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Tom Doctoroff
Tom is one of Asia's most respected advertising professionals and also a leading expert in Chinese consumer psychology. Born and bred in America’s Detroit and educated in Chicago, he took a detour to Hong Kong in 1994 and never quite made it back to the States. His unique combination of pan-Asian work, plus more than a decade based in China, has made him a leading expert in the cross-border management of brand architecture and brand building.

He has appeared regularly on CNBC, NBC’s The Today Show, Bloomberg and National Public Radio and is frequently featured in publications ranging from the Financial Times and Business Week to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Furthermore, he is a sought after keynote speaker for events such as the International Advertising Association’s global symposium, University of Chicago’s Global Management Conference, the China Luxury Summit and the JPMorgan Asia Pacific Equities conference.

Tom started his advertising career at Leo Burnett in Chicago but jumped ship to JWT (Chicago). In 1994, he moved to Hong Kong as Regional Business Director for clients such as Pepsi, Philip Morris/Kraft and Citibank. In 1998, he landed in China as the Managing Director of JWT Shanghai. In 2002, he was appointed Northeast Asia Area Director (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea) and Greater China CEO. Through diversification into customer relationship marketing (CRM) and trade marketing, promotion network management and brand identity/design, JWT Northeast Asia has emerged as one the most synergistically integrated, creatively dynamic communications networks. Some of JWT China’s key clients include: Unilever, DeBeers, HSBC, InBev, Ford, Nokia, Microsoft and Nestle as well as several leading local enterprises such as Lenovo, COFCO, China Unicom, Yili dairy and Anta shoes.

Tom is the recipient of the “Magnolia Government Award (白玉兰政府纪念奖),” the highest honor given by the Shanghai municipal government to expatriates and was selected to be an Official Torchbearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. He is also the author of the best-selling book "Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer" and his most recent title, "What Chinese Want," to be published in April 2012.

Tom completed his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and his MBA at the University of Chicago.

Entries by Tom Doctoroff

Chinese Service Sector Eunuchs: Bigger but Impotent

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 9:04 PM

There's an uncomfortable truth regarding the central government's ability to orchestrate less reliance on manufacturing and exports and more on a reformed service sector.

Partially due to a shrinking industrial base and irrationally exuberant online gambling in China's stock markets-cum-casinos, services now account for 50 percent of economic activity,...

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Branded Content: The Currency of Connection

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2016 | 8:06 PM

The rise of "content" is a fundamental 21st century marketing phenomenon. But is "advertising," deliberate messages broadcast at one time to swathes of people, dead?

Certainly not. Marketers do not spend $250 billion per year on television commercials for sentimental reasons. They do so because brands require carefully crafted positioning...

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The False Divide Between Digital vs. Traditional Media

(2) Comments | Posted December 5, 2015 | 10:41 PM

Participation in, or intimacy with, an engagement idea is not an end in itself. Through the creative platform, we must encourage a person to do something that leads to sales -- learn more, buy more, use more or tell (advocate) more. The success of creative is measured by its effectiveness...

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Out of Our Digital Daze: Aligning Top-Down and Bottom-Up Marketing

(1) Comments | Posted November 9, 2015 | 5:47 AM

The communications industry is at a disorienting crossroad, with two concurrent models competing for minds and resources. The first is a timeless "top-down" approach rooted in generating broad awareness of a unique selling proposition (USP) through broadcast media. The second is a morphing, shape-shifting "bottom-up" model, fueled by digital technology...

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Innovation in China: Promise or Pipedream?

(23) Comments | Posted October 17, 2015 | 10:19 AM

If China fails to turbocharge its capacity to innovate, the country will experience a hard economic landing and social stability will be threatened. But can China evolve into an innovation powerhouse? The jury is out.

Innovation elevates labor productivity which provides resource flexibility -- air cover -- to implement fundamental...

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What Marketers Can Expect From China's Slowdown

(0) Comments | Posted August 14, 2015 | 2:58 AM

In China, multinational manufacturers are confronting a first-in-a-generation structural slowdown. Vigilance is in order. Panic is not. The bottom will not fall out of the market but some sectors may enter a state of suspended animation.

Chinese consumers, even the most upwardly-mobile ones, are cautious even in the best...

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China's Sudden Currency Depreciation: High Anxiety and Lost Face

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2015 | 1:30 AM

In the ongoing battle between the markets and the Chinese central government, the sudden 2 percent devaluation of the yuan represents a colossal loss of face, not to mention a further signal of the economy's underlying weakness. A shrinking auto sector -- insiders expect retail sales to decline 15 percent...

