Piotr Jakubowski | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

Piotr Jakubowski

Co-founder & Chief Growth Officer 



“Contextual relevance almost always beats a finished product.”

Born and raised in Indonesia, Piotr Jakubowski co-founded data platform Nafas earlier this year to help tackle critical air pollution issues in major Indonesian cities. The organization provides air quality data through a mobile platform and privately-owned sensor network. A former adman, Jakubowski also runs his own digital strategy consultancy called We Are Not Machines, after previously serving as CMO at Go-Jek, where he built the unicorn brand into a household name while overseeing a 100+ in-house marketing team. Jakubowski has also worked as a strategist at Leo Burnett and market lead at VML Indonesia. 

How do you define innovation?
The ability to chart a path into uncharted territories and the perseverance to push towards it. Innovation takes a lot of courage because more often than not, it requires venturing out of your comfort zone.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
I thought that Fortnite hit it out of the park with the Travis Scott Astronomical concert, because someone had to put forth the idea of turning the inside of a game into a destination. They created such an immersive experience, the stages were even being "built" for a week before the concert happened as a way of building hype and anticipation.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
This constantly changes as the ability to consistently execute PR-focused innovation is not easy. To answer this question I think we need to split marketing/pr innovation into two - building anticipation & talkability. I don't think brands need to master both to be innovative in their craft. When it comes to talkability, Burger King globally has been able to create both large and small acts that really connect with people, most recently the PSA to Eat McDonald's from BK France. For building hype I think we need to turn to the startup world, and look how they leverage PR and marketing in different ways to generate buzz about their business - the best example I've come across more recently is a company called Fast, building a one-click checkout tool for e-commerce. Their founder is using Twitter to describe in detail how they are building the company, and it is generating a lot of positive feedback for the brand.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
The development of an internal creative agency within Go-Jek, which at the time was unheard of in Indonesia. Taking the creativity in-house allowed us to be fast, very strongly rooted in the purpose of the business and also gave us the ability to leverage proprietary data.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
I have for a very long time admired Gary Vaynerchuk for his relentless experimentation and pushing of the boundaries of each digital platform. I am fascinated by his adaptability of content, delivery and execution.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
For me, the most important part of keeping creative is to constantly surround myself with it. When feeling stuck, I switch up the genres of music I listen to, watch content (whether it be a show or something on a social media channel) that I would otherwise not consume. Going into a new genre or show brings with it a sense of curiosity, which is for me the key to getting out of a rut - you gotta do something new or different.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
There's actually 2:
1. Context > Craft.
The biggest learning from a fast-growth startup is that contextual relevance almost always beats a finished product.
2. Data Tells Stories
With the incredible amount of data available to us today, we have the privilege to go deeper & deeper to unearth some truly fascinating insights that allow us to create outstanding products or communication.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
By starting nafas, an air quality platform in Jakarta, I'm going all-in on both the environment and human health & wellness. Can't imagine doing anything else.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
In the midst of staying at home I discovered a media company called Cercle, which over the past few years has created extremely well-produced live-sets of DJs playing in some of the most beautiful places in the world. They've shot DJs playing in castles, palaces, abandoned satellite dishes, waterfalls, the Chilean Salt Flats etc....check out their most recent sets from the Pyramids of Giza or the hot air balloons of Capadoccia.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
I don't have a favorite time of the day, but I have 2 favourite states:
Plugged In - headphones on, deep house turned up and a "flow" of creativity.
Plugged Out - spending time with my 3 month old daughter, the silver lining of WFH allowing me to never miss a milestone.