Friday, December 5, 2008

The Glitch Brand Forum?

Kudos to organisers Media Prima and the Global Brand Forum (GBF) who, on the overall, did an excellent job at the Global Brand Forum held on Dec 4 and 5.
While they made sure the participants had their fill of intelligent courses of information and tips of marketing and branding their products in their effort to push Malaysian brands to the global front, the press corp may have had a little bit of challenge.
Not to diss the public relations companies who were charged with looking after the journalists nor the organisers but it was a little impossible - unless you were armed with a DSLR camera - to take close up shots of the speakers on-stage.
There was an invisible camera for security reasons, one would gather, that photographers could not cross to get up close to the stage but the opportunity did come about at the press conferences held a level below (a five minute walk in heels and lugging bags aplenty; three minutes in flats).
At the media centre, unfortunately, there were four lines short of internet connection as there was only one LAN plug-in. Those who had the modern-day USB modem turned out to be the smart ones who did not need to waste any time.
The second day, as reported by Advertising + Marketing ( saw the holographic and recorded video conference of Ivanka Trump who saw "a hand waving" shortening her 15-minute presentation.
Let it be known that each speaker had about 45-minutes to say their piece.
But in the defence of the Global Brand Forum, they had exhausted all options including a private jet for the one-time supermodel to turn up, said Karthik Siva - chairman of GBF.
Still, they were told two-days before her appearance, the emergency - an event - could not be forgone.
So the organisers resorted to rope in Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat as a surprise guest but for some reason, there was a delay in her appearance so the participants had a longer lunch break.
Which turned out to be convenient for the Muslim participants who had to attend Friday prayers.
Sherawat, in the end, shared a couch with panelists film-maker and director Samar Khan, Hollywood director Oliver Stone and Melium Group president Datuk Farah Khan to share her thougts on 'Creating Brand Leadership in Entertainment and Fashion Industry'.
Hollywood director Oliver Stone

Sherawat, in the midst of the discussion and taking questions, did get a little dressing down (pun intended as she was dressed in a tight grey-dress which rode up as she took to the stage) from a participant who is quite prominent in the Malaysian marketing, communications and advertising industry.
Stone also took a hit for being invited guest speakers at the Global Brand Forum as Hollywood did not have much to do with direct branding efforts.
She had emphasised that the GBF was "beyond" Sherawat's league.
Riz Khan, played the very mediating host, requesting that the participant respected the speakers who had made the effort and took time to attend the forum, to share their personal experiences and thoughts with the 930 audience who turned up.
"GBF's role was to educate the overall aspects about branding to just the marketing world but to show that the diversity of branding.
"That it goes beyond the serious business and the entertainment industry does have a part in it," Khan said, gaining the further admiration of the rest of the crowd who clapped and cheered for him.
It can still be said the organisers achieved what they had wanted to do which was to educate Malaysians on building their product and brands.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sony so right, so wrong

Malaysia - Here comes the venom, but don't worry, the agency names have been omitted to protect the guilty. Actually it's not all venom some of it is nectar, the nectar of a wonderfully good idea.

There are two TV spots that have my attention at the moment both of them are for Sony products.

I have always been a big fan of Sony and I know agencies love them as a client because some divisions can be brave and visionary, they like to get involved with their communications, usually in the right way - I've blogged extensively on work like the original PlayStation creative, particularly the evocative "Double Life" spot.

True to form Sony's creative to leverage on its Quantum of Solace tie in featuring Daniel Craig, is an extremely good ad - it's all about the product and positioning.

Craig, who in the ad plays the character from the Ian Flemming franchise, that he has reinvented as "the Bond with bruises", is bombarded by all manner of ballistics as he calmly stands in an immaculate suit.

The connection with the film is obvious and it's done in a way the never strays from the benefits of Sony's high definition line, the inference, though not the tag line, is it doesn't get any more real than this. The spot concludes with a close up of Craig's battered face and the simple line "Bond in Sony High Definition".

The product is present but not overbearing in a retail way and the ad cuts through the run of the mill film tie ins because it uses bespoke footage, not simply a montage from the film with the logo at the end.

Unfortunately Sony is also the client for the ad that bugs me the most at the moment. It's not because it's a particularly awful ad, and heaven knows there are plenty of those on the box right now (if I see that piece for the Malaysia Savings Sale again I'm going to hurt something), it's more that it forms part of a series which started as an exceptional piece of creative.

I am talking about the Sony Bravia Domino City piece, shot in India and featuring a bunch of over sized coloured dominoes falling over through the streets and temples and ending in a large concentric circle of colour with the tag "Colour Like No Other".

This all started with a spot which launched the Bravia range of TVs for Sony called "Bouncy Balls" (if you watch it plug your headphones in and turn it up loud as the music is half the impact) I am sure you have seen and heard of this stunningly simple and highly awarded TVC which saw the agency dump 250,000 bouncy balls down a San Francisco street and film it to creative a haunting and human ad about colour with the tag; "Colour Like No Other". You can read me banging on about it on another blog I used to write here (yes it's an external link so make sure you come back).

The spot was so successful and awarded (it won a gold at Cannes in 2006 and the Grand Prix at the Midsummer Awards in London) other agencies have made attempts to extend the idea with varying successes but none has captured the spirit of the original.

You may have seen Rabbits (arty and clever but lacking), Pyramids
(which seemed to try to replicate the original - you know throwing colourful things down a steep incline) and Paint (this one was kind of clever and on brief but I don't think it ran in Asia).

However the latest Domino City spot really is the death knell for the idea. It seems like an unnecessary stretching of the idea, in fact it's kind of silly(yes, but not only that seems poorly executed with the dominoes looking kind of tinny and unsubstantial an in general I think there are travel network interstitials that engage me much better than this.

In the end it's a bit of a mess and looks little more than an expensive way to get a production crew, the agency and (hopefully since it's on their tab) the client, to see India.

This idea is dead, it's time for a new position for Bravia Sony.

If you think I am wrong and this spot will sweep Cannes next year, or you think the Bond piece is rubbish, I'd love to hear your counter viewpoints.