Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is Twitter killing Sports?

If we needed another example of how Twitter is changing the way of sports media and how the stars communicate with their fans, two players from the All Blacks have given us just that this week.

Cory Jane and Neemia Tialata, squad members of the fearsome New Zealand rugby side currently on tour in Europe, tweeted about their non-selection for this weekend’s big test match against England before the team was officially released to mainstream media.

One can imagine it’s irked the All Black coaches, though they attempted to make light of the situation at the official team naming in London. Watch the start of this video to see coach Graham Henry’s humourous reaction to the Twitter dilemma.

This is just the latest example of how Twitter has caused problems for sports stars, with one particular NBA player, Charlie Villanueva of the Milwaukee Bucks, landing himself in hot water with management when he tweeted during a halftime break earlier this year.

Shaquille O’Neal is another NBA player addicted to Twitter, using the social media tool to trash talk opponents and share his dislike for former Orlando Magic coach Steve Van Gundy.

There are numerous other examples – including rookie Australian cricket batsman Phil Hughes tweeting about his axing from the Ashes test side in July.

Here’s an interesting (American) commentary below regarding the question whether Twitter, and social media as a whole, is killing sports.

What do you think? Should sports stars simply bypass mainstream media and use social media tools like Twitter to reach their fans? Do traditional media still have an important role to play in covering sports?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who wants to elect an awards jury?

With all the debate about the purpose and worth of award shows in the past 12 months, The International Andy Awards has taken a novel approach – you decide the jury.

For the first time the Andys, which are based in New York, are asking the public to vote on who they want on the jury. You can also nominate jury members who you think should be in the running to make the jury, but you have to be quick, the select a nominee option closes on 15 October and overall voting closes on 15 November

I think this is a great idea, especially in this digital, everyone-has-a-voice online age that we live in. Also especially as the Andys want to make its awards show more global and pick the best of the best from around the world, and have a better representation from the digital marketing world. It's also targeting Asia, so if there’s someone you think is worthy in Asia then nominate them online at

“Communications platforms have gotten so complex and advertising is going through unprecedented change because of it. But one of the things that hasn’t changed is the way that awards shows work. Our mission is to get more people from different disciplines actively involved in figuring out who decides what the best work in 2010 is,” Ty Montague, co-chair of the Andys and co-president and chief creative officer of JWT North America, said.

Check out a video of Montague and co-chair Michael Lebowitz's explanation on the jury selection here.

American Idol meets advertising award show, sort-of. Will be interesting to see the results of this crowd-sourcing model and what jury it churns out in the end.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What would you do if you got the sack?

Retrenchments, redundancies and lay offs are very common these days in the advertising industry, but what would your reaction be if it happened to you?

Would you document the whole experience online, through a series of videos and images in a funny, creative way?

That’s exactly what art director Shane Dawson and copywriter Ben Birchall did after they were sacked from The Campaign Palace Melbourne, which is part of WPP, after the agency lost the National Foods account. The pair have created this site called The Sack, which shows the experience of them losing their jobs and their travails in filming the journey, finding out what to do with their time, looking for business and setting up as freelancers.

It shows them going for interviews at agencies like Droga5 and DDB in their hunt for a new job, and shows them gaining some small media fame. It’s good fun and worth a look.

So far their videos have got thousands of views (they're up to day 24), and like a fine wine the series gets better with age. No doubt it’s a only matter of time before they get a new job.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

YouTube: A web odyssey

It's miserable weather in Singapore today so here’s a bit of frivolity – 100 of the greatest hits on YouTube since its inception.

And all in four minutes. Actually its 3 minutes and 24 seconds, but who’s counting.

This clip recaps some of the best and brightest moments YouTube has captured, some clips of pure hilarity and stupidity, and some which have lead to 15 minutes of worldwide fame for the subjects. There’s everything from Susan Boyle, the light saber-wielding Star Wars kid and Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup headbutt to Obama Girl and Ok Go’s treadmill music video.

YouTube has certainly irrevocably changed the media landscape and our consumption of media, and it’s amazing how many of these clips from this montage have become etched in our minds.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Outrageous Outdoor

Why is outdoor advertising in New Zealand so damn good?

It's hard to put your finger on. Maybe it’s the beautiful Middle-Earth like landscape, the adrenalin-loving people or the wide open spaces. The risk-taking, conquer the world/Edmund Hillary spirit. Whatever it is, OOH advertising in NZ is often truly innovative and eye-catching.

Here’s one recent example for the news website

Those Kiwis just love to do cheeky and provocative stuff.

Here’s one for the controversial Hell Pizza brand (which in the past has used DM which involved giving condoms away in pizza boxes).

And one to promote the American TV show Weeds a few years back by DraftFCB.

This great campaign actually ended in people trying to steal the ‘weed’ from the billboard, which looked very real but of course was fake. A great way to generate some attention.

Colenso BBDO won a few awards with this exploding billboard:

There’s also some work that TBWA NZ has done over the last couple of years, some video game-sniper related stuff and some work for Adidas which is also very interesting.

The question is, why is OOH in New Zealand so good?

And in Singapore, what’s holding this market, a fellow developed country with about the same sized population, back from doing similarly great work?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Football ad feast

I don’t know what it is about football, but the sport lends itself especially to great advertising.

I came across this ad this week by England’s Football Association, to encourage participation.

It’s a great ad and reminded me of a number of good football-related campaigns. This one's from a few years back.

And in my digging I came across a few other gems (a lot from Nike).

This one's proves a nice insight into Wayne Rooney.

And this one is more similar to the first one, and was directed by Guy Ritchie.

To finish up there's always this famous football ad.

I couldn't find the English version but for those who remember the 2002 World Cup it should be familiar. Arguably the world's greatest footballer Pele spruiks an anti-impotence drug, then claims he's never had a problem getting it up. And then there's always this light-hearted gem from the UK for the beer brand John Smith:

So just what is it exactly about football ads? Is it easier to make a good ad about football, because of the subject, or not? Are there any other great football ads you would recommend?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Huge chance for Singapore's sporting cause

While there may be 10 years until the 9th edition of the prestigious Rugby World Cup, there still remains a huge amount of work for Singapore to carry out should the International Rugby Board (IRB) allow hosts Japan to stage some group matches here in 2019.

