Tuvalu’s new government on Wednesday vowed to keep up its “special” relationship with Taiwan, ending speculation that the Pacific island nation was poised to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing. “The new government wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the long-term and lasting special relationship between Tuvalu and the Republic of China, Taiwan,” Prime Minister Feleti Teo’s government said in a statement of priorities. Tuvalu, with a population of 11,000, is one of just 12 states that still have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing. During the election campaign, senior lawmaker Seve Paeniu floated the idea that Tuvalu’s new government could review its Taiwan ties. That set off frenzied speculation about a looming shift in policy, causing the election to be closely watched from the United States to China. Andrew Lin, Taiwan’s ambassador to Tuvalu, tried to end that speculation on Monday, telling AFP he had received assurances from the new government “that the relationship between Taiwan and Tuvalu is firm, rock solid, durable and everlasting”. The new government said that it wanted to “reassess options” to “strengthen and lift” relations with Taiwan to establish a “more durable, lasting, and mutually beneficial relationship”. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Deputy Minister Tien Chung-kwang will lead a delegation to Tuvalu “in the near future”. Support HKFP | Policies & Ethics | Error/typo? | Contact Us | Newsletter | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team
Spikes Asia, the region’s oldest and most prestigious award for creative advertising has revealed its shortlist for the 2024 Innovation category. The Awards celebrate ground-breaking innovation, technology and problem solving. Each year, standalone tech solutions including tools, products, models, platforms and other forms of ad tech are recognised for their creative excellence, as well as the creative campaigns that use the latest tech. This year’s entries feature from countries including India (2), Japan (3), Australia (2), Singapore (2), Germany (1), and South Korea (1). Agencies including Dentsu, VML, and BLKJ Havas and MediaMonks are amongst the shortlisted for 2024. The Innovation Spikes shortlist is also available on The Work, Cannes Lions’ curated intelligence platform. There’s still time to secure your pass to this year’s celebrations. The winners will be revealed at the Spikes Asia Awards Ceremony & Dinner on 14 March at Swissôtel The Stamford, Singapore. Please reach out to Hema at [email protected] for any enquiries. To see the Spikes Asia Awards 2024 jury lineup, including some of the biggest names in the industry, click here.
Gender pay disparities persist in the Australian advertising and media sector, with a substantial gap of up to 26% reported between the earnings of men and women. Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, which has an ‘Inspire Inclusion’ theme, Australia’s first-ever report that details gender pay gaps at organisations with more than 100 employees, has revealed that male employees are still paid 22% more than their female counterparts. In 2024, one would imagine, this is where pay equity would sit. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) says employers should target a wage gap of 5% plus or minus. But across the 5,000 private sector employees examined, 50% have a gender pay gap of more than 9.1%. The widest gender pay gap remains in the construction, banking, and consulting sectors. Banks like UBS have a gap of 48%, Bank of America at 42%, and Citigroup at 29%. In contrast, advertising pays men 14.6% more than women. A major contributor to this is the dominance of men in C-suite positions and the woeful underrepresentation of women in high-paying roles. Katy Gallagher, Australia’s finance minister, said the data released by the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency showed that there was a “substantial problem in this country” on pay. “This is not about shaming or naming, it’s not about saying men should be paid less, it’s about driving change in those organisations so women get a fair crack at opportunity,” she said. Notably, WPP, the world’s largest advertising group, discloses a median base pay gender pay gap of 19.2% in its Australian division. Omnicom Media Group is at the other end of the spectrum with a minimal gap of 0.3% and a median total remuneration gap of 0%. However, Omnicom’s DDB Group has a gender pay gap of 12% in median base salary and 10.9% in total remuneration. Mediabrands Australia also boasts minimal gaps at 0%. Clemenger BBDO is close behind with gaps of 1% and 0.7% (total remuneration), respectively. “This is a very positive result for Mediabrands