Thursday, December 17, 2009

The short goodbye

We shut our Malaysia office today for the Christmas break. We’re back at work on the 4 January 2010 to start a new year with more breaking news and industry issues mixed and packaged together in true A+M style, and delivered to you in a (cross my heart) timely fashion.

It’s been a challenging year for everyone in business – media wasn’t spared. But as a young new brand which is still finding its footing but nimble enough to roll with the punches, we have a lot to look forward to next year.

Next year on the magazine front you will see a combined December / January issue to start 2010. It will hit desks in mid-January complete with new columnists and more content as well.

After that its back to the monthly format while A+M Daily returns on 4 January 2010.

2010 means we’re one year older but it also means we’ve got one year of local knowledge under our belt.

In the past year we’ve experimented with live blogging of news on and our Twitter (MarketingEds) account is still going strong. Expect to see more video from us and more.

If you’ve been reading magazines like Wired and Esquire you would have noticed the emergence of ads in augmented reality code – our very own October edition featured a nifty coded ad done by Arachnid to thank clients for voting it Digital Agency of the Year.

Cool stuff.

Speaking of cool stuff, today also marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons. Amazing. Its glory days may be long past but 20 years running on TV is a long time in anyone’s book.

So, on that note I’d like to wish you all happy holidays and look forward to meeting and writing about you for many years to come (D’oh!).


Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the road

Please forgive us if we haven’t been answering the phones today or have been responding to email slowly – Advertising + Marketing is on the road (bus) to Singapore to make it in time to celebrate our company’s Christmas party tomorrow.
L-R: Pamela, Anita, and Excell

Not to fret, there will still be A+M Daily arriving in your inbox today and tomorrow. For me personally, I am just glad to get out of KL this weekend. It’s been a hellish 24 hours for me personally. I arrived home late last night after Web Wednesday’s networking (drinking) session to find Tenaga Nasional had cut off the power to my apartment.

Eh? Sudah Potong?#@! Why!?

So after spending the next hour arguing and shouting at any staff I could find working in my building (who were of no help), I then went defeated back to my place to take the coldest shower of my life (which I repeated again this morning).

Thanks Tenaga Nasional for cutting off my power without any warning. Yes, I did get your warning slip dated one week ago – thanks for giving me so much warning time by slipping it under my door the same day you kicked me off the grid.


Powered up! Happier times on the bus

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Politicians join the party

Sarawak’s Housing and Urban Development Minister recently said Facebook had now become an important mechanism for him to receive feedback from the people – and in doing so joins the growing list of politicians on social media.

Already we’ve seen Malaysia’s most prominent politician, Dr Mahathir Mohamad try his hand at blogging which on the surface looks like he’s doing a good job of. My Bahasa is way too rusty to actually judge the content for myself but his last five posts averaged over 227 comments which is significant – it’s not easy to a) Keep a blog going and b) Convert readers from lurker mode into commenting mode.

Reportedly, when his blog first launched it got 1 million hits in just 30 days. What was the motive behind the move online? Well, according to a documentary I watched on cable TV last month it was driven by his desire to be heard again because mainstream media was now apparently ignoring him post retirement.

Dr M is also on Facebook but somehow his blog seems more like a window in to his thoughts than his Facebook account which feels more like a PR machine.

The minister on Facebook intends to use his Facebook account to ultimately improve his service to the community but a politician’s blog never quite feels like it was set up to do that.

Yesterday, I was a moderator of a session at the Marketing Chapter event organised by AdExcel which talked about social media and the outlook for advertising in 2010. It was here the topic of blogger transparency came up again. And it was clear from the panel that although they might all like bloggers to become more accountable, audiences in Malaysia didn’t (as long as the post was entertaining) seem to mind as much currently as compared to the West.

It was in the second session where Aegis’ David Ho said one day bloggers in Malaysia would “turn away” because blogs would no longer be neutral.

Over to you guys.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

15 ways to engage with youth

CSR and mission statements aside, its a rare sight to see an organisation develop a project which actually works in encouraging young people to express what they are passionate about in an entertaining way.

15Malaysia is one of them. This short film project ended with Joshua Chay, UCSI University’s Film and Television student from the School of Mass Communications bag first prize beating 27 others.

Joshua’s video was titled Mama Leong (who is the elderly woman who talks about her life during the time when the Japanese ruled Malaysia in the video).

The clip is well shot and the scene at Jalan Pudu - Bukit Bintang is compelling not least because I know now that our office is located around the corner from where Mama Leong witnessed the Japanese beheading protestors.

Other clips from 15Malaysia project that captured my attention was Meter by Lim Benji and Potong Saga by Ho Yuhang. They were very viral and hilarious. Meter even featured Khairy Jamaluddin, a politician, highlighting issues of language (education) among others, in this country, and the importance of embracing them.

Potong Saga, on the other hand grabs your attention with its message about a Chinese guy who goes through an unnecessary circumcision to get himself eligible for an Islamic bank account because of misguided information regarding the application from three Chinese old chaps.

The films from the 15Malaysia project also made it to the 14th Pusan International Film Festival, giving the filmmakers more exposure than they could have ever dreamed of.

You can watch the films here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Battling the drink

So it looks like the state Environment and Public Health Ministry is considering conducting a campaign to curb alcoholism in Sarawak – and it could be similar to the way Malaysia’s anti-smoking campaigns have been done in the past.

In August, I blogged about the state of Indonesia’s cigarette advertising scene which resulted in a good conversation going about our government’s latest Tak Nak anti-smoking campaign.

Similarly with the issue of smoking numbers, the government is not going to have much success tackling the problem of alcoholism if all they do is fund a cleverly crafted communications campaign. The grassroots support is vital and according to the Star there are currently no specific institutions for the rehabilitation of alcoholics in Sarawak yet.

Sarawak recorded 87 admissions for alcohol-related illnesses last year and 27 from January to June this year – although reportedly there is currently no specific institution for the rehabilitation of alcoholics in Sarawak and patients are advised to consult psychiatrists at various government hospitals.

Malaysia is a very different alcohol advertising market compared to most of its neighbours in Asia Pacific. Alcohol brands here are not free to market themselves as freely as they would like but I don’t buy for a second that a country with stricter rules on alcohol marketing equals less alcohol abuse.

There’s literature out there which supports the idea of a relationship between alcohol advertising and consumption – I just haven’t seen any studies which can significantly prove this.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev recently ordered tough new restrictions to try to curb alcoholism in Russia which he described as a national disaster.

He wants to allow local authorities to ban the sale of alcohol in specific locations at specific times of the day and have jail time replace fines for anyone who sells spirits or beers to people under the age of 18. He also wants to ban liquor advertising but I honestly think the first two regulations are what are going to help curb the problem in Russia – and not the lack of alcohol ads.

In fact, if the Malaysian government wants to get really serious about the problem of alcoholism in Sarawak, maybe they shouldn’t make an anti-drinking ad. I can’t remember the last good alcoholism ad I’ve seen – they usually come and go so quickly it’s hard to tell.

My colleague Ben Burrowes did point me to a movement in New Zealand which on the surface looks pretty promising. I’ve put a poster execution from one of their campaigns in this post.

When’s the last time you saw a good anti-alcohol ad? There’s been a few good anti-drink driving ones from Australia while I was studying there and who (SNL fans) can forget this Dennis Leary spot from years ago.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Maxis adds Facebook et al

Maxis has acknowledged Facebook’s impressive growth in Malaysia over the last year, with the launch of a new service called fb2mobile.