As it stands right now, Japan has been awarded the 2019 hosting rights for the world’s third biggest sporting event. Part of the Japanese Rugby Union’s successful proposal to the IRB was that it was a bid not just for Japan, but for Asia as a whole, and that potentially both Singapore and Hong Kong could host a group each in the tournament.

Japan has still to put forward a required second proposal to the IRB, detailing “compelling reasons” why it should host part of the event outside its own territory.

According to Ian Bremner, the chief executive of the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU), the time frame for that is within the next couple of months.

It’s not yet clear when the IRB will come to a final decision, while they’d probably be forgiven if they put it on the backburner for now given that their number one priority at the moment is pushing for rugby sevens to be included in the Olympic Games.

What will play in Singapore’s favour, however, is that 2015 hosts England are planning to host some group matches in Wales. The birthplace of rugby is also waiting on confirmation from the IRB but if the RFU is successful, a precedent will surely be set for the following tournament.

But whatever the time frame, if Singapore is indeed given the green light by the IRB, there are a number of key issues to head up the planning process.

Putting the massive sports marketing opportunities to one side for a moment, first on the agenda is the completion of the Sports Hub. I experienced the furore in my own country when New Zealand was handed the hosting rights of the 2011 Rugby World Cup - the rugby-mad nation was split down the middle between those who wanted a new waterfront stadium in Auckland and those who wanted Eden Park redeveloped in time for the big event. The debate dragged on for months, forever stalling the actual building work.

“To be honest, the Sports Hub is definitely the first thing that needs to be organised,” Bremner said.

“In the talks that we had prior to the bid, the SCC (Singapore Sports Council) were major partners in those discussions. I think we all realise that the sports hub will happen – in what shape or form, I personally am not sure.”

Jonathan Leow, who currently heads up the sports PR and marketing team at SPRG, also raises a valid point regarding training facilities.

“I would say that is the one area that Singapore needs to step up in to host a World Cup pool. Even currently there are only two natural grass pitches actively used by the SRU, and the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) has two more at its disposal,” he said.

He’s speaking from experience too, having previously been in charge of training grounds and pitches for both the IRB Singapore 7s in 2004 and 2005 as well as the SCC 7s.

“Having one great stadium is fine for paying fans, but at the top level teams require their training grounds to be as good as their playing areas.”

If the infrastructure is up to scratch, it then becomes about marketing the event and attracting local sponsors to get involved. On the surface, it’s easy to assume that rugby struggles to get a foothold in Singapore’s sporting scene but it’s a game that is quickly gathering momentum in the city-state.

As Bremner points out, in terms of the game locally, there are 24 schools that play rugby at Under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19 levels. There are four universities and 12 rugby clubs, women’s polytechnic and university rugby, as well as women’s senior rugby.

So it’s clear there’s a local base of rugby people – the problem lies in the fact the national team is not involved and whether those neutral locals will be attracted to watching other international teams square off against each other.

It has been speculated that the Wallabies (the Australian national side) will play their group matches here, though nothing has yet been set in stone. It would certainly make geographical sense to draw Australian supporters (and their dollars) to Singapore, while you’d assume Hong Kong would host England and Japan would keep the All Blacks – the game’s most marketable team.

Whichever of the big rugby nations does base itself in Singapore, Leow sees attracting local sponsors to the table as a major road block, given very few view rugby as a sport with wide appeal. The tournament’s current worldwide partners are Emirates, MasterCard and Heineken.

That fact was highlighted when the proposed World Club Challenge, scheduled to be held here in July, was canned because a lack of major sponsors as well as inadequate facilities.

“Even with the Government backing this initiative, the worry for sponsors would be how much value it would be for local companies – and local sponsors are a key part I feel of the wider picture.”

The participation agreement for something as major as the Rugby World Cup carries a significant number of clauses by way of what you can and can’t do, yet Bremner says there are definite plans to get local companies on board.

“We would be building a very strong programme around it in terms of things like coaching clinics, all sorts of things. With those sorts of things, clearly there’d be an opportunity for local companies to get involved in one of the most major things to happen in Singapore in a number of years.”

Granted, Singapore does have a fair amount of time to play with if it is ultimately confirmed as a co-host for RWC 2019. But aside from hosting the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup, it won’t get a better opportunity to further push its case as the premier sports hub in Asia.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Australia’s second ad TV show

First there was The Gruen Transfer and now there’s :30 Seconds – a new Australian comedy-drama about advertising which is written by Aussie ad agency Three Drunk Monkeys (3DM).

3DM, which incidentally is working with StarHub, wrote the new show, specifically its executive creative directors Justin Drape and Scott Nowell with Prodigy Films director Tim Bullock. :30 Seconds is being produced by Zapruder’s Other Films, which was behind The Gruen Transfer. For those who don’t know it, The Gruen Transfer is a hugely successful Australian TV show which analyzes the world of advertising. It features a panel of advertising members, like George Patterson Y&R Australia CEO Russel Howcroft, Leo Burnett Australia CEO Todd Sampson (who has now become some kind of sex symbol because of the program) and DDB Australia ECE Matt Eastwood. The show has been a ratings hit and provided the general public with an interesting, and humorous look, into the world of advertising.

Here's some clips from The Gruen's segment The Pitch, where two ad agencies have to made ads for a fake brief. This one's to promote the invasion of New Zealand.

And here's the second one.

On the back on The Gruen Transfer comes :30 Seconds. While I haven’t seen any of the show apart from these snippets promoting it online, it could be a winner as well.

With a high-profile cast, :30 Seconds is set in the fictional world of multinational agency BND. If you throw the classic American drama Mad Men into this mix, it seems to be a golden age for fictional TV programs about the advertising and marketing world. Mad Men, now just starting its third season in the US (and the second season to debut on pay TV in Asia soon), has been a massive hit and so has The Gruen Transfer in Australia (it’s just finished its second series). Gruen has made it overseas to quite a few countries I believe, but not to Asia.

