Dame Trang Le is often referred to as Vietnam’s Queen of Fashion, but considering the exceptional Covid-era growth of her company MultiMedia JSC, “Queen of Transformation” may be an even more fitting title.

By Michael Arnold

The CEO of one of the country’s most successful entertainment production businesses, MultiMedia JSC—and the founder of the prestigious Vietnam International Fashion Week—Dame Trang has led her company from its earliest days as a TV licensing firm through to becoming Vietnam’s most sought-after media platform. 

Famous for transforming tall, inexperienced Vietnamese girls into elegant fashion models with international careers, Trang applied the same magic to her own company throughout the pandemic era—driving an extraordinary phase of revenue growth during those challenging times.

“I am a person who always looks for solutions,” says Trang, “who can never accept being stuck facing a difficult period. I insist on finding a way because I know that everything is possible, we only need to do it. Last year, when we were at home during the lockdown, we had our reason to change—so we refocussed on TikTok, and continued to build our Facebook channels. When the pandemic resolved, we came out stronger than ever before.”

MultiMedia’s shift from a predominantly traditional media platform towards making an expansive social media outreach began just two years before the Covid-19 outbreak, at the peak of MultiMedia’s popularity as regional licensee of many well-known fashion reality formats such as Next Top Model, Project Runway and The Face.

“Before the smartphone era, television was the most common form of entertainment at home,” says Trang. “Since then, the pace of living has gotten faster and faster, and consumers are more often on the go. There’s more and more demand for content on mobile and social networks because social media provides consumers with convenience, flexibility and the ability to interact with other people. As a content creator faced with this rapid pace of change, we were compelled to change ourselves—adapting to new habits in human lifestyles to meet the increasing audience demand for content.”

Trang began looking into the opportunities presented by Facebook as an effective marketing channel that could also enable MultiMedia to more quickly and intimately engage with audiences. It soon became clear that putting more resources into the company’s Facebook channels provided a good chance for the group to interact, listen to and understand its audiences, allowing MultiMedia to develop a suitable content strategy to directly meet viewer demands. 

“In 2018, we produced our first season of The Face Vietnam. At that time, our sponsor requested for us to commit to a very high viewership rating for the show. We recognised that if we only relied on traditional TV channels, it would be impossible for us to reach our client’s expectations. The solution we proposed was that, instead of only committing to high ratings on television, we would target a combination of ratings on TV and online platforms.”

The proposal had an additional benefit in that MultiMedia was able to utilise nearly all of its recorded content, dating back for a decade in the business. Before restructuring its social media, it would take the production team around 45 days to produce a single episode for television, with a limit of just 45 minutes to broadcast it on air. With Facebook, there was no such time limit—the studio was free to use clips from all recorded material whether it was part of the final episode or not, transforming what was previously considered cutting-room-floor excess footage into valuable media content that could be repurposed into short media clips. Audiences, on their part, could watch their favourite shows whenever convenient.

Most importantly, however, was the power to interact with the audience directly. Multimedia’s teams could communicate with viewers in real-time to understand what they wanted from the show, helping the producers to learn and improve the content.

With this fresh approach, the first cycle of The Face Vietnam broke all previous viewership records, while the show’s live finale reached 185,000 concurrent viewers – the highest record ever. The success spurred Trang on to accelerate MultiMedia’s digital transformation, forging an official partnership with Facebook within the same year.

“After the success of The Face Vietnam, we were fully aware of the importance of social networks,” says Trang. “We found that by making small changes in our video editing process, we would see huge increases in audience engagement. In the past, we’d only used Facebook as a marketing tool, updating our channels only while our shows were on air. Now with this new approach, we can keep the audiences with the show all the time.”

Trang’s new vision for the company involved a complete reshuffle of staff, dividing producers into teams to make them competitive while setting clear KPIs with a reward system for successful teams. The new strategy had a major impact, as revenues increased every month—and also laid the groundwork for the company’s response to COVID-19.

“The pandemic was very challenging,” remembers Trang. “At the time, most of our production was suspended, and nothing could be done. But it was also an opportunity to create a new milestone for MultiMedia when all offline activities were impossible. Our digital strategy meant that we could organise many online activities, which brought us impressive results. Utilising every tool Facebook had given us, we created The Face Online—which was awarded as the most effective social media campaign in October 2020. This success was a huge motivation for us and saw us through the difficult Covid pandemic. We increased the number of channels from five to 20 and boosted our number of followers from one million to more than five million.”

The success of MultiMedia’s licensed formats brought it to the forefront of the local fashion scene—and now as the firm enters the post-pandemic age, it’s a frontrunner of next-generation entertainment that maintains its gains in the glitzy fashion world while engaging new Gen-Z audiences in their own digital territory. 

As for Dame Trang herself, she has always understood that the transformation and exposure of her TV properties and stars serve only to build and strengthen her own brand—and with her continuing business growth, even through adverse times, she is increasingly becoming her own high-profile brand ambassador.

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