The company had previously launched the Friendster Alert service in May 2009 which gave subscribers the ability to receive updates on their Friendster account via SMS. And with the launch of fb2mobile, Maxis now says it is the first mobile communications service provider in Malaysia to provide a full range of mobile services to Facebook, Twitter and Friendster.

Maxis can now connect its mobile subscribers to Facebook and Twitter via SMS and MMS.

It’s not exactly earth shattering news but is another example of the social media craze taking over… everything. Did you know a company called NetProfitQuest (NPQ) is now conducting a "Certificate in Social Media Marketing" programme? It’s supposed to help companies bridge the gap between business goals and the technicalities of social media implementation. (Sounds like something your media agency should be doing).

Anyways, back to the Maxis fb2mobile news. The company says it is also looking to include other major social networking services such as Yahoo and MSN Messenger as well. And anyone who subscribes to fb2mobile alerts get free monthly subscriptions until 28 February 2010 (After that then it’s a monthly charge of RM2).

I guess the last word on this would be it’s good for consumers that a player like Maxis is encouraging, making it easier and cheaper for us to use our mobile phones for something other than making a phone call.

Over two months ago, Aegis (Carat) brokered a deal with Maxis and three leading dailies. It allowed readers of Utusan Malaysia, Sin Chew Daily and The Star to have free access to news via the mobile internet on the Maxis network until 31 October 2009.

Still waiting to hear back from Carat on what the uptake numbers were performing like during the ‘free’ period. Come on, Roy. Share!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beyonce blamed

Another day in Malaysia, and another high profile international artists postpones a concert days before the event is scheduled to go.

This time it was Beyonce’s turn to disappoint – and disappoint she did if we are to believe the official word from organisers who have denied the move was due to the threat of protests by Muslim groups.

Organiser, Marctensia said in a statement yesterday that the postponement was “solely the decision of the artiste and has nothing to do with other external reasons.”

If the name of the organizer sounds familiar it’s because the company also had to deal with Akon’s last minute pull out of a separate event back in June. H1N1 was said to be the culprit.

But speculation was rife the move was due to Chivas being a major sponsor of the event as Malaysia has several rules regarding alcohol and cigarette companies as sponsors.

It also has rules on dress attire and it Beyonce’s “inappropriate dress sense” was the subject of PAS protests.

However, officials said if she adhered to the dress code there would be no issue.
One thing is for certain though. It’s not only the fans who lose out again. The brands, sponsors such as Hotlink and Guess will have to pour cold water on their Beyonce marketing efforts and restart them at a later date (unless the concert does get cancelled).

Worse still, whatever the reasons are this time for the postponement – it still portrays brand Malaysia in a bad light.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mystery Google

Imagine a search engine where you get what the person before you searched for. Well, you don’t have to imagine too hard just visit to experience it for yourself. Why would you do it? Let's discuss.

I tried to ring Google offices in Singapore to see if I could get an explanation but it was lunch time and there was no answer. So, I checked it out for myself and spent a good 15 minutes on the site trying to figure out what the hell its purpose is.

I type in “earthquake” and I get search results for “university of south Florida”. Ok, I guess there is a market out there for people who are curious to get other people’s search results – or just want to spend a few minutes seeing what other people are searching for.

But it gets creepy (or funny depending which football club you support) when I typed in “Manchester United” and get “anyways brad and jake touched me all weird that night and were all over me”.

Still, I did spend 15 minutes of my life trying to see if there was any patterns emerging (yeah good luck!) from my search results. From what I can tell most of the search results are random (try searching Manchester United for yourself and you’ll see) or even try “Yahoo.” I got “go outside I need a clear shot” when I entered Yahoo in Mystery Google.

The only things I’ve discovered so far which are not random is when you type “Mystery Google” and search. The result is a message on the search bar telling me “that is the site you are on.”

And when you search for “Google” it says “No. Mystery Google.”

There’s even a copyright message at the bottom which reads: © Mystery Google, 2009 | GOOGLE is a trademark of Google Inc.

Whatever it is, I am sure someone with enough smarts and time will figure it out. So far, the only search term I’ve entered which correctly takes me to the site is “Facebook”. I did it several times. Search for “Facebook” in Mystery Google and it will take you straight to the Facebook home page.

Oh yeah, if you don't type anything and hit search it tells you to "please don't type gibberish".

If you do type "gibberish" - it responds to you sarcastically!

And gets angry when you only search for "mystery" as well...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Below today’s marketing threshold

Malaysia’s broadband quality was described as “below today’s applications threshold” in a study conducted by Oxford University and sponsored by Cisco.

The Malaysian Insider has the in-depth story, and it doesn’t make for good reading if you’re a digital marketer.

Malaysia ranked 48 in the study of internet broadband in 66 countries – behind the likes of competing Asian markets such as Hong Kong (3) and Singapore (7) but also ahead of China and Thailand.

Countries like Singapore were listed above Malaysia as having internet speeds “meeting needs of today’s applications” while Hong Kong rated as country which “comfortably enjoy today’s applications”. (Korea and Japan were said to be markets with broadband speeds that were “ready for tomorrow”).

Even as I type out this blog I can remember the frustration I had posting links on my previous A+M Bootleg entry. I linked to two different online campaigns which an agency based in Australia called Spiral did. It was taking forever to load when I was trying to test out the link and I almost dropped the idea of adding the links.

We tend to be rather impatient when we’re online and any page which takes longer than a minute to load is 30 seconds too long. Which is such a shame because the good social media marketing campaigns are meant to be shared but how can I enjoy something after I’ve lost my temper waiting for it to load.

My Hong Kong colleagues enjoy speeds of 100 Mbps but I can’t even access Google sometimes from home on Saturday afternoons.

UPDATE: You’re not going to believe this but while attempting to post this blog entry my wireless connection at the office went offline for at least 30 minutes.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big Day Out

Figuring out social media marketing in Malaysia was the topic up for discussion at yesterday’s Starcom MediaVest Group Digital Day Out.

No easy task – but Starcom managed to assemble DiGi marketer Lau Sulin, Starcom’s executive director Lee Yew Leong, Nuffnang’s Timothy Tiah, TV host Jojo Struys, and Scott Wenkart from Australian agency Spiral Digital+Media+Lab to represent a mixed bag of point of views for the discussion.

The usual what is social media question was followed by a series of others ranging from whether advertisers should care about social media to the all important question on effectiveness and ROI.

At one point, Nuffnang’s Tiah even shared how one campaign the company did for a debit card brand flopped big time.

The client wanted to get bloggers to write in about how they would spend X amount of money using the debit card and then reward them with a trip to the Gold Coast.

But, against Nuffnang pleas, insisted that bloggers would have to first apply for the card, get the card, use the card, and take a picture of the receipt and send it in with the write up.

“It was a total disaster,” Tiah said.

“A record breaking four entries to the competition but a lot of emails from bloggers complaining about the competition and that the card never showed up [after they applied for it],” he said.

I asked the panel for their thoughts on Malaysia’s social media marketing scene where we are seeing a lot of brands experimenting on the medium with some launching campaigns which are not really engaging at all. Does this turn consumer’s off from using something like a Facebook if they are being bombarded with unsocial like ads?

“The cream always rises to the top,” Spiral’s Wenkart said.

“People will only engage with something they like,” he said.

The rest – I guess – is just seen as noise and gets ignored.

