Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Print publishers look online for that ‘Ker-Ching!’

As publishers are learning to leverage their print brands in the digital world, monetising their online properties are top of mind for most.

At this week’s FIPP Worldwide Magazine Marketplace (WMM) conference, Meredith’s (a leading media and marketing giant in the US) chief development officer, general counsel and secretary John Zieser said there has to be separate sales teams for online and for print properties.

John Zieser

“Someone needs to wake up every morning and focus on the internet,” he said, adding that this person has to always consider how to increase the value of the net.

However, to prevent net sales person and print sales persons from tripping over one another, there has to be one person overseeing everything in the brand, stewarding the brand across difference channels.

For the brand’s biggest clients, though, there has to be 360 degree teams managing them across the media options, especially since most agencies today ask for print and multimedia “bundles”.

According to Donald Kummerfeld, president & CEO, FIPP (International Federation of the Periodical Press), 75% of Vogue’s record 700+ ad pages in a single edition were sold bundled with something else.

Donald Kummerfeld

Kummerfeld also said with online properties, publishers should focus on profit, not revenue, because margins are “way higher” online than in print.

Zieser put things into perspective when he responded to a question from the floor on how much revenue Meredith today makes from online: “Our total revenue is two billion and, 100 million of that is purely from online.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yo dawg, we're the MDA, peace out!... word

It is one of those moments when you don’t know whether to laugh, to cry, to roll your eyes or to just have a faint aching in your heart echoing your pity after watching something absolutely ludicrous (to some), but certainly new, unheard of and shall I say, different.

Yup, it’s the MDA Senior Management Rap!

Reports say that the rap video was meant to show a lighter side of the management and the ability to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to spearheading creativity. Well, the first part has certainly been achieved…we hear it has definitely generated much laughter. As for walking the talk, that’s where it gets a little grey around the edges. Some don’t appreciate the organization’s efforts and wouldn’t consider that ‘creative’.

AsiaOne even reported it here giving us even more stats on how well the video is doing.

But somehow these guys from the MDA decided that to really showcase their ability to think out of the box and passion for developing Singapore as a creative hub, they had to really get down with the flo' yo'!

Question is: Is having top line executives and managers bop to the beat and mouth lyrics like “Experimentation is my cup of tea” going to help them with their many goals of ushering Singapore media onto the world stage?

Despite all the flack, one must admit that seeing a different side of the govt regulatory body has its merits. It demonstrates their willingness to be open, to change with the times and to not alienate itself from current trends. It makes you realise these guys have a sense of humour as well, not bad for a country once dubbed ‘uptight’. And that’s encouraging for the future of our media growth, even if we don’t dig their dance moves. After all, these guys have big plans for the Singapore media industry, as rapped about in the video.

But then before embarking on a corporate rap video, maybe they should’ve given it more consideration. Because having a mass rap party with senior managers while delivering their corporate vision, goals and daily operations takes quite a lot to pull off successfully.

Let’s analyze this from all angles, shall we?

Why this video is kinda cringe-worthy:

1. Rap uses concise, catchy and succinct sentences. The long sentences in the rap sounded like a normal speech these guys would give except they rhyme and it was spoken in a "rappish" manner. And the depth behind those words...I mean, RAP never had DEPTH! Most raps are either about sex, ice, rock (aka jewellery), being all glamorous or being so damn hot, sex, violence, did I mention sex?

2. It wasn't really rap rap, y'know waddamean? They had the CEO stand there and read some lines in a weird tone of voice and passed it off as rap...just cos' it rhymed and followed to the beat!

3. You can tell the lyrics are propaganda and PR-approved.

4. Sometimes it takes more than putting words like 'y'all' and 'rock-on' together with your message to make your message seem cool. Rap is all about the culture, the 'cool' factor right?

But don't you think "yo yo singapore rock on! We strive for the best yeah yeah you bet, and we’ll put singapore on world stage, go girl!" sounds kinda off? Yeah, I thought so.

Much less the lines in this rap. Check this out: "They call me the HDTV guy, my tasks include internal systems integration; HRFIS, PMP to iTrax, please stay tuned, next up channel X!" Er....ok.

5. Has any other government in the world done this?!

6. If it ain't comfortable, it ain't meant to be done. Some of them just look stiff. If you don't feel good or comfortable doing it, don't. If you really have to make a rap video, get people who are really enthusiastic about it.

7. They had a guy wearing a 'superman' looking costume, complete with red underwear worn outside, standing on top of some building. 'Nuff said.

Why this video is a way:

1. The way these senior guys danced...let’s face it, it’s kinda cute. There's something endearing about seeing seemingly ‘older therefore not so cool’ and ‘professional’ people try to dance and be hip. (I meant older than most people who rap properly)

2. They were actually gung-ho enough to do this, when they probably know they might (or rather, will) get embarrassed. Or wait, maybe the thought never occurred to them.

3. Some of them actually look like they were enjoying themselves…complete with happy dance moves and genuine smiles. 

4. The way it's so "awwww"-inducing when you see 'em old guys trying to do something they think will really help 'em showcase their creativity (dancing so cutely and all) when you know it's not really working. But they did get a lot of attention; I suppose that's good enough.

5. Has any other govt in the world done this? :) We’re original, man!

In conclusion, though many can criticize their attempt (c'mon lah, not all of us can dance like Justin Timberlake either…) at least it goes to show these guys are open enough to do a rap video...seriously, which crazy government body has the guts to do that?

Singapore does.

And in a weird way, though people all over the world may laugh, I'm kinda proud of them simply cos' of that. (Plus, these guys demonstrated their ability to entertain!)

