‘Come and watch us sweat’ – Stephen Li on that Mumbrella360 Asia lie-detector test

The CEO of OMD Asia-Pacific has said he hopes honesty will “shine through” when he and a number of senior players participate in a lie-detector test – on how ad dollars are spent – live onstage at the Mumbrella360 Asia media and marketing conference in Singapore this November.

Stephen Li will be one of four executives on the panel which also includes Pixels Asia CEO  Kevin Huang, Mediacom Australia chief operating officer Willie Pang, Media Publishers Association of Singapore president Olivier Burlot and CtrlShift CEO Deepika Nikhilender. They will be hooked up to a polygraph to answer questions about how they spend client budgets.

Speaking during a video interview with Mumbrella Asia, ahead of the three-day conference at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands on November 7-9, Li said the session will no doubt make the speakers “sweat slightly”.

“When I agreed to do it, it seemed like a terribly good idea,” he said jokingly. “But the more one thinks about it, the more one thinks: ‘What have I let myself in for?'”

“Joking aside, I think it’s going to be a really interesting session at Mumbrella360 Asia. Ultimately whether you’re tied up to a polygraph or not, at the end of the day we’re in the business of giving our clients the best advice possible – the most honest advice we can give them.

“Can we guarantee that it will be the right answer? Absolutely not; we’re human beings. It’s about being open and about being honest, and hopefully that will shine through.

He added: “How often do you get a bunch of blokes on stage, who are meant to be cool, calm and collected, really sweat slightly? Come and watch us sweat. I think it will be fun.”

The session – curated by ad tech company CtrlShift – will seek to find out whether the digital advertising ecosystem is optimised for intermediaries, such as big agencies and ad tech purveyors, to benefit from programmatic at the expense of marketers and publishers.

Speaking about transparency in the wake of Procter & Gamble global chief brand officer Marc Pritchard’s recent comments on how the “bloom has come off digital media”, Li said: “The issue of transparency is one we’ve all been talking about for a long time and rightly so. We need to be very clear what we’re getting our clients into; quality measures and not just quantity measures.

“We’re now dealing in a currency of value as much as a currency of price. Is Marc Pritchard right saying what he does? Absolutely; we should be trying to maximise every dollar of what we spend and hitting the target with a laser-focus bullseye.”

Do keep an eye on the website for updates and sign up to our daily newsletter to ensure you are among the first to hear of new developments. For further information on the conference and to buy tickets go to the Mumbrella360 Asia website here. And for information on the sponsorship and exhibition opportunities at the event, contact the publisher Dean Carroll at dean@mumbrella.asia.


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