You can watch some of Spiral’s work here and here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Renault: Counting the brand cost

More bad news for team Renault ahead of this weekend’s Singapore F1 night race as two of its biggest sponsors quit because of the much publicised FIA ruling.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, Renault have been handed a suspended disqualification from F1 after team principal Flavio Briatore, executive director of engineering Pat Symonds and driver Nelson Piquet Jnr were found guilty of a plot to deliberately crash in last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Renault’s principal sponsor, ING has cut short its sponsorship (which ends after the 2009 season wraps) to immediate effect. And left no room for speculation as to the reason why it has ended the association with Renault four races early.

An ING statement read:
“In light of the verdict of the World Motor Sport Council of 21 September 2009 concerning the events that occurred at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, ING will terminate the contract with Renault Formula 1 with immediate effect.”

“ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship.”

On top of this bad news, Spanish insurance firm Mutua Madrilena also announced it would end its backing calling the incident “something that can affect the image, reputation and good name of the team's sponsors.”

And added that: “The behaviour of the relevant people in the team was extraordinarily serious and compromised not only the integrity of the sport, but also the lives of spectators, drivers and circuit personnel.”

Strong but justified words from the sponsors given that the incident has been declared as the worst single piece of cheating in the history of sport by Simon Barnes of The Times (Have a read of his article he makes a solid argument for his case).

But aside from the financial cost the incident will have on Renault, the car maker stands to take a hit in another crucially important area – brand value.

Seven years ago when Renault made the investment into the incredibly expensive sport of F1, one of the goals would undoubtedly have been to grow brand value and be associated with success.

And since then it would be fair to say they have done just that through Fernando Alonso’s driving and winning.

It’s a whole different ball game now.

F1, as expensive as it is, is also a very high profile sport and the “crashgate” incident only lives to associate Renault with arrogance, cheating, and even worse still, a nonchalant view of humanity.

And it’s also a violation of the brand’s CSR policy which, like many companies, advocates transparency.

Who wants to be seen in a Renault car after this?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hope isn't a bad thing

I started Ramadan on a slightly negative note by blogging that it could be the start of bad customer service so let’s see if I can end it on a more positive note. How’s this? The 1 Malaysia campaign just might have a chance after all.

There I said it.

But before you flood my inbox with comments like “you’re an idiot” and “I don’t like you”. Please give me the chance to say that I never thought it stood a chance but I came across this story from the The Star via AP while surfing Google Reader. (Free Hari Raya plug for Google!).

A great little story from Virginia of how members of a local Synagogue suggested Muslims come and pray in their building after hearing the Muslim community was looking to rent a place for overflowing crowds during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

On Friday afternoons, the people coming to pray at this building take off their shoes, unfurl rugs to kneel on and pray in Arabic.

The ones that come Friday evenings put on yarmulkes, light candles and pray in Hebrew.

"People look to the Jewish-Muslim relationship as conflict," said All Dulles Area Muslim Society Imam Mohamed Magid, saying it's usually disputes between the two groups in the Middle East that make news.

"Here is a story that shatters the stereotype."

Magid, who grew up in Sudan, said he did not meet someone who was Jewish until after he had moved to the U.S. in his 20s, and he never imagined having such a close relationship with a rabbi.

But he said the relationship with the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has affected him and his members.

Beyond being tolerant, the synagogue and its members have been welcoming.

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, who leads the Reform congregation of about 500 families, said the relationship works both ways.

"You really only get to know someone when you invite them into your home ... you learn to recognize their faces. You learn the names of their children," Nosanchuk said.

What’s the marketing angle here? Well, can we just call this a stretched example of what the 1Malaysia marketing team needs to remember – people are generally good and want to live in harmony with one another.

So 1Malaysia should forget about the outdoor advertising or any advertising for that matter until it can come up with ways to actually physically show Malaysians you are in a real way delivering the 1 promise.

It won’t be easy – I certainly don’t have any well researched concrete ideas to offer here – but it can be done one small step at a time if the right people get behind it. America finally has a black President and one who so far has done nothing to suggest he was elected based on his race.

On that note,here's wishing you all Selamat Hari Raya.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are you adventurous enough?

Singapore Management University's Micheal Netzley was at Menara Star today to talk about
Adventures with Social Media – Lessons from Asia’s Internet.

Netzley's presentation was further proof that social media is not just a leisure activity. It is now the new media which can be used to disseminate news and market your product and services instantly. It is something to be strongly considered as a networking tool by PR agencies as means to address challenges.

He shared some case studies which showed why Facebook, Twitter and blogs should now be considered an important tool in the marketer's toolkit.

One example is the growth and success of KFC Australia Facebook campaign for Cayan Grill in June 2009.

In 48 hours KFC enlisted more than 17,500 fans to its Facebook page, which was launched on 13 June. Now they have 86 174 fans and growing.

To drive participation in the Cayan O’Clock events KFC placed advertisements specifically targeting 18 – 24 year old Facebook users who live in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - and directed them to the fan page.

"If Facebook has more the 2 million people on it wouldn’t you want to market your product there," Netzley said. In a nutshell, he asks marketers to tap into what channel works best for your part of the globe.

"Take the best from the West but make sure you adapt to the rest," he said.

His other examples were Lenovo’s marketing strategy which answered the question – How do you position Lenovo as solution provider? And how do you keep people engaged?

The answer – "Voices of the Olympic Games 2008" campaign where 100 athletes from 25 different countries blogged to share their experience with the world. Check out the video:

Over the course of the Games, Lenovo’s Athlete Bloggers published more than 1,500 posts and received over 8,000 comments from fans around the world. “Voices” was a huge success and demonstrated the value of amplifying Olympic athletes’ real, unfiltered voices.

From here we can see the full networking power of social media to create a network or your own community, social media. Another example, when there was the 5th H1N1 case in Singapore, Netzley was shocked that it was someone from his campus. He had received the SMS at about noon while Google search had the news in the evening BUT it was Twitter which had spread the message as early as 9.30am!

And that is how you too can get the otherwise would-not-have-known news.

“If you wait for the paper, you will be the last to know,” he said However, he disagrees that traditional media is becoming irrelevant though the trend is definitely changing.

To emphasis the impact of social media, Netzley talked about his Twitter friend that he added sometime ago. Siok Siok is a filmmaker based in Singapore, and she promotes her movies using Twitter. Her recent work is called Twittamentary – a documentary where Twitter determines what goes in the documentary. How? She uses Twitter as a crowd-sourcing tool.

Excerpt from her website: What is the project about?
Siok Siok’s new film,”Twittamentary” looks at how lives connect and intersect within the Twitter community. Her new film is to be created in the open spirit of the Web. Twitter users will be invited to contribute story ideas, rich media and videos to the film. When the film is completed, it will be shared online with the Twitter community and the world at large under a Creative Commons license.

And finally I leave you with this video.

The world is changing - The funniest videos are a click away

Monday, August 31, 2009

Smoking Merdeka Celebrations

Started my Merdeka weekend on a bus to Singapore then a ferry to Indonesia's Batam island for some fun in the sun. Is it me or are the cigarette advertisements in Indonesia getting out of control?

I have to admit I'd read about and heard about how criminal the cigarette marketing landscape was in Indonesia but you never really fully take it in until you actually see some of it because people tend to exaggerate. But no, there I was on a shuttle bus from the ferry terminal to the resort and I saw the first of a series of outdoor ads pass by.

