Monday, December 3, 2007

GameSpot must die...apparently

Here is a geek story about an angry mob that is fast leaking into the mainstream and as marketers you really should know about it. Like really.

Over the weekend a story about the CNET owned gaming site GameSpot exploded all over blogs, social news sites and then the mainstream news and yes there were casualties.

This story covers themes like accusations of advertisers manipulating content, what happens when big corps take over indie media properties, the high stakes world of gaming production and how not to handle a branding crisis.

It all started last week when GameSpot sacked its editorial director Jeff Gerstmann, who has been working for the site and reviewing games for 11 years, with no explanation.

Rumours quickly started circulating on blogs and social news sites that he had been fired for a negative written review and scathing video review (which GameSpot has since removed) of Eidos’ much hyped new release Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

Apparently Eidos, which had a lot resting on the game, withdrew US$200,000 in advertising from GameSpot and was furious about the review. Where these rumours started is irrelevant, they have taken on a life of their own and the vocal and very well connected – via social networks and forums – gamer community called for blood.

This wasn’t one of those short lived peeves that gamers have (like for instance about gamers dropping out of shared tasks in the middle of a battle in World of War Craft), this, as far as the community is concerned, fundamentally changes the review system as no one can be sure that undue pressure is not being put on the editorial staffers at game sites and in magazines.

It’s no secret that the gaming biz is now bigger than Hollywood and just as reliant on the knowledge gatekeepers loving the games they produce, and then telling everyone they know, to drive sales.

It has to be made clear that there is commenting going on but no real clarification as to why Gerstmann was sacked other than a vague statement from Cnet that good reviews can’t be bought, but the community doesn’t believe this.

Talk has moved quickly from anger at Gerstmann’s axing to a wider conspiracy theory that gaming reviews are now so valuable to the top gaming houses that they could and are being bought for advertiser dollars.

Gamers started flaming Gamespot, it’s corporate owners Cnet, Eidos and most significantly advertisers on the Gamespot site and then there was the talk of the oganised boycotts.

One game site expressed its outrage, that the industry had been tainted, by changing its name from Destructoid to Cashwhore and pointedly adopted the GameSpot livery almost exactly and includes messages like: “Buy huge ads that eat the entire site and get a 9/10 review for free”.

This story was creating so much activity online that, despite the details being sketchy, it moved out of the social news and gaming sites and into the mainstream., The Guardian and numerous newspapers and sites wrote about the firing and the stir it has caused.

There was even a tantalising suggestion that Pepsico was trying to distance itself from Gamespot by removing, over the weekend, its signicant Mountain Dew branding on the site (which itself was said to have replaced the dumped Kane & Lynch ads).

OK so what’s it mean?

Firstly the companies involved need some serious crisis management training whether what the blood thirsty gamer blogging community suspects is true actually happened or not. Eidos and CNET said little of value over the weekend while a vocal angry mob spread word of the injustice at an alarming rate and all these companies were saying by remaining silent seemed to be we can’t defend the indefensible, at least that’s how fans saw it.

Secondly it’s a really bad idea to try and buy content or influence it in any market on any platform. Readers hate to think they are reading content that has been influenced by commercial considerations rather than editorial ones no matter whether they are reading a games site, the Wall Street Journal or Teddy Bears Monthly (I really hope there's no such title). In today's fully connected and totally social communications landscape it's a really bad idea. If someone suspects tampering , it can go from a nagging suspicion to a 10,000 comment streamed negative brand attack in just a few days.

The outcomes (even if the rumours are untrue and what insiders are hinting, that Gerstmann was fired for broader reasons is more accurate) are; GameSpot has suffered a significant and sustained on and offline assault, Eidos has suffered the same and the game title itself is likely to suffer seriously in sales.

The smart idea would have been to heavily advertise Kane & Lynch both offline and online and run a heavy keyword search camapaign, since if you type the title into most search engines now all you get is damaging info about the Gerstmann scandal. Eidos really needs to try some sort of counter offence to get some postive messages out there because now potential consumers who don't necessarily follow the hard core gaming press, either on or offline, are only hearing not only what a rubbish game it allegedly is supposed to be but also that Eidos is a manipulative corporate ogre.

Gerstmann broke his silence through Facebook to simply ask people to stop calling his parents house at 2am looking for comment (according to Wired). He further says he can't reveal anymore for legal reasons.

Note: pics are Destructoid's new site livery and Penny Arcade's take on the whole situation.

