'Pon' De Dios Steps Down as Head of P&G's Media in Greater China

Philippines Native Has Overseen Biggest Media Budget in China for Past Eight Years

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GUANGZHOU (AdAgeChina.com) -- Alfonso "Pon" De Dios, one of the most powerful media buyers in China, is stepping down from his role at Procter & Gamble Co. to start his own business in China.

Alfonso Credit: Normandy Madden
Although Mr. De Dios declined to confirm his departure, executives at the company said he will leave at the end of July, following a handover period with his successor, Sameer Singh, who will relocate to Guangzhou, P&G's Greater China headquarters, in late June or early July.

Mr. Singh, who is associate director of marketing-blades and razors for P&G's Gillette brand, helped launch the Gillette in India when he joined the company in 1992. In July 1999, he took over Gillette's marketing in the Middle East & Africa and helped launch the Mach 3 razor there. He stayed at Gillette after P&G acquired the company in January 2005.

As P&G's associate director-media for Greater China for the past eight years, Mr. De Dios, 43, has overseen the biggest media budget in the country, according to Ad Age's ranking of global marketers, well ahead of the No. 2 media spender, Unilever. P&G spent $1.1 billion in 2007, compared to Unilever's $447 million the same year.

A native of the Philippines, Mr. De Dios joined P&G in Manila in 1995 as a media manager. Before that, he earned a Master's degree in integrated-marketing communications at Northwestern University, and served as media manager of JWT, Manila.

After he leaves P&G, executives believe Mr. De Dios plans to start a company in Beijing tentatively called Telos Tsina (the words stand for "purpose" in Greek and "China" in Spanish, respectively). Part training company and part strategic-activation and media-planning consultancy, it will address a hole in China's education system, which doesn't teach practical approaches to marketing, communications and branding.

China's 'auction king'
P&G is also the biggest spender at the auction for prime-time advertising slots on the national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), earning him a regular front seat at the annual November event, as well as the nickname "king of the auction." In November 2008, P&G spent roughly $73 million buying airtime for national brands it advertises in China, such as Rejoice and Safeguard, according to auction participants.

At the same time, Mr. De Dios has helped P&G expand into new areas such as branded content and digital media, turning China into a "learning lab in an ecosystem of providers and platforms [to] build more meaningful consumer relationships," he told AdAgChina during an interview last year.

He has created several shows with some of the country's largest and most innovative broadcasters, such as state-run giant China Central Television, or CCTV, and Hunan Satellite TV and Beijing TV.

To promote the Gillette Mach 3, for example, P&G sponsored "The Disciple," a Chinese reality show to find the next martial arts star. Jackie Chan created and stars in the show, which is jointly produced by Beijing TV, JCE Entertainment, China Film Group and Emperor Entertainment Group.

P&G also allied with Shanghai Media Group, China's second largest broadcaster after CCTV, to sponsor about two dozen lifestyle and fashion IPTV channels in Shanghai, one of China's most sophisticated markets. Each channel is associated with a specific P&G brand, such as Olay, Whispers, Vidal Sassoon, Head and Shoulders, Pantene, Gillette and Herbal Essences, and programmed accordingly with content that fits the target market.

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