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Spikes Asia 2010: AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes & Euro RSCG’s David Jones on creativity for positive change

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Spikes Asia 2010: AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes & Euro RSCG’s David Jones on creativity for positive change

The inaugural session of Spikes Asia 2010 started on the ‘positive change’ note, and the role that advertising can play in that. Euro RSCG’s Global CEO David Jones kicked off the session speaking on creating something good and the using the power of creativity to effect positive change. He presented the Volkswagen fun theory to show how fun can change behaviour. He said, “What our industry excels at is to get people to change behaviour and we can use that to effect positive change.”

Elaborating on his point further, he said that that was what consumers wanted today. Quoting a global Euro RSCG study, Jones said that consumers wanted business to give back to the society and that every business should stand for something more than just profitability. The study also showed that clients wanted it too. He said, “Clients believe that corporate social responsibility gave them a genuine competitive advantage.” Some examples Jones cited to establish his point included Walmart, Unilever and Coca Cola talking about reducing carbon footprint and Reckitt Benckiser Global CEO’s statement that saving money and saving environment were not mutually exclusive.

Jones informed that even at Euro RSCG, some steps were taken in the direction of creativity for positive change and the examples he quoted were the Tcktcktck climate change with Kofi Anan, work done with David Cameron, given Cameron’s views on subjects like global warming, and finally, an initiative that saw Jones’ involvement along with Karen Robertson at a personal level, One Young World, which gave a platform to young people to make positive change.

Jones kept the best for last and that was AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes encouraging CEOs to get out of suits and connecting with their staff on a real level. Fernandes said that for him, the first priority and the biggest asset was the AirAsia staff. He said, “We wanted to make sure that our staffs understand the brand. At AirAsia, we use our business model to help people around the world. For us, CSR begins with our people.”

He spoke of the work that AirAsia had done for its employees and divulged that at regular intervals, he would himself work in the baggage section and check-in counters. Fernandes’ explanation for this was that to be an effective CEO, it was important to know one’s staff. He then spoke about the various kinds of efforts AirAsia had put in to give back to the community. He spoke about AirAsia’s endeavours to help rebuild the Aceh economy by starting flights after the tsunami, or continuing flights after Bali bombing or the Padang earthquake aid.

He said, “We used our business model to help people, help communities and look for long-term gains and benefits.”

Later, in a conversation with Jones, Fernandes spoke of the creativity in Asia and how ideas in the region were implemented in a very fast moving world. He also said, “Creativity innovation is crucial, but you have to create an environment for people to be able to give their ideas. You have to keep your humility intact and don’t let your ego come in the way.”

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