Why is that? And will :30 Seconds make it to Asia? Why couldn’t we have an Asian version of The Gruen Transfer, with Asian industry members dissecting Asian ads?

I think there’s definitely room in Asia’s TV environment for a show that examines the world of advertising, whether it be done in a fictional way or in a more light-hearted, comedic approach. Both Mad Men and The Gruen Transfer have made advertising seem more interesting and exciting (and more important) as a profession, and in Australia graduate numbers for advertising careers have soared.

If the marketing and advertising industry wants to claim its fair share of the best and brightest young minds around wouldn’t this be a good, if a little unorthodox way, of doing it in Asia?

It might not be exactly tied in, but HP’s new Asian reality TV show which encourages creativity is at least I start. I, for one though, would like to see more of this kind of thing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sprite oral sex ad was a fake

A controversial new ad for Sprite, that has been doing the rounds online and has been revealed as a fake, is a very interesting marketing experiment.

The Huffington Post reported on the ad, which it claimed had been banned in Germany, but has now been revealed as a fake originating from the US. The TVC has no official affiliation with Coke or its agencies. The fake ad can be watched here. Its interesting to see the presenters refer to Singapore’s recent Burger King ad scandal.

Its also quite fascinating about the media storm this ad, which is not real, has created. Has the kerfuffle actually indirectly helped Sprite, because it wasn’t involved and looks responsible compared with the oral sex ad? Or not? With what seems like a constant recent stream of offensive and controversial ads, are brands now looked on better if they play it safe in their marketing, or should they be edgy?

Friday, July 10, 2009

What agencies will do for business

Its been a tough 12 months for the advertising industry and it's interesting what agencies these days will do for money.

We’ve seen pitches with 30 agencies involved, heard claims of massive undercutting and more marketers are making agencies jump through hoops for little return.

But on 30 July at the Ritz-Carlton we’ll put that all aside to celebrate agency excellence and the best client-agency relationships in Singapore. This year we'll announce our first ever Agency Professional of the Year, and unveil several new categories such as Search Marketing Agency of the Year and Web Design Agency of the Year. Will Ogilvy & Mather take home the overall Agency of the Year crown again? Who will be 2009's Next Big Thing?

I hope to see you all there at our Agency of the Year awards, and share a drink with you.

Also, thanks to LloydNorthover Yeang for creating our ad campaign for the awards, and thanks to JWT's Angus Fraser and Ogilvy's David Mayo for being good sports. Not that I'll be able to look at either of you the same again though.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Droga5 fires up Aussie adland

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since advertising guru Dave Droga launched his agency in his native Australia 19 months ago, but this week the often-maligned creative outfit made the local ad industry sit up and take notice as it unveiled two huge campaigns.

Dave Droga, a former ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore who has gone on to worldwide fame and fortune, started Droga5 in Sydney on 1 January 2008 and straight away the new agency made waves. It brought in a number of industry heavy-hitters, like Marianne Bess, David Nobay and Sudeep Gohil from Saatchis, and picked up one Australia’s top brands in VB, which had been with George Patterson Y&R Melbourne for more than 40 years. For those who don’t know, marketing for VB in recent times has been extremely successful and won many advertising awards. Droga5 Sydney also won V Australia, a low-budget international airline owned by Virgin, and is working on Puma down under after a global win.

Consistent with Australia’s tall-poppy syndrome (Aussies love to criticize the high and mighty) Droga5 has copped a lot of flak, particularly for its work for the VB sub-brand VB Gold ( a mid-strength beer). See the work on YouTube here and then check out comments about a similar piece of work here (on this one Droga5 publicly acknowledge that it collaborated with the writer of the Manstrokewoman sketch).

However this week Droga5 has hit back in big way. Firstly, it launched an ambitious campaign for V Australia. This great idea, which echoes Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” campaign in some ways, uses Twitter and social media in a very smart way. How effective will it be? Its early days, so only time will tell.

Also this week Droga5 Sydney unveiled its highly anticipated work for VB, which is one of the largest beer commercials ever produced in Australia with a cast of more than 2000 people and a crew of 150.

The massive campaign, which includes this site and the usual suspects – print, radio, outdoor, in-store etc – also ties in with the current Ashes series between Australia and England. Foster’s, VB’s owner, is a big sponsor of the Aussie cricket team. It includes different executions of the TVC and features Aussie celebrities and sports stars.

The ad harks back to some of Foster’s best ever beer ads, like “The Big Ad”:

And “Flashbeer”:

Will it reach the same heights as those? Again, its too early to say but it will certainly give them a shake. No matter what happens Droga5 Sydney has definitely answered its critics in the best way possible and let its work do the talking.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Is Microsoft’s ad too sick for YouTube?

Having recently been panned for its unsuccessful ads involving Jerry Seinfeld and founder Bill Gates, Microsoft’s marketing team has taken another hit with news that their latest online ad has had to be pulled off YouTube following complaints from users.

The controversial ad features Dean Cain, of Superman fame, and is directed by Bob Goldthwait –the guy who played Bobcat in the Police Academy films.

It’s already been pulled from YouTube but you can watch what all the fuss was about here.

What do you think of the ad? Does it warrant the public outcry? Or is it even funny?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Enter the digital ninja exit the overnight "expert"

On a trip just completed to New York to rally support for, well, I can't say too much, but it's a pretty badly kept secret, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting agency people on Madison Avenue including a ninja.

I was very interested in how fast digital was moving in the US as compared to Asia and if the Yanks at the epicentre of advertising and marketing had any answers.

My thinking was we really don't know where it's heading in Asia, clients blame the agencies for not being forward thinking enough and not being able to define what works and what doesn't, and agencies blame clients for not being brave enough.

But hey they must know where it's all headed in the States, they have the biggest clients, they built most of the biggest or stickiest online properties (and all the ones China likes to ban); Google, twitter, facebook, etc. and they have witnessed the fastest fleeing for the exits, in main media, of any market.