I couldn't get a decent shot from camera as the bus sped along but here's what I can describe to you from memory of one of the more shocking executions:

Two young boys (I'll be kind and say they looked like 14 year olds but that's debatable) are in a competitive game of tug of war against an unknown team (the other end of the rope disappears into the bottom left corner of the billboard). The sweat and strain on the boys faces make them out to look like they could be winning while the slight hint of muscles on their arms show that the two are not your average skinny 14 year old weaklings. Up above their heads is, of course, the product shot.

Couldn't decipher the Bahasa Indonesia copy but the cigarette maker is Sampoerna and judging by the light blue packaging of the pack it must be for a lite brand suitable (??) for the younger demographic but being positioned as cool and macho enough so you don't think its for women.

Where did I see the giant billboard? As we passed a nearby school and headed into a small road where makeshift convenience store huts littered either side of the road - and where the cigarette brand amongst others can also be found.

About 6 or maybe even 9 months ago I read a great article from BusinessWeek which reported about Philip Morris International's race to win market share in developing markets around the world. That article cited some interesting figures like:

  • The company bought local kretek maker PT HM Sampoerna for $5.2 billion in 2005, which has since helped it grow from less than 10% of the cigarette market to nearly 30%.
  • In 2007, PMI had $2.7 billion of sales in Indonesia and spent $220 million on marketing and related costs.
  • Almost a third of the population is under 15, and nearly 50 million people smoke.
  • According to a recent study funded by the Bloomberg-Gates initiative, smoking rates are rising fastest among the young, with rates among Indonesian males age 15 to 19 up 139% between 1995 and 2004. Data tracker Euromonitor International predicts 10% more Indonesians will take up smoking by 2012.

And although Malaysia is certainly more relaxed about smoking laws than Singapore, there are more marketing restrictions here in place when compared to Indonesia. If I am not mistaken, Dunhill hasn't been allowed to sponsor football tournaments for a while now.

As for me, I'll admit that I am no saint (everybody hates being preached to anyways) and that I used to smoke regularly and am still prone to occasional drags when the mood sets in ( I still find pleasure in having a smoke on a rainy day with a teh tarik in hand).

This latest anti-smoking ad from MOH takes a pretty hard line and it's hard to watch. It did leave an impression on me but I am still not sure whether the gruesome facts work on the majority of smokers. The spot was created by Spencer Azizul.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hermawan Kartajaya's tips

Last week, the president of World Marketing Association, Hermawan Kartajaya was in town to talk about new ways approach marketing in today's economic climate.

During my college days, I learned about the four P’s of marketing (price, place, promotion and product) but in Kartajaya’s approach he says there are 12 C’s to the new marketing wave. Without trying to bore you with too much detail (it is a blog post after all) the 12 C’s, in a nutshell, clarifies when, what and how to do marketing right.

Here are some of his tips:
1) Strategy is vital as it is the key to successful marketing
2) When selling your product, sell the differentiation not the product
3) Online marketing only creates excitement but not intimacy
4) Database is NOT a community. You must have interaction
5) Most new product launches will fail so co-creation is very important.

He then cited Starbuck Baristas tell their story campaign as a good example to support point (5).

And Kartajaya's advice to marketers attempting to figure out how boost their brands during the current economic climate was:

"Redefine your advertising and marketing terminology. Try to rethink about traditional media when it comes to what product you are offering."

Monday, August 24, 2009

That time of year again

The fasting month has well and truly started but other than the plethora of F&B promotions I am expecting to see - who else thinks a dip in customer service is also just around the corner?

This will be my first time experiencing Ramadan in Malaysia but having spent over 15 years in Brunei - I think I know what to expect here. Good food, bad driving, and tired grumpy hungry customer service staff -- am I right?

Just yesterday I went to Watsons pharmacy at KLCC to get something for my ankle which I sprained badly last weekend (yes it still hurts) and the service was terrible. First, as the pharmacist saw me approaching she decided to strike up a conversation with a passing colleague and when I reached the counter and said "excuse me" she carried on her conversation giggling for another 10 seconds while gesturing for me to wait.

When I did have a attention, she wasn't the best example of what a Watsons brand experience should be. I lifted up my ankle meekly and asked her "do you have anything for a sprained ankle, something to take the swelling away?" She didn't even bother to stand up and look at my ankle - she just pointed behind me and said "there".

"What..!? where is it? what is it called?"

She replied, "the next row, bottom."

Can I get some service here, or what?

Not realising how pathetic I was about to sound to anyone who just happened to walk past and hear me, I scolded her saying, "Well, aren't you going to help me get it - I am crippled here!"

"Ah..never mind then, i'll find it myself."

So I did.

I don't know if I would have got better service had the lady not been fasting but it reminded me about a conversation I had recently with a friend's father. He used to train all the pilots for Royal Brunei Airlines and he was pretty cutthroat about pilot's who intended to fast before and during long-haul flights.

"If you're fasting, you're not flying," he would say.

Sounds harsh but the reality is - the pilot needs to be full focused all the time, not for brand experience reasons but for safety!

Anyways - if you have any customer service nightmares send them in ( and I'll see if I can share it on The Volatile Customer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Take a deep breath

If you're like me, when someone sends you an email about some sort of business competition you usually hit delete faster than you can say Skype. Well, a few months ago I got an email about the First Skype for Business Competition.

For once, instead of thrashing it, I thought... hang on we can win this! We use Skype all the time, for everything, and it helps make our business run so efficiently across Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

And today Skype's regional PR agency Upstream Asia sent a press release confirming my first thoughts -- we won! (release below)

Winners demonstrate how Skype enriches their business communications

Singapore August 12, 2009: Skype has announced the winners of the first Skype for Business Competition, which puts the spotlight on how companies can use Skype for cost-effective communications around the world.

The month-long competition - launched to celebrate the new look for the Skype for Business portal ( was open to companies in the Asia Pacific, EMEA and Americas regions. The judges looked not only at the creativity and originality of how Skype is being used, but also the range of Skype features used and the geographic spread of their use. Entries were judged based on the following criteria :

Creativity and originality of submission and use of Skype (50%)
Range of Skype features used (20%)

Geographic spread of Skype usage (20%)
Clarity of case study (10%)

Prizes include bespoke Skype solutions for first place winners, along with Skype Credit and Skype Certified hardware.

The winning companies in Asia Pacific, who best demonstrated how they are saving time, saving money and staying ahead by using Skype, are as follows:

First Place: Lighthouse Independent Media, Singapore – An international publishing company that has made Skype an integral part of its daily editorial and production processes.

Second Place: RareJob, Japan – A company delivering more than 2,000 English conversation lessons via Skype each day.

Third Place: Rusty, Australia – An international surfwear and apparel brand that uses Skype to enable close collaboration between its employees around the world.

And here's what they said about us:

Lighthouse Independent Media: A publishing company with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur uses Skype to operate seamlessly across borders. Lighthouse Independent Media uses Skype as an everyday communications tool to keep all offices and all people in all offices connected throughout the day. In addition to the conversations and file sharing capabilities, Skype is used in the three market morning news conferences held between the different editorial teams as well as a medium to address the entire company over Skype via speakers. Apart from work purposes, Skype is also used to celebrate birthdays across geographic markets. They even had a two office bar night via video Skype- making it a tool that is used effectively to balance work and play!

Nice bit of mid-week news for us but in the spirit of Web 2.0 -- let's keep the conversation going with comments on how we can use internet companies like Skype to drive business forward.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The madness of Murdoch

There was a lot of feverish conversation around the watering holes of KL last night over the latest table thumping declaration by News Corp's Rupert Murdoch that enough was enough of the free content ride - online news will cost damn it!