Okay, thank goodness I can stop using rappy words like 'y'all'...

Signing off!

Phyllis Toh

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LV does something...and wins [video]

For a brand that vigorously fights to protect its trademark goods from the mass interest of counterfeiters worldwide, Louis Vuitton must have been surprised to see Britney Spears ripping off the brand for her video ‘Do Something’.

It’s been a while now since the video aired on MTV and on sites such as YouTube but on Monday LV won a lawsuit that alleged the video violated counterfeiting laws by showing a pink dashboard with designs similar to the brand’s Cherry Blossoms design. A Paris court has not punished Britney but instead ordered Sony BMG and MTV online to stop marketing the video.

I guess the sight of Britney tapping her fingers on the dashboard from inside her pink Hummer, was a little too much for LV to not do anything – especially since the brand already is a prime target for counterfeiters.

Or perhaps they watched the entire video and felt compelled to respond to her numerous requests for someone to ‘Do Something’.

The video is still on YouTube and the offending bit is about 30 seconds into the video...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tipped out [video]

Last week Guinness launched its £10 million (S$30 million) ad, the most expensive TVC in its marketing history turned a village in Argentina into a giant domino launch pad equipped with flaming hay bales and cars, and hundreds of villagers.

Called ‘Tipping Point’ the ad was directed by Nicolai Fugslig, he’s the guy who did the Sony Bravia’s ‘Balls’ ad, and bears similarities to that Honda ‘Cog’ ad which illustrated the domino effect with car parts.

Not bad… getting the books towards the end of the ad to give the illusion of a pint of stout being poured was the best part for me but I’ll never know how the heck they got it to pause and go up again (which is the correct way to pour Guinness stout isn’t it?).

I still think the Honda ad has the cool factor nailed down though…we’ll have to wait and see how viral this ad becomes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Y&R wears its heart on the ST

Y&R made a bold statement to the public today via a full page ad in The Straits Times, four days after declining to contest for the SingTel account which is currently up for grabs.

The ad features names of famous partnerships between musicians, filmmakers, sportsmen, cartoonists, comedians, songwriters, and last on the list was “SingTel and Y&R”. (I apologise for the crappy picture, any suggestions on how to improve it?)

The list also included the dates for which the partnerships endured but none were as long as that of SingTel and Y&R which was a whopping 19 years.

As with any agency client relationship, there’re always ups and downs and good times and bad times but this ad really does position Y&R as a big-hearted agency which is wishing its client all the best. It doesn’t matter the real motivation behind the ad, the idea is they put their money where their mouth is and forked out money for an expensive ST ad. (Anyone knows how much was spent? Just curious)

SingTel previously maintained Leo Burnett and Y&R as joint incumbents on the above the line responsibilities while below the line work was done by a number of small agencies but consolidated its entire business with Y&R in 2004.

The business came up for pitch on 13 September and don’t hold your breath for 31 December when the 16-week process is supposed to come to an end.

Good luck to BatesAsia, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett – which has a nice advantage over the rest from its past experience with the client I’m sure.

The last time I remember an agency splashed out on a full-page ad for itself was Publicis in December 2004. Many of you may remember how you felt when you opened the papers that morning and gasped when you saw the ad asking for a meeting with SIA’s CEO Chew Choon Seng. I remember it was timed to coincide with a visit from a Publicis boss – was it Maurice Levy?

The Straits Times and Today both carried stories on how SIA was less than impressed with the stunt.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Loo Loo skip to the Loo

Belgium is famous for its beer, waffles, the artist Jan Van Eyck and well also the recently retired Tennis star Kim Clijsters..But this digital campaign from the Belgian arm of ING Bank will put it on the world map for a great campaign well done.

Totally wicked and digustingly splendid. Its a shame they did not bank in (pun intended) more on interactivity. It would definitely be memorable just like BK's Subservient Chicken when it first sprung up in the digital airways years back.

All these to sell a zero Euro ING Lion Credit and using the WC as first point of contact... that's definitely a first for any bank anywhere.For the lazy folks with bad wireless, here are some screen shots but please go invest in a better router or steal your neighbour's connection or head to Starbucks. It's worth a watch.

However it did make me think...Imagine if they expanded the campaign globally and localised the loos for different markets. Yuuucks...Toilets are pretty nasty in Singapore, even legendary in China, if they have used that as the prototype it would have been frightful and downright distasteful.

NEW POST! Swapping spaces for faces

I had a schoolyard moment the other day when I asked a long lost friend to add me to her Facebook friends and she replied ‘actually I’m with Spaces’. OMG! I thought (I told you it was a school yard moment).

I remember when I was at school, yeah it was a few years ago, you just had to make sure you had the right shoes and the right school bag, so it was imperative when your Mum went shopping for school supplies at the start of the year that you went with her to politely inform her what was in this year. Not doing so could commit you to a year of being humiliated at best and bashed in the school yard at worse. Despite what a lot of marketing tells you, being a young consumer is more about conforming and fitting in than it is about individuality and standing out.

The new equivalent faux pas (to turning up with the wrong brand of sports shoes to school), and it now goes well beyond the schoolyard, is belonging to the wrong social network. My friend’s view was that she’s “hype-er sensitive” ie she can’t stand anything that is over-hyped and therefore signed up with Windows Live Spaces.

I replied “that’s all well and good but I am afraid that means we can’t be friends”. She was a little shocked and I wasn’t kidding, because the networks don’t talk to each other she can’t become my friend in Facebook and since I already have a network of friends I am sure as hell not moving across the Spaces.

