September 9, 2019


We always look up to Western brands as standards to brilliant marketing. But in October, someone is about to tell us to start looking up to ourselves.

With PANA’s thrust of helping its members and the advertising industry to champion courageous and responsible brand building, the organization created the PANA Brand Master Sessions –a mentoring event that brings the mastery of global caliber experts to Manila.

 On October 2, the PANA Brand Masters Sessions 2019 kicks off with Asian branding guru, Martin Roll. This is an exceptional treat for C-level, middle, and senior marketing professionals in the country as the learning conference’s focus this year is on Asian Brand Strategy –a topic Roll, as one of the foremost experts in the field, has 20 years of experience in. He has been the esteemed advisor of Fortune 100 companies, successful CEOs, and large family businesses in Asia, after all.

Now, why would a world-renowned thought-leader and global business strategist zero in on Asia?  Aside from having lived for two decades on the largest continent on Earth, Roll sees potential and opportunity. Asia is still the biggest manufacturer and provider of commodities in the world. Elevating branding as the key priority of these manufacturers will help us find our footing internationally. “It is not enough for Asian countries to be driven by manufacturing, volume, and high quality brands”, Roll stressed. “There has to be a bold decision made to compete globally.”

When asked if local brands will ever be able to break into the global market currently dominated by Westerners, the author of Asian Brand Strategy: How Asia Builds Iconic Brands, said that it’s all a matter of timing, resources, and most importantly, mindset. It has been done by Singapore Airlines, Toyota, and Samsung –Asian brands that have embraced marketing, putting it on the center stage and using it as a strategic business driver. The Philippines is not that far behind.

“The challenge is to get the entire organization involved in marketing”, declared Roll. “From the owners to the C-suite level, everyone should live the brand day by day. Marketing should not just sit in the marketing department. It should sit in the boardroom. Each department should be communicating and doing marketing confidently”.  He added, “Filipinos are more communicative as a culture. That makes you more conducive to building brands.”

He pinpointed brand categories we can excel in on a world-wide scale. “You have a lot of companies and you’ve worked with brands for 25 years. You have shown competence in fashion, financial brands, retail, technology, oil refinery products, and your airlines. That can benefit not just the tourism sector but your country’s own branding.”

 Realizing the breadth of possibilities, there is indeed so much local marketing people can learn from Martin Roll.

 He generously shared a sneak peek. His PANA Brand Master Session on Asian Brand Strategy is composed of three modules. Here, he has given some valuable insights on how we can build brands according to each segment.


This module offers frameworks for understanding successful Asian branding strategies. Roll cited Korea as one fine example. “Korea had the biggest transformation in 20 years”, he said. “It has made their own culture global with Hallyu or Korean wave.  From music to drama to beauty –they didn’t just share their brands. They also shared their country.”

Using this as benchmark, Roll emphasized that marketing should bring to the global playing field something special, something people haven’t seen before. There’s value in using more emotional content in communicating what brands stand for. “Even if you have a great, high quality product, if you do a bit of soul searching of the company behind it, in its history and its legacy, you’ll find emotional drivers that will make that product even more special”, he shared. “So look into your myth, your culture. People love to hear those stories. It’s more intriguing.”


It has been said that the First Generation creates the business, the Second Generation grows the business, and the Third Generation squanders the business. Roll has the perfect analysis to why is that. “A lot of Filipinos run family businesses. The struggle has always been how to professionalize them. You have to keep the younger generation excited about the business by passing on lessons in management and leadership” Taking it a step further, he added, “Family business owners often underestimate the opportunities out there. Family businesses can go global, too. You all speak English. That’s the first step to globalization. Have a mindset that you’re serving diverse cultures.” When you broaden your goal, it stimulates the family organization. “Being family-owned and family-led also create longevity. The business isn’t under the mercy of commercialism. Therefore, it genuinely cares about society.”

In this module, marketers can learn how to lead homegrown businesses to sustained growth across multiple generations.


“The world is ready for Asian content. Asia isn’t viewed as a backyard manufacturing company anymore”, Roll proudly announced as he talked about the inevitable transformation of local brands from manual to digital. “People travel, there’s the Internet, everyone’s open to different cultures. That also means that there is more competition now and you have to make bold decisions.” Aware that the Philippines ranks as one of the top users of social media in the world, he stated that “Social media isn’t enough. Digital is a moving target. It keeps evolving. You have to take into consideration the strategic issues that go with going digital. You’re not just scratching the surface. When you go digital, you’re representing the entire organization –from delivery systems, sourcing, marketing, HR policies, to supply chain.”

This module will show brand builders how to champion a culture of innovation across multiple facets of the organization, with the end goal of adding more value to the customer.

This article alone is packed with nuggets of Martin Roll’s branding wisdom; it’s hard to believe there is still so much to look forward to at his whole-day masterclass. “I’m glad PANA has taken the initiative to do this. I am honored. I’ll do all I can to bring my expertise, my passion, to help you build stronger, global-ready brands”, the marketing guru expressed. “I know the Filipino is capable.”

But he isn’t stopping there! On October 4, Martin Roll is also expected to hold a talk with some of the country’s advertising and marketing communications students. “The power to educate young talent is something I’m very passionate about”, he said. “All leaders should come back to the classroom and teach. It’s their obligation to share their experiences and motivate the future.”

 To register for the PANA Brand Master Sessions, visit





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