One of our meetings was in the offices of McCann Erickson New York, where the extremely helpful Susan Irwin arrange for us to meet with Faris Yakob EVP chief technology strategist with McCanns or self described digital ninja.

Faris, has a laid back skate boarder vibe about him and is addictively enthusiastic about the digital space (actually I'll stop with the glowing description there, I don't want to risk the caning a competitor recently got over a profile of Moray MacLennan!).

What transpires is Faris experiences a lot of the same frustrations in his market as we do out here, a lack confidence not matching the soaring wave of digital media consumption and considerable knowledge gaps.

He recalled to me sitting in a meeting with someone who was supposedly something of a digital adviser who continually called the world's favourite micro blogging site "tweeter" which took us on to talk of charlatans who set themselves up as consultants, taking advantage of the lack of real knowledge in the field.

He stresses that it's important companies get used to and immerse themselves in the technologies and platforms to understand and engage consumers better, otherwise you are just on the outside trying to look in through what can be a pretty foggy window if you don't understand it very well.

I guess it isn't enough to play around the edges you really need to understand why audiences engage on all these platforms or spaces, before you can hope to get an understanding of how you can take advantage of the environment.

But just as interesting as anything Faris had to say was the fact McCanns has this job function inside its walls - you feel very much this guy has time to think, research and play, all the better to advise the agency, and more importantly the clients.

Sure a lot of agencies out here have staff who blog, twitter and socialise in other ways online and most now have staff in a digital department, but there used to be in those last years and months before the bubble burst last time around a push to have digital "thinkers" in the company who just were allowed to sit around and come up with ideas, of course they all went the way of online pet shops by 2001.

But maybe it's time the job function, with a bit more of a pragmatic overlay, is revived.

Faris' job title reveals he does more than sit around and think all day, he is part of the executive that shapes the McCann business model and works with clients, planners and creative teams to build clients' digital presence, he's also a pretty promiscuous figure on the speaking and writing circuit.

As clients are now looking for more than canned responses to their very many questions about digital marketing and need access to someone within the agency's walls who has more than just a day pass to the digital world, we could do worse than hunt for and install talent in agencies that comes from non-traditional places.

So maybe it's time to lock away the breakables and bring in a ninja!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Predictions for Cannes

Just had a look through some the entries being judged at Cannes this year, and there is some brilliant work.

Recession or not, the industry is still capable of producing some fantastic stuff. Here’s Leo Burnett’s global creative chief Mark Tutssel predictions of 50 campaigns that he thinks will win gongs at Cannes (via Rapp's Cannes Cast blog).

I’ve picked out a few from this bunch which stand out, for mind. There’s this one:

And this nice London stunt for T-Mobile:

The Matrix-inspired Golf ad:

And Nintendo’s Great Wario work:

Um, probably the least said about this one the better.

This is a great ad:

And a few more to finish off:

Well done if you got through all those.

The common theme seems to be that the entries and delegate numbers might be down at Cannes this year, but the best work will still win out in the end, and we can celebrate the creative power of great advertising. That's what matters.

Monday, June 01, 2009

How online shoots itself in the foot

There are many good reasons to put your money into digital marketing, and here’s one big reason not to.

This would have to be one of the most annoying local online ad campaigns in recent memory.

Take a look.

Now I agree that the problem here is not that’s an online ad, the problem essentially is that it's just bad advertising. It’s annoying. Really annoying. And most banner ads aren’t nearly as annoying as this.

Banner ads are also a small part of digital marketing. There’s everything from social media, search, video, rich media, social networks, blogs and everything else in between for marketers to get involved in.

But the problem is that this ad is so bad, it’s detrimental to the practice of digital marketing. It gives the online market a bad rap. Sure I can name numerous TV ads that are annoying, that are repeated over and over. But this banner ad just seems worse in many ways. And as people spent more time online than any other medium these days, maybe it is. Not only does it make you actually surf away from the site that the ad appears on, it’s so bad that someone has spent time to upload it to YouTube just to show the world how painful it is.

I'm not saying you shouldn't put your money into digital - if you read the pages of Marketing and our online properties, you'll see we truly believe in the power and effectiveness of good digital marketing. But for god's sake think through and test what you plan to do before you do it, and at the very least, make sure you aren't out there annoying people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where next for advertising?

An interesting development from Australia recently has highlighted how cluttered the world has become of advertising these days. Is there any room or new spaces left?

A rugby league player, Gold Coast Titans hooker Nathan Friend, was busted by the sport’s governing body for his very own version of ambush marketing. Friend wore headgear that was branded with the logo of his own personal training company in a game against the Brisbane Broncos. The National Rugby League quickly fined Friend for breaking sponsorship rules.

Now sports stars wearing logos and branding is nothing new, and in truth this incident is a far cry from what the myriad of dramas that Australian rugby league as brand is currently dealing with (don't ask). In boxing you often see fighters battling it out with ugly ads on their backs. But headgear? Where to next? We already have ads in toilets, on coffee cups, taxis, trains, bar mats, mobile phones, blimps, hangers and everything else.

What’s left?

Will we start to see ads on things like ties, belts and prams? Will tattoo advertisements for brands on bodies become the norm?

Everything in life seems branded one way or another. Have we gone too far in the pursuit to break through the clutter, or does the consumer even care anymore?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Inspiration or imitation?

While it’s difficult to take anything away from an ad which inspired a nation to discuss a particularly sensitive topic, it’s equally as hard to ignore some of the negative feedback which it also garnered.

The ‘Funeral’ TVC, created by Leo Burnett and directed by Yasmin Ahmad for MCYS, has been picked up by a number of bloggers who the claim it is a blatant rip-off of a scene out of Good Will Hunting.

In the ‘Funeral’ ad, a widow speaks of her dead husband’s imperfections at his funeral. In the scene out of Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams’ character talks of the ‘little things’ he remembers about his wife.

Bloggers have been quick to draw similarities between the two films, questioning the originality of the Funeral TVC.