Today I will ring her and inform her, in case she hasn’t heard, that even Microsoft is now signed up to Facebook, well not so much signed as the owner of a small 1.6 % sliver of the company which it bought for US$250 million. Holy internet bubble Batman!

It does sound a little extravagant in a climate where companies are already wondering if they may have been a little overzealous with their web 2.0 shopping lists, eg eBay which analysts outside the company and a few people inside it, think paid considerably more than they should have for the wonderful VOIP platform, Skype.

However the blogging community this morning thinks the Microsoft buy in to Facebook could make some sense as it will involve serving ads to a community of 50 million users – but then some suggest that the reason Spaces has had a luke warm reception in the face of the rapidly spreading Facebook epidemic is exactly because it serves ads on people’s Spaces.

Mind you the blogging community also seems more concerned with whether 22-year-old co-founder Mark Zuckerberg will now by a private party jet like Google’s founders.
…and everyone thought he was an idiot to turn down a US$1 billion offer for the whole of Facebook from Yahoo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Judas phones it in [video]

Can mixing iconic moments in religion with advertising work? If it does then Iceland Telecom Siminn and Sony Ericsson should expect a dramatic increase in 3G mobile phone usage very shortly, after all, it doesn’t get much more controversial than injecting humour into an ad featuring the Last Supper, Jesus, and Judas, right?

It was Adrants that brought to my attention the ad which starts off in the Last Supper setting with Jesus looking for the absent Judas, and ends with Jesus discovering Judas’ worst kept secret (Like Adrants my biblical skills are not up to scratch so my understanding was that Jesus sees Judas with the soldiers and figures out he will get betrayed?).

So how does Jesus see all this? 3G technology of course…

Admittedly, my free-thinking self found the ad pretty amusing and the tagline at the end, ‘3G – changing the course of history’, was pretty darn funny BUT is it good branding and will it even get consumers to spend? I think it stands a chance if people have a sense of humour – there a lot more Last Supper ads in poorer taste than this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Of Fallon-y and the Bunny Double...

We blogged about Sony Bravia's Bunnies last week. But boy we never knew that bloggers worldwide would be as passionate and heated up on it as it is seen in this blog

Agency Spy: Fallon-Passion ripped off concept for Play-Doh

Is this an issue of great minds think alike or is there truth in the finger pointing sessions - Fallon+Passion's blatant ripping off Kozyndan's limited edition bunny prints and also of their Bunny-wave based on Hokusai's "Great Wave off Kana gawa"?

The couple duo based in LA alleges that Passion approached them previously for samples

Kozyndan's flickr blog post


Apparently Sony has responded to the accusations on Adrants and currently the blog's still waiting for the agency+production house's reply.

Sony's reply on Adrants

Copy-bunny or sheer coincidence? You decide.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sony features Bunnies and Pyramids [video]

The latest installment in the award-winning Sony Bravia TVC stable is one entitled 'Pyramids' and created by Singapore-based regional ECD for Y&R Brands, Rowan Chanen.

This ad comes close on the heels of a previous 'Bunnies' TVC which features a hell lot of CGI on play-doh bunnies bouncing around town, and was created by Fallon UK.

OK now take a look at the Making Of video for 'Bunnies'.

Fallon UK was behind the highly awarded 'Balls' TVC, the first in the series.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gorilla, no I mean guerilla tactics by is not new to hijacking events and bringing its own brand of in-your-face humour to the traditionally boring CRM business.

Yesterday, it pulled another cheeky one. This time outside a competitor’s event – the Oracle/Gartner CRM breakfast briefing.

Led by the senior director of marketing, the Salesforce team positioned themselves at “strategic entry points” into Raffles Hotel and gave attendees to the breakfast a "Get me out of here!" flyer that contained:

1) Free taxi voucher from the event back to their office

2) Details of a Gartner Magic Quadrant report that shows rated higher than Oracle

3) A free 30-day trial of

According to Salesforce, the reaction from attendees “ranged from surprised to outright laughter” but the team decided to leave after an Oracle partner discovered them and got “a little frustrated”. The team estimated they managed to cover 30% to 50% of the attendees.

Definitely an arresting idea – it’s refreshing, it got the attention of the key people it wanted to reach, it made its point loud and clear. No doubt if Salesforce made a large enough impact interested parties at the event would pose the question to Oracle to find out what the difference between the two offerings were and make their own educated decision on what to buy – it’s what customers should be asking anyway, nothing wrong with that.

But you know what? I think it’s fun companies can have a laugh together with the competition and foster a healthy competitive environment. It would be great to see an Oracle executive grabbing his mid-section and laughing uncontrollably at the Long Bar after the event over a beer with a Salesforce chief.

I imagine they’d be laughing about how the Salesforce team pulled a really slick one on Oracle, but then again they may also be chuckling about the successful Gorilla initiative, so says the Salesforce marketing director.



Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An online campaign to boycott Kettle Foods has launched following reports of anti-trade union behaviour at its Norwich factory – two groups, Boycott Kettle Crisps for attacks on workers and Boycott Kettle Crisps: the Anti-Trade Union snack, have been formed on Facebook.

The groups have already attracted well over 100 members while debate on whether or not to boycott the crispmaker has made its way to other websites as well.

The trouble started when the press revealed that US union busters were called in to deter workers at a factory from joining a union. So what we are seeing here is another example of the power consumers now have to voice their opinions on a brand’s behaviour. For now the Kettle situation is not a full blown PR disaster, but already there’s a fair amount of anti-kettle sentiments online – enough for me to hear about it!

Search the phrase Kettle Chips in Google, on the first page of the search results an article from the Guardian reporting the company’s actions at its Norwich factory can easily be found

Having a bunch of dedicated netizens going around saying that they, along with their family and friends, will never ever buy another Kettle product again is not exactly a great way to build up strong brand affinity. Especially if they are saying things like, buying Kettle Chips means you support union-busting activities and unfair treatment of workers.

According to the report in the Guardian, the company does appear to have a decent reputation when it comes to unions BUT the problem is Kettle seems content to keep silent about the issue.

Another mistake perhaps…

Monday, October 08, 2007

Keep the Onslaught coming

Well it’s only been six days since ‘Dove Onslaught’, the follow up to the brands highly viral and successful ‘Evolution’ campaign, was uploaded to YouTube and early signs indicate that it could be just as effective.

The video, which again showed the nasty side of the beauty industry, not only pushed me enough to make a comment but post this blog as well, and in less than a week on YouTube, it has already generated 515 other comments from users. Of course not all the comments are good ones and not all say how wonderful Dove and Unilever are for launching the campaign, but the point is – a real conversation is taking place amongst consumers and about the brand too.

The insights that can be learned from this are priceless...more please!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Friday Night Sights

Now that the dust has well and truly settled on the IAS ACTIVE Challenge’s industry-only five-a-side football tournament at The Cage, which was organised by Marketing – it’s time to take a moment and remember what was good, bad and ugly about it.

In the end, TBWA are the champs but there are no chumps in this tournament as it was all done for charity, meaning we raised money for a scholarship fund to sponsor university level marketing students in Singapore.

When you think of the word ‘charity’ a few things may come to mind.

1) NKF
2) An act of kindness on a fellow human being.
3) Groups of highly competitive and advertising industry blooded males donating money to kick each other until a winner is found.

We picked the third option.

So I can really only comment on the things I saw from my scorers position on Pitch 1 and that means I did miss out on watching a couple of (by all accounts) competitive teams going at it – The Euro Stars team was mentioned to me a couple of times.

Back on pitch 1, after hours of round robin play it was clear that DDB Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi were the teams to beat as both squads easily made it through to the semi-finals – and playing good football along the way as well (one touch stuff from DDB at times!). If you want to find out more about the actual results you can check out that story here.

As for this blog post, it’s simply my observations and I hope you will share some of yours with me.

The Good:
• $50,000 was raised!

• Good vocal support (Publicis comes to mind with all the banners and cheerleaders, not to mention the mini-buses, packed dinners, and didn’t they bring their own booze as well?

• Entertaining matches – wouldn’t have expected any less from a bunch of creatives though!
• Competitive spirit was alive and kicking (pun intended) – two players come to mind, such as Stephen Mangham and Jeffrey Seah.

• Classy goals – Saatchis get my vote on this one, with Strand (I think his name is Felix) the man scoring a few crackers, not to mention bagging a hat-trick. Actually the Saatchis team had more than a few flair players, too bad they couldn’t convert a single penalty in the Finals.

The Bad:
• Apart from Saatchi’s goalkeeper who was rightly dubbed The 1, and of course TBWA’s goalkeeper as well, who I will call The Wall (actually his name is Alex) – the goalkeeping throughout the tournament was pretty darn poor.

• Where’s the controversy? All football tournaments have some and surely someone must have spotted something? I was too busy trying to get the scores right!

• $5 beers although not as bad as when I went to watch the Contender where a can of Tiger set me back $10.

The Surprising:
• I have to give credit where credit is due – when I saw Richard Bleasdale pull on the DDB jersey I wasn’t expecting to see him terrorise the opposition but he certainly did!

• James Yip actually managed to keep his composure and kick the ball during the opening ceremony after his previous attempt resulted in an ‘air shot’ and sent his leather shoe goal bound – well done James.

• Tempers remained fairly calm on Pitch 1 but I heard it was a different story on Pitch 2.

Till next year then...

What’s in a name? Lots apparently.

I’ve got a pretty uncommon name thanks to my aunt. So once a senior I knew from the Library Club (I was a geek. Ok…Still am) came up and asked me how my name was spelt, I gamely replied. Next I knew, there was another Cherisse in school. What made it worse was that we had mutual friends and soon I was saying and doing things I never knew about. Gosh was I mad but there was nothing I could do.

Silly childish stunts from another age yes but these are all too common in the marketplace with little sprout-ups mimicking the names of more famous established global predecessors by adding Pte Ltd or Sdh Bhd or Co Ltd and the likes.

1. Pure Coincidence
2. Totally Deliberate

*coughs* most of the time 2 and I shan’t give examples of BIG COMPANY VS COPYCAT lest I get a legal letter rather than a paycheck as I step in to my second month with Marketing.

We know all about free-riders. They turn up at food fares poking conveyor-belt-style at samples, or are acquaintances turned best pals when they know you drive after a night out. Similarly these folks are like such, they simply piggy-bag on big names, grovelling and shoving their snouts into market pie - hoping to make a buck from appellation - fleecing unwitting clients. And many do succeed.

Well as the saying goes 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' but somehow it does make you grimace and scrunch your face when you’re the person in question. And if you’re an industry bigwig and with spare change and trademarks just sue the pants out of the other party.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Unforgivable but is he right?

What do you do when your latest 30- and 60-second spots are ruled to be too raunchy for TV? You bring it online of course! And if you’re rap mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, you get mad and have the online version un-edited and longer than the ‘made for TV versions’.

You can check out the ‘too sexy for TV’ video here, and the crux of the plot is about a chance meeting with a model (played by real-life model, Jessica Gomez) at a trendy hotel bar. ‘Diddy’ and the model exchange flirtatious stares which signal the beginning for a night of passion. Oh yeah, the ad or ‘movietisment’ as said by Combs, was done to promote his female fragrance product, Unforgivable Women, following the 2006 launch of the men’s fragrance called Unforgivable.

The rap industry has long described Combs as a marketing genius and this latest incident may give us the chance to see how clever this move could be. Of course his hand was forced when US TV executives refused to air an un-edited version of his movietisment, but by him causing enough fuss for mainstream media to pick up on the story, and by defying those TV executives with the online full version (which is in keeping with his Bad Boy Entertainment branding) – I’ll be waiting to see if the video successfully goes viral.

At last night’s Emmy Awards, I recall someone saying that TV is still the most influential medium but marketers by now, all know the power of the Internet and the phenomenal things it can do for your brand. Will there ever be a time when marketers, given only one option, would pick online over TV without hesitation?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Battle of the flags

In case you missed it, yesterday we reported on The Flag Project appearing in The D&AD Annual 2007. Basically the project had D&AD flags sent to leading players across the advertising industry, with the challenge to do ‘something - anything' with it. Over 100 photographs were submitted and we have a couple of submissions here for you guys.

By Eike Koenig from HORT, Frankfurt, Germany.

By John Jay, Photographer, Bruce Wolf for Studio J.

By Lisa Smith from Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

By Niko Stumpo from Hanazuki, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

An online exhibition is supposed to be available today at but at the time of posting the link is not working.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crowbar comedy

It's been a while since my last blog but this was just too funny not to share. It's a "shocking" video clip of what it takes to make the Crowbars a truly unique event. Don't forget to spot the talent in the clip. Enjoy...

Friday, July 27, 2007

After resigning account, agency auctions off the brand merchandise

I received an email this afternoon that made me raise my eyebrows and tickled me enough to want to blog about it immediately.

The subject read: "BBH Asia-Pacific sent you this eBay item: Unwanted Tiger Beers X 24".
It was sent by: "eBay member: []"

BBH resigned the Tiger Beer account a while back. Now it is selling off its ex-client's leftover beer? (can beer ever be 'leftover'? us at Marketing magazine usually drink it lovingly)

So I quickly clicked through to the eBay site address provided and found a real auction for a carton of Tiger Beer going for a whopping $120 and here is what the description said:


Unwanted crate of Tiger Beer! Pick-up only at our new BBH Asia-Pacific office: 5 Magazine Road, #03-03 Central Mall, Singapore 059571. Thanks for shopping!!!!!!

Clicking through to the other items the "seller" has, brought me to this:

I don't know how APB will feel about this but I did get a good laugh after realising it was a marketing stunt to tell everyone the agency was moving house.

I particularly like the "coasters aka business cards" (why didn't I do the same for my old cards!) and of course, the "Coffee cup used by Sir John Hegarty (Unwashed!!!!!!!)". I can't say the same for Steve's body comb though... I didn't know there were combs for this purpose.


Will monitor to see who actually bids for this bunch of junk. Nice one BBH! I wonder which brand of beer guests will be served at your office warming party? *chuckle*

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Sicko corporate blogging debate

Corporate blogging – those two words seem worlds apart in the context of Singapore. Even as I type this sentence out, 70% of voters on Marketing’s weekly snap poll felt that corporate blogging wouldn’t even take off in Asia yet alone succeed in Singapore.

Many heads of organisations here, and correct me if I am wrong, feel the blogosphere (sorry guys I know everyone hates that word) isn’t a safe place for their brands to be – afraid of criticisms and half truths I assume.

The thing is – the argument for and against companies engaging in corporate blogging are both valid and once the brand decides to start a blog, then the rules of engagement further murky the water on what’s acceptable or not. Yes, even the blogosphere has self govern rules amongst bloggers on what’s acceptable corporate blogging decorum.

So let’s have a look at a recent corporate blogging mishap from a company which has been known to use blogs to reach the public – Google.

The incident came about after Google employee, Lauren Turner went on the offensive over the latest Michael Moore movie ‘Sicko’ in which he takes a swing at the highly profitable American health industry. Turner’s comments on the then impending release of movie went like this:

“While legislators, litigators, and patient groups are growing excited, others among us are growing anxious. And why wouldn’t they? Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst. Moore’s film portrays the industry as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare’s interest in patient well-being and care,”

“Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of healthcare as a whole. With all the coverage, it’s a shame no one focuses on the industry’s numerous prescription programs, charity services, and philanthropy efforts,” she wrote.

What’s the big deal you may ask? Well she posted the article in an official Google blog, thus blurring the line between ‘own opinions’ and ‘company opinions’. Turner later said her post contained her views and her views only but then included in her post was a plug for Google services.

“Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?”

“We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message,”

If you’re interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We’d love to hear from you,” she wrote.

It wasn’t clear whose opinions she was expressing and the bloggers went to work, blasting the company for catering to the insurance industry and for its increasingly closer ties with corporate advertising.

Undeserved heat or are you with the bloggers on this one? You tell me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Give speeding the little finger

This is a little out of market but I saw the latest Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)New South Wales anti-speeding ad and had to share it with you guys.

The TVC ad, which ran on 24 June, uses a belittling gesture hoping to apply sufficient peer pressure against young drivers who speed. The ad ran in the lead up to the RTA enforcing tougher restrictions for P-plate and learner drivers.


So what did you think? Will the finger gesture implying a driver has a small penis when he drives dangerously actually stop them from speeding? Maybe. As much as i thought that this 'No one thinks big of you' campaign was amusing -- I am undecided on its effectiveness in curbing speeding (But I am leaning slightly in favour of it being affective).

I know what the RTA were trying to do, sick of ads and unconvinced of the effectivess of showing the serious injury and death speeding can cause, they have taken a different approach "because when it comes to speeding, no one thinks big of you. It purposely talks to young guys in their language".

I would say it definitely speaks to "young guys in their language" but while trawling through YouTube to find the TVC -- once i found it there were interesting user comments there. One guy made a good point saying "there is not a single act of speeding in the entire advertisment... Its all cases of neg driving! The ending should read NEG DRIVING, NO ONE THINKS BIG OF YOU... the message would make as much sence if it said SMOKING WHEN PREGNANT HARMS YOUR BABY, both of which have nothing to do with the footage!"

Oh well, at least it has gotten people's attention and in my book, easily beats those horrible speeding ads I see sometimes at the cinema and even on CH 5. You know what i am talking about -- the one with the crying voice overs and B-movie grade gore.

The RTA ad was done by Clemenger BBDO and the production company was

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Listen up people, listen up!!

This was the main takeaway at this morning’s cosy Carat-led breakfast event on Consumer Generated Brands – Listen to your consumers.

Patrick Stahle, Carat Asia Pacific’s regional CEO hosted the session at the Chijmes courtyard with a roomful of clients and partners and led a group of four panellists in discussing the topic.

The speakers were:

Barney Loehnis, Asia Pacific network director, Isobar

Tom Sipple, managing director, Yahoo Southeast Asia

Craig Harvey, director – media research, Synovate Asia Pacific

Walt Mayo, general manager, home and small business, Dell Asia Pacific

Loehnis, Sipple, Harvey and Mayo. Apologies for the terrible photo, I wasn't planning on taking any pictures and this was what my Nokia E61i managed with NO LIGHTING plus I was sitting in the fourth row. Not bad eh?

I just wanted to share with you a few of the more interesting soundbites that we were privy to. You will also see a few more names – these are people who asked questions to the panel.

Mayo: consumers have always been in control of brands but the difference now is that they are in much more control, things are happening much faster and more innovatively. You (the brand) are being defined every day.

Harvey: The best branding success is having consumers tell the story as opposed to you telling the story

Mayo: The question is how do you directly engage customers to help you deliver more value to them? We using online suggestion/feedback boxes. We have people tell us they want this and that operating system with their PC and we work on those suggestions.

(I’m not sure but this is most probably) Harvey: Everyone wants their brands to get involved in the conversation. They key is creating a win-win situation in which both brands and consumers get something out of it. Figure out what makes your brand relevant to them.

Sipple: Companies who listen to their consumers are the ones who will succeed.

Loehnis: The exciting things are going back to analog. A handwritten letter for example is the most exciting thing I can receive in the morning. [laughter] If people are going to be excited by a message, it has to happen through ground-swell so digital’s the best way.

Now all advertising is new advertising, because media, like TV, are getting more interactive and everything’s changing.

Kim Walker, CEO & president for Asia, M&C Saatchi: Don’t get intoxicated with the notion of engagement because unless consumers are familiar / know the brands, they can’t engage with them. The rules have to change. You can’t just talk to them, you have to listen to them.

Chris Schauman, regional partner manager, MSN Southeast, Asia Microsoft Operations: 80% of people don’t believe what brands say about themselves. Essentially the traditional marketing model is over!

Stahle: Traditional advertising is getting very very complicated. Companies today more than before have to live their values.

Steve Garton, global head of media, Synovate: How is retail going to fit in?

Mayo: I don’t know but there have been indicators of a slowdown/ceiling in the amount people spend online.

Harvey: We’re living in the age of accountability – don’t under invest in research!

Sipple: Don’t be afraid, open up and listen to what consumers are saying about you.

Mayo: Be honest, truthful about what you’re trying to provide people.

Loehnis: Be creative – figure out what you’re trying to drive and invest in measurement.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Big Cheese

So it didn't win any metal at this years Cannes Film Lions category but it did turn out to be Singapore's only nomination in that particular award.

Its called 'The Big Cheese' so i'll keep this entry short so you can get on to watching the video, and i'll try my best to keep out any cheesy references -- wouldn't want to cheese anyone off you see.

The spot was done by Batey Ads for CNF (Asia) to promote Guinness and is a twist on the 'Good things come to those who wait' campaign.

Drop me a link if you see any other TVCs from our local agencies which may be worth a mention..

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tears in Heaven

For some reason when I read on the Daily Swarm that Saatchi & Saatchi had been fired by the creators of Dr. Martens, Airwair for controversial ads – my brain immediately triggered off memory impulses of the time when its China agency got in trouble with Lego, but it turns out the two incidents couldn’t be more different from one another.

The Lego controversy, if you guys can remember, had two Saatchi creatives create and post fake ads for NON-client Lego, referencing of all things, the World Trade Centre and the devastation of the Boxing Day Tsunami. The two offenders subsequently got the sack for “illegally using the agency’s name as well as its senior director’s name behind the ads without consent” BUT the intense blogospheric and online pressure for heads to roll must have had a say in the decision as well. Anyways, hopefully they have moved on, everyone makes mistakes – if anyone knows what happened to them, do let us know and post a comment.

So back to the Dr. Martens controversy – if you hadn’t already heard by now, Saatchi & Saatchi London produced ads showing deceased rocker icons such as Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer, in heaven wearing Dr. Martens footwear. Apparently the ads were approved to run as a one-off in a selected publication but an individual who Saatchi says they are “considering the ongoing employment” off, went on to post the ads on a US advertising website.

Yes they guy was wrong for doing that but I am going to let go with an opinion and say that I liked the ads and prior to this controversy, I had heard of at least one of the rockers did in fact like to wear Dr. Martens.

So what now?

Dr. Martens fired Saatchi & Saatchi and has since released a statement claiming they had not approved the ads etc, so I guess some more head will roll which is further proof (as if we needed any) that the online community or the community using digital means of communication, can and will be heard…


Friday, May 25, 2007

The Corporate Blogging conversation

Last night’s Blogout event organised by a bunch of young people known as The Digital Movement was quite a hit, with a room packed full of blogging enthusiasts doing what they do best – sharing their thoughts.

You can imagine how noisy the room was, with five tables with about 10 chairs each, crowded around by different bloggers at times, each straining to hear what others were saying while trying to squeeze in some comments of their own.

I found myself at the table discussing corporate blogging, and what started out as a ‘look and see’ thing for me turned into a full-on participative and learning experience.

Some of those at the table with me were Melvin Yuan of Burson-Marsteller and, Ming Shen Cheo of, Benjamin Koe of Hill & Knowlton, Bernard of, Darius (I didn’t get his name card), Clarice Chiam, Priscilla Teo of Fulford PR, Angeline Yeo of Marketing’s sister publication Procurement magazine, Huang Renzhi of The Digital Movement, and others.

We spoke about almost the whole spectrum of corporate blogging, covering why companies should start a blog (should it just start one then set a direction or vice versa?), should the CEO alone blog or should everyone in the company be encouraged to blog and if so, won’t it be confusing to have 200 different voices all talking at once in one blog…

We basically agreed:

  1. you have to have some idea of what you want to achieve when you start a blog related to you company / business
  2. you have to know who your target audience is
  3. you have to have something interesting to say, or else why say it
  4. and most importantly, you have to be honest.

I think that last point was the most important thing I took away from the event. You see, the worry that marketers in Singapore have, and I’m sure in most parts of the world too, is they cannot deal with negative comments and criticism from readers of the blogs. Either that, or they don’t want to have to deal with these things.

That may possibly be the reason why companies like Apple made a rule that does not allow employees to blog on anything related to the company. But I am assuming this is the reason.

Anyway, I asked Melvin Yuan this and his answer made me almost kick myself. He said if your company is an honest one that does not have anything to hide, and you happen to get some nasty comments from people, you will have no problems countering those attacks with fair responses. In fact, you may not even have to bother making any counter arguments because other bloggers will speak up for you.

So the blogosphere ‘self-governs’ and self corrects, which is exactly what the internet is all about. Eureka! No excuse for marketers now. If you’re not blogging soon, I’ll assume it’s because you have nothing interesting to say – don’t pretend it’s otherwise.

Just another thing before I sign off: I’m glad I learnt what is Twittering! Another social networking thing which basically keeps your friends in the loop on what you are doing at any particular point in time. Simple smsed to the page or by logging into the site on your laptop, you can type up to 140 words on what you’re doing and see what your friends are up to as well.

Anyway, kudos to The Digital Movement for pulling off an interesting event.

Photos from Nic of Microsoft

Monday, May 21, 2007

Plastic bags: more than meets the eye

The IKEA ‘No more free plastic bags’ campaign has certainly help market the company as an environmentally concerned organisation, and the results show that this CSR initiative has also generated some extra dollars as well.

The campaign launched on 22 April 2007 April, and results up to the 16 May show that in the same period, IKEA would have given out an estimated 288,000 plastic bags, but only 45,686 were purchased, resulting in an 84% in reduction. In response to IKEA now charging for its previously free plastic bags, 14,595 have subsequently been sold in that period which IKEA says is equivalent to over a 2000% increase in sales (something tells me that I was the only person who actually bought a bag before 22 April).

Hats off to the IKEA brand though for managing to cut costs, help out the environment, and further strengthen ties with existing customers despite charging them for something they initially got for free.

Interestingly enough, on the topic of the evils of plastic bags, creative director for Leo Burnett, Alex Lim dropped us an email containing a little known plastic bag fact from Japan. As to be expected from Japan, it’s a little quirky if not hilarious!

Over to you Alex:

“Plastic bags certainly contribute to a degree of environmental chaos, but ask most people and they will say it’s 'handy', 'practical' and 'hygenic'. The carrier bag goes back at least to ancient Egypt when cotton was first spun. After 3,400 years, this simple invention is still part of our lives,”

“During a recent trip to Japan, I was amused to find in my hotel room a nicely packed 36”x 25” clear plastic bag. Looking at the pictograms, I realized this simple lightweight plastic bag, besides being a handy carrier – can also save my life in the event of fire,”

“If I inflate it and tie it around my head, it should protect me from smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. Well…that’s if I don’t suffocate myself to death first”.

Well there you have it, plastic bags can save your lives in a fire – lets just hope the heat from the fire doesn’t melt the plastic to your face…ouch.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The truth can be fiction

We are less than three months away from the launch of the seventh and final Harry Potter book and hype has already started to bubble into a standoff between hardcore fans and so called ‘spoilers’ – publicity stunt perhaps?

The problem started late April when a leading Harry Potter fan site,, started receiving ‘spoiler’ mail from sources claiming to have the inside track on the contents and ultimately the outcome of the final storyline. This upset the leaky cauldron people and angered them enough to post this message on their site.

“If Harry dies, we don't want to know about it until J.K. Rowling decides to tell us. And if you decide to tell us before that, you'll incur the wrath of a staff of almost 200, most of whom have been waiting almost 10 years for these final revelations and can NEVER get back the moment you rob by spoiling them.”

It’s the nature of the online space for users to share information (whether it is true or false) instantaneously with one another and sometimes in the process create commercial success for others like the Blair Witch Project for example.

So this could simply be a cleverly planned publicity stunt designed to ruffle the right sorts of feathers in a bid to generate pre-launch hype and excitement, reminding everyone that the countdown to the final Harry Potter book is coming to an end.

Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling has already told fans that she will kill off two major characters in this final installation, titled Deathly Hallows, so could this be the next step in team Potter’s marketing scheme to guarantee themselves a fitting finale to what has been an amazing success story. Reports suggest that has already received over one million pre-orders for the book – expect that figure to rise in the coming months.

Rowling, herself felt compelled to respond to the comments posted on the leaky cauldron fan site by writing on her site, “…the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon”.

“I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going. Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won't stop people buying the book, they never have - all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book”.

Whatever it is, the book is going to sell well but I just wonder about all these free publicity news stories sometimes – are they really genuine or just the result of another marketing gimmick?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

In case you haven’t heard, the Ribena apology ads are out. Haven’t been able to find the actual video online yet, but from all reports, the TVC shows MD for GSK Consumer Healthcare in Australia, John Sayers addressing the audience in an apologetic manner.

He apologises for Ribena giving the impression that its ready-to-drink range of juices contains four times level of Vitamin C compared to orange juice.

“The testing method we used to determine the level of vitamin C in the ready-to-drink Ribena products were unreliable but we were unaware of it at the time. We know we’ve got a lot of work to do if we hope to rebuild consumer trust in the brand. But we’re totally committed to doing the right thing about fixing this issue.”

The ‘I am sorry’ campaign runs in print as well with a half-page apology published in Australia’s four main Saturday newspapers twice over a month. The court order for the apology ads only applies to the Australia and New Zealand region as it was two NZ school girls who uncovered the blackcurrant truths in their science experiment.

A NZ court then ordered GSK to run corrective advertising and that’s where we stand today. Have any of you guys managed to see the ads? Is it believable or does it look forced? Apparently sales of all Ribena products have dropped so they probably need to run some more ads stressing that it was just the ready-to-drink marketing which were all lies – would you trust them now though? It sort of reminds me of the McDonald TVC I saw in Australia, shortly after the Super Size Me 'scientific' findings came about. I did actually like those ads.

Note: The Ribena pictures shown here are screen shots taken from the Ribena UK site.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sex sells, but does it harm?

Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, but in Singapore it seems, too much sexy can be dangerous – especially when it comes to advertisements!

A Straits Times video report by Imelda Saad featured a 43 year old Singaporean mother of four, airing her beliefs that sexy ads can lead people to commit sex crimes.

Why is she saying this and why is she being interviewed by the press? It started last week, when the woman, who was obviously aware of the recent ‘high profile’ spate of sex crimes reported by the Singapore media, was so appalled by a particular outdoor ad at the Tampines bus interchange, she felt compelled to write in to the Straits Times hinting at a link between such sexy ads and sex crimes.

She wrote, “One example is a gigantic poster of a scantily clad girl in a compromising pose, strategically placed to catch the eye of disembarking passengers, at the Tampines bus interchange. Some of these ads are in poor taste and some people may find them offensive. It is time the authorities came up with stricter regulations on the display of such provocative ads in public places, as well as in magazines and newspapers.
As the Chinese proverb goes, 'Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.' Let us not underestimate the influence of such images on the minds of our youth”.

She went on to say, in her video interview, that “too much of these images may culminate in them committing sexual crimes…I am certain of that”.

My first instincts are to start thrashing and bagging on her comments, because I always feel Singapore is way too conservative as it is, and as an adult, it is insulting to watch a movie already filtered through the rating systems but yet is still censored (it’s like saying you have to be at least 21 to see this movie but your mind is less capable of handling it than other 21 year olds watching in Australia so we’ll still censor it for you).

This moves us on to some of the interesting reasons on why she is upset – sexed up movie content unlike the outdoor ad, can have a controlled targeted audience, whereas, anyone walking through the crowded bus interchange is bound to see the ‘offending’ ad, young and old alike. So can or should there be stricter content restrictions for OOH mediums around Singapore? Would that make Singapore a bit of a joke to the rest of the Ad World? Do a majority of Singaporeans share the same negative vibe from seeing a pair of oversize mammary glands on a billboard?

Judging from the brief VOX pop in the video report, there are clearly those (young males included) who feel such provocative ads are a cause for concern on impressionable youths.

A point the woman stressed to Imelda Saad saying, “My son is 13 years old, I mean he is so innocent and so pure, and yes someday he may have to see, I mean I am not trying to fence him in but I don’t need him too, well he’s 13 years old and he’s gonna be excited about things and he will not understand what this is but he’s gonna feel excited and it may get him curious about pornography and it just is something that I feel is very objectionable,”.

I think despite this woman’s sincere concerns, there’s nothing wrong with sexy ads but of course a ‘fine line’ needs to be clearly defined between that and blatant pornography. Graphic media can have an effect on influencing maniacs to commit sex crimes, I agree with that, but it’s not the root cause. Imagine how boring the world would be if not just ads, but all forms of media were filtered and censored on the premise that a psychopath could maybe react to it.