with that push a targeted impression can be placed on them.

The result is an Ad that looks like an Ad, the creative is usually dumbed down, and the click from the ad is also to an average consumer click to the conversion experience. It’s frankly just got to stop.

When you seek to push a paid advertising unit of any description onto someone, you rarely delight anyone. Moreover, if you’re not the unique, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker brand, you never get a chance to engage with the market on any mass level.

The solution today in marketing is counterintuitive but straightforward.

Stake out the smallest market you can imagine.

The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you the advertising media planned promises, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story, and your impact will all get better.

Moreover, then, ironically enough, the word will spread. It will take longer, but you are more likely going to please that audience, maybe even create some purpose and longevity.

It’s easy to talk about in the abstract, but difficult to put into practice I appreciate but once that mindset is firmly accepted I think so much change can take place.

Just about every brand you care about, just about every organization that matters to you–this is how they got there.

By focusing on only a few and ignoring the non-believers, the uninvolved and the average.


This is my last day at Dentsu Inc as Chief Digitial Officer at Dentsu Brand Agencies in the Asia Pacific. It has been a real privilege to be in the network during what has been constant change and evolution of the Dentsu Inc and Dentsu Aegis communication business.

Dentsu Aegis Network is today a highly-integrated and highly-competitive global marketing services group built for the digital economy. Since 2013, Dentsu Aegis Network has doubled its revenues from £1.8bn to £3.6bn and grown organically at twice the rate of its competitors.

I will be returning to Australia during November and basing myself in my homeland while also seeking out my next digital transformation assignment for 2019 and beyond. Stay tuned.


Dentsu Sports Technology Venture

San Francisco-based Scrum Ventures and Dentsu have developed Sports Tech Tokyo, a one-year accelerator program for sports technology companies to provide business opportunities to test marketable products.

Scrum Ventures invests in sports technology for athletes and consumers, including wearable devices, sensors, and virtual reality (VR) technology.

Available from January 2019, the program is seeking applications from startups focused on a wide range of sports-related technologies and will initially select 150 companies to work with.

The use of technology in sport is extensive today. Some thematic applications include coaching and competition analysis, clothing and wearables, science and human performance, media broadcasting and communications, entertainment, e-sports, business and digital transformation, and sporting facility planning and use.

Venture investments in sports startups grew to US$1.5 billion in 2017, according to Deloitte – marking a 50-per-cent increase in two years.

With Japan hosting two major sporting events in the next two years – the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics – the country hopes to add further value to the sports technology business.

While the Sports Tech initiative is not directly related to Dentsu’s advertising business, the company is exploring ways to manage fan engagement, an area of marketing and that working with companies that develop new technologies for sports fans can garner large amounts of useful data.

Examples as yet unconnected to Sports Tech could include systems enabling micro-sponsorship of sports teams or smart clothing that could send data about an athlete’s movements to insurance providers.

This venture will see Dentsu developing ideas with the start-ups that wish to participate in the programme. The first is technology to help athletes in their training, both physical and mental.

Another area of innovation is to improve the viewing experiences for audiences, which could include innovations in the field of virtual reality and programs to improve technologies at stadiums, such as smart payment systems.

This tech-based sports program will be integrated with many new forms of business models and revenue streams that are in development across the Dentsu Inc portfolio. 



Coca-Cola promotes ‘peace, hope and understanding’ during Trump and Kim Singapore Summit from Dentsu Merdeka LHS Malaysia

It’s about time — literally. If you want to successfully engage today’s impatient consumers, you have to be ready to meet them on their time, with the perfect message for each of their changing needs. Sometime a good way to use time is to captivate your audience with topics the world is talking about and caring about.

On June 12 such a timely and history making moment was taking place, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at a summit in Singapore, the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting American president.

To commemorate this timely moment in history, Coca-Cola made limited-edition cans designed by Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia’s creative agency, Merdeka LHS, with logos written half in English, half in Korean with a message in both languages that reads “Here’s to Peace, Hope and Understanding.

