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Tom Doctoroff
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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

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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Brave New Marketing World: From Chaos to Order

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 8:35 AM

Today brands are everywhere. A world without them is impossible to imagine. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, everything we wear, use, eat, or drink is branded: the Armani suit he puts on in the morning, the Starbucks coffee she drinks on the...

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Emerging Markets, Consumer Insight and Business Strategy

(1) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 9:24 AM

Emerging market consumers exist in environments in which institutions designed to protect the economic and political interests of individuals are relatively immature. Civil society is less deeply rooted and safety -- physical, emotional and societal -- is usually not taken for granted. Emerging market consumers focus more on: the scale...

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China 2014: Too Little, Too Late for Newbies

(3) Comments | Posted November 2, 2013 | 1:33 PM

2014 will be the year leaders of consumer goods producers realize that it may be too late to enter China. If you haven't established significant scale already, you probably never will. The PRC will not be an option for turbo-charging future growth plans for current non-players.

2014 will not...

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Marketing in China: Twenty Years On

(4) Comments | Posted September 22, 2013 | 11:55 AM

I have lived in China since 1994 and in Shanghai since 1998. When people hear this, the most common reaction is, "You must have seen huge changes." I respond, "Perhaps not quite as much as you might expect." Lifestyles, even attitudes, of Mainland Chinese have evolved dramatically. However, the country's...

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Back to the Future: Remastering the Timeless Art of Brand Engagement

(2) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 8:04 PM

In the world of marketing and communications, there is unprecedented disorientation, triggered by the explosion of digital platforms that promise to revolutionize the relationship between consumers and brands. The entire industry is intoxicated by the potential of "big data" to maximize return-on-investment. Yes, "measurement" of the effectiveness of advertising is...

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China in 2013: The Confidence Game

(8) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 9:58 AM

The topography of China's commercial landscape remains consistent from year to year. The PRC is characterized by:

A) A digital universe that pulls an self-expressive yet repressed new generation into its grip. The popularity of new group chat sites such as Tencent's Weixin are a testament to the new...

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The Ominous Disappearance of Xi Jinping

(5) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 9:01 AM

The mysterious disappearance of China's heir apparent, Xi Jinping, will be unsettling for Chinese citizens.

Rumors are flying regarding what ails him. According to Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a well-connected professor at Hong Kong's Chinese University, he may have had a stroke. But speculation is running rampant, with...

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Doing Business in China: How to Win

(1) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 12:59 PM

The Chinese consumer is becoming modern and international, but not Western. In my book, What Chinese Want, I outline a few "golden rules" successful businessmen must adopt in order to penetrate China, the world's most dynamic market.

This interview was originally posted in the China Observer, a great blog...

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What Chinese Consumers Want

(51) Comments | Posted May 27, 2012 | 3:45 PM

Apple has taken China by storm. A Starbucks can be found on practically every major street corner in coastal cities and beyond. From Nike to Buick to Siemens, Chinese consumers actively prefer Western brands over their domestic competitors. The rise of microbloggers, the popularity of rock bands with names like...

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