Startups May 27, 2020

Ignite Podcast – Episode 05 – Mark McDowell – Managing Director, Primal – I’ve Had an Amazing Team Behind Me

Episode Summary

In this episode of Ignite, Michael Waitze sits down with Mark McDowell, the Managing Director of Primal Digital Marketing Agency. They discussed how Mark got started in digital marketing, Primals processes, and the agency’s future plans. 

From Bangkok to Melbourne

“I got my first job selling barbeques in Bangkok,” Mark laughed as he told Michael how he became a digital marketer. Although it was a junior position, this grill job sparked his interest and passion for digital marketing. 

When Mark moved to Australia, he landed a job in a digital marketing agency. Before coming back to Bangkok, he managed to convince the agency’s owner to invest in building a digital marketing agency in Thailand. 

Although the pitch deck Mark presented was “terrible,” this seemingly risky venture paid off tremendously. 

Setting the right objectives 

The two then discussed Primal’s initial process of crafting a digital marketing strategy for their clients. 

“We begin by looking at their current situation,” Mark said. By looking at their client’s competitors, their target customers, as well as doing research on industry trends, Primal is able to identify areas of opportunities for their clients. 

This process is all about how Primal can form a strategy that allows their clients to achieve their objectives, whether this is through Google pay-per-click ads (PPC), social media, or search engine optimisation (SEO). 

Working with early-stage startups vs bigger brands 

The approach to helping companies grow their revenue from online channels can be vastly different, Mark said. 

Customer acquisition is extremely important for early-stage startups, even if it is not profitable for them. This is because these new companies need to show proof of concept and start gaining some market share as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, bigger brands are more concerned about investing in marketing in an efficient way that generates profits.

Building your personal brand

Finally, the two talked about building a personal brand and how it can help grow your business. For Mark, the idea of building a personal brand came along when Primal hired a PR agency. 

As a result of his efforts, Mark was recently listed in Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list of individuals in the media, marketing and advertising fields. 

Despite becoming the face of the company, Mark credits a lot of his success to his team.

“I’m here now because I’ve had an amazing team behind me that enabled me to reach these heights. That’s extremely important,” he said. 

To learn more about Mark McDowell and Primal Digital Marketing Agency, listen to this episode of Ignite today. 


Michael has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective.

Michael I. Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.

Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth.

After more than 20 years in Tokyo, Michael moved to Southeast Asia to get more involved in the Private Equity and Venture Capital business and invest his own capital.

Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael has raised capital and advised some of the most famous startups in the region.

Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia, while building the biggest and fastest growing listener base in the region. His flagship website,, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.


Mark McDowell is the founding Managing Director of Primal, a digital marketing agency based on Thailand that focuses on data driven campaigns. The company, with offices in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia and its 100-person team works with big-name clients such as McDonalds, Expedia, Nivea and Unicef. McDowell was awarded Southeast Asia’s Young Achiever of the Year by ‘Campaign Asia’ in 2018. He has also partnered with Google Ignite to teach Thai students Digital marketing skills.

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