This week we have Chinese Digital Marketing master Benji Lamb sharing with us a little bit about his 2018 and plans for 2019.
Can you tell us a bit about Gentleman Marketing Agency and your role within it?
So we are GMA and are one of China’s largest domestic, homegrown digital agency, our founder, Phillip, was born and bred in Shanghai. We begun life by specialising in Chinese brands, now we’ve gone the other way round, specialising in international brands. Though we do get a lot of Chinese brands, we localise and adapt in our market. When I joined we were 5 people in a little box room and now we’re just over 70 people. We’re the largest independent agency in China, we’re not owned under an umbrella; a pure start up.
What’s been your most exciting project?
Probably Vitabiotics, the UK vitamins company. Not the most sexy thing, but it excites me the most because I get to work really closely with Tej Lalvani, one of the dragons, he’s a really fascinating character, very smart about how he’s expanding into China. They’re selling very very well in China, it’s a very flagship british case study. It’s a huge success. It bucks the trend of China being a black hole market. It’s rewarding when something goes well, not sexy, but still exciting.
Anything on the horizon this year worth mentioning?
Yeah, we’re opening a UK office, which I’m spearheading, so that’ll be really exciting. We’re also opening in France and Berlin and Taiwan: four new offices. We’re in a place where we’re aggressively trying to grow. It’s a David and Goliath kind of mentality, but we’re winning those pitches because we’re more of a team on the ground. We’re winning them because I really care about the UK projects as well, I want to see British business winning in this market, with Brexit, it’s really important we do well in China, so I really give a damn. It’s close to my heart. The USP of being a proper born and bred chinese agency is working in our favour as well.
How long have you been at PLATF9RM and what keeps you here?
I’ve been here for 8 months, I took some time out, but I’ve been on the books for eight months. What keeps me here is: I’ve made some really good friends, I like the vibes, I just enjoy myself. I’m more productive because I’m happier. I’ve built a network of relevant people in different industries, I’m doing more work with people on the music and photography side. Forming those relationships in a more organic way. It’s easy to organise meetings when you’re working on the same floor. And the beers good on a Friday, no complaints.
What do you do outside of PLATF9RM? Word on the grapevine is you’re a musical soul, what do you play?
I play guitar and I sing and play a bit of keys and synths and bits. I play in a dream pop outfit, which I started, we’re called Pavillion, not the most subtle Brighton band name, but crazily it wasn’t taken. We’re ambitious dream pop, big sounding four piece. Evidently I need to be a lot better at hyping us up; some people might like it, some people might not. First thing I’ve done musically for a while, so I’m getting back my confidence, but fragility is definitely not a bad thing in music.
Any creative plans for 2019?
Yeah, we’ll be launching the Pavilion project, our debut album is out in March, we’ll see how that progresses really. It’s a big unknown. We’re doing some work with Julian Tardo, he’s worked with War on Drugs and Fair Weather Friends on their debut. The creative process is moving forward with him; lots of writing and a bit of recording. I’m gonna need a better wardrobe for performing, get creative with that, look more inspiring.
Favourite album of 2018?
The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, the production on that album is really fresh. And Wild Nothing - Indigo, really love the production on that too, really restrained in his delivery, but I really like that, it’s a real step forward. They’ll be playing Komedia later in the year and surprisingly it’s not sold out yet.
Any tips for balancing your side projects and working life?
What I do is I finish my marketing work and then I’ll move to somewhere else in the office, I never sit in the same place. This is a lame one, I use two different browsers, I use chrome for work and safari for personal. I could bounce down to floor 5, it’s nice to put yourself in that different space. It’s a case of prioritising.
You live in Hove but are most often based in Brighton, is there a reason behind this?
I don’t use the Hove one cos it’s too close to home. You have a walk to work, need that separation. I live basically next to the hove one, so that’s the only reason I don’t use it. I made friends and got comfortable here I guess.
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