UPDATE: Just after posting this GameSpot posted a brief note on it's site but gave few details. Check out the readers comments to get an indication of whether or not it is likely to mitigate the crisis.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bitch, berate, BLOG!

Get some user generated contentment in your life by contributing to Marketing's Your Pitch blog. Criticise a campaign, can some creative awards, tell us about a trend or just spread some love about someone or something in the industry that's getting it right.
Send submissions to and we'll load them up.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Uniquely Singapore - is it tender enough?

Dear Editor,

I felt that I should write about the uniquely Singaporean practice of issuing tenders that add little to the credibility of the marketing industry in this haven of transparency.

Over coffee last week an advertising agency owner recounted the woeful tale of 3 rounds of creative pitches and tacit approval of their ideas, only to be told after several months of working on 'concepts' that the company had decided to tackle their design issues in-house. My own PR agency had a dedicated team of 8 people working at speed on a pitch getting through 3 rounds to the final. After 4 weeks without word I withdrew our bid. The next day we received a letter to inform us that we had not been selected. The following day we read in your newsletter that the encumbent agency had been re-appointed, with a view to a two year contract; hardly the decision to take hurriedly.

The lack of courtesy given by companies to agency people who spend countless hours giving free ideas and well documented presentations is in itself to be disappointed by. In the case of our recent pitch, it was even more disappointing to hear from a person familiar with senior people inside the government agency that there had been an understanding all along that the incumbent agency would be retained. The objective, I presume, was to see how high the incumbent would jump and how low they would reduce their fees. I would happily have shelled out the cash for 2 mocha frappacino's at Starbucks for the two parties instead of the costly charade of a uniquely Singapore pitch. For those marketing managers sending out RFP's - do agencies a favour and call Greg Paull of R3 on +65 6827 4448

Yours sincerely,

Mr Integrated out of Sorts aka Jim James

(EASTWEST Public Relations, Beijing)

Note from the editor: In Marketing's November print edition, look out for an opinion piece by director of Versa Creations, Vivienne Quek, on her thoughts on free pitches.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

At the One Show: A fly-on-the-wall account

If the attendance was anything to go by, the first One Show Design ceremony was an unqualified success. The chic Chelsea Art Gallery it was held in was packed to the rafters and I'm guessing it had nothing to do with the South-American artist (who made flower and insect shapes from slashed-up Puma sneakers) who shared the gallery space. Apple Computers sent three of their Prada-suited best from Cupertino to collect their awards for the iPod Nano and iShuffle designs. The Ames Brothers from Seattle, the guys behind the much talked about posters for Pearl Jam were there. So were Santa Monica’s Blind agency who were responsible for the Gnarls Barkley ‘Crazy’ music video. Add several radiant winners from Germany, Japan, Croatia and one prodigiously talented duo from Y&R Singapore and you pretty much get the idea.

Armed with the task of covering the ceremony for Marketing magazine, I decided to report to the Press section instead of the Delegates section, announcing importantly that I was covering the event ‘for Asia’. I also mispronounced Marketing as Newsweek so maybe that explains all the fawning, ingratiating smiles from that Duffy guy.

That Duffy guy, by the way, was Joe Duffy. The Joe Duffy. Duffy is to designers what Neil Young is to grunge artists. The jury this year was hand-picked by him I suspect, seeing as how they were all ex-employees of Duffy & Partners. The jury was a good mix of old-Helvetica-worshipping-fogies and uber-hip young upstarts.

As anybody who’s been to one of these will tell you, getting a drink in the first hour of the ceremony is an accomplishment of sorts. Famous reporters who cover events for whole continents don’t seem to have that problem. They get their drinks brought to them.

They had our entry on display at the first corner and I spent many rapturous moments silently recording the swooning visitors. Ok I made that up. Nobody swooned or anything. But I blame that on the distracting blonde waitresses carrying sushi-laden salvers.

Walking past the exhibits you clearly feel the unmistakeable One Show flavour to the work selected. Unlike Graphis and other pure design awards, you’ll notice that the One Show will only entertain those pieces rooted in clever ideas rather than mere clever technique.

They’ll doff their hats at anything which is a) an intelligent idea, and b) hasn’t been done before. Although it may be pointed out that there have been occasions in the past where some absolute turds have slipped past, it is the exception rather than the rule.

By and large, I found the entries that won Pencils were those which displayed wit, irony or simply blindingly clever visual plays. My personal favourites were the Pearl Jam World Tour posters, the Gnarls Barkley music video and a pair of idents for MTV. A mention must be made of this outstanding environmental design idea from Germany where they created an accurate miniature model of a football field complete with turf and goalposts in a parking lot. The message urged people to petition the Mayor of the city to build more spaces for children to play in.