and acknowledges the tremendous amount of work we’ve done in this space in the past few years. While we certainly acknowledge there is still more work to be done to continue to advance equality, our action plan and gender equality focus areas are focused on continuing to move the dial in the right direction when it comes to the gender pay gap,” Mark Coad, CEO IPG Mediabrands Australia remarked. A shining star is the out-of-home sector—an outlier in the media industry, with most key players recording pay distribution that counteracted national averages—favouring female talent over men. OOH media organisation boasts a gender pay gap of “negative 2.2%.” Agencies For all the talk on DE&I, and it becoming the focus of many agencies’ survival strategy, the actual commitment is lagging. Agencies, on average, have a double-digit gap, sitting between 10 to 20% for both median base salary and median total remuneration. Howatson+Company is the only independent in the list (with more than 100 employees) and has a staggering gender pay gap of over 25% in its median base salary, and 25.5% in its median total remuneration. Ogilvy Australia closely follows with a gender pay gap of 23.1%, exceeding that of the broader WPP group (19.2%). Howatson+Company 25.4% Ogilvy: 23.1% WPP: 19.2% Havas Australia: 18.9% Dentsu Management Services: 18.2% MediaMonks: 15.3% GroupM: 14.7% Publicis Communication: 13% DDB: 12% M&C Saatchi 9.3% Enero Group (includes BMF, Hotwire, OB Media and Orchard) 9.6% Publicis Sapient: 7.2% Initiative: 5.6% Clemenger Group 1% Omnicom Media Group 0.3% Mediabrands Australia 0% Media and Tech Media companies are moderately better than agencies for like-for-like roles between men and women—OOH is a refreshing shift in defying industry norms. Key OOH players—QMS, OOH!Media, and JCDecaux—each reported negative gender pay gaps, favouring women. Meanwhile, Val Morgan achieved gender pay parity with a gap of zero. Across other traditional media players, the gender pay gap typically ranged from five to 14%. Nine Entertainment leaned toward the higher end with a 13.4% gender pay gap. Seven West Media followed at 10.8%. And the radio business ARN clocked in at 10.2%. JCDecaux: -1.8% The Hoyts Group (parent Val Morgan’s): 0% Seven West Media: 13.8% Nine Entertainment 13.4% Seven West Media 10.8% ARN Media: 10.2% Nationwide News (News Corp Australia) 9.4% Foxtel 8.4% Tech The startling disparity at its audio counterpart, Spotify, warrants attention: Women constitute a mere 33% of its board, with no female chair. The pay gap in total remuneration is at 26.3%. Spotify: 23.5% Domain: 22.9% Oracle: 20.2% Stream: 17.2% Salesforce: 16.9% TikTok: 15.3% IBM: 13.5% Adobe: 10.2% Microsoft: 6.4% Amazon: 5.4% Google Australia 3.7% (total remuneration 14.9%) Facebook Australia -1.7% (total remuneration -2.6%)
Welcome to FinanceAsia’s annual poll, which celebrates Asia’s best companies across a range of markets and countries. We value the input of investors and analysts alike in creating this invaluable benchmark of the region’s most influential companies, their performance and corporate behaviour against their peer group. We invite our readers to participate by nominating any Asia-based publicly-listed company that is leading in its sector. It might be that the company impresses in terms of recent deal execution, internal structure, completed transactions, ongoing strategy, or perhaps ESG credentials. We want to hear from you! The first 100 voters will receive a three months of free, unlimited access to all of FinanceAsia’s content. To vote click here. Poll results will be published via the FinanceAsia website and will provide investors globally with unique insight into Asia’s best-managed companies, both by country / market and by industry sector. Key Dates Open for Nomination: Monday, February 5, 2024 Nomination Deadline: Monday, March 25, 2024 at midnight GMT+8 Result Announcement: North Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia: Monday, April 8, 2024 Regional: Tuesday, April 9, 2024 Guidelines for Nomination Each person who nominates will be asked to fill in their contact details. Each nomination form is unique to each market/country. To submit for more than one market/country, you may click on the link provided at the end of the survey to start a new submission. Please note that you are only required to fill in the fields in which you wish to make a nomination. If there are any categories you do not wish to make a nomination in, you may skip and leave the fields blank. Please note that you may not vote for your own company. Any votes of a company voting for itself will not be counted. IMPORTANT NOTE: Individual responses will remain confidential – they will only be aggregated to provide overall results.
