News

Tencent executive Sy Lau defends the role of the chief marketing officer and calls on the industry to do more good

Sy Lau with Maurice Levy

Tencent Advertising chairman Sy Lau has defended the function of the marketer as a key business role in the wake of a trend he believes has seen some operations work without anyone in the chief marketing officer role.

Speaking to The Drum at Viva Technology in Paris, after holding a talk on the charitable work undertaken by the Chinese media operation, Lau spoke about how marketers can make a difference.

"What we are seeing is a trend where some big companies are making do without the role of chief marketing officer and that shouldn't be taken in totality of the intent," he stated.

"Such great companies do believe in the spirit and the concept of marketing and that it fulfills your needs better than your competitors and shows that you are better than anybody else. So the concept remains in the way that marketing ought to be conducted, it has to involve the evolution of technology and digital and big data which are all presenting a lot of opportunities.

"At the same time, it is creating a lot of discomforts for many companies. I believe that companies should always embrace change and many people are coming on board as we need to learn the new ways of understanding consumers and not just looking at digitalisation as part of the market solution. It should be an entirely holistic approach to what is in the brief and restructuring some companies to keep them fresh."

On stage Lau spoke about the need for "people to do more" for others and how social media had facilitated the creation of change in China and the ambition to creative "the passage of rightiousness where charity can become a habit."

This included telling to story of the Tencent Foundation, an internet charity founded in 2017 that placed user value as it's top priority, which became a commitment to the company that has so far given away over 1.7 RMB that has been contributed by 100m online users in that decade.

"If people have a choice, charity could potentially become an every day part of people's lives," said Lau who added "We don't need tech to change the world, we just need people to do a little bit more."

He signed off with a final call for people to be more charitable, stating that that current generation had "a responsibility to be the guardians of the future."

Other speakers at Vive Techology included Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti who spoke about the future of news and the new French President Emmanuel Macron who described France as the new home of entrepreneurs.

Get the Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest news and insights.

Subscribe

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze and producers Harvey Weinstein and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

All by Stephen