The Dentsu agency then took to the streets to interview people in Singapore on their thoughts and feelings about this historical event. See link on Facebook below;

The video ends with the song “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” made popular by Coca-Cola’s 1971 “Hilltop” advertisement. The song is one of Coke’s most famous television campaigns where the brand celebrated multiculturalism, unity, peace and love.

The summit was a perfect platform for the Coke brand to demonstrate one of it’s core beliefs. The idea was to seize the moment to be at the crossroad of an important time in history to spread a brand message of hope and optimism and use Facebook platform to push it out quickly.

For a quick turn around idea to work it all boils down to the client and agency having trust in each other, adding that there should be no layers in the decision making process.

Smile Lock the Next Innovation of the Open Road Project

Back in the days when the motor vehicle was first conceived,  it was heralded as the emergence of a truly limitless means of transportation.  Compared to that spirited fanfare, what is the situation like now?

In a nutshell, cities are plagued by congestion, cramped parking access, noise, and other nagging problems. There is no longer a genuine sense of freedom, or liberation, surrounding the domain of urban mobility.

The OPEN ROAD PROJECT has emerged from such aspirations, the brainchild of the Toyota Mirai Project Department, a unit formed to explore the future of mobility.

The Mirai Project Department is a laboratory-format team, approximately ten members active,  located in the exclusive Omotesando quarter of central Tokyo.

Its mission is to probe the prospects of new value for the future.  The unit is engaged in prototyping not only for the cause of new mobility but also from the perspective of furnishing unique new user experiences grounded in mobility.

In this initiative, the scope of the work has been expanded to the perfection of an all-new mobility experience, envisioned to bring innovative new services onboard as well.

On the contrary, working through collaboration with Dentsu, the general public, startups, major scale corporations and other organizations, big and small that share the same vision, the goal is to instill an unparalleled degree of freedom in today’s urban mobility.

Using design thinking techniques one of the problems that were solved was parking. See the video below.

Moving ahead on the strength of constructive thinking, flexible ideas and the energy to succeed where others have failed, the Open Road Project team are determined to bring dramatic new innovation to both the realm of mobility and the future of our cities.

The next innovation in the Open Road Project was solving the electricity demands from electric cars.

Today, power is crucial for comfortable and convenient living.

But even so, constructing new charging equipment can be a mighty task. At the same time, there is plenty of electricity available in our cities.

Most all of the people living in urban areas, meanwhile, want and need to access such power. If a device could be developed to connect that power to the people who need it, clearing the way for mutual sharing of the power accessible around town, our lives and the society around us could certainly be enhanced.


SMILE LOCK OULET resolves this problem by recording data on the use time and specific users, furnishing a scheme in which customers pay only for the amounts of power they actually consume.

For outlet owners, power outlets frequently remaining idle can be used to generate revenue.

For i-ROAD drivers, the options for the charging environment can be expanded. In this way, a confident and happy tradeoff will be generated between power outlets and cash flow.

With SMILE LOCK conceived as a communications function equipped device, it carries on real-time exchanges with the server over the Internet.

Utilizing that capacity, the system steadily records use status, the identities of users, as well as how much charging is performed. This conversion to the Internet of Things (IoT) in power outlets has paved the way to the invention of this dynamic new service.

SMILE LOCK” is engineered to contribute to cultivating a society in which everyone is able to share electricity with full peace of mind. With SMILE LOCK, there is no need to install any new equipment, with use of outlets already existing around town helping to realize an easier and more comfortable charging environment for the i-ROAD.

SMILE LOOK, in other words, heralds the debut of a next-generation device crafted to realize the dream of “outlet sharing.”

Dentsu Aegis APAC Open New State of the Art Regional Office with the Singapore Government

Dentsu Aegis Network today officially opened our new Asia Pacific headquarters in Guoco Tower at the Tanjong Pagar Centre. The new offices will house all our ten network brands under one roof, along with innovation labs and R&D centre: Isobar NowLab, iProspect VoiceLab, and the Global Data Innovation Centre.

