Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where's my cabbie's valuable brand award?

Just got in from Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands awards at the PJ Hilton, quite the hike from Bootleg central but one cabbie, who is trying to rebuild Malaysia's customer service reputation one fare at a time, made it worthwhile. Yep sorry Andreas and Tony, left you guys with the RM40 thief mine insisted on using the meter, bless him.

Anyway, good event and great to see the industry out in force to support the biggest (and...well the biggest spending) brands in the market. If you missed it, the banks killed it, the national carrier did reasonable well as did the telcos, although despite pestering anyone who would listen I still didn't get a satisfactory answer as to why Maxis went from taking out the third slot in 2007 to dropping completely off the list this year.

Like all lists the most interesting parts of them aren't at the predictable top, any announcement for the number one position which starts "For the second time running..." is really only going to hold interest for the tables under the same tent as the winning brand itself, oh and for any agency looking to stable that brand, or at least be considered next time the marketer wants to rattle his AOR by calling a pitch or, for that matter, invited along on a fishing expedition if there is a chance the agency might get a chance to take its credentials out for some fresh air.

The more interesting results were CIMB, which scored, according to the Interbrand testing (I'd explain it but the explanation was a little too long and was, I was convinced, actively getting between me and my dinner so I tuned out of what I am sure was an excellent treatise on the methodology), added growth of around 84%.

Another was the dip that Petronas took, somewhere in the vicinity of a 47% negative growth, the company perhaps was expressing its disappointment, or rather attempting a shot at disinterest, when it sent a PR flack to pick up the gong, where many companies fronted top brass.

So are these awards, leading a week rotten with accolades of every variety and culminating in the Kancils, worth it?

You bet your shrinking ad budgets they are. Given the amount of creatively driven awards the industry endures in any one year on a local, regional and global level, the kind of award that recognises the card carrying, bill paying clients is well worth supporting.

It was excellent to see so many agency and media faces there and while the classical flute notes might not be the sound track to a good time in the minds of some in the industry it is a nice metaphor for the sobering months ahead.

As one excellent fellow who shall remain nameless (only because his name is buried in a stack of to be sorted tomorrow cards) told me tonight the ability for a marketer to show real year-on-year growth in the value of brands and therefore evidence that the marketing budget is actively working, will be highly valued as the economic situation tightens in Malaysia.

However any marketer concentrating tonight a little too much on his delightfully tender chicken and not enough on how he is going to tie his team's efforts directly to the Most Valuable Brands win, is likely to be just as bad off as a marketer attached to a brand which didn't win an award.

The bosses need constantly reminding of how brands grow in value and get awarded for that - through marketing, it doesn't just happen because you're nice to the organisers or pay enough.
Don't get me started on those branding awards.

Good night.

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