It goes without saying that the Malaysia Dairy Industries poster was a work of rare genius.
Nirmal Pulickal and Andrew Phua with the Bronze award they won for their 'Udder' print work, for client Malaysian Dairy Industries.

I’m afraid I still haven’t found a suitable opportunity to bludgeon you with the reams of information the One Club provided in their Press Kit. I’ll skip the boring parts (something about 20% more entries…blah…blah…) and just say that from this year onwards the One Show Annual will come as a set of three books – Advertising, Design and Interactive. The books, individually will be lighter than the hernia monsters of the past.

That brings to an end my report. Sadly, I didn’t get drunk enough to ask the One Club president what the deal was with the pukey flames-and-hell illustration on one of the recent One Show covers. I had that on my agenda but in the end decided to play it nice.

Nirmal Pulickal, reporting from New York City, Friday, 13 July 2007.

Pulickal is a senior creative with Y&R Singapore, who, along with his partner Andrew Phua, created the ‘Udder’ poster for Malaysia Dairy Industries that won a Bronze Pencil at the One Show Design.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How to reach the digital consumer ?

Do me a favor and do the following test tomorrow morning. Try to leave your place without any electronic gadget and especially your mobile phone. Difficult isn’t it ? . Try as well to remember the telephone number of your best friend, or your siblings…I would bet this is not as easy as you would imagine… Welcome one more time to the Digital Age, where our life depends on electronics…

We know that our society drastically changed over the past 40 years, moving from the Analog times to the Digital Age . From the tape to the MP3, the TV to the Plasma or LCD TV, from the camera to the embedded digital camera in your phone, from VCR to DVD, BlueRay, HDDVD, DVI, HDMI…… And the revolution is not over, we are just entering the Web2.0 and the Web 3.0 is almost ready…

On top of that, the traditional marketing approach is not working anymore. The society of conspicuous consumption from the 80s is over and branding perceptions have changed too . Have a look at the number of new raising brands from China, Korea and Taiwan and you will realize that consumer are more open to purchase a B brand type product versus an A brand product.

Most of us are using mobile phone and internet on a daily base. Do we really understand the implication it has on the consumer ? Do you know that more than 100 millions videos are downloaded every day from YouTube ! Should you need an information, forget about encyclopedia and old yellow page : Google it, Wikipedia it. Looking for friend ? just Linkedin it , Facebook it… Wanted to share information ? Space it, Technorati-it, Blog it...

How do we take those new parameters into account when we need to develop a new campaign for a new product ? Consumer is not isolated anymore. He is more connected, more mobile than ever.

There is definitively a tight interaction between technologies and consumer. Technology is adapting to us while we adapt to technology. Recently, an American survey even suggested that the dexterity of the teen’s thumb has increased compared to ours… ( I finally understand why my young brother is continuously beating me on video games…Honor is safe, this is not my fault, I am just an old school ‘thumb’ guy…) I know it seems weird, however, have a look how we SMS and compare it with teens and your parents. While our old man would proudly enter one letter a second with his index, kids will use their biotechnology thumbs programmed to directly connect to those small tiny keyboards….

Let’s face it, not only the technology has changed, but the consumer has evolved too. He is bombarded with information and we , as marketers, have a tendency to believe that he is more receptive because we can reach him differently, faster than before.

Well, that maybe the opposite. Do not overestimate the efficiency of using a simple digital campaign. Your consumer is more clever, more gifted, more educated and more skilled to avoid the traditional marketing traps.

A proper 360 marketing campaign should definitively include digital, and a mobile component if you want to increase its ROI. However, let’s go back to our basic and do not forget that our job is to answer consumer’s needs . Use technology as a media, a way to reach them and use it wisely. Do not overload your consumer with too much information, promotion or messages. Technology is not a mean by itself , it is just a new weapon to reach your digital consumer. You still need to target him properly and you should be even more accurate than before.

Gregory Birge

General Manager

Wunderman Asia Pacific

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Really Creative Creative Directors Club declares war

The other evening, I called an emergency meeting of the Really Creative Creative Directors Club of Singapore, requesting that, as I had a very urgent matter to discuss, everyone should do their very best to attend unless they forgot, had something better to do or, at the last minute, just couldn't be bothered. No other excuses, I stressed, would be even remotely acceptable. It's important. There's a war going on and somehow, some way, we have to win it.