Ankit Desai, previously Hershey India’s marketing director, has been appointed as the general manager for Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. With over 17 years of experience in various FMCG sectors, Desai joined Hershey in 2017 and has a background that includes significant stints at Kellogg Company and Perfetti Van Melle. He shared the news of his promotion on LinkedIn. Sandpiper Group has promoted five senior executives to bolster its business and global reach. Sarada Chellam is now MD for Southeast Asia. She has been the key to the agency’s SEA expansion since 2018. Elizabeth Chu is the general manager of Singapore. A senior finance communication specialist, she’s held senior roles within the agency since 2019. Joyce Li and Serena Cui are deputy general managers in China. Meanwhile, Camille Middleditch is deputy general manager in New Zealand. She has expertise in reputation management and has worked with government clients. UM has been appointed the media agency of record for global car manufacturer Chery. UM’s remit includes all media strategy, planning and buying in Australia, supporting Chery’s launch of all new vehicle releases in 2024 as the brand establishes its market presence. Simon Cahill, formerly with SXSW Sydney, has joined TEG Group as head of commercial. He will manage TEG’s global commercial strategies while continuing to oversee SXSW Sydney’s commercial interests, all from the Sydney office under CEO Geoff Jones. Birla Opus, from the House of Aditya Birla Group, has selected DDB Mudra as its creative partner for four brands in the range following a multi-agency pitch. The mandate involves crafting strategy and communications for Birla Opus, which offers a wide array of decorative paints aimed at businesses and consumers. With this partnership, DDB Mudra will manage the portfolio of four brands from Birla Opus: Style (economy paints range), AllWood (wood finishes), AllDry (waterproofing) and Prime (institutional).
Global digital media and broadcasting company Vice Media is set to undergo staff layoffs affecting several hundred employees, accompanied by the discontinuation of content publication on its Vice.com website. This decision, communicated in a memo from Bruce Dixon, CEO of Vice Media, was announced last Friday (23 February). Known for its focus on edgy and alternative content, Vice was established in 1994 as a punk magazine in Montreal, Canada. Over the past three decades, it has transformed into a multimedia platform addressing diverse subjects such as news, culture, arts, music, technology, and lifestyle. The company creates documentaries, news segments, and online content, frequently delving into unconventional and underreported stories, as well as encompasses a website, television programs, and collaborations with other media outlets. At the peak of its boom in 2017, Vice was reported to be valued at $5.7 billion, with approximately 1,000 employees worldwide. Today, it’s likely to fetch under $1 billion on the market. In Asia Pacific, Vice operates in Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Australia and Japan. Campaign understands staff in these offices have been impacted, though the exact number of people affected by the layoffs remains unclear. “As we navigate the ever-evolving business landscape, we need to adapt and best align our strategies to be more competitive in the long term. After careful consideration and discussion with the board, we have decided to make some fundamental changes to our strategic vision at Vice,” wrote Dixon in the memo issued to staff. “We create and produce outstanding original content true to the Vice brand. However, it is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously,” he continued. Dixon also noted that with the “strategic shift comes the need to realign our resources and streamline our overall operations”, resulting in the reduction of the workforce and saying goodbye to “valued colleagues.” He outlined that Vice’s women’s lifestyle site, Refinery29, will persist as an independent entity, with ongoing discussions about its sale to be announced in coming weeks. This latest round of layoffs comes after Vice was rescued from bankruptcy in June 2023 through its $350 million acquisition by Fortress Investment Group, following years of financial challenges, the departure of top executives, and previous attempts by the company to sell itself. During that period, it was also noted that programmatic ad-blocking exerted substantial pressure on Vice’s advertising revenue. This challenge was exacerbated by the broader industry’s shift towards brand safety, frequently categorising Vice’s content as ‘not brand-safe,’ thereby limiting potential programmatic advertising earnings. The situation reflects a critical challenge for digital media entities: Balancing compelling and often provocative content, with the brand safety concerns of advertisers. Vice’s struggles are not isolated, as the media sector has witnessed a significant series of layoffs and closures as the tides of digitisation continue to shift. CNN Philippines recently announced its closure after years of financial losses, sending shockwaves through its emphasis of the harsh economic realities for media operations dependent on advertising revenues in competitive markets. Similarly, Business Insider also announced layoffs last month, cutting up to 8% of its staff as part of a restructruing exercise attributed to recalibrating its focus towards core audience engagement amidst reduced advertiser spending. Finally, The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine have also navigated choppy waters, with the latter laying off a significant portion of its workforce, including the team at TIME for Kids. Note: A check by Campaign shows that the Vice website is still running, but the site has not been updated with Asia-related content since December 2023. Vice Media did not respond to queries from Campaign.
