Q&A: Baggio Xiaofeng Song – Chief Strategy Officer at Inspire Communications Group

Baggio Xiaofeng Song is Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Shanghai-based integrated agency Inspire Communications. Song brings over 15 years’ experience in developing brand strategy, integrated communications campaigns, media strategy and technology solutions working with organizations such as Leo Burnett, BBDO/Interone, Google and Omnicom Media Group.

He now leads a team of brand strategists, media planners, content planners, and data analysts, providing an omnichannel strategy for both international and local brands in the Chinese market. He has also been tapped as a jury member at the upcoming AME Awards.

Gayle Seminara-Mandel recently spoke with Song about his creative process, his favorite ad campaign, what he looks for as a judge at awards shows, and more.


Tell us about your process of creating and delivering effective results.

As a matter of fact, it’s always a bit chaotic than the ‘standard procedure’ of many agencies, but it works quite well.

We make sure the project team consists of people of all disciplines to make things work: project management to watch business requirements, brand planners to own insights and cultural, media planners to integrate resources and partners, creative to guard organizing ideas and execution, data person to look at proofs and calculations, and everyone to be led by usually a business partner level leader to make sure things come up together with sense.

      Every business success is the result of combining many consistent factors from strategy to delivery, plus a bit of macro environment and luck.

We have a group meeting to feed each other information/ideas and brainstorm, we take group decisions back to our desks and work individually, and back to group discussions and repeat. We make sure a flat and lean org structure, break silos to improve synergy and communication, have one top leader to ensure consistent strategy and execution. All these add up to more effective results.


What is your favorite most effective ad and why does it hit the bullseye for the brand?

So far it has been the Nike 30 years campaign from 2018, featuring Colin Kaepernick and other real human beings including legendary athletes and extraordinary everyday people. Every ‘Just do it’ action of any ‘great athlete’, is inspired by greater beliefs, pushed by bigger courage, and strengthened by relentless efforts.

There is no better way than using real human being’s real stories, to touch and move the audience. In light of cultural and political conflicts, Nike dared to make a stand to defend values, to me is the ultimate leadership of a brand can ever achieve. And it turns out to be successful.

Who is your inspiration and how has this philosophy made you who you are today?

David Bowie. Never be satisfied with the status quo and be creative. Push things forward with a balance of artistic breakthrough and mass audience acceptance. Adapt to the time and still keep your signature at the same time. Never set a fixed frame on your evolving self.

Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?

When the industry focused too much on single components like strategy, art, data or execution which are the ‘multipliers’, we lost focus on the root cause. Every business success is the result of combining many consistent factors from strategy to delivery, plus a bit of macro environment and luck.

Effectiveness awards like AME give all of us a chance to step back and look at a bigger picture, to understand how exactly all of those components worked together, and how exactly the synergy that creates the business impact. It’s the portal to the facts and truth and how marketing and communication really works.

Any advice for entrants? Will you share your tips for entry success?

Tell a simple and logical story, cut the jargon and use simple human language, and make sure to link the solutions to results with sense. Don’t list 100 factors, list maximum top three which made a real difference. Try to dig into facts and data to find the real ‘leverage’ and explain well how exactly it worked.


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