Well, the first to arrive was Mr. Gordon, who asked, as you might: 'What war?'

'A battle-of-the-departments type war,' I replied, adding: 'One of those wars that begins with a niggle, escalates, and can absolutely destroy a working relationship.'

'By "niggle",' queried Mr. Gordon, 'do you mean realising you hate each other, should never be working together in the first place and wishing they were dead? Will there be tips on undetectable poisons and tampering with their car brakes?'

I said: 'Honestly, Mr. Gordon, we did that last week. Didn't you attend?'

He said not. He meant to, he said, but on that day he put his back out and then his left leg fell off - 'in Brewerkz, can you imagine! But they did carry it out to the bike for me.’

I got a bit cross about this, I admit. 'Mr. Gordon,' I said. 'Unless you forgot, you had something better to do or, at the last minute, simply could not be bothered, I don't want to hear it. I won't be fobbed off with such feeble reasons for not attending.'

He rejoined with: 'Oh, and I couldn't be bothered.'

I said: 'That was better. Thank you, Mr. Gordon. That will be all. You may hop to your seat now.'

And so, as the others had arrived, the meeting could begin. 'Ladies and Gentlemen,' I said, 'this spring, what has preoccupied you for much of the time? Has it been timesheets?'

'No,' everyone cried. 'Has it been cost estimates?' 'No,' everyone cried. 'Has it been forecasting revenue and working out the next quarter’s budget?'

'Get a life!' everyone cried. 'Has it been leaving things at the bottom of your in-tray to do later and then never doing them?' 'Yes, yes, yes!' everyone cried. 'OK, apart from leaving things at the bottom of the in-tray to do later but never doing them, have you also been writing and art directing stuff?'

'Well, yes, a bit!' everyone cried. I said: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, if this war - and it is war, not a game - in your office is anything like the one in mine, I'm guessing it goes like this, and always goes like this:

1) You, who occasionally make a stab at work, put down the gin and Hello! and write an ad, using a comma in the headline
2) A person of a suity nature then takes it out
3) You put it back in
4) They take it back out
5) In
6) Out
7) In
8) Out
9) In
10) Out

'And so on, until the very end of time itself. And is it any fun, Ladies and Gentlemen? Is it amusing in any way? No. Plus, if I'm guessing right, and I think I am, it can get dirty. Very dirty.

'On occasion, you may even meet in the studio while one is in-ing and the other is out-ing. This, of course, can result in a fist fight, so, if you want my advice, always come prepared with, for example, a Doberman and a scalpel. Alternatively, broken bottles, knuckledusters and old D&AD annuals are suitable.'

'Yippee,' exclaimed Ms Dickinson. 'Good show!'

I pressed on: 'Further, you must be alert to cheating at all times. They may, for example, not take it out after you have put it back in, which you may think means you have won.'

'Does that mean we can't use the broken bottles, knuckledusters or old D&AD annuals?' interrupted Mr. Tan.

'No way,' I said, 'because, what you will discover, is that they have left the comma in the headline but THEY HAVE GONE AND TAKEN EACH AND EVERY APOSTROPHE OUT!'

'The creep,' yelled the other Mr. Tan. 'The sneaky little creep! Let me at them with the scalpel!'

'You may, of course, choose to go the non-violent route and give them the facts,' I said. 'You may tell them to read Fowler, you may then wish to conclude with: "It's a grammatical fact, matey. Get over it. The comma is in and the apostrophes stay."

'But will they accept this? No, Ladies and Gentlemen, they will not.’

I finished on a heartfelt plea to the meeting: 'Revered Members, how are we to win this war?'

'Undetectable poisons and tampering with their car brakes?' suggested Mr. Gordon, 'or even detectable poisons, what the hell?'

We considered Mr. Gordon's suggestion, and discussed whether we thought he might be being a bit hasty, but then concluded: no.

It's the only way. It's not nice, we accept, but this is war. And this is what can happen when you play havoc with a person’s punctuation.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Clio Executive Jury Chair Roundtable

Arrived in Albuquerque after a 24-hour flight. It was 12.30 in the morning and about 3-5 degrees when I reached Bishop’s Lodge Resort & Spa. This place began as a private retreat for the city's first archbishop.

Brrrr… isn’t Santa Fe supposed to be warm this time of the year?