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China's Post '90s Generation: New Minds, Old World

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2015 | 9:08 AM

The New York Times recently published an article that claimed marketers' focus on the "Millennial" generation - that is, individuals born in the last two decades of the 20th century - had become an a obsessive fixation.

How true.

Yes, Millennials are more "digitally native" than older cohorts. But...

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Mandarins and China's Markets: When Faith Fades

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2015 | 9:35 PM

The Great China Stock Crash of 2015 may be recalled as the negative inflection point at which the faith of Chinese in their central government faded.

Yes, the Chinese have always been pragmatic, clear-eyed about risks beyond the horizon. Yes, the wealthiest Chinese have, in droves, secured passports to...

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Digital Commerce in China: Cheap Tricks or Deep Love?

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2015 | 9:28 AM

In China, 46 percent of consumers shop online. E-commerce was slow to take off. However, the country's Internet players adjusted business models to overcome Chinese consumers' aversion to "virtual" transactions. Online security and payment innovations, combined with low-priced delivery and generous return policies, resulted in commercial revolution. Single's Day, TenCent's...

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Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore and the Power of Filial Piety

(5) Comments | Posted March 26, 2015 | 9:56 PM

The death of Singapore's founder and guiding force, Lee Kwan Yew, saddened this prosperous, pragmatic city-state in ways most Westerners fail to grasp. In response to a note of condolence I sent to J. Walter Thompson's Singapore-based staff, one our of IT professionals wrote back, "Today, the world has lost...

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Chinese Consumer Confidence and China's Economy in 2015

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 8:45 PM

It's time once again to gaze into the crystal ball. Across the region, 2014 has been a year of economic anxiety and political fragility. A consumption tax hike that threatens to derail Abenomics, Japan's fading policy designed to reinvigorate that economy. Protests in Hong Kong. Massive street demonstrations in Pakistan....

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Back to the Future in 2015: Five Predictions for Advertising Agencies

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 2:00 AM

2015, it must be hoped, will be a year in which the communications industry heads back to the future. The digital universe has become hydra-headed, shape shifting. Marketers are drowning in a sea of bits and bytes. Digital crusaders advocate algorithmic salvation and Big Data deliverance.

The perception that...

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Nine Rules for Effective Online Content

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 5:06 PM

Engagement ideas, always conceived to trigger behavioral change, are woven into the fabric of consumers' lives as they progress along a shopper's path to purchase. At each stage, both digital and analog media can be deployed to encourage desired behavior.

Digital advertising is sometimes called "liquid content" because it...

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Timeless or New? The ABCs of Marketing in a Digital Era

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2014 | 7:01 PM

The explosion of digital platforms is causing many marketers to rethink how they engage with consumers. But sometimes in their hurry to embrace the digital world, companies often lose their way and forget the basic principles of good marketing and branding. We furtively deploy the latest or hottest digital innovation...

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Why Facebook and Twitter Alone Can't Build Brands

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2014 | 7:44 PM

At the 2014 Grammy Awards show, fast-food chain Arby's trended on Twitter when it poked fun at rapper Pharrell Williams. His hat looked like the one in the Arby's logo, so the company tweeted, "Hey, #Pharrell, can we have our hat back?" It was one of the most talked-about moments...

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The Brand Idea: From Unity, Strength

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 10:40 AM

In an era of digital cool, I still have faith in the unifying power of brand ideas, unhip as this may be. So should we all.

Only the brand idea -- Axe's "Irresistible attraction," or Honda Europe's "The power of dreams" -- has the power to unify disparate messages...

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Don't Let the Buzz About Brand Experience Cloud Your Brand Idea

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 8:08 PM

Is traditional branding dying? Is the "big brand idea" a relic of our traditional past?

Conventional broadcast advertising (radio, print and television) is useful for verbally and visually communicating brand and product benefits, but in an era of consumer empowerment, top-down messaging -- or the passive embrace of manufacturers' wisdom...

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Why Traditional Media Isn't Dying -- And Four Other Myths of the Digital Era Dispelled

(1) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 2:16 AM

A few years ago, at the Cannes advertising festival, the chair of the judging panel for cyber creative began his opening remarks by declaring, "We are no longer creative people. We are inventors!" I found this proclamation, a portent of my own obsolescence, disconcerting.

In fact, many of us...

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Hong Kong's Protesters: Pragmatism or Passion?

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2014 | 12:52 AM

For the past week, the commercial arteries of Hong Kong have been clogged with (mostly) student demonstrators clamoring for "democracy." I wove through crowds that ranged from sparse and listless to dense and energized. The advertising guy in me couldn't help conducting mini-focus groups into motivations and mood. The protesters...

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