Google has announced the global rollout of AI-powered asset generation and image editing for Performance Max campaigns. The rollout—which is due to hit US shores in March and globally thereafter—will be available in English, with additional languages on the horizon. It aims to improve how marketers engage with consumers across Google’s ad inventory. Performance Max campaigns will integrate Gemini, Google’s generative AI model, allowing advertisers to create more dynamic and relevant ad content, including long headlines and soon, site link generation. In early February, Google changed the name of its generative AI model from Bard to Gemini, and introduced a mobile app and Gemini Advanced with Ultra 1.0. The forthcoming upgrade to Imagen 2, Google’s text-to-image technology for image generation, will also allow for the production of lifestyle imagery showcasing people in action, further enriching the visual appeal of advertisements. In a blog post, Google shared that the move to incorporate AI in ad creation and editing is designed to streamline complex processes, making it easier for brands to produce varied and impactful creative assets. Google claims advertisers who harness the power of Performance Max’s AI features are seeing tangible benefits, with a notable increase in campaign effectiveness. Specifically, campaigns with ‘excellent’ ad strength—a measure of asset variety and relevance—enjoy a 6% boost in conversions on average. Google believes the introduction of AI-generated assets and the upcoming Canva integration not only simplifies the asset creation process, but also empowers advertisers to meet the fast-paced changes in consumer trends and preferences. As part of a walled garden, Google’s PMax has previously been criticised for being a black box and forcing advertisers to place too much blind faith in the platform, with user privacy regulations mitigating how much campaign performance data Google can share with advertisers.
For Tze Kiat Tan, 2023 unfolded as a year marked by a dual narrative: On one hand, vigorously promoting Chinese creativity within BBDO Asia, and on the other, navigating the challenges of gaining global acclaim. Now as 2024 unfolds, it’s becoming a highlight year for launching new ventures, including the rollout of brand consultancy Batten & Company, alongside a hub for cultural and creative development. Here, as part of Campaign Asia’s ‘Looking back, looking forward’ series featuring chief executives across APAC’s adland, Tan reveals her hopes and fears for the year ahead, and the shiniest and prickliest parts of 2023, both personally and professionally. 2023: Best and worst Tan has held various leadership positions at BBDO across two decades, so she’s well-versed in the peaks and troughs an agency experiences over a protracted period of time. 2023 was her first full year as BBDO Asia CEO, after being promoted from Greater China CEO in 2022, and she acknowledges the biggest trough was the “struggle to gain recognition for our work on the world stage.” “Despite this, the unwavering commitment to lifting our work to new heights and seeking acknowledgment is what fuels our passion,” she says. “It’s not just a professional goal; it’s a personal journey that motivates us to overcome hurdles and aim for excellence in the year ahead.” It isn’t surprising that Tan would obsess over this. After all, BBDO’s mantra is “The Work, The Work, The Work.” Last year, BBDO Asia’s accolades included a Gold at Spikes, a Bronze at Cannes, a few trophies at Caples, another three for the Bangkok office at the One Asia awards, and a Gold at the AME Awards. In the Campaign Asia Agency of the Year Awards, BBDO China won Bronze within the Creative Agency of the Year category, Silver for Social Media Agency of the Year, and Bronze for Specialist Agency of the Year. BBDO China also snagged six Effies at the Greater China show, and nine across the region at the APAC awards. While it was a tougher year for the work than Tan would have liked, she notes it was a good one for the people. In 2023, her priority was continuing the agency’s “People First” strategy, which she explains is focused on “cultivating talent and fostering a unified creative powerhouse to enhance our work and drive profitability.” Personally, she enjoyed finding normalcy again, with the worst of the pandemic in the rearview mirror. Her highlights included: “Getting back into the swing of normal routines, reconnecting with my team, witnessing everyone back in action at work, catching up with clients and partners, as well as spending time outside with my family.” It was a packed year for Tan when it came to industry commitments, too, which offered some “incredible moments this past year.” She was on the APAC Effies and Cannes Lions Creative Business Transformation juries, co-chair of the Iridium jury for the Global Best of the Best Effie Awards, president of the Cannes China Creative Alliance, and chair of the China Chamber of Commerce in Australia (CCCA). Tan also continues to serve on the BBDO global board of directors as its first Asian member. “These roles have given me the chance to make a further impact on industry growth, bringing agencies together, championing Chinese creativity, and guiding professionals through inspiring Creative Masterclasses in Greater China, which has been amazing,” Tan continues. She ended the year being named the new chair for the APAC Effie Awards in 2024. 2024: Hopes and fears If Tan’s hints are anything to go by, 2024 will be a big deal—featuring the launch of both a brand consultancy, and a cultural and creative incubator. Batten & Company, first launched out of New York in 2010, will be coming to China and tasked with “guiding clients in making strategic decisions for sustained brand growth” across areas such as brand positioning, brand architecture, and communications planning. “It leverages BBDO’s leading brand strategy capabilities, which have strengthened over the years,” Tan explains. “Now, with a string of successful marketing and brand strategy consulting engagements under its belt, BBDO has decided to roll out this specific expertise as another growth engine for the network by launching Batten & Company.” “While we envision that most of Batten’s work will continue to focus on China market projects, the intent is to eventually roll this out to clients in other parts of the region.” According to Tan, Batten & Company will offer a unique proposition because of its connection to BBDO; its consultants are “deeply immersed in the world of execution.” “They intuitively grasp how strategies may appear robust on PowerPoint but can fall flat when executed by marketing teams and thus, add real value by helping clients avoid such scenarios.” Tan also slips in a mention of Dobbino, which will be introduced as a “Culture+ Creator Incubator.” The name is an anagram of BBDO, and a reference to innovation. She won’t elaborate further on the incubator, for now. The global team is leading the launch, so “we’re holding tight for the bigger reveal.” Tan also teases the prospect of other projects, such as “the opportunity to work with a best-in-class platform at the center of digital commerce and the possibility to collaborate on cutting-edge AI technology.” Thought leadership will continue to be a priority for the agency in 2024, including through BBDO Voices, an annual report series entering its 14th year. The upcoming 14th edition, launching soon, has the theme ‘Country of Origin’. Last year’s publication, ‘Brand Purpose in Asia’, delved into expert and consumer sentiment across six Asian markets. However, Tan’s fear that BBDO Asia’s work won’t gain recognition on the world stage persists into 2024. She also mentions fear around “ensuring our contributions align with evolving industry standards and expectations.” As for the areas she wants to improve on herself, she’ll be focused on achieving personal and professional equilibrium, especially during the ongoing Lunar New Year festive period. “I’m excited about entering the Year of the Chinese Wood Dragon, a time traditionally associated with fortune and abundance, bringing an extra dose of positivity to life,” shares Tan.
