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!