With the move to the new headquarters, Dentsu Aegis Network will now be able to accommodate over 750 of its Singapore-based staff in one location for the first time. All brands were previously located in five different office locations in the central business district. This co-location will help facilitate collaboration, foster innovation, and enhance efficiency as part of Dentsu Aegis Network’s unique corporate strategy.

The new regional headquarters launch was officiated by Indranee Rajah, Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Finance; Nick Waters, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific; and Kelvin Wong, Assistant Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board.

The new 100,000 square feet headquarters was designed with the concept of agile working in mind. Singapore will be the first location in Asia Pacific to pioneer agile working which aims to provide a balance between work and personal needs as well as to facilitate collaboration. Agile workers also create agile organisations that are better equipped to survive and thrive in the digital economy, in line with Dentsu Aegis Network’s global push to become a 100% digital economy business by 2020.

The offices will also host Isobar NowLab, iProspect VoiceLab, and Global Data Innovation Centre to explore new emerging technologies and equip Dentsu Aegis Network with the necessary tools and capabilities to navigate through the digital economy successfully.

Isobar NowLab is a global initiative, an accelerator intended to catalyse innovation across Isobar. It provides an open and collaborative environment for the global NowLab community to share ideas and codes, build on each other’s experiments and help clients bring emerging technology and innovation projects to market. Isobar NowLab also runs hackathons, conduct R&D projects, and host permanent maker-spaces, amongst others.

Under iProspect’s global innovation series ‘Solving-X’, the agency has partnered with Google to create the iProspect VoiceLab built with Google which explores the new vocal relationship between person and machine. The experimental space currently explores how Voice technologies powered by the Google Assistant on Google Home can work for both consumers and brands. By using voice commands, participants can navigate, display and share Google data from platforms such as Consumer Barometer, Insights or Trends as well as talking to the room to control other connected devices.

Global Data Innovation Centre is the network’s first-ever R&D centre that develops and produces innovative applications and serve as a hub for data scientists and technology talent globally. First launched in 2016, the centre was built in collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

Singapore’s Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for Professional Services was also launched today in conjunction with the opening of Dentsu Aegis Network APAC headquarters. The new office was selected as a venue for the launch as the business’ success in building digital and data-led partnerships and innovations sets an example for Professional Services firms in the creation of opportunities within the digital economy.

Dentsu Aegis Craft Matters Class of 2017

2017 has been a foundational year for the Dentsu Aegis Craft Matters programme. The brain child of Jean Lin, DAN Global Exective, CEO of Isbar Global and fhe DAN Executive Sponsor for this program. 

Craft Matters set out with a simple goal; to bring the collective power and diversity of our network together to create a truly integrated output that is enabled by technology, empowered by an ecosystem and seamlessly connected through design.

In 2017, the inaugural global DAN Creative Hack in March October in California with some of our clients. The class went on and did five local hacks including the one in Singapore.

At each event during the year, we bonded and worked up some indeed groundbreaking ideas that demonstrate how Dentsu Aegis Network is in good shape and has the right people to disrupt and innovate the creative industry with an original global offering that is built for the digital economy.

We are just at the start of the Craft Matters journey, and 2018 will will see DAN continue to empower our creative communities to evolve our creative process, capabilities, and solutions with the right tools, methods, and partners.

I want to personally thank Jean and my fellow class members for there passion, the individual contributions everyone made to Craft Matters by the DAN community made it a pure delight to be part of it.

Here’s the Class of 2017!

The first ever three-day Global DAN Craft Matters Workshop. Thirty leading creatives from across Isobar, McGarrybowen, Firstborn, MKTG, 360i, and Dentsu met in Silicon Valley to work with our Global Media Partners,​ Snapchat, Google and Facebook as-well-as network and discuss priorities for 2017

Canon Think Big Leadership Business Series

As the curtains draw on 2017, businesses need to begin planning ahead for the upcoming year. With constant changes in geopolitical landscape, technological breakthroughs and stakeholder expectations, businesses cannot afford to rest on their laurels with stagnant business models.