Actually there was less fevered conversation and more me just ear bashing anyone who would listen, in the end I got told to shut my pie hole and go and write it out of my system, so here I am.

If you took the time to read through News Corp's results yesterday you can kind of see why Murdoch's in an angry sweat again - an overall US$200m loss is just part of the story. There was a US$400m plus write down on myspace and a 60% decline in profits in the newspaper division.

It might seem simple to just ask people to pay for online content in much the same way as they pay for a newspaper, but ah, and I hate to be the one to say this, people aren't paying for newspapers anymore.

Murdoch just doesn't seem to get the post newspaper world - and anyone who doesn't agree that that's where we are now, is kindly invited to follow this link, but only if you agree first to come back afterwards. It's a time line of closures of newspapers in the US - check out the carnage around December 2008 to say, July 2009 it's not pretty.

Yep print newspapers are at a pivotal point in their history - it's called death.

But hang on before you sit me in the corner, with the other old media hating, facebook friend whoring, twitter follower harvesting, myspace single launching, Bing V Google war declaring, "OMFG", "WTF", "ROFL", "pwned", "epic photoshop fail" saying, Rick rolling brats consider this, and I hate to come on all "when I was a boy" but, when I was a boy I worked my way up from a copy kid in a newsroom to editing a daily newspaper.

Actually that's not strictly true I actually did some God awful degree, regularly touted as one of Australia's best journalism degrees (note I don't hate the degree or the institution just that people think it takes three years in University classrooms to learn how to write for a living) then landed a fourth year cadet's job on a daily newspaper.

It took approximately six months to unlearn everything I learned at University and then relearn how to become a halfway decent journo (and approximately two weeks to learn how to drink properly - which as everyone knows is the only way you can become a halfway decent journalist).

Why do I tell you the sordid tale of my journalistic apprenticeship? Because it's important that you understand I'm not a new age blog journalist who has a vested interest in the downfall of traditional print media.

I was crazy passionate about newspapers, but hey I got over it.

They were fun, a lot of fun and there is a powerful attraction to being the first to know everything, which is how newspapers used to be. You would impatiently wait for the newspaper every morning to see what happened and to hear how it unfolded. That just doesn't happen anymore and it's what's killing newspapers. The newspaper now, if you do read one, always seems like the last one to know.

Newspapers just aren't fast enough any more which brings us to online. A lot of newspapers do a pretty reasonable job online, but they are still largely written by traditional journalists in a pretty traditional way.

I have to admit I consume a lot of news content everyday and to be honest a reasonable amount of it is Murdoch owned content, but I'd be a sadly uninformed individual if I relied solely on newspapers. In fact a lot of the stories particularly in the online, social media, media, world affairs, entertainment and "shaggy dog" space has usually been broken in the non-traditional media sites and then is picked up - usually about a week later (poor old newspapers). Consider how the Iran elections were reported - most media outlets were reporting using twitter sources.

If all of the Murdoch content disappeared off the face of the planet tomorrow - and lets face it when he starts charging for it, it might as well have disappeared, I guarantee I will be no less informed and neither will you and I certainly won't be paying for it.

Murdoch runs a pretty old fashioned media operation - ie massive and expensive with an army of journalists all sitting between the expensive walls he rents. This makes it a low margin, moving fast towards a no margin, game particularly when you consider bloggers sit in cheap space (usually a bedroom at their Mum's house) and have no overheads and aggregation news sites harness the wisdom of mobs who cost the site nothing. Agreed the content has to come from somewhere but the links to articles on sites like Digg and Reddit are rarely to places like the New York Times or the Asia Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch like many of the other big old fashioned news organisations are trying to re-establish news journalism as a premium product, when the market has already decided it's a commodity and a not particularly difficult to produce commodity.

As someone who has seen the best of both worlds, slogging it out in an old fashioned newsroom, chasing ambulances and competing for the front page, as well as the new news collective where everyone contributes and news is told by the minute not the day, both are exciting, but one's time has past and the other's has arrived.

Swing the gate open, get smarter about ad serving to free content and become part of the search for better ways to monetise content, rather than protecting an outdated model that consumers don't want anymore.

Alas poor newspapers we knew them well, but hey, whatever.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Web Wednesday does Microsoft-Yahoo

There was plenty of boozing at last night’s Web Wednesday but not before we all got stuck into the curious Microsoft-Yahoo deal which promises to bring the fight to Google.

On the panel for the discussion was Integricity executive director Warren Tan, Carat managing director Roy Tan, and Media Prima’s GM business development and strategy Navonil Roy.

So, what do the guys think about the deal which basically sees Microsoft take over Yahoo’s search operations in exchange for some value?

Carat’s Roy Tan described Google as a “frienemy” and said the partnership was a good idea because anything that brings more competition to the market is a good thing.

“Google has so much of our information that it’s scary,” he said.

While Alt Media’s Paul Moss got involved and added that it was good Microsoft’s Bing gives you a different set of results from Google because “you don’t always get what you want from Google.”

I asked the panel whether they thought the deal showed Yahoo had given up on search and that Microsoft with Bing, and the upcoming Windows 7, was now back -- I got varied responses.

However Media Prima’s Roy did say he thought “Yahoo had walked out of the search space” which we all know is a highly lucrative market globally.

My own thoughts is the deal is good news for Microsoft because it will help propel them forward in markets which they haven’t been performing very well in – search and online advertising.

Plus when the news was announced, it was Yahoo’s stock that went down while Microsoft went up which goes to show what Yahoo shareholders think of the deal.

Sure, Yahoo doesn’t need to invest in search anymore which will make them more profitable but they are breaking up their search team – the guys who built something great – and if they want to be a top internet company they need smart guys like that around.

Anyways back at Web Wednesday and the conversation swiftly turned to Twitter.

“Twitter democratises search,” Integricity executive director, Warren Tan said.

Tan reckons because of this he would put Twitter on par with Google and that he trusts Twitter search more. But Carat’s Roy Tan argued it was a case of search for information versus search for opinion.

Good night!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Agency Of The Year Malaysia

Arrived back in KL last night, after a week of helping to put together and celebrate our Agency Of The Year awards gala night in Singapore.

Yes, while Pamela was holding down the A+M Daily fort in KL last week, I was in Singapore learning what it means to play host to over 750 marketing professionals. I only bring it up because although A+M will publish the Malaysian results in our August edition - we'll have to wait till next year before we can put on a similar show here.

L-R: John Davidson, Ben Burrowes, Tony Kelly, Matt Eaton

We live blogged the event on and we'll leave the event active for another day so you can check out what happened (warning - spoiler ahead)

And what happened that night was, for the first time in its history, the Agency Of The Year award did not go to a creative agency heavyweight like your O&Ms or Saatchis.

Nope, this year marketers (your clients) voted digital agency Blue (founded in Singapore)as the winner. Amazing. Fantastic. Shocking?

Sure, you can say the survey results are based on client perception and not by a panel of judges (isn't that a good thing?) but perception is reality. And while huge organizations like O&M (with its creative, PR, digital, direct, activation arms etc) tend to dominate and take home the overall Agency Of The Year honour, it seems so appropriate it went to a digital agency this time.

Blue win

So, you'll just to wait a few weeks to know what the Malaysia results are - and next year we'll buy the beers.

