WFA names Mastercard’s Sam Ahmed as CMOForum chair for APAC

Mastercard's Sam Ahmed is the chair of the WFA CMOForum APAC

Mastercard APAC CMO Sam Ahmed has been named chair of the WFA’s CMOForum, a peer-to-peer network of senior marketers, in APAC.

Ahmed will lead regular meetings with some of the region’s most senior marketers, with the aim of helping brands learn from one another in order to better navigate the fast pace of change in the industry.

Ahmed told The Drum that a key part of this is about better aligning marketing to business goals and, specifically in APAC this will come from brands getting better at bringing together marketing and ecommerce.

“What Asia owns is ecommerce and digital, it’s what we are going to be known as the global leaders for. What that means is all innovation, forward-thinking, scalable projects are going to happen here,” he said.

“The need to be linking marketing to business is very, very clear,” he added. Ahmed believes that in an industry that is post-branding, because it’s seen the impact that own-label brands and price-driven trends such as price comparison websites has had on profitability, better linking branding to ecommerce will create successful brands.

“Brands like Starbucks, which has an amazing brand but also very good execution and is very consumer centric; it’s adding all three together. What we’ll be doing with the WFA look at how branding is playing a strong role in ecommerce. It’s in a really Interesting place, ecommerce is at a very underdeveloped time. It’s just been 30 per cent off, or off ugly ads and bad consumer interactions. The user exchange isn’t right and role of the brand is more important on ecommerce, where it used to be price. So the interesting work we’ll be doing with the WFA is looking at what role does marketing play on ecommerce. Firstly, how it can lift profitability, and secondly, how brands can actually get cut through when there’s so much noise,” he explained.

Another way to adapt to change faster, according to Ahmed, is locked in how marketers work with their agencies. He believes that brands need to evolve to be more collaborative and create stronger partnerships with agencies and will be discussing this with the CMOForum. Another topic of focus will be talent and training.

The APAC CMOForum was developed last year when it was launched in September 2015. The concept of the CMOForum first launched in 2009 and an annual meeting for CMOs has been held at Cannes Lions each year.

According to the WFA, CMOs or equivalents attended from brand owners in APAC including ABInBev, Air Asia, Heineken, McDonald’s, Mundipharma, SAB Miller, Shell, TATA, Unilever and VISA.

Ahmed also isn’t new to WFA as he is a board member of the organisation’s Project Reconnect scheme, which aims to help marketers get a better understanding of what people want from brands. Prior to Mastercard, Ahmed worked at Fonterra, Kraft and Starbucks. During his time at Starbucks he rolled out Asia-Pacific’s largest digital point-of-sale, CRM and loyalty card programme, helping to drive store comps WHAT up by 20 per cent.

The group next meets on October 25th in Singapore and October 27th in Hong Kong.

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