White Star
White Star

LAHORE: CNN anchor Richard Quest engaged the audience in his peculiar way making it participate in the otherwise dry discussion setting a perfect platform for the upcoming sessions of the three-day AdAsia Lahore 2019 that began at the Alhamra Arts Council here on Tuesday.

The business discussion Mr Quest set off on the main role of a chief executive officer (CEO) of a company entered the world of politics as the engaging audience was keen to ask both business and political questions. Mr Quest who spent half of his over one-hour long presentation on taking questions, ended the discussion by asking the participants to raise their hands to show who would be the next president of the United States. He found the participants equally excited and divided in their prediction on President Donald Trump’s chances of making it to the White House for the second term.

Half of the votes were for Mr Trump (on his becoming the president in 2020 polls). The guest business anchor from the UK replied to a participant that “Mr Trump is hated because of divisive politics”. Probably inspired by a couple of interview clips shown in Mr Quest’s presentation, a participant asked him to tell who he would like to interview in Pakistan. “Prime Minister Imran Khan,” came the reply.

He kept the floor engaged with his wit and humour during his talk making the audience break into laughter.

On ‘Fake News’ challenge, Richard Quest asked the people not to be glued to the ‘weird websites’ to get information. “Why people believe in the information they are receiving from weird websites/blogs,” he said. “They should better switch to reliable media...,” he said and named some of the most trusted print and broadcast media houses the world over.

Perhaps giving a food for thought to the CEOs present in the session, Mr Quest pressed upon four traits -- integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion -- essential for the head of a company. He believes that these qualities are a must for a leader.

“With a moral compass a CEO must have the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong and he should not be afraid of taking responsibility... because his employees are the ones he has to look after. CEOs have to set the agenda based on moral grounds and the others have to follow,” he said.

In his presentation ‘Future Favours the Brave’, Mr Quest talked about the ‘streaming revolution’. “Streaming has largely been revolutionised during the last six months. See Walt Disney company... its streaming service has brought about revolution.”

As for the comparison between the online subscription videos and traditional TV, he said the former was going up.

The business journalist further suggested that one (CEO) should not be “totally obsessed” about return on capital as what mattered the most was the value to stand up and be counted.

Mr Quest also conducted a discussion with Sir Martin Sorrell, a British businessman and chairman S4. They discussed that a company should go for long-term strategies instead of temporary gains. They also talked about the prospect of economic growth in 2020 in the wake trade war between the US and China, importance of digital advertisement saying Google is spending its 50pc of the budget on digital side.

Returning to Pakistan after 30 years, AdAsia is Asia’s largest and most prestigious ad congress held every two years under the auspices of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA). This year’s theme is ‘Celebrasian: Celebration of Advertising and Creativity in Asia’.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019