Jon Chin | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Innovator 25 AP Jon Chin

Jon Chin

Partner and Regional Client Director, APAC


“I would define innovation as having grit with passion”

Ketchum’s Jon Chin has held several digital leadership roles at both boutique and network agencies, reflecting his deep immersion in the challenges of transforming legacy business models into digital-first thinking. That mindset has been brought to the forefront of his latest challenge at Ketchum, which is repositioning in Asia-Pacific around a digital/social model to better compete with bigger rivals. And a good example of that comes from Chin’s work in developing the Maestro tool for P&G in Asia, identifiying tribes and then helping to determine the blend of paid and earned required to drive purchase. Prior to Ketchum, Chin held senior digital roles for MSL and FleishmanHillard and has also helped develop one of Singapore’s top online motoring communities.

How do you define innovation?
Dictionary definition aside, I would define innovation as having “grit with a passion” as the ‘how’ and “disruptive force for good” as the ‘what’. Grit – the ability to sustain interest and effort toward actualization of a long-term goal — unyielding courage in the face of challenges/obstacles. Passion — genuine interest and a conviction that it will work and a growth mindset. To innovate, one needs to adopt the mindset of “disruptive force for good”, knowing that in order to achieve breakthrough solutions, the individual is to recognize that there will be discomfort and challenges along the way. Thus, grit with passion plays a key role in innovative solutions. The ability to obtain buy-in from stakeholders is a skill an innovator needs. Able to stand up to your beliefs despite
being a minority challenger at that point in time by convincing the stakeholders and with reasons that make compelling sense (rationally).

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Nike “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything – Just do it”. The campaign attracted a lot of controversy as well as success for the brand. Innovative does not need to be complex. This initiative is simple yet impactful (triggered emotions). Beyond that it ladders up to the brand platform of “Just do it”, it did this by constantly reinventing articulations of it in a way that is current and took a risk – a calculated risk based on sound research insights that it did on its target audience on what matters to them. In my view, Nike is a “disruptive force for good” and “grit with passion” brand. Nike’s grit = despite challenges and a skeptical audience, it did what it believes was right (and being innovative at the same time) and took a risk. Passion = stayed true to what Nike stands for and a conviction that it will do right for the brand and is a “disruptive force for good”.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
SKII and Nike. The commonality of these two brands are how both of them have taken a stand, a clear point of view on something and been consistent in what they do and say - SKII (“Change Destiny”) and Nike (“Just do it”). All the campaigns laddered up to the brand platform and most importantly it connects and make sense to the target audience. The campaigns that they have done are geared towards triggering emotions by creating compelling content based on a human insight that is relevant for the target audience and subtly
included the role of the brand in it. A potent mix of both PR and marketing at play.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
The operationalization of a multi Omnicom PR agency solution for a key strategic client (who is a leader in the marketing field globally) in APAC was the moment. The challenge was the client who is a leader in the industry wanted the very best comms/marketing plans and teams in an effective and efficient manner. In order to achieve that, I took a bold response and the solve was to (1) provide the best-blended team solution drawing from 3 Omnicom agencies working as one across APAC (including Greater China) and (2) a new business model. 

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Steve Jobs – In my view he is an individual that displayed “Grit with Passion”.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Stop doing it and go for a run. It really helps!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Experiment - go beyond what you are comfortable with and push for what you believe in to stakeholders within. Create an environment in which team members are given the tools and resources to challenge the status quo, push boundaries and achieve growth – support the creation of a team that displays “grit with passion”.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
‘Sun Tzu – The Art of War’. While this book is about military warfare, its teaching extends far beyond it as it focuses on effective ways to achieve a goal, recognizing there will be challenges along the way. This book has taught me about life in general via the window of ancient modes of leadership/management.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Morning (really early in the morning before the work day starts), it allows me to look at things from a fresh perspective (and also my mind is most clear) with little interruptions.