What’s On

Why innovation is a must for brands, agencies & startups

Innovation is a must to thrive in today’s world of business for organisations of all sizes. On one hand, large companies face unprecedented demand for customisation, shorter times-to-market and increased competition. On the other, startups face competition, difficulties scaling their products, and often lack connections to large markets.

Advertising agencies who are supposed to help brands to drive innovation aren’t doing enough as their solution offering are smaller than ever. The current agency landscape – a vast mismatch between what clients’ needs are and what agencies are working on, and this gap seems to be widening. It is high time for agencies to step up to the plate.

The internet has been a mixed blessing, a volatile combination of incredible, new possibilities, rampant change and some of the most destructive forces the marketplace has ever seen. On a communications level we have a plethora of new media channels, information circling the world in seconds, the number of apps bursting onto the scene, and trends like content marketing, native advertising, and influencer marketing to navigate and leverage. The options are ever changing, all in a context where attention is moving onto platforms which become even harder to connect with people.

Yet clients’ problems are much bigger than ever as problems are increasingly focused on what new technology and new behaviors mean to the core of their businesses. Car companies are worried about what electric cars and apps like Uber, Didi and Kuadi could mean for the long-term business of car ownership. Supermarket chains are sucked into offering delivery on groceries despite history showing that profits are elusive. Instant Messenger player like Whatsapp are undermining mobile operators’ ability to make money from texts, but also reducing their role to dumb data pipes.

Retailers face threats from online shopping provider like Tmall and the showrooming effect, and media owners face disappearing revenues as attention moves online. And Tencent’s Wechat is eating up everything on mobile! It’s a wonder brand owners could ever sleep.

Innovation seems to be the only practical solution to agencies and brand where smart partnership can lead to innovating together. There to facilitate these partnerships are startup accelerators like China Accelerator and OMD Innovation Fund, forging these partnerships through their Innovation Programs. Together they pool together the largest startups marketplace to help every industry category. To further step up the pace on innovation, OMD has committed to invest into disruptive and innovative digital media startups to stay ahead of the curve. The net result is that brands are gaining an early pulse of innovation trends, while startups are gaining market validation and invaluable industry connections and advice.

In many cases, large brands crowd source innovation problems and challenges. This gives startups the opportunity to solve these challenges and build a strong relationship with brands. This is a win-win-win situation. The partnership promotes collaboration and creative problem solving that leads to iterate ideas very quickly. And most importantly, customers (who typically demand better and faster) are winning because they gain access to the most innovative products in the marketplace.

Agencies, brands and startups incubating together is a trend that will continue to grow. With the growth in the collaborative economy, this partnership will supercharge innovation allowing it to grow at speed and scale.

Alvin Foo

Alvin currently leads Airwave China, a Mobile Media Special Business Unit within the Omnicom Media Group. Alvin is currently driving and integrating mobile strategy for all OMG’s clients. Alvin is a senior internet and mobile media executive and entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in Asia Pacific with the last 7 years spent in China. Prior to OMG, he was the Head of Mobile for Google Greater China.