Me having a beer with Futurebrand ECD Andrew King

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Malaysian

Recently Nielsen released survey findings which revealed recommendations by personal acquaintances as the most trusted forms of advertising globally – the same can be said for Malaysia as well.

The twice-yearly Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey had over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries as respondents and found that 93% of Malaysians said recommendations from people they know were a source they trust.

Followed by editorial content (83%), brand websites (75%), and brand sponsorships (75%). Newspapers and television ads scored 74% trust. While ads served in search engine results (39%), online video ads, online banner ads and text ads on mobile phones all scored the lowest on Nielsen’s chart showing consumer trust in different sources.

Looking at Grey Group’s Eye on Asia study - it sheds some light into the psyche of Malaysian consumers. The agency says the study has identified unique segmentation of Asians based on how they think, feel and react to brands rather than traditional geo-political boundaries.

It says the five Asian brand tribes are:

Malaysia (28%) predominantly sits in the red portion of the pie called “Perceived Value Seekers” which means they look beyond functions and look for added value and emotional connections. While more developed markets like Singapore and Japan tended to favour the green “Individualistic Believers” tribe. This, according to Grey, means they are not looking for trendy or fashionable but are looking for brands which can imprint individual taste.

Basically, I gather that these individuals prefer to find out about products on their own – perhaps even through the internet. Malaysia also registered a score of 21% in this category.

And also registered 20% in the “New Brand Enjoyers” tribe who are said to treat shopping as a treasure hunt and give importance to variety and experience.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Domains with personality

My Domain Registry, the government agency which handles .my domains is looking for a speaker to fill a slot specifically on online brand management at its upcoming forum titled "Contemporary Developments in Electronic Addressing".

Topics that they want to address during the talk include ".my" internet address as a brand personality, brand strategies and marketing campaigns, and product & service management under a ".my" website.

The talk is slated for 30 minutes but i reckon it would be useful to open up the topics further to give brand managers help with their online branding management. Like how can you use .my domains to monitor and protect your brand online, or in social media strategies, and in search engine optimization, are all possible examples maybe?

In conjunction with National ICT Month 2009, .my Domain Registry has been pretty active of late. When they announced its promotional campaign offering 50% reduction for all new registration and renewal fees, Shariya Haniz Zulkifli, who is the director, said: "In this day and age of the internet, having a unique online identity is just as important as any conventional identity. This is true for both businesses and individuals and in Malaysia, this means having a domain name, or web address, that ends with a .my."

Anyone got thoughts on this?

Anyways Hill & Knowlton are helping them communicate this campaign and are also looking for speakers for the conference which is how I found out about it. The closing date for responses is 29 July.

Over to you guys

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The truth is out there

The viral campaign about a mysterious figure roaming the streets in KL continues to make the newspapers today following yesterdays front page advertorial in The Star.

Today, the advertorial appeared in NST as well and continues the tale of a guy called Ahmad Shazali who made a report about a figure he saw in his neighbourhood at Sri Cempaka. He said it was about 12 feet tall with many heads and stood on two legs.

A quick call to The Star today revealed little, they refused to say who the client was which makes it even more likely that it is a teaser or viral marketing ploy for something. 

“Look out for another ad by the end of this week” is all I got before they hung up. 

The consensus among the bloggers seems to be that it’s for a new extraterrestrial movie called District 9.

The Mysterious Figure Seen in KL news is also being aired on Hitz.FM and My.FM.  

Someone out there has got to know so feel free to drop us an anonymous comment below!

UPDATED: DiGi is behind the mystery ad.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fan or Fad? Scoring social media

Buzzmedia’s David Wang recently blogged that social media is the world’s biggest fad for marketers and said that there seems to be “an almost unhealthy fascination with social media among marketers at the moment.”

In the end, he said, “we’ll all realise that social media will become just regular ol’ media.

It’s a fairly detailed post – you can check it out here – and one that makes a really strong case for his argument. And addresses points which marketers definitely need to consider when using social media in the marketing mix.

One of the points which stood out for me (I just had a conversation with someone else about it before I read David’s post) was how social media was rife with experts but starved of authorities.

Untapped marketing tool?

Sure, there is a need for consultants and agencies to show marketers how to get started but I think when there are too many “experts” pitching advice and services to marketers it can have a negative effect. And I am not just talking about the obvious examples like if they hurt the brand through a less than relevant campaign.

On a basic level, I think when there are below-par experts pitching to marketers to spend on social media yet can’t convincingly address all of the marketer’s concerns or argue convincingly about why they should be using Twitter for example – it reduces client confidence in the medium. Makes it even more difficult for them to consider social media as a viable marketing tool, and in turn, also doesn’t help stimulate the growth of online ad spend either.

I know I’ve simplified the argument down a fair bit (1+1 doesn’t always = 2) but I wanted to raise another issue which I think is important which is about whether we need a digital agency scorecard. Are there any credible ones out there in the industry at the moment? Something which is able to tell marketer whether an agency is strong with social media but weak in other aspects.

Going back to David’s post, he said “agencies specialising in social media should be familiar with technologies like Open Social, Facebook Connect, community platforms like KickApps or social widgets and be able to build engaging applications that fit into a brand’s overall marketing strategy.”

That’s one good way to check – any other ideas?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MJ's midas touch

The King of Pop may be dead but it seems not everyone was crying too hard for Michael Jackson when he was laid to rest on Tuesday night.

The Staples Center played host to the memorial / tribute service aired all around the world to millions and talked about, reported about, and social media-ed about for days afterwards. And if that wasn't enough, Forbes points out that the service got underway half an hour late leaving millions watching as cameras lingered on the oversized sign which read 'Staples'.

The company paid $116 million in 1999 for the 20-year naming rights to the arena and according to Forbes it "got a raging bargain for the naming rights there."

Let's put this to the test shall we? Go around the office and ask a handful of colleagues to, without thinking for too long, name where the MJ memorial service was held. We scored two out four correct answers on our end.

Reports out of the US say some 31.1 million people in the United States watched the Michael Jackson memorial on television, with millions more catching video streams on their computers.

How did it compare to other events? President Barack Obama's inauguration in January was seen by 38 million people on TV, and the American Idol finale in May had 28.9 million viewers.

Jackson's family wont be too happy about the Staples Centre cashing in on MJ's star power -- then again they might be too busy figthing each other for the rights to the Memorial DVDs to even notice.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Twitter Top 50

Jeff Zweig (Web Guru Asia) recently released his list of Asia’s Top 50 people ranked by Twitter followers. According to his stats, people from 11 different countries made the list which goes to show how universally popular the service has become.

Malaysia had four people on the list ahead of China with three but behind Hong Kong with five and Singapore was represented by seven people. India led the way with 14 ahead of Japan’s nine.

You can check out the full list at his new blog (

The numbers of followers these guys are getting are impressive and it’s great that there were 11 countries on the list. And with four Malaysians on the list, I asked Jeff when is the right time for a brand to enter the Twittersphere?

“As soon as relevant conversations for the brand are taking place on the platform. This can be conversations about the brand itself or about topics that are relevant to consumers of the brand’s products or services.”

He said there a number of free Twitter monitoring tools which can easily enable a brand to assess when the time is right to move onto Twitter. One example is to use the advanced version of Twitter’s own search engine.

“Here, we can enter the relevant search terms within Twitter conversations we would like to track. We can even specify specific geographic locations to ensure we are covering only the areas we are concerned with. Then we can save each search as a custom RSS feed.”

”Once we see a trickle of relevant Twitter conversations start to become a flood, we know it’s time to jump in,” he said.

