Fiona Hong | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2021

Fiona Hong

Global Innovation Brand Manager 

Dole Sunshine Company


"It's better to try than to let fear of failure keep you at status quo"

When Fiona Hong joined Dole Sunshine Company last year, she hit the ground running, given the pending launch of a new health brand and adoption of an ecommerce-first strategy. Working with a cross-functional team, and an entrepreneurial mindset, Hong oversaw and orchestrated the launch of the new brand, The Secret Nature of Fruit, in nine months versus the usual 12 to 18. Debuting the line of supplements in the US and UK during Q1 was a milestone for Dole in its transformation into a nutrition and wellness company. 

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is transforming an idea into a solution that brings incremental positive value, be it great or small, to improving the status quo.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Spotify Wrapped 2020 campaign. It brilliantly leveraged data insights to create personalized content at scale, and engaged music artists and listeners to want to share and talk about it. The most recent 'The World's To-Do List' campaign led by Project Everyone and multiple leading companies in support of the UN Global Goals was also a great example of companies rallying together to bring heightened awareness and action towards solving the greatest world issues that needs to be urgently fixed.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
There's many, but to name a few that I think have left an impression in the recent few years: Nike, Oatly, TikTok, Big Hit Entertainment.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
It's hard to pinpoint a particular moment as I think of it more as a mindset which I built from trying to do at least one thing differently with every innovation project I work on. Perhaps the current time in Dole would be one of the more 'innovative' moments, of trying to apply the best of what I've learnt from past experiences, and at the same time unlearn certain things to be able to embrace new ideas. There's no set rules, we define our own innovation sandbox to work with, learn and iterate from, and that to me is the most exciting part of the innovation process.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Yvon Chouinard and his team behind Patagonia.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Go for a run. Or have a cup of coffee and people watch. It helps me to pause, clear my headspace and come back refreshed to approach the work at hand differently.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Be courageous to try. Everyone's aiming for that moonshot idea that succeeds, but the process to get there can often come with multiple failures, iterations to improve. It's better to try than to let fear of failure keep you at status quo.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Teaching kids, or work related to helping underprivileged children get access to education.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Educated by Tara Westover. Morgan Harper Nichols' podcast.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Dinnertime. Enjoying a good meal and winding down the day with family or friends definitely helps recharge me!