Marketingmag.com.au chats to Amar Vohra – head of marketing communications for SAS Australia. If you would like to see a certain
marketer profiled, please email your suggestion to Sean Greaney on sean.greaney@niche.com.au.


What do you do?

I head up the Marketing Communications group for SAS Australia and New Zealand. SAS is the leader in business analytics and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Marcoms is a small team of talented professionals with a focus on PR, advertising, demand generation, database marketing, online and events.

What was your first job?

I started working with my father in his business at a very young age – ready to assist in his growing business in plastics and textile manufacturing. Found out soon enough that I was looking for a more creative edge to my career.

My first professional job was as a marketing exec with a management consulting firm and was fortunate to find a good mentor there who coached me in harnessing my marketing aptitude.

What did you study?

I obtained my MBA, majoring in Marketing after completing a Bachelor of Technology. That worked out well as my career has spanned out primarily in the IT industry within a marketing role. Although at one stage I seriously contemplated becoming a commercial pilot. And if I had the skills, I would ideally play cricket for a living.

Describe a typical day?

A healthy breakfast is a must before leaving home along with a protein shake. I drive a short distance to work, which is a blessing in Sydney, and along the way pick up a coffee for the morning. Once in the office, having checked emails, I scan through the media alerts that flag competitor and industry news.

I am good at managing my diary so I’m not just in and out of meetings all day but allow for real time to be productive. I have a work in progress folder for productive things I have to manage on a day-to-day basis. These include both big and small projects the team and our agencies are working on, ranging from events in various locations, print and online advertising campaigns, demand generation programs, sponsorships and press opportunities. Apart from ongoing campaigns, I allocate time on long-term strategic projects and what’s on the horizon for SAS.

Through the day I try to have small healthy meals, helps with the daily routine at the gym – which is generally in the evenings after work. Not much of a TV person, I am always hopeful for some sports or travel show on cable or a good movie or a book after dinner. There are occasional evenings when I attend industry and marketing events. But typically speaking, I leave work at work, other than addressing any urgent emails that pop up on the iPhone. That leaves just enough time to spend the evenings with family.

What is on the agenda for the next year?

Scuba diving, playing cricket and more travel on the personal front.

With SAS we are looking at campaigns that will drive organisations to apply predictive analytics as a key differentiator in their rebuilding stages from the financial crisis. Especially now when it can make a real difference in a tough competitive environment.

I believe analytics in the marketing role has a long way to go and marketing leaders are talking to us about how they can move away from intuitive reactions to fact-based decisions, and ‘What if?’ scenarios that will improve marketing effectiveness. Applying smarter decisions to help enhance customer experiences, improve customer loyalty and better understand buying behaviour.

The same applies for other functions in a business from finance, operations, compliance and risk. Our ongoing focus is to have more and more of these mature conversations with decision makers.

What brand do you love the most? Dislike the most? Why?

The Harry Potter brand magically changed the ways books/movies are published and marketed. Their marketing machine behind the scenes has done an amazing job.

But it’s hard to go past the revival and aspirational positioning of superbrand Apple. And its unique brand architecture with the use of ‘i’ in its product naming. They sure have set the benchmark and the world is going Mac…

I am not a fan of brands that mislead consumers – for example the ‘green’ bandwagon where some businesses are taking undue advantage of ethical consumerism and over selling their sustainable business practice. I believe we will hear the phrase greenwash become more and more common to disown brands that are dishonestly marketing their products as environmentally friendly.

What do you believe has been the most significant moment in the history of marketing?

I checked on the dates as for me these are the marketing highlights that stand out:

1941 – when the first television advertisement was broadcast in the United States. The Bulova Watch Company paid $9 for a commercial that displayed a Bulova watch with a voiceover “America runs on Bulova time.”
1972 – when the first Nike running shoes bearing the brand identity ‘Swoosh’ were launched. The designer of the ‘Swoosh’ billed the company $35 for her work. I wonder what it is valued at today?
1995 – when eBay was launched as AuctionWeb, and
1998 – when Google was founded by two students, only to become the world’s first $100 billion brand this year.

Where can people find you?

On the weekends at Blues Point for breakfast, otherwise: