Monday, July 31, 2006

The secret to creativity

This morning, I happily walked to Raffles Place MRT to attend the IAS’ Creative Director of the Year award announcement – a new award in the Hall of Fame Awards.

It was a wet morning, and the wind was howling, but I was happy, after spending the entire weekend watching episode after episode of Prison Break. For the uninitiated, you better find yourself a copy of this new series because it kicks major ass.

Oops, did I say ‘ass’?

Haha… let me explain.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my favourite creatives at the event this morning. Tian It, Calvin, Francis, Rob, Guan, Farrokh and so on. No. 1, it is very rare to find all of them in the same room, or even in the same country, for that matter. They’re always on the road. No. 2, the key word is ‘morning’ – no elaboration needed.

Anyway, the group was ushered to one of two larger-than-life photo/poster thingys of them at Raffles Xchange, where they signed next to their photos and gamely posed for even more picture-taking.

Then, the emcee breezed in, asking the lot to pose with their bottoms facing the camera. Everyone took a double-take.

I mean, can you believe, asking some of the most lauded creative brains in the country show off their behinds in a publicity shot?

This is why they are the best in the business. Not only are they good at what they do, they’re also refreshingly obliging, down-to-earth, and more importantly, fun.

I had a FANTABULOUS time at the event, one of the best I’ve ever been to. I have to add that it was short and sweet too.

Next time you walk past me at the MRT station, near the wall photo, hand me a tissue can? I’ll be grabbing my sides laughing uncontrollably, remembering a roomful of creative greats perking up their bums for the camera.

A once in a lifetime photo op, I’m sure.

Let's get down to business

I JUST got off the phone with Mabel.

Don’t ask me who Mabel is because I don’t know either.

Mabel was calling regarding an ongoing tiff between a client and an ad agency (I don’t know who Mabel represents), and Marketing happened to write a story on the interesting ad campaign said agency created for said client. What the tiff has to do with Marketing and what Mabel wanted from our conversation, I still don’t know. But what I do know is that there has got to be a time when the industry stops being childish and starts working like professionals.

This is advice from one of the youngest members of the advertising/marketing industry – me.

In the two point five years I’ve been a reporter on the marketing beat, I’ve encountered nearly every good and bad PR approach in existence.

Let’s start with the worst. S******** Consultants has broken perhaps seven out of ten golden rules of PR. The worst was when they periodically sent press releases to our 40-year old fax machine -- which used to play ‘Fur Elise’ whenever a message was coming through. You think my gripe is about faxes as opposed to emails? You’re wrong! The releases were always about the oil/manufacturing industry in China/Zimbabwe somewhere.

How could I forget the times when massive apparel and automobile brands, after an interview with us, ask to see the article before we print. Does The Economist or Time allow that?

Before you start to feel this is simply a bitch fest for me, let me assure you otherwise.

Just before I typed the above paragraph, I got a call from Tarun Deo from Text 100. I had earlier spoken to Aaron Kong from the same agency who was pitching a story on Text 100’s expansion plans but could not give me all the details I needed. He made an appointment with me for the next day to get Tarun to call through and explain further.

Marketing takes care not to write about agencies and how well they’ve been doing in the past year or so, because it’ll just read like an ad – agencies can pay for an ad any time – where’s the objective reporting in that? Needless to say, I was not very keen on the story.

Anyway Tarun called to make the pitch. To cut to the chase, we’ll be writing a piece on the agency’s regional director and her thoughts on the challenges ahead for the PR industry, the changes in terms of client demand, and even peer media – for more, tune in to Marketing’s September edition.

What started as a possible two-liner on Marketing NewsBreak became a half-pager in our print edition. Kudos to the Text 100 team for the perfect pitch – it was relevant, concise, and professional. And no, the agency did not pay a single cent for me to write this.

I could go on but I gotta go take the next meaningless call.

I’ve loved every minute working on this beat. The industry is one mean beast but good PR approaches make the difference and reporters appreciate that – we do!

As we trudge from one deadline to the next, I rest easy knowing that for every lousy pitch there are two good ones and in time, we’ll forget what a lousy pitch sounds like.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

So we finally got a blog

Just a quick warning, I am about to use the most overused term of 2006. We thought it was high time we joined the Web 2.0 movement (yep there's that word) and launch the Marketing blog. Yes I know we're only about six months late, but at least we're here now.

I know the golden rule is don't blog about blogging, but I need to spend a few words explaining what The Pitch is all about, well its essentially about ideas and stuff, but particularly the ideas and stuff that have no natural place in the magazine.

There's a lot of stuff that goes into both Marketing magazine each month and the thrice weekly Marketing newsbreak but there's plenty of other stuff that we at Marketing gather in the course of a week, gossip, rumours, opinion, lies, slander and humorous anecdotes - so instead of it all rattling around in our heads we thought let's provide an outlet to get it out.

So The Pitch is a forum for Marketing to sound off about a whole range of things loosely tied to the industries we cover. The great thing about blogs is they are meant to be a little bit garage, rough around the edges, not so structured as formal journalism and a little less...accountable.

Bloggers every day fill the bottomless database of the Internet with everything from theories on government conspiracies to the latest fascinating observations on the life and times of their pet Shitzus. So you'd think a bunch of supposedly intelligent journos working at Marketing would have something to add to the conversation.

I have personally been rattling the editorial staff's cages about online content delivery for the past four months and we're making steady progress but it might take a little while to turn them all into legitimate "bloggers" so I'll have to get the ball rolling. So bear with us and check back occasionally and hopefully we can inform, titillate and possibly even educate you - but we'll try to keep the tone light.

If you have something to add feel free to hit the "comment" button. Don't worry we're a thick skinned lot and if you want to take a swing at us, feel free. Happy reading and we promise we won't blog about our Shitzus, no really, we don't even own any Shitzus...