Piñon Lodge #191: This was the lodge where I stayed. It was named for all the Piñon trees that cover the expanse of The Bishop’s Lodge property and much of Northern New Mexico. Each lodge invokes the spirit of the Southwest with its atmosphere of earthen palettes, richly textured Navajo rugs, and glowing stone fireplaces. Nice.

The next morning, I woke up and realized what a beautiful place it was. I had a tough time breathing after walking a few steps because this lodge was located at 7,300 feet above sea level.

Beautiful Wind Sculptures like this one called Bean Poles, made of copper and stainless steel, were scattered all over town and in Bishop’s lodge.

Met up with Tony Gulisano, the newly appointed MD who’s been with the organization for over 25 years. We touched on the Clio’s judging format. For a guy I’ve never met, we spoke like old friends and his experience in the industry humbled me. His enthusiasm for the show and respect for the people who did the work impressed me immensely. “It’s all about the work!” he kept repeating.

Judging began on March 31 straight after breakfast.
My welcome speech went something like this:
“Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Is it in? Or out? It is a Gold, Silver or Bronze?
We’ll be making thousands over the coming week.
So how do we decide what to look for?
I’m not going to tell you as most of you have been judging in more international shows than I have.

We’re not only the judges of the show but the editors of the Clio book.
Would you pick anything that shouldn’t be there?
Will you be proud of it once it’s published and millions of creatives read it?

You decide. Thank you.”

Cienega lodges were converted into judging rooms. They are named for the wetlands located directly behind it. We sat on comfortable sofas staring at huge plasma screens and 30-inch Apple cinema HD display.

First round
15 judges were divided into 3 groups. And each group saw one third of the work submitted. Preliminary voting was simply a process of punching “in” or “out” in our PDAs. 3 votes move the pieces into the second round, and this process alone eliminated about 80-85% of the entries.

Print was judged the old fashioned way. Proofs on the table. Refreshing to finally read the copy, as we didn’t get to see it clearly on the computer screens before.

Second round
Most of the pieces that I liked made it to the second round. This time, the entire jury member would assemble to vote on the shortlist. Judges were required to vote on each piece from a scale of one to ten. Once the scores were tabulated, each piece provided was provided a point of reference to begin statue discussion. Sometimes, a high scoring piece would not even make it to the shortlist after statue discussion. This is the difference between silent voting and voting after a group discussion.

Just before statue discussion, everyone walked around the ballroom to see if they wanted to bring something back as a wildcard.

After the second round, each jury was allowed to recall only one piece of work to reconsider if it should be added to the shortlist. Interestingly, not that many pieces were brought back from the dead. Some that did went on to win heavy metal.

The judges getting ready to cast the next vote. Is it a Gold?

Statue discussion
Now that the “easy” part was over, we went on to the most important section. Who’s going to get the statues? To break the ice, we started with the student category. And even then, I felt some tension, which was actually a healthy thing to have. I made sure everyone had a point to make, and that all their views heard. No matter what argument they made, at the end of the day, their hands did all the talking. A majority vote determined if a piece deserved a statue.

After completing one category, we could easily see the tabulated votes. This helped Jury members to continue discussions without losing any time. The organizers at Clio really did a marvelous job in creating a very efficient system.

The whole Clio jury right after the judging was complete. Hurray!!!
One week together and not a single catfight.

From left, Icaro Doria,creative director,Saatchi & Saatchi New York,
Jonathan Kneebone, founder/creative director, The Glue Society.
Doerte Spengler-Aherns, creative director, Jung von Matt-Basis Gmbh, Satoshi Takamatsu, executive creative director,Ground LLC
Tokyo, Japan, Lotta Lundgren,copywriter,Åkestam Holst,Stockholm,
Yours truly, Julian Watt, executive creative director, Net#work BBDO
Johannesburg, Jason Schragger,creative director,Strawberry Frog
Amsterdam, Christina Yu,vice president/creative director,Lowe Roche,Toronto, Rodrigo Almeida,creative director,Almap BBDO

Saõ Paulo, Sebastian Arrechedera, vice president/general creative director, DDB Mexico City, Gustavo Reyes, general creative director
Euro RSCG, Buenos Aires, Eugene Cheong,regional head of copy
Ogilvy & Mather Singapore and Sylvain Thirache, executive creative director, DDB Paris.

When I started the process, I was apprehensive about how to deal with creative egos from around the world. But when the judging ended, a day earlier than expected, everyone left with a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures and beliefs. Because of where this took place, in the mountains, it really felt more like a creative retreat than a global judging event.

