Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Be there or be square

I take the bus to work, and I take it from USJ 6 in Subang Jaya to downtown Kuala Lumpur. Today was no different but my Rapid KL brand experience has seen better days that's for sure.

I left my apartment around 7:20am this morning with a 100% feeling of certainty that I'd get to work well before 9am, given that the bus usually comes at 15-minute intervals.

At 8 am, I was still waiting for Rapid KL's U63. It finally arrived about 20 minutes later after nearly an hour of me waiting at an increasingly crowded bus stop.

I don't own a car and taking a taxi isn't the best solution for my wallet - for those of you who live in Subang, you know how awful the jams are along the USJ 2 area can get (it can take up to an hour just to get from the Goodyear Court 1 stop past Summit Mall).

I can understand if the bus broke down on-route but no back-up for a whole 60-minutes? I reached the office at 9:45 am.

So, I've emailed my feedback to Rapid KL via its website. Let's see what happens next.

Thank you for your e-mail which we read with genuine concern. We understand that efficient service is essential in today’s fast paced world, especially for our valued customer like you. Thus, on behalf of RapidKL, we would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused.

The delays you mentioned was due to the shortage of buses and has affected the bus frequency tremendously. However, believe us that we are constantly upgrading and improving our scheduling, especially with the continuous increase in number of passengers.

RapidKL would also like to assure commuters that we will continuously work toward increasing the quality of service provided which includes increasing the size of RapidKL’s existing fleet of buses which would improve bus frequency and reduce waiting times and congestion on the bus.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Battle of the boots

An interesting battle is emerging at the 2010 World Cup between Adidas and Nike - and it happens everytime a goal is scored.

Adidas are the official ball of the World Cup, a pretty prestigious tag to be. And one that guarantees repeated brand exposure through action replays and close-ups which invariably occur when a player scores a goal during the month long tournament.

There's just one problem - Nike are getting lots of exposure too.

In the first few days of matches so far I've noticed the Nike logo on the boots of the players scoring most of the goals. It's very clear during the slow-motion action replays.

In fact by my unofficial count so far - Nike have had five such golden moments.
1) Tshabalala's goal for host nation South Africa against Mexico.
2) Marquez levels the match for Mexico against South Africa.
3) South Korea finishes off Greece with a Park Ji Sung goal.
4) Clint Dempsey provides a double whammy as his scuffed shot from his Nike boot is somehow fumbled into the net by England goalkeeper Robert Green (double whammy in that there was so much criticism in the media about the flight pattern of the new Adidas ball)
5) Robert Koren scores for Slovenia - and another goalkeeper fumbles the ball.

While Adidas has only had the limelight to themselves on two occasions when Gerrard scored for England (Adidas sponsored player scores with Adidas ball) and this morning's humiliation of Australia by Germany (they scored four times in that game).

I didn't watch the Ghana v Serbia game so I can't comment on that and I've also not included headers (i.e Heinze's effort against Nigeria)in this unofficial rant.

Adidas are official sponsors of the tournament but in a Nielsen study conducted between 7 May to 6 June it was Nike's "Write the Future" campaign which resulted in Nike being linked to the tournament more than any of the official sponsors.

I suppose a slight negative for Nike so far has been England's draw with the USA where Wayne Rooney - the star of Nike's Write The Future campaign - couldn't lead England to a win.

P.S. I know this isn't a really scientific way of looking at things but when it comes to football boots - I reckon there's alot of us out there who buy the boots of our favourite players who score the goals.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I should feel better in a month

If you listen closely you can almost here the sounds of the vuvuzela trumpets slowly building towards the start of the World Cup 2010 tomorrow night and marking a month of fake sick days and low office productivity.

That's according to recruitment and HR services specialists Randstad which said that employers in Malaysia need to consider the impact of the World Cup on their workforce and productivity levels when the nation catches football fever.

It warned that Malaysia's passion for the World Cup was likely to have an impact beyond tired faces at the office as employees are likely to watch replays on their computers in the office, have post match discussions, as well as participate in online forums – particularly as the final approaches.

"Some businesses, especially those which are tightly resourced and still trying to build up from the Global Financial Crisis, may find World Cup Fever to be irritating and a major distraction to achieving their goals," Sahun Nadarajah, General Manager and Director of Randstad Malaysia, said.

"However, instead of dampening people’s spirits and expressing your frustration, it’s actually an ideal time to embrace the spirit of the sport, have fun and build employee morale through celebration and a culture of teamwork."

Nadarajah's advice? Allow people to express their emotions and be passionate about this global sporting event because it can have a positive impact on the overall happiness and mental attitude of staff in the workplace.

"Themed marketing and business development activities can also be effective tools to generate sales and build stronger relationships with staff and customers," Nadarajah said.