Jeff also recommends that marketers read a post from called 10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands.

So then I asked, other than fear of unknown, what’s another reason why marketers aren’t jumping at the chance to use Twitter? And is it fair to say they are reluctant because they know they will not have control of the conversation.

He said:

Loss of control is a mindset issue for brands with any type of social media—not just Twitter. However, in my view, brands should embrace this loss of control as an opportunity and not a threat. There are many good reasons for changing to this new mindset.

Here are just two of my favourites:

1) Negative (and positive) conversations about a brand are going to occur across the Internet regardless anyway. Therefore, it’s far better for a brand to engage than to stick its head in the sand and ignore what’s going on. In fact, a mindset of rejecting engagement is far more risky to a brand than not engaging in today’s social media environment. After all, when there is no engagement to a popular negative conversation, everyone can see that the brand has run away scared. Who can trust a brand that does this?

2) By responding in a transparent, sincere and authentic way, brands can even turn avid detractors into loyal fans. And if these originally avid detractors have large followings of their own in social media, brands can benefit immensely through the power of social proof. This is far more convincing and authentic than a press release.

Although I’m certainly a fan of press releases (especially search engine optimised press releases for online distribution in addition to traditional offline releases), here is another reason why only issuing a press release is not good enough:

Offline press releases are one-way messaging that allow no interaction with consumers. Furthermore, the voice of the release is 100% controlled by the brand and this is rarely, if ever, 100% trusted by consumers.

Similar issues were addressed at a recent Tweet-up I went to organised by FusionBrand at TwentyOne bar. Any other thoughts on this?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PKJ's Italian affair gets serious

Times may be tough right now, but that hasn’t stopped luxury jewellery brand Luca Carati from officially making its debut in Malaysia this week at a launch event at the Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

At the event was Poh Kong Jeweller’s (PKJ) Dato’ Choon Yee Seiong who is responsible for the company’s overall strategic and marketing directions among other things, and the Ambassador of Italy to Malaysia was there as well.

PJK is the current distributor of Luca Carati in Malaysia.

Now I am not really the sort of person who knows a great deal about luxury brands and especially luxury jewellery brands. So I had never heard of the brand until the press release about the launch arrived in my inbox. But I was curious to see how the brand marketed itself (and even more curious to see how expensive the product is).

Well, without trying to hard, I found out that Luca Carati’s current brand ambassador is tennis star, Ana Ivanovic and her collection is available in Malaysia at Poh Kong PJ Gallery. And the whole collection will set you back over RM1 million for the three pieces. The most expensive piece being the Diamond Chain (pictured) piece which costs around RM700, 000. It's on the model's head.

Not Ivanovic

Will have to wait and see how Luca Carati markets its products in Malaysia but… I am thinking not newspapers? Although months ago I did remember seeing an uber-luxury pen brand being advertised in one of the dailies here even though the brand didn’t have an outlet here yet – just Singapore.

Go figure!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Not keen on green

The ability for green IT to cut carbon footprint and improve ROI for companies is a well known and founded idea, yet a new survey has found less than 10% of firms across Asia Pacific have formally implemented a green IT strategy.

The findings were from Springboard Research which surveyed 1,200 firms in Malaysia, Singapore, greater China, India, and Australia.

The question is why are so little numbers of IT firms not going green when it can (a) help give companies a business advantage, (b) should be part of the company’s CSR strategy anyways, and (c) reduce costs in areas such as energy.

According to the study, when respondents were asked to give reasons for not implementing a green IT strategy, a noteworthy amount of responses were they felt there was no need, and they had other priorities at the moment.

Ok guys, we're going green!

However, the survey did also find that 60% of all firms without a green IT strategy in place plan to implement one in the next 24 months, despite the economic recession.

If the recession isn’t really proving to be a factor in stopping IT firms from going green then what else is?

Perhaps a clearer definition is needed of what constitutes a clear green IT strategy? And how do you implement it as well?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The year the media died

Sung to the tune of Don Mclean’s American pie. "So bye bye those big upfront buys. Pitched my client who was pliant. But the pitch didn’t fly. And old ad boys were drinking martinis dry. Singing tech has taken us for a ride…"

A bit long but funny stuff. Check it out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Judge for yourself

There’s an interesting backlash developing online towards the two entries (one is from Malaysia) which won the viral ad competition to become 'Team YouTube', the 39th team competing in the 2009 Young Lions Film Competition.

Over the weekend, Malaysia’s own Adeline Chew and an Israeli entry were deemed winners of the ad competition which this year chose Oxfam as its charity partner. The brief for young creatives across the world was to create a short ad of up to one minute on YouTube to promote their climate change campaign.

Here's Adeline's 'Listen Don't Watch' video

Guy Dayan's 'The YouTube climate thermometer'

Creatives were given 48 hours to submit their ad and then had a further two weeks to make their YouTube ad go viral by any means necessary.

A lot was at stake -- 'Team YouTube' the winners get an all expenses paid trip to Cannes to attend the International Advertising Festival and compete as the 38th team in the prestigious Young Lions Film competition.

PR from Cannes said the competition received 692 entries and over 100,000 votes in two weeks. And that a panel of worldwide creative leaders had selected Adeline and Guy as the winners based upon their ads' creativity, number of views and video ratings.

But, as with most creative judging, not everyone's happy with the results. And it's starting to turn nasty out there in YouTube land.

Check out some of the comments made by YouTube users (or one very free YouTube user) which in most cases accuses the winning videos of lacking creativity, being boring, and in the case of Guy’s video, being an outright stolen idea.

I’ll check back tomorrow to see if the backlash goes the distance for another day… but what do you guys think? A case of sour grapes or do the haters have a point? Or can we chalk this up as another reason why clients should no longer be impressed with an agency's creative award show haul.

FYI the YouTube Contest Judges were:
Rory Sutherland - Vice Chairman, Ogilvy One (UK)
Alexandre Gama - Chief Creative Officer and Founder, NeoGama BBH (Brazil)
Stephane Xiberras - President / Executive Creative Director, BETC Euro RSCG (France)
Nick Law - Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer North America, R/GA (USA)
Yuya Furukawa - Executive Creative Director, Dentsu (Japan)
Ariel Abramovici - Copywriter, BBDO Argentina (2008 winner Young Lions Film)
Bruno Acanfora - Art Director, BBDO Argentina (2008 winner Young Lions Film)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Twitter goes to Hollywood

Yes it’s true. Reports out of Variety reveal that the San Francisco-based web phenom has partnered with Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment to develop an unscripted TV show.

The show has been described as "putting ordinary people on the trail of celebrities in a revolutionary competitive format.”

“…a compelling way to bring the immediacy of Twitter to life on TV,” reports Variety.

So what does this all mean for Twitter? It certainly legitimises the brand even more and follows shortly after Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to be the first to collect 1 million followers on Twitter.

But now that traditional media has again shown faith in Twitter services, should we expect to see more marketers using Twitter features in campaigns?

Like what Skittles has been doing in the US?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The YouToo problem with YouTube

It never ceases to amaze me how high the quality of the original content can get on YouTube. Some of the short films /clips broadcast on the site are inspiring. And that’s the trouble isn’t it?

Recently Creative Review blogged about the YouTube dilemma which opened by saying YouTube provides a steady stream of inspiration to advertising creatives, but it also leaves young directors vulnerable to having ideas stolen and agencies open to accusations of plagiarism.

And posed the question, how can both directors and agencies protect themselves?