Edelman mentioned declines in practices where clients made “substantial budget cuts,” including healthcare (12%), technology (8%) and financial services (14%). He said that food and beverage increased 15%. Edelman had 6% growth amongst its top 100 clients, which include Microsoft, Starbucks, DP World and HP, during 2023. The agency picked up work from White Claw parent Mark Anthony Brewing and served as the primary communications agency for global climate conference COP28 in Dubai, Edelman said. One of the agency’s standout campaigns in the US was its Dupe Swap initiative on behalf of Lululemon. Edelman is also helping Allegra launch Allegra Airways, a mapping tool that allows users to plot routes with the best air quality, in March. The firm lost a global account with Advanced Micro Devices last year, and also had some pullback from clients like Paypal, Adobe and Samsung. In July 2023, the firm laid off 4% of its total workforce, or about 240 employees. Edelman said he doesn’t expect to make any job cuts this year because the agency is “running a better business.” “I think Edelman’s going to get back to growth in 2024,” he said. “Going into 2023, there was a lot of expectation of recession. Clients [spent] less and made efficiency plays by bringing work [in-house]. I don’t see that now. I see more animal spirits.” Edelman made several key hires last year, including Alex Thompson as global chair of corporate affairs and impact; Tyler Vaught as global head of influence; Brian Buchwald as global head of product, trust data and technology; Ryan Burke as head of global procurement strategy; and Paola Podestá as GM of Argentina. It also promoted Margot Edelman to GM of New York and elevated Taj Reid to U.S. chief creative officer. Kirsty Graham was promoted to U.S. CEO in January, three months after the region’s former chief executive Lisa Ross left the agency. Edelman veteran Dave Samson also exited the firm in 2023. The agency has lost several executives to Interpublic Group agency and rival Weber Shandwick over the past year, such as US COO Jim O’Leary, GMs Jordan Rittenberry and Will Crain and MD of US corporate brand and reputation Sheila Mulligan. This story was updated with additional information.
Hong Kong actor Gregory Wong, who was convicted of rioting inside the city’s legislature in 2019, did not take part in “extreme violence,” his lawyer has said during a mitigation hearing. District Judge Li Chi-ho on Wednesday heard mitigation pleas from Wong and others found guilty earlier this month of rioting inside the Legislative Council building on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China during the 2019 extradition bill protests. The key date in Hong Kong’s months-long protests saw protesters storming the government building in Admiralty by breaking glass windows and doors and scrawling protest slogans on the walls. Some also sprayed black paint on Hong Kong’s emblem inside the legislative chamber, while others vandalised the portraits of previous legislative presidents. Li found Wong guilty after a 34-day trial which began last May. The case also involved well-known activists Ventus Lau and Owen Chow, and former University of Hong Kong student leader Althea Suen, all of whom pleaded guilty to rioting. On Wednesday, Wong’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Lawrence Lok, read out parts of 17 mitigation letters penned by the actor’s family, friends and former principal. They described Wong as “friendly,” “empathetic” and “humble,” saying he had bought anti-epidemic supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic and distributed them to underprivileged groups. “[Wong] was very different from other people in the entertainment industry,” one mitigation letter read. Lok submitted District Court judgements from other 2019 rioting cases to argue the court should consider imposing four years’ imprisonment on Wong. The maximum penalty for rioting is 10 years behind bars, but jail terms meted out by the District Court is capped at seven years. Li said if the defence was pleading for a jail term of two or three years, it would be an “underestimation” of the severity of the case. Lok responded by saying he was asking the court to consider a four-year prison sentence. He went on to say that the actor had not taken part in “extreme violence” and his level of participation was “rather low.” The judge confirmed that there was no evidence to show that Wong was an “instigator” of the July 1 unrest. Activists Lau and Chow, who had no legal representatives, were supposed to make their mitigation pleas on Wednesday along with the other defendants. But judge Li said he wanted to get background reports on the pair before hearing their pleas. Lau and Chow will return to court on March 6 after the reports are ready, while the sentencing for all defendants is set to take place on March 16. Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” Support HKFP | Policies & Ethics | Error/typo? | Contact Us | Newsletter | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team