"It’s actually a great time to celebrate diversity in the workplace, by encouraging people to get behind their favourite team. Employers should see this as an opportunity to build a sense of team spirit, boost the overall culture of the company and demonstrate to their workers they are a supportive employer inside and outside of the workplace."

With that... let the games begin. Go Oranje!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What's the big idea?

You know World Cup fever has peaked when even your admin staff starts sending you links to football ads. On this particular occasion, the really interesting part played out in the commenting section - not in the ad.

You can view it here.

I think most football fans would agree the ad is amusing but there were a lot of negative comments about the idea not being original enough - "done, done, done" were some of the repeated comments left by users. Some went to as much detail as to name other campaigns by brands which were similar (i.e. Burger King).

The ad was made by an advertising school so its not good if their students are stealing ideas.

And just as I was starting to feel a little judgmental myself, a different comment caught my eye.

"So what if it's been done before? Everything has been done before. Does it fit the brand? Is it in context? Will consumers remember your message or that the message was sponsored by you? Those are what's important."

Slightly defensive but point made. We operate in an ideas business and the stealing of ideas (or magazine mastheads) is something we totally oppose but in terms of advertising, where do you draw the line between inspiration and copying?

If a marketer gets inspired by another person's work, adapts it and uses it in a way which creates effective results for their brand - should we judge the work based on the results or cast it aside as a copycat effort? It depends on the severity of the similarities between the work I suppose.

I've heard many brand marketers complain before about ad agencies who think they are in the business of creating art, not realising they are in the business of creating business for brands.

Maybe sometimes we are a little too quick to categorise new ads as copied.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nike Writes The Future

Following in the footsteps of past Nike football ads is the latest effort by the sportswear brand titled "Write The Future" which doesn't disappoint.

Nike went all out this time - the three minute spot is packed with football stars like Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Franck Ribery, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, while also including cameos from other famous faces like Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer.

The goal? To set the scene for the World Cup where many a player has, for better or for worse, etched his name in the history book.

"One touch, tackle or free kick could crush a nation's hopes or cause them to build a statue in your honour. Drogba, Rooney and Ronaldo are ready to Write The Future," says Nike.

I wont spoil it if you haven't already seen it (it aired during last weekend's Champions League Final) but the best bits for me are the scenes with Rooney - although Cannavaro's (he's the Italian defender who clears Drogba's chipped shot off the line) future is pretty hilarious.


The only negative thing I can think of is: Why does Rooney end up becoming a bankrupt trailer park slob? Did he have shares in the stock market (see 1:03 in the clip).

As if Rooney didn't need another reminder that the hopes of an entire nation are resting on him! No pressure! Write The Future or the media will do it for you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Volvo's PR accident

A Volvo demonstration in Sweden of its new collision warning system fell to pieces last week, literally, when its S60 model smashed into a parked truck.

Luckily for us, was there to document the PR nightmare and you can watch the video here.

To the reporter's credit - it was mentioned in the story that the collision warning system had been working fine earlier in the day. But it's still pretty amusing to watch the brand new Volvo S60 fly through the testing tunnel at 30MPH and smash into the back of the truck - in front of a group of journalists.

A nightmare scenario for any brand. Reminds me of the time when a BBC reporter broke a phone that was being marketed as "unbreakable" during filming. Clip below.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Singapore's World Cup draw

I think most Malaysians would have felt a perverse sense of amusement at watching the "car crash" that was Singapore's recent bid for the FIFA World Cup 2010 broadcast rights.

Then, from a marketing point of view, it started to get really interesting last Friday when finally, with less than a month to go before kick-off, SingTel and StarHub secured the non-exclusively broadcast rights.

Time to sell the sponsorships. There isn't much time for all parties involved to recoup the fees but the World Cup is such a huge draw and marquee event that any brand would want to attach themselves to it.

I met up with a friend who works in Singapore's sports marketing industry over the weekend - he thought Tiger Beer and Singapore Pools would be at least two definite sponsors.

My colleagues in Singapore beat me to the punch on that one with a story today confirming that talks with Singapore Pools were indeed ongoing - but the tone of the story reflected a belief that the Singtel-StarHub World Cup deal had come a little too late.

Perhaps this unique situation leaves the door open only for Tiger Beer to emerge as the main sponsor - APB declined to comment when approached by Marketing mag Singapore.

And since we're on the topic of the World Cup - here's something we can all enjoy.

For the upcoming tournament in South Africa, the World Cup trophy will have its own Louis Vuitton carry-case.

"When you have the most beautiful girl in the world you hope she will wear the most beautiful dress," Jerome Valcke, secretary general of FIFA, explained. "That's exactly what we've done."