Allowing the global organisation to focus on the long term has enabled local country teams to focus on “survival” and the short term.

Chinese smartphone brand Huawei shifted the focus of its global marketing team to long-term growth and brand building last year, as it looks to deal with changes brought about by the pandemic.

Doing so has enabled its local teams to focus on the short term and immediate threats, a balance which Huawei’s global chief brand officer Andrew Garrihy believes will protect the business and set it up for future growth.

Talking at the Reset 2021 conference this morning (28 January), he said: “The most important change we made in 2020, that will continue into 2021 and beyond, is focus. That’s not just focus on who we are and the value we deliver, but focus on how we work and where the best allocation of our resources is.

“In 2020 we refocused the global organisation on the long term and brand, making sure we always had a team focus on the future and on building our brand and the long term, freeing up our country and regional marketers to focus much more on survival and the short term.”

If we’re going to do great advertising, if we’re going to get great commercial results for our brands, we have to invest more in our craft.

Andrew Garrihy, Huawei

Huawei also flattened some of its organisational structures last year, which allowed its marketing team more freedom to respond to changing consumer needs. It also “brought together the best of the East and the best of the West” for the first time, he said, helping the business build better, more diverse teams.

Garrihy added: “We provided more and more power to our marketers to adapt to the market and continue getting on with delivering that core value.”

This is something he is particularly proud of and said the smartphone brand will continue to do.

The fact Huawei’s teams, both internally and on the agency side, have voices from different backgrounds has also allowed it to “dramatically increase” its diversity of thought, he said, and the benefits have been “real and tangible and positive”.

With this in mind, Garrihy would like the industry to do more to encourage people from different backgrounds, and with different outlooks, to consider a job in marketing, which in turn will create stronger, more inclusive advertising.

“I would love to see our industry investing more in young talent from much more diverse backgrounds,” he said. “I’d also really like to see advertising in our industry be a force for positivity; be an uplifting source in our communities. We have the power to do that. The UK and the world needs that.”

He also urged the industry to start investing more in the craft of advertising.

“If we’re going to do great advertising, if we’re going to get great commercial results for our brands, we have to invest more in our craft and I think 2021 is a great opportunity and a great turning point for us to do that.

“If we do that we [the industry] will have a healthy future and we will contribute a lot to the UK.”

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