For those who don’t want to sit through the entire Good Will Hunting scene, skip through to about the 1min 40 mark.

This similarity raises a larger issue for the creative industry around the world. Creatives get inspiration for their work from a variety of sources. But when does this cross the line? Is there such a thing as a truly original idea anymore?

Have bloggers been correct in labeling the MCYS ad a rip-off of Good Will Hunting or are they reading too much into it? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Coke’s brilliant ad

Sometimes you see a piece of advertising that you enjoy so much you just have to pass it on.

This ad for Coke from Mother in the UK certainly fits the bill. It’s funny, quite out there and just plain weird but wonderful. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Pitch: Tourism marketing continues to innovate

Following the lead of Tourism Queensland and the hugely successful ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign, Tourism New Zealand is also leveraging the power of user generated content to market the Land of the Long White Cloud.

A mobile recording studio has been set up to collect footage of what visitors to New Zealand have to say about the country, with the short interviews then loaded up onto YouTube.

Over 32,000 people have already checked out the videos, which now number close to 1500, on Tourism New Zealand’s ‘Have Your Say’ YouTube Channel.

It’s the latest example of national tourism bodies using real stories from real people – all giving personal recommendations – a marketing tool which is continuing to grow in power.

Tourism Malaysia has a similar component on its website with ‘My Discoveries’ – where visitors share their unique experiences through videos, photos and stories.

The ‘Best Job in the World’ initiative remains the poster campaign for innovative tourism marketing that channels the power of social media, with Tourism Queensland still creaming it in international publicity. Video applications for the job garnered huge worldwide interest, and the winner of the contest will be announced today.

The 16 finalists arrived on Hamilton Island for the final round of interviews this week and were immediately surrounded by international media crews, including the BBC which is shooting an hour-long documentary.

According to the Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes, they’ve already calculated over $100 million in publicity and expect another $20 or $30 million to roll in before the week closes – a sound return for what Hayes says came to around $1 million.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Creative turn for local industry?

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has launched its 2009 campaign ‘Funeral’, an uncomfortable topic as many would find it. The TVC moves the audience with beautifully crafted script and music and leaves their eyes glassy.

The previous one ‘Family’, too, showed a night worker, living in a rented HDB flat, financially constrained finding it hard to make ends meet. Not something you would expect coming out of the government, which is known to be particularly particular about how Singapore is portrayed in TVCs.

Needless to say, both campaigns have received acceptance and appreciation from Singaporeans. Both have been directed by Yasmin Ahmad, who is well-known for her creativity and directorial brilliance in Malaysia as well as Singapore.

Does this then reflect a change in the government’s mindset, a move towards embracing the not-so-rosy reality and finally putting the message in the campaign ahead of superfluous details like what the protagonist is wearing or where is it shown to be living?

Singapore’s creativity standards has long been under question when compared to neighbours like Malaysia and Thailand and this need not necessarily translate into any sort of finger-raising on the creative agencies but certain tacit parameters that have to be followed.

Industry insiders too have agreed that advertising in Singapore misses the local flavour and culture. Well then, if everything is global in this country, do these campaigns make a mark in their own little way? Does the industry think that it could well be the beginning of a new trend that gives Singapore a significantly higher creative standing?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Social networking is a big differentiator

Facebook, Twitter and the entire social media revolution differentiates this recession from others and is the best time to build relationship with consumers, says Guy Abrahams of ZenithOptimedia.

Abrahams was speaking at the media agency’s event “Maximise Market ROI in a Slowdown”. Here is what he had to say.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hef eyes up NZ mansion

An advertising agency in New Zealand pulled a decent April Fool’s Day prank last week, publishing full page ‘articles’ and a PR kit announcing that Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner was converting part of the Rotorua Museum into his new Playboy holiday mansion – a ploy to deflect some recent and highly publicised criticism from an Australian blogger.

The idea from Auckland’s KingSt Advertising initially sprang when reports were published on recent research which discovered a link between hydrogen sulphide - the gas that gives Rotorua its infamous rotten egg smell - and male sexual arousal.

The research had come by way of Italy’s University of Naples and it was published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The news stories reported that Hefner had brokered a deal with the Rotorua Trust to convert the final stage of the Museum into his new mansion.

"At my age it's great to get up in the morning without relying on any form of medication," the press release quoted Hefner as saying.

The fictitious story was partly set up to deflect criticism from an Australian blogger who had bagged the smell of Rotorua on his site. The blog quickly made national news and caused an outcry from patriotic Kiwis.

The media release claimed Hefner was bound for Rotorua as soon as he heard the sex claims.

"While I thought the research findings would attract a lot of international interest from men looking to improve their sexual performance, I never expected a call from the man responsible for the sexual revolution of the sixties," Lyall Thurston from Rotorua Centennial Trust said in the release.

This doctored interview with Hefner was produced and put up on the website.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009



Cricket, politics and Bollywood together are known as the three religions in India and get Indians going like nothing else. The new TVC for IPL Season 2 shows best what cricket does to this massive nation.

The campaign, by TBWA Mumbai, truly reflects that cricket is a great unifier, beautifully interweaving elements of unity in mundane activites with that of the brand proposition of MAX "Deewana Bana De", meaning “makes you crazy”.

The campaign also strikes a chord in its mere conception which chooses to leave behind grave issues of boundaries, nationality and religion, all of which were an integral part of the previous campaign, to show simple habitual similarities across the nation. (It is relatively easier to build a campaign on the idea of religion in India I think!)

Its natural to revel in the simple yet brilliant execution of the campaign while watching the TVC, but it makes me think how much of the brand IPL will suffer due to its temporary relocation to South Africa?

Indians also love watching soap operas but nothing caught their attention more than the news of general elections and security issues compelling IPL to move out of the country, a move definitely not the best for brand IPL and brand India. With the attacks on Mumbai and those on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan recently, brand cricket is facing some large challenges.

According to reports from newswire PTI (Press Trust of India), Pawan Munjal Managing Director and CEO Hero Honda Motors, one of the main sponsors of Indian Premier League (IPL), said shifting of the cricket extravaganza to abroad will affect the business opportunities of the firm.
"The IPL moving out of India this year is likely to restrict opportunities to leverage our brand association," he said.

