Telum Talks To… Marianne Admardatine, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Indonesia

Telum Talks To… Marianne Admardatine, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Indonesia

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) Indonesia recently launched The Youth Equation, a report into Indonesia’s largest consumer segment, Generation Z, to mark its first anniversary in the market. We spoke to CEO Marianne Admardatine to dig deeper into the findings of the report and for an update on the firm’s progress since launching.

H+K Indonesia launched a year ago amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How is it going?
H+K made the bold decision to launch a new office in Indonesia in April last year to highlight H+K’s commitment to Indonesia as an important strategic market in Asia. During these unforeseen times when the usual communication approaches seemed to no longer be applicable; we paused, assessed the situation, analysed what worked and did not, basis which we advised our clients on how to work around the situation to still get their desired results. 

Driven by data, we created content through our very own content studio that is channel-agnostic. We used audio, digital, social media platforms and tv channels to implement virtual campaigns that connected clients with their stakeholders and got their messages across.

Business aside, our employees were my number one priority. We had several employee initiatives in place to ensure they felt a sense of belonging despite working remotely. These included work-from-home arrangements, complimentary leave, care packages, flexitime to engage in health and wellness activities to improve their overall wellbeing and learning and development webinars and workshops to cultivate their skills.

The Gen Z white paper reported an increasing reliance on digital platforms and connectivity in virtually all aspects of their interactions. Do you think there was also an uptick for other demographic groups?
Yes, absolutely. Especially through this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is ‘forced’ to digitise themselves. With virtual interactions and activities on digital platforms being the new mode of communication,.we see this as the only way forward for connectivity, entertainment and quite literally living in these changing times.

The difference is the level of sophistication in digital consumption by Gen Z. As digital natives, this young generation is wired to communicate and learn via digital, social networking services, texting and consider technology to be an integral and indispensable part of their lives. We identified three key subculture communities i.e., music, gaming, and art where Gen Z spend most of their time and we see this as the sweet spot that brands can capitalise on to engage this audience.

It was also mentioned in the report that Gen Z prefer new social spaces such as Tiktok. How do you think brands can use TikTok to engage with them?
One of the comments that got my attention was they accept that brands exist on TikTok to engage with them but feel that brands should not try too hard to engage and be one of them on the platform. 

Instead, brands should be more ‘honest’ in being who they are, embrace their values and find common ground in building a connection with them. Now that we know how they feel, we should adjust our approach when producing content to engage with them on TikTok.

Which finding from the report stands out the most to you? 
What really stood out to me was how big of a gap there is in communicating and marketing to Gen Z and the older generations. While brands are busy creating key messages to be dispersed to the media through the usual communication channels, Gen Z are found to be building connections elsewhere. Most of us still see gaming as gaming instead of looking at it as a communication platform and an opportunity to engage with this young generation.

The same goes with music, for most of us, it is a form of entertainment, stress reliever, mood enhancer etc. Gen Z uses music as a vessel to create and build communities and to act on important causes that effect change, from crowd-funding acts to sustainability efforts to education and many more, it is exactly for this reason why the phenomena of KPOP is staggering.

And while many from the older generations rightly appreciate notable masterpieces from renowned artists such as Goya, Van Gogh among others, Gen Z prefers creating their own art, and injecting stories in them in the form of fanart and fanfictions as ways to express themselves. If you only look at the data on how much time this young generation spends on fanart and fanfiction platforms, you will agree that it would be beneficial for brands to look into these platforms and include them in their communication strategies for engaging Gen Z in Indonesia.

Lastly, what advice do you have for global brands entering the market that are looking to more effectively resonate with Indonesian consumers?
Brands need to go beyond the usual data analysis, focus groups and surveys and take the time to actually ‘talk to them’. Through our report, we found that Gen Z will embrace Brands that share similar values and stay true to their purpose. Purpose-led communications has taken centre stage globally, and that includes Indonesia - especially now. 

Linking a brand’s purpose with Indonesian Gen Z’s is not as simple as launching the purpose and getting awareness for it. It takes time and investment to establish relevance, and most importantly, gaining Gen Z’s favour and commitment to support the brand’s purpose and act on it. Brands need to take the time to analyse who they are, what they want, which platforms they are on, and how they prefer to be reached. This is where our report would be of immense value to brands and provides insights and strategies of how best they can engage with Gen Z.

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