Born: Hong Kong
Worked in: Hong Kong, Sydney and China
Elaine Ip is an extraordinary talent and is very well known in China. However, she is also quite modest. Six years ago when she left Saatchi to take over a 40-person OMD office in Shanghai, she was concerned about not knowing enough about media. She then worked to win McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, HP, Unilever, Pepsi, Danone, Amway and others. She now oversees over 800+ people. And it has been commented that Elaine Ip has given the best presentation by a media executive since Irwin Gotlieb sold Maxwell House their upfront buy in 1990!
Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud. Elaine is proud that she was able to “break the norm” in terms of media agency negotiation practices in China. These used to be considered “volume talks."
She was able to position Omnicom Media Group as the fastest growing media agency in China—(from US 70million in 2004 to US 1.8 billion 2010). As a result, she built new policies with media vendors that served to further strengthen this competitive advantage. Omnicom Media Group’s business growth has been over 50% every year since 2004.
Why do people see you as an innovator? I am not sure if I am an innovator, but I do believe that there are always new perspective to look at things and better ways to achieve something. What was not possible before may become possible when you have the right people, the right focus and the right tactics put together. In China, persistence and determination are also key elements in pursuing goals.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Innovation is very important and top priority. China is a market that presents unlimited potential, but at the same time, it is extremely competitive. In China, everything is possible but everything is difficult. It requires creative solutions all the time to conquer challenges and breakthrough problems. We have to regularly go down the winding paths to achieve goals. Doing what others do will not get you anywhere in China.
What is the biggest challenge you face in applying innovative thinking to international projects? Getting support and confidence from markets that are at different stages of development (e.g. US
vs China) require a common point of interest and some merchandising skills. We spend a lot of time “tuning the wave lengths” and drawing relevance to multiple audience groups.
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? The ability to see things differently, the guts to push for new solutions, and the determination to make that happen.
Any other interesting aspects to your international background? My family migrated to Australia from Hong Kong in 1995 for the fear that Hong Kong’s return to China would signal an end to certain freedoms under a Communist regime. Ironically, my two daughters and I all work
inside China for the vast opportunities it provides.