Q&A: Tribal’s Leo Tsui talks Digital, a Complicated Future and Finding Talent


Back in March of this year, DDB Group Hong Kong appointed Leo Tsui as Head of Tribal Worldwide Hong Kong and Head of Digital, DDB Group Hong Kong. His mission tasks him with developing creative and compelling digital solutions for clients, including creating a new breed of social-commerce services.

Tsui’s innovative approach to the work makes him a good fit for his marching orders.

Read More: Innored’s Min Seo on Work and Creativity in the Korean Ad World


 

Prior to the move, he was GM at Mirum Hong Kong, where, during a five year stint, he helped shepherd the WPP digital network agency to win Marketing’s Innovative Agency of the Year, Mobile Agency of the Year and Best Client Management Team in 2015.

Branding in Asia recently caught up with Leo for a chat from his office in Hong Kong.


You’re nearly half a year into running Tribal in Hong Kong. How have things been going so far?

It’s going very well as we have a dynamic and hard-working team here led by myself and our Head of Digital Creative Marco Lam, formerly ECD at Mirum.


 

Tribal Worldwide Hong Kong has had a turbulent year following management changes, so it’s very exciting to see the company grow in the right direction, and picking up momentum with the support of Carol Lam at DDB Hong Kong and Jeff Cheong at Tribal Worldwide Asia.

It’s going to get more complicated in the future. The only way for marketers to win at this game is to leverage data and continue transforming their strategy based on analytics.

We’ve just come off the back of a very busy six months with significant new business wins and projects, including Johnson & Johnson, Moët Hennessy, Invisalign, Hong Kong Tourism Board and AXA among others.  

Leading up to your current gig you were head of digital. Now that you’re at the helm of the entire ship, what are some challenges you didn’t anticipate in your broader role?

The biggest challenge at the moment is the shortage of talent in our industry. We are competing with technology companies like Google or Facebook for the top digital talent in the city. These companies offer fantastic packages and a fun style of working, which is an attractive prospect for young people.

One of the biggest challenges for marketers today is standing out from the competition online. There are so many channels and different formats to consider, and more often than not a shortage of resources to cover all the bases.  

However, in the advertising industry, we get to turn ideas in its infancy into reality as part of an integrated approach, which offers ambitious young people a good level of job satisfaction. At the tech giants, people work with ideas that are pretty much complete by the time they reach that stage of the process.

You’ve had your hand on the pulse of marketing in Hong Kong for years. What are some trends you see out there that you like?

I hope to see more instances where companies use technology to enable brand experiences, for instance virtual reality (VR) really drives brands to distill a brand message into a fully immersive experience. I think it will become more popular when the required hardware is more advanced and more accessible.

How about trends that have exceeded their shelf life and need to be put out of their misery?

3D printing. It’s a great piece of technology for prototyping, but I don’t think the hardware is ready for marketing purposes.

Giving a little love to the competition, what are some campaigns that make you say to yourself, ‘Damn, I wish I thought of that first’?

BMW’s ‘Eyes on Gigi’ campaign. It’s simple but so creative. The execution is very engaging through clever use of 360° video – you just want to play the video over and over again. The campaign certainly does the job of showing off the new M2’s stunning features and performance.

Read More: Bindu Balakrishnan on Taking German Marketing Agency DCMN into India

There is the familiar trope that consumers are ‘overwhelmed’ with choice. What are some of the biggest challenges businesses face in being heard?

I think one of the biggest challenges for marketers today is standing out from the competition online. There are so many channels and different formats to consider, and more often than not a shortage of resources to cover all the bases.  

How about moving forward? Is navigating a brand in the crowded space going to get better or worse?

It’s going to get more complicated in the future. The only way for marketers to win at this game is to leverage data and continue transforming their strategy based on analytics. Tribal Worldwide Hong Kong is heavily investing in data analytics to provide our customers with upstream strategy solutions, and help them navigate and embrace change.

If you had to leave the industry behind, and there were no limits on choice, what career would you choose?

That’s a tough question! Digital is still the thing I love the most, but if I really had to choose, I’d want to be a pilot. The greatest thing about being a pilot is the absolute freedom you feel.

Picture of Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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