Planning ahead may be a daunting task, but Canon Asia Pacific leaders got together to create the Think Big Leadership Business Series with an aim to provide clarity for over 700 attending business leaders, through a whole host of respected leaders in both commerce and academia sharing their perspectives on 2018’s projections.

Aptly themed Outlook 2018, this convention took place at the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore, on the 21st and 22nd of November 2017.

I was invited to join the program with a focus on Digital Transformation working with Canon Mailcom Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s Mr. Chris Martin, Océ Technologies B.V. Netherlands’ Mr. Joost van Rooij, Zalora Group’s Mr. Parker Gundersen & LinkedIn’s Mr. Stewart Lee.


Tech vs Humanity: Keeping the Human Touch Alive in an Automated World


Robots, artificial intelligence, computerized algorithms, machine-to-machine communications, and autonomous vehicles are here and transforming human life.

Despite how digitisation and technology have become an integral part of businesses, people are increasingly craving for the human touch of personalisation, from product customisation to simply having someone willing to walk through and understand their customer’s needs.

What are some ways businesses can find a happy medium between technology and human interaction to ensure a satisfactory buying experience is not lost?


Moderated by NTU’s Chief Development Officer, Mr. Victor Tay.


  1. Adam Good, Chief Digital Officer, Dentsu Brand Agencies, APAC, Dentsu Aegis Network
  2. Parker Gundersen, Group CEO, Zalora
  3. Stewart Lee, APAC Head of New Business, LinkedIn
  4. Ryan Huber, Managing Director, Huber’s Pte Ltd
  5. Ewan Sou, Founder and Managing Director, Instantly

Campaign Asia has just revealed the shortlists for Agency of the Year awards Asia Pacific 2017

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s 2017 Agency of the Year and Agency Network of the Year Awards shortlist has just been announced.

Congratulations to all the Dentsu Aegis agencies, individuals and teams who made it onto the shortlists. Full list of agencies below.


Agency Shortlist annouced

– China Creative Agency of the Year
– Taiwan Creative Agency of the Year
Dentsu One Taiwan
– Greater China Creative Person of the Year
– Greater China Talent Management Person/Team of the Year
– India Digital Agency of the Year
Dentsu Webchutney
– Singapore Creative Agency of the Year
Dentsu Singapore
– Thailand Creative Agency of the Year
Dentsu One (Bangkok)
Dentsu Thailand
– Vietnam Creative Agency of the Year
Dentsu One Vietnam
– Philippines Digital Agency of the Year
Dentsu Jayme Syfu
– Singapore Digital Agency of the Year
Dentsu Singapore
– Vietnam Digital Agency of the Year
Dentsu One Vietnam
– Southeast Asia Integrated Agency of the Year
Dentsu One (Bangkok)
Dentsu Singapore
– Southeast Asia Account Person of the Year
Dentsu Singapore – Pearlina Chan
– Southeast Asia Creative Person of the Year
Dentsu Jayme Syfu – Merlee Jayme
Dentsu Singapore – Jatinder Sandhu
– Southeast Asia Strategic/Brand Planner of the Year
Dentsu One (Bangkok) – Taku Morikami
– Southeast Asia Agency Head of the Year
Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore – Rosalynn Tay
– Southeast Asia Talent Management Person/Team of the Year
Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore – Dentsu Aegis Network Human Resource Team
– South Asia Agency Head of the Year
Dentsu Aegis Network – Ashish Bhasin
Good luck

Company Culture Change Before Technology Drives Digital Transformation

As a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) I live every day at the intersection between technology and culture and how it drives change in a company or organization.

The powerful breakthroughs in computing, smartphones, and telecommunications have seen massive adoption of broadband, mobile, and e-commerce systems, resulting in a real-time buy and sell channels that have changed customer experiences forever.

How a company moves to embrace the opportunity, I tend to first look at the company culture.

