Belle Baldoza | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2019
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Belle Baldoza

Head of Communications
(SEA, HK & TW)

Airbnb
Singapore


“Innovation is all about asking ‘why not?’ as you bring an idea to life beyond the usual boundaries”


When it comes driving innovative communications at tech startup giants, few are more experienced than Belle Baldoza, who has already held leadership positions at Netflix, Spotify, Uber and ByteDance/TikTok before recently joining Airbnb. A member of the Influence 100’s Rising Stars, Baldoza has emerged as one of the region’s top communicators for humanizing fast-growing technology players, underpinned by a risk-friendly mindset that has seen her take on several challenging jobs without much in the way of hesitation. 

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is all about asking 'why not?' as you bring an idea to life beyond the usual boundaries.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
As someone who has spent most of my career in tech PR, the most innovative ideas I've seen always involve a great human insight combined with a product truth. To promote music discovery and their playlists function, Spotify launched an incredibly relatable campaign that focused on people’s tendency to wait a little longer in the car to finish a song. It’s a behaviour that not only sparks nostalgia, but also bridges an insight that transcends from the days of over-the-air radio to these days where streaming is a norm when it comes to enjoying music.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
I’ve always looked up to brands who have been able to articulate their role in people’s lives by sparking a conversation that is deeply rooted in cultural realities, all the while upholding product truths. Among the brands I look up to for their innovative storytelling and marketing campaigns include Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Most recently, I am proud to be part of the team that launched our first integrated safety brand campaign in India, #WaitASecToReflect. As a user-generated platform, the campaign sought not only to promote safety on our app, but spark a wider conversation around how ‘it only takes a second’ to make the choice to be safe and responsible on platforms such as TikTok. The campaign aimed to touch upon three key issues associated with misuse of social media platforms: dangerous content, hate speech and digital addiction. To ensure the campaign reaches users across the country, these messages were brought to life through three digital films and an original campaign jingle, which were launched across diverse channels such as radio, print and digital in major Indian languages. We also launched a site where netizens can pledge their resolve to be more safe and responsible for their actions online.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
I will always look up to David Ogilvy for being able to set the bar when it comes to articulating the brand promise. I learned a lot about fusing strategic thinking and storytelling during my time at Ogilvy and Mather.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
For me, the brain is a Rolodex. To spark creativity, you need to add new ‘cards’ or ideas, or shuffle the Rolodex to stumble upon new inspiration. I like to read a lot about goings-on in popular culture and join a think jam with my teammates to further discuss ideas. The best ideas from the Rolodex come in when you least expect them.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I think it’s a great time to be in PR as it goes beyond the business of protecting reputation towards playing a key role in the ideation of integrated campaigns. But to take innovation one step further, PR pros should not only be able to develop and execute out-of-the-box ideas, but they should be able to also articulate what success looks like — how these ideas contribute to the bottom line. Developing an effective framework for PR measurement and how it contributes to the overall success of an initiative is part of the innovation cycle.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I've always had a flair for events, so I'd probably be a wedding planner. I'd also love to write children's books at some point.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
I was recently blown away after watching 'Parasite', the latest film by Korean auteur Bong Joon-Ho. Known for his rogue approach to cinema, he outdoes himself again with this all at once bleak, intricate and unrelenting masterpiece showcasing contrasts between the haves and have-nots. It's a film that paints a tragedy without the need to cast a stone at any villains. Truly immersive yet unforgiving, I would have loved to read it as a story as well.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
The best ideas come to me late at night, when all the noise from the day has died down.