It then went into great lengths to report on some of the more high profile and recent examples of this, such as the new Sony Bravia ad featuring Brazilian footballer Kaka and a life-size zoe¬trope which is currently airing across the region.

It was deemed to be too similar to or at least based on a short film by Mark Simon Hewis.

I am not going to go through all the cases Creative Review highlighted (You can read the blog posting here) but it’s certainly worth a read and raises more than a few questions.

How advertising agencies / creatives protect themselves from being labeled as plagiatists because… everyone always assumes the agency are guilty. And how do young directors protect their ideas from being used without any commercial gain when some would say they shouldn’t be broadcasting their work on YouTube if they don’t want people to be influenced by it or re-interpret it.

One commentator on the Creative Review blog summarised by saying: “copying of ideas will and should always be punished (by law or reputation damage). But re-applying parts of others people's output in new context will and should not be punishable.”

Yasmin Ahmad who directed a TVC titled ‘Funeral’ for the MCYS in Singapore has already responded to The Pitch which blogged about how bloggers had slammed the TVC for “ripping-off” a scene from the movie Good Will Hunting. See the post here.

Over to you guys.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lighthearted look at communication strategy

England’s bid for the next World Cup kicked-off on Monday with a ceremony at Wembley attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and football icon David Beckham. And they’ve already identified what not to say in their communication strategy.

Don’t say football’s coming home.

The Guardian has an interesting (if you’re a football fan) piece on why England should steer clear of that catchy slogan which embodied the 1996 European championships hosted by England.

Those of you who watched the Euros that year will no doubt remember the slogan – and the great Lightning Seeds jingle to go along with it. But on Monday, the 2018 World Cup bid committee went on the record to say they would not adopt the “tone” of that communications this time round – calling it “arrogant”, among other things, to believe the country had the right to think of themselves as the home of football.
Lord Sebastian Coe, who led London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, was in Singapore for the World Effie Festival last year to talk about effectiveness in communications, and his clear message to anyone trying to reach out to youths in today’s cluttered landscape was: “If you don’t reach out to them in language they understand, someone else will”.

You should check out the Lightning Seeds video here and read the comments (yes people are still commenting 12 years on!).

Maybe the committee should reconsider their stance on this.

England's eight rivals for 2018 are Russia, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Mexico, the United States, Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/¬Belgium.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The best campaign in the world

The much talked about ‘Best job in the world’ campaign has taken the top prize at the One Show Awards in New York. Is there more to come?

Created by Australian shop CumminsNitro Brisbane for Tourism Queensland, the campaign added to its Best of Show win by also winning the Gold Pencil in the integrated branding campaign category at the One Show.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock (you missed your big chance!) the ‘Best job in the world’ campaign was part of a three-year AUS$1.7 million global marketing strategy where a selected person would get a paid six-month job as a brand ambassador living on a Great Barrier Reef island.

It was positioned as a global search for candidates for the caretaker role of Hamilton Island for six months with a salary of AUS$150,000. And the competition received something like 34,684 applications from 200 countries – while achieving close to $100 million worth of publicity globally. Not bad for $1.7 million campaign.

The One Show accolades also come just one day after Ben Southall was named the winner of the ‘Best job in the world’ competition.

But what do you guys think? Will there be many more awards for this marketing campaign and what about it made it such a great success?

Already we’re seeing other tourism bodies following Tourism Queensland’s lead.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

McHappy no longer

The debate on intellectual property rights reared its ugly head again in Malaysia following last week’s high profile court ruling against McDonald’s in the case of the McCurry restaurant.

At the tail of end of last week, the news broke that McDonald’s in Malaysia was on the losing end of an eight year long court battle against an Indian restaurant calling itself McCurry.

The latest court ruling said that the fast food giant cannot claim an exclusive right to the ‘Mc’ prefix and there was no evidence to suggest McCurry (which stands for Malaysian Chicken Curry) had misrepresented itself to the public and confusing consumers.

Headline from theSun

The case is just one example of the struggle big-name consumer products face in attempting to protect its brands. Now I am not here to debate whether McCurry is in the wrong but McDonald’s clearly thinks the Indian restaurant has.

In a statement to A+M, the company’s VP of marketing communications, local store marketing and business / consumer insights, Stephen Chew said McDonald’s intellectual property includes the ‘Mc’ prefix and that intellectual property was considered to “be highly valuable company assets.”

“Over the years we have been vigilant in vigorously protecting and enforcing our trademark rights wherever we do business,” he said.

“We note that we originally won this trademark protection case in 2006 – so naturally, we are disappointed with this particular appeal court ruling.”

When asked if he thought the ruling might see a string of F&B outlets challenge the use of the ‘Mc’ prefix in their names, Chew would only comment that McDonald’s “will continue to protect its trademark in the future.”

The ruling certainly brings up an excellent question – will other big brands or multinationals, right or wrong, look at this market as one that does not particularly respect intellectual property rights?

If you hadn't already listened to it before, we also brought up the topic on our weekly spot on BFM which you can listen to here.

Over to you guys.


Friday, April 24, 2009

It's gonna cost you

Recently the press picked up on the impending English Premier League rights bidding war that’s about to kick-off around the region. It was timely given that I just got a hold of some figures from ESPN STAR Sports which tells me (a) EPL is still mind-numbingly popular, and (b) it’s not going to come cheap for both the broadcaster and in the end, the football fan as well.

ESS says the current season of the Premier League live matches and ancillary programming reached more male viewers 15+ than the combined reach of news, education and entertainment programmes between 15 August 2008 to 25 February 2009.

According to AGB NMR, over the same period, more than 63% of all cable viewers aged 15+ in Malaysia have already watched the BPL (Barclays Premier League) 2008/2009 matches and its ancillary programming.

The BPL match between Manchester United and Liverpool on March 14 hit a Top 3 spot^ over the March 1 - 15 period, achieving an average rating of 6.6% among male viewers 15+ on cable, with the highest audience share (among regional cable broadcasters) of 17.3% during television viewing primetime, only second to a local-language channel.

But it’s not just the matches that ESS is able to tap on. It produces close to 1,500 hours of original football content a year including Nokia Football Crazy, Football Focus, Goals, Football Forecast, First Edition and Football Extra.

And because ESS also has the rights for the UEFA Champions League FA Cup, the company’s senior director of marketing and corporate communications, Paras Sharma is confident they will retain the EPL rights for next three seasons (from July 2010 onwards).

Still, ESS has lost out before, back in 2007 in Singapore (although they still handle the ad sales for that market).

StarHub paid a reported $250 million for the Singapore rights which were also seen as a strategic attempt to ensure rival SingTel wouldn’t be able to add the Premier League to its IPTV mio-TV platform.

Closer to home, Malaysia's state-owned Telekom Malaysia recently went on the record to say it may challenge Astro and bid for the exclusive rights which will open for bidding in the second quarter of this year. TM is hoping to secure attractive content for its IPTV platform which launches at the end of 2009.

So while Singapore is sold as a standalone market with other markets a part of a cluster - who knows what will happen this time.

Whatever happens, you can bet it’s going to involve a lot of money and it’s going to cost the football fan.

“You can make corrections if the business isn’t going up but clearly it is,” Sharma said.

*During period 15 Aug 2008-25 Feb 2009 in Malaysia. Refers to CNN, MTV Asia and Discovery. Source: AGB NMR
^Source: AGB NMR, Top 100 Broadcasts on Cable TV channels in Malaysia for March