Will the IPL in effect now become the South African Premier League? Will some brands be reluctant to partner up with the tournament because of its move to Africa?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ultimate future is death, digital is the present

It began with banner ads, went onto interactive ads, applications and then the entire wave of search and social networking swamped the digital marketing space.

We heard agencies convince marketers on why they should go digital and marketers defending their standpoint based on their apprehensions. One of the most frequently stated reasons for an evasive tendency like this was “My boss is not online!”

While this is a valid reason and must have hold true for a while Sane, who is chief digital officer of Starcom for North and South Asia, says it isn’t the case any longer. In his presentation Sane said: “The top management is fully digitized, for the simple fact that your 45 plus year old boss has teenage kids who are online and to connect with them, they have to keep up with the latest trends in the online space.”

With ample of evidence of digital’s prowess and success, marketers cannot escape the reality and Sane adds that no longer can we say the digital is the future, it’s now and it is the present.

“The ultimate future is death, nothing else,” he says.

Drawing a parallel with a rear view approach, Sane said this attitude of marketers makes them see competition at much greater distance than it actually is. “The need therefore is to realise the difference between interruption and interaction. We have only scratched the surface in terms of leveraging on digital,” he says.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What after the recession?

Consumer behaviour will change after the recession says David Evans, ex-adman and founder and CEO of performance-improvement firm Grass Roots, who was in Singapore recently.

Grass Roots specialises in employee customer and reseller focused reward and recognition programs, and it recently announced expansion plans for Asia Pacific despite rough economic weather. Established in 1980, the firm has a presence in more than 16 countries.

Before starting Grass Roots, Evans had had stints with Benton and Bowles now called DMB&B and a brief one with A&B, an agency under the same group.

I caught up with him a day after he spoke to a gathering at the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and he urged the industry to stay optimistic during these times. Evans said that there will be a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour, and companies must remain optimistic even during the recession.

Monday, March 23, 2009

AdFest Lowdown

I just got back from Thailand after a tiring but exciting four days at AdFest, which despite the impact of the recession was a great event this year.

Numbers and entries might have be down but attendees were in great spirits and some of the work on show was very inspiring. AdFest is still the number one Asia Pacific show for the advertising industry to get together, and it was great to meet and chat to some of not only Asia's top ad people but the world's. Names like Hegarty and Tutssel don't drop in to this part of the world every week.

The highlights for this year have to be the emergence of China as a creative powerhouse, Japan's strong showing (particularly in Cyber), some great radio work from Leo Burnett Melbourne, the NSW Government's strong production push and some great TV ads from Ogilvy in Thailand. Another thing to mention was the relatively meek showing at AdFest from Singapore, not only in terms of awards but in attendees from the city-state. It was a little disappointing.

I hope you enjoyed our live blogging from Pattaya. There is a lot of video to come from the festival so keep your eyes out for it in the coming days. We've also some posted some videos from AdFest on our sister blog - The Pitch HK - which is for Marketing Hong Kong. You can check it out here.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Pitch: How not to gain consumer trust

In times like these when gaining the trust of the consumer is so vitally important for brands, the last thing they want to do is get caught out for deceptive marketing…twice.

A Spanish tourism board has taken two shots to its integrity this year alone, both for publishing photographs of other countries to promote their tourist destinations.

The Costa Brava Tourism Board recently used a photo of a man and young boy standing hand-in-hand on a beach to promote a gastronomical fair on Spain’s north-east coast. The only problem was that the shot was of a beach halfway around the world – in Perth, Australia.

When the tourism board was caught out, they admitted to their mistake but maintained they were unaware the photo was actually of City Beach in Western Australia.

To make matters worse, it was the second slip-up from the tourism board after just last month they withdrew an ad campaign which featured a photo of the Bahamas to promote the Girona province as a holiday destination

The Getty Images shot was also digitally altered to dull the sand towards a greyer shade typical of the Costa Brava coastline.

The tourism board director claimed photos of sufficient quality could not be found and that it was never their intention to cheat consumers in any way. A spokesperson also defended the two fake photographs as isolated incidents.

But surely consumers have a right to feel aggrieved if they travel to Costa Brava only to find it’s nothing like what’s promised in the photographs?

What the photos have done is throw a veil of doubt over the brand’s integrity – a perfect example of how deceptive marketing can badly hurt a brand’s image. It will certainly be interesting to see what effect the bad news stories have on the tourism industry in Costa Brava.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sports sponsorship takes a further pounding

First there was the Michael Phelps “Bong-gate” saga. Then A-Rod’s steroid drama and now there’s the crisis surrounding Texan billionaire Allen Stanford. Why can’t the sports sponsorship industry take a trick at the moment?

So far 2009 hasn’t been kind to the world of sports endorsements.

Firstly the impact of the recession has meant brands are cutting back on their expensive sports partnerships, which is a global trend that has hit everything from F1 to the English Premier League, golf, cricket and tennis.

And then came the News of the World’s Phelps scoop, which was a wake-up call to many brands. Then one of the world’s most famous baseballers Alex Rodriguez admits taking steroids, news that can’t be good for his partners Nike and Activision. Another sports star to hit the limelight recently has been the NBA’s Dwayne Wade, who is going through a messy divorce and has been accused of allegedly doing drugs and holding orgies. But his sponsors are sticking by him.

And then there’s sports very own version of Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford, who’s financial transgressions are having a big impact on English and West Indian cricket, several tournaments he sponsors and the likes of football’s Michael Owen and golf’s Vijay Singh.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Sports stars mucking up is not a new trend, it's as old as the hills. It will always happen and it's are one of the inherent risks marketers should be aware of when endorsing any sports brand. But this bad run coupled with the dire reality of the economic crisis is a double whammy for the sports sponsorship industry. It needs it now like it needs a hole in the head.

When iconic sports stars and blue-chip brands like Tiger Woods and LeBrone James are losing sponsors, simply because companies are cutting their sponsorship budgets and through no fault of their own, you know your in trouble.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The downturn’s digital drumbeat

Digital marketing continues to rise in prominence in the wider marketing communications industry in Singapore, if an event held this morning is any sign.

About 100 people turned up to the Old Parliament House to see Lori Sobel from Google and Siva Ganeshanandan from Interwoven battle it out in The Great Marketing ROI Debate, which was organized by Marketing magazine.

We had some great presentations from the two speakers and some great debate from the floor, clear evidence that as the recession kicks into another gear the industry is turning to digital solutions and strategies to be their savior. There definitely seems to be a hunger from Singapore marketers to learn more about how to maximize their online investments.

After the event we caught up with Google’s Sobel about search marketing, why traditional media is not dead and asked how what affect the downturn is having on Google’s business in the region.

We also chatted to Interwoven’s Ganeshanandan about why optimizing your online content is so important and the fact that most websites aren’t actually engaging for users.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Dragon’s fire

More great work from JWT for Nokia featuring martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

This viral for the N96 phone in China is one of a series of ads. And in this one you see why Bruce would have been handy if you needed a light.

I blogged about the first Nokia viral featuring Bruce’s ping-pong ability back in November. You can see that clip here.

I’ll be stunned if this work doesn’t win some awards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lessons from Obama

There’s a lot that marketers in Asia can take from Barack Obama’s ground-breaking use of digital in his meteoric rise to the US presidency. And one of the most telling insights for marketers, according to Fleishman-Hillard’s global digital guru David Wickenden, is that they simply can’t ignore online as a medium and as a powerful marketing tool anymore.

I caught up with David yesterday in Singapore.

Obama not only invested a lot in his online strategy, in staff, hardware and software, but his people fully believed in the power of digital. There was constant engagement from the Obama team with the public, a complete understanding of what users wanted and how to help them get involved, a leveraging of all the channels they used (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, mobile, etc etc) as well as total commitment to the digital campaign from the Obama camp. This was no half-assed, toe-in-the-water strategy.

Wickenden said we have “left the world where you can shovel out a marketing message”. Marketers must now add value to consumers, give them content and entertain them.

He said marketing has become a service, and if brands have a “lame product or a lame message, you can use all the social media you like but it won’t work”.

Wickenden also said marketers can’t avoid digital anymore as that’s where today’s audiences are, and he cited Dell’s initiative and General Motors portal (a portal which focus on the future of the car) as two examples of recent innovative digital marketing.

Wickenden is managing director and senior partner for Fleishman-Hillard’s Digital Intergation Group, which worked on the Obama campaign, and he has more than 20 years experience in designing and managing large-scale integrated communications campaigns, working on digital strategies for the likes of AT&T, the US State Department and Visa.

Do you agree that its essential that marketers in Asia must saddle up for the digital express?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SingTel remains open on cuts

While SingTel admitted its taking a hit due to the ongoing global crisis, like most companies, CEO Allan Lew said that its important for the telco to continue strengthening its brand identity.

Lew mentioned, while continuing to invest in customer acquisition, SingTel would "adjust" its marketing budget according to the current climate. So he's leaving the door open on potential reductions in 2009. Here is what he had to say:

Grey’s downturn tips

During the recession better creative work will be more leveragable than ever before, and the smartest marketers will continue to experiment and innovate. Business will need to be done differently and agencies must raise their game, according to Grey’s global management.

Recently in Singapore for Grey’s Asia Pacific ‘Business Unusual’ conference, global chairman and CEO Jim Heekin said those in the industry must “use this time to get even better”.

“Now is the time to innovate. The best companies are experimenting. We won’t let all the doom and gloom slow us down out here,” Heekin said. Here I had a chat to him:

Grey Group has bold ambitions for Asia Pacific, which we have reported previously here, as it sees the region as its primary growth market for the future.

Heekin said growth in APAC will be achieved in three ways – opportunities with current clients, attracting new clients and through acquisitions “in markets where we don’t have critical mass”.

Tim Mellors, Grey’s global creative director, agrees with Heekin and believes the standard of creative work in the industry will rise during the downturn, as greater pressure leads to greater work. Mellors plans to raise Grey’s creative profile in APAC.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Australia - The Bit that Broke Off (in Maori)

In timing with Waitangi Day, the public holiday held each year in New Zealand to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (New Zealand’s founding document) on February 6, a viral ad attracting Kiwis back from Australia has been doing the rounds.

The continuing exodus of Kiwis to Australia has long been a source of debate, for both countries involved, and this ad from New Zealand global talent network Kea has a go at luring a few of them back.

They say their intention is for it to generate growth in Kea’s membership numbers and to get the word on Kea out to New Zealand expats and friends of New Zealand around the world.

It’s basically a fictional look at the origins of the New Zealand-Australia relationship and it has a dig at the age-old Aussie habit of claiming successful Kiwis as their own.

Ian Haigh did the viral animation while the Australian-based brand consultancy Yello Brands worked on the creative. It was sent out to Kea members on Waitangi Day and will hit other channels such as Facebook and the Air New Zealand database soon.

Haigh is in the process of putting the ad up on YouTube but for the meantime, here’s the link - it's worth a watch.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Microsoft Advertising to focus on ROI, better creative

Microsoft Advertising plans to squeeze as much as it can out of its allotted budgets to maximize ROI, push the boundaries of creativity and offer deeper solutions to clients during the downturn, according to greater Asia Pacific general manager Richard Dunmall.

It’s a view in line with what we have been hearing from several industry bigwigs and creative top brains for sometime now.

Dunmall joined Microsoft Advertising, following the acquisition of ad network aQuantive, which he headed. He’s got fair amount of experience on the agency side, having worked as MD for MindShare Interaction UK and mOne UK, a digital and direct marketing offering set up by MindShare and Ogilvy.

I caught up with Dunmall when he was in Singapore and spoke to him about the new Windows Live, Microsoft Advertising’s plans to counter the downturn and much more.

Take a look:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Newspapers go back to the future

It’s a fact of life that many newspapers all over the world are feeling the pinch, suffering from declining circulation, ad revenue and readership as many people turn to the internet. But this was foretold a long time ago.

The past few months have been dominated by bad press (excuse the pun) for the newspaper industry. In the UK a former KGB spy took over the trouble London Evening Standard and The Independent is now up for sale, just two of many papers there in dire straits, while in France even president Sarkozy has joined in trying to revive the ailing French print industry. In Australia jobs have been cut and the five top newspaper editors in the country have been replaced.

And let’s not even start on the US, where too many papers to name are in strife. The newspaper industry in America is not on its deathbed yet, but it looks like it's not far off.

Funnily enough though, the problems of newspaper reader and advertiser migration online is not a new problem. Just check out this video, a bit of an eerie and amusing view back in time.

So if the industry or at least parts of it has been vaguely aware of this issue for nearly 30 years, why hasn’t a solution been reached? Or is there just no solution?

It seems as though its going to be survival of the fittest in the newspaper market and many papers, some great brand names, will sadly become extinct.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl ads fall short

As always, there was about as much anticipation surrounding the commercials played during today’s Super Bowl as the actual game itself.

But following the Pittsburg Steelers’ 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, it wasn’t just the Cardinals left disappointed by the end result. On the whole, the ads were a bit of a letdown.
Of course there were a few exceptions but it’s fair to say none of the 2009 selection will go down in history like the McDonald’s commercial from 1993 featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird playing for a Big Mac and Fries.

The recession was obviously a popular theme and it was actually these ads which were the pick of the bunch. Hyundai had a couple of beauties – and this ad is definitely worth a couple of looks.

Bob Dylan has lent ‘Forever Young’ to Pepsi – with a cameo from Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas – while the Doritos and Denny’s commercials should also prove pretty popular.

It’s hard, however, not to get the feeling that a lot of the commercials were only rehashing old material. Talking chimpanzees certainly aren’t innovative, nor are talking babies, and the majority of the celebrities hardly produced anything memorable.
The number of Budweiser commercials fell terribly short.

That said, it’s hard not to enjoy this effort from

Here are a couple of others which managed to stand out from the bunch:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cadbury raises a few eyebrows

Here’s Cadbury’s follow up to its hugely successful “Gorilla” ad, another Glass and a Half Productions TVC with “Eyebrows”. Created by Fallon and released in the UK last week, it shows a brother and sister’s ability to get funky with just their eyebrows.

It's a good ad but will be tough to beat “Gorilla” in terms of worldwide success. Here's the famous "Gorilla" for those who haven’t seen it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tribal DDB wishes you Gong Xi Fa Cai

Here’s a fun viral that Tribal DDB Singapore has sent out for Chinese New Year.

It hasn’t been done for any particular client, just for the DDB Group Singapore itself, and aims to bring a smile to people during these tough economic times with a bit of quirky online stroking.

You can see it here at this site.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Separation at birth

I attended a talk recently, organized by the Institute of Public Relations in Singapore, where Upstream Asia CEO David Ketchum was speaking on trends in the digital PR space. An interesting observation he made was that we might see digital divisions of PR agencies, set up as a separate division, shutting down.

Is keeping digital separated from other operations, not only in the PR industry but in advertising as well, the way to go? Or does this split put a stranglehold on ultimately the growth and success of your entire business?

It’s clear that the future is digital, and perhaps siphoning digital away like a petulant child, away from the other children, instead of fully embracing it will actually be harmful. But as no one seems to have come up with the perfect digital model as yet, where all divisions, strategies and disciplines are truly integrated and play nice together, who knows.

Should digital be your first thought/cab off the rank when trying to solve a marketing problem? Or is it crucial that digital be used in partnership with other mediums?

Send us your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brands say yes we can, too

Obamamania has reached fever pitch the world over, and many companies unsurprisingly are trying to tap into it. But are some going too far?

We’ve seen the number of tie-ins that brands have forged in the lead-up to Obama’s inauguration, particularly CNN and Facebook’s partnership which makes great sense.

MySpace has done its own smart campaign with 50 celebrities making video pledges of service to president Obama.

We’ve even seen a cheeky local example which DDB Singapore did for the salon Strip, with its ‘Farewell to Bush’ and its offer to ‘Celebrate Change’ with free Brazillian waxes. This was cute, cheeky and topical marketing.

But I think this TV effort from Chrysler in Australia just doesn’t work and could backfire on them.

Compared to the others it looks tacky and cheesy. What’s your opinion of it, does it go too far?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Engage don't preach

Putting all your money online at the moment might not be the best approach, as an increasing number of people are living in both analog and digital worlds, and so it’s a must to give consumers a taste of both in a well-balanced way.

That’s the view of Denuo CEO Rishad Tobaccowala, who spoke at the recent seminar “Dawn of the new era: How consumers and communications are changing and What you can do to thrive”, a joint digital event between ZenithOptimedia, Starcom Mediavest and Digitas.

Tobaccowala says merely advertising on social networks like Facebook and MySpace is not doing real justice to the dollars marketers allocate to digital marketing.

“If you’re coming up with online campaigns let there be elements where people can speak back to the brand. It may be more of a customer affair thing and not a media or a marketing move,” he says.

A couple of interesting insights that he shared on consumer trends caught my attention. For instance, he speaks of consumers becoming more and more voyeuristic with God-like features.

“People want to express themselves and like to watch other people and are curious to follow them, particularly celebrities. No longer can a consumer be treated as idiots rather technology has made them kings with God-like features,” he says.
And to communicate with such a well-equipped audience, marketers need to speak with them rather than to them. According to Tobaccowala, the single biggest change that has happened in recent times is the move towards a globally decentralized linked network.

“People can trust their own research before buying any product, be it cars or mobile phones, so it only helps companies to be more transparent and be where the conversation is rather than trying to bring people to their own conversation,” he adds.

Tobaccowala is a veteran with over 25 years in marketing and strategy and also serves as an advisor and director on the board of many leading multi-national organizations in global marketing communications.