Companies born in the pre-digital era always need much more adjusting or shift in their organizational culture to keep up with today’s digital disrupted world.

Company culture reflects an organization’s deepest and most tightly held beliefs and values. Those beliefs and values have had years and often decades to become deeply entrenched and often played a significant role in why the organization reached its level of success in the first place.

Thinking these beliefs and values can be easily changed is a fool’s errand.

As a CDO I am regularly tasked with moving companies into the digital age via newly created customer first strategies, go to market programs and mobile first engagement platforms.

With this role, I have often underestimated an organization’s ability to change quickly and get surprised with a push back when the culture rejects the new way of doing things.

Frankly, it depends greatly on what business vertical and industry I have been being invited to operate a digital transformation within.

If it is an industry with a short fuse, big bang disruption like travel, finance, retail, professional services, media, and telecommunications. These industries like our very own advertising industry are seeing the explosive and immediate impact on traditional business models.

The company resistance to embracing a digital transformation is often culture driven as their deepest soul still thinks the old days of working are still more relevant than not.

Big bang digital disruption is a force that rocks the foundations of a business and many times over I see the management teams while seeing change coming were not prepared and or willing to adjust and invest quickly enough.

Other times I find myself operating in a vertical grouped where a longer fuse, big bang digital disruption is occurring, and here you find applying digital transformation strategies, tends to move towards cost efficiency to be the key drivers. Industries such as auto, FMCG, education, health, transport, agriculture and utility sectors.

While all industries are being disrupted because of the Internet, you need to call on all your experience to drive the right amount of velocity to apply to the proposed transformation assignment, so the customer engagements paths and new revenues proliferate rather than become restricted because the disruption has taken a front seat.

These velocity decisions impact how tasks are conceived, led and resourced and in many cases how you recommend culture change management on how to nurture the digital transformation program.

The understanding of how this works results in many new and exciting ways to engage with customers. Especially thinking on a global scale, rather than the traditional local market level which often conflicts with many organizations operating structures.

Digital transformation should always look for programs that increase automation and gather and analyze unprecedented amounts of data so they can stay relevant in a competitive global market.

While cost efficiencies are necessary strategies, the digital transformation program must have the core goal to deliver customer acquisition, engagement, and usage. The program should be developed to have milestones on customer interaction. The program should look to be finding constant improvements. In the early days, it is about the test, learn, implement and scale quickly.

This combination means there are a vast array of capabilities and skills required to stitch together a large-scale audience led digital transformation and ultimately Dentsu Aegis is well positioned within our various agency capabilities to lead clients.

I find the leader of a digital transformation program must have a clear customer-centric upbringing. Ideally spent their entry career creating compelling stories across many different types of media channels, and were brought up on design thinking approaches and techniques, that can then be fused to screen customer first approaches, tracked to agreed business models and defined audiences and financial plans. Yes, you need to be able to communicate and action all of this to have a successful digital transformation agenda.

A find the leader of a digital transformation must also have a passion for the arts blended with a scientific method mindset to use the tools of the day, but also be innovative always to be looking ahead to find an edge.

Successful digital transformation approaches often start a life launched from innovation labs. As a CDO I find digital transformation strategies should be ‘story told,’ must always be mindful and have an understanding these stories impact others. Their client’s staff, their friends, and their customers.

I also find it essential to communicate the understanding of what drives a new culture as well as the opportunity. Culture always trumps strategy, so any digital transformation strategy has to be collaborative at all times seeking out digital artisans and change agents for both the client, the agency/service provider and the end customer.

To bring to market a digital transformation program I find a successful technique is to foster a partner ecosystem for co-innovation and co-creation. The team that is created for the assignment must also give the project leads and middle managers latitude to fail fast so they can learn even more quickly.

In summary, it’s not the technology that drives change, but rather companies don’t allow legacy culture to slow down a digital transformation in a fast-moving digital economy. That is, companies must become disruptors or risk being disrupted.

Companies need a culture of speed, agility, innovation, constant learning, and mindfulness.