The Asian Judges from Print/Poster and TV/Cinema. Juries from several categories gathered outside the lawn at the Bishop’s Lodge for drinks and some finger food. Yum.

From left:
Yours truly, Josy Paul, JWT Mumbai, Tony Gulisano, Jureeporn Thaidumrong,JEH United, Ltd., Eugene Cheong, O&M Singapore and Eddie Booth, Leo Burnett HK.

Jonathan Kneebone, saying grace before a meal at the El Farol restaurant. It combines classic taste of Spain, Santa Fe and Mexico with a unique blend of art, dance and aroma. New York Times rated this place one of the best bars on Earth in 2005.

On May 9th, I will be flying off to South Beach, Miami for the annual Clio Festival. Not only will I be presenting the statues to the winners, I will be joining a panel of other jury chairman in the Jury Chairs Roundtable. On stage, we’ll engage in a free-form discussion of the year’s creative work.

Andrew Keller (Vice President/Executive Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky) who chaired Content and Contact, and Mark Tutssel (Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Leo Burnett Worldwide, USA) who chaired Television and Cinema, will be among the panel of 5 chairmen who will candidly share what happened inside the judging room.

Results of the winners will be announced in the Awards Gala at the Jackie Gleason Theater from May 10-12th.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Introducing the Really Creative Creative Director

Now, I know what you are all asking yourselves: what is a Really Creative Creative Director, and how can I become one? Well, it isn't that easy, you know.

We do have the most exacting low standards and will not accept just anybody. We recently, for example, had to reject Neil French on the grounds that he firmly believes you just can't have too much copy. "Neil," we had to tell him, "just go away."

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and sometimes you have to be cruel to be cruel, just for the sheer fun of it.

Anyway, first off, you really must join the Really Creative Creative Directors Club of Singapore. This is the largest organisation in Asia-Pacific for all those who have not only failed to enthuse convincingly - or even half-heartedly – about long copy and exquisite art direction, but also, probably, have very old job bags propping up their wobbly desks.

The Club, founded at some time or other but no one can say when exactly as we forgot to do a timing plan - oops - operates under the slogan: 'Nature abhors a vacuum and so do we, so what’s the point of suits?'

Minutes from the last AGM are, naturally, available on request, but only after they have been lost, found, lost, found, lost and then found again at the bottom of the filing cabinet under the small brown furry thing that may once have been a plum but then again could equally be one of those ridiculous furry decorations for the top of a pencil. Who is to tell?

Obviously the Club expects members to uphold the extremely low standards at all times. Anyone nearly up-to-date with their timesheets will have to explain themselves in full, while anyone totally up-to-date will be automatically expelled.

Anyone who hasn't touched a timesheet in years will be awarded free life membership, naturally.

Ditto anyone who puts a client’s photo in an ad, both when pressed for time and when not, and who dresses for a presentation by turning their T-shirt over to its 'fresh' side.

The Club has this to say about briefs: file, file, file, then throw away when nobody is looking.

We also suggest never questioning the fact there is an Action Man in your stationery drawer, as well as an indecent plastic swizzle stick, some small change (amounting to 87 cents), a book on houseplants and three Fox's Glacier Fruits. To question can only lead to madness.

The Club has this to say about memos: put aside for further perusal, then throw away when nobody is looking.

The Club suggests never, ever, going right to the bottom of the in-tray, as anything could be living down there. In fact, we fully endorse looking at the in-tray, sighing dispiritedly, and looking away again.

We expect all members to have all of the following items at the back of at least one office cupboard: a corkscrew; an ancient pot of dried up pens; a spilling box of decade old paperclips; and several bottles of wine (all red).

Also; any number of exotic herbal teas with tempting names like Mango Carnival and Tropical Fiesta but which no one drinks because they taste of pond; and sticky jars of stuff that can no longer be identified and have bits of moth wing stuck to their sides.

The Club has this to say about rejected concepts: decant carefully into job bag, place in desk, leave for a week, then throw out when nobody is looking. Alternatively, place in archive, leave for a decade, then throw out when nobody is looking.

Never throw away today anything that you can keep and then throw away at a later date. We will be very disappointed in anyone who does otherwise.

On the whole, we do not advise leaving suits to do the creative work, as it will only mean having to do it again, but we do accept such things can happen. We also accept such things can happen quite a lot.

We strongly advise never turning up for a briefing on time, as the shock can lead to diarrhoea and vomiting in Account Executives.

Should a concept be binned in an internal WIP, it is important to blow on it a bit and change the background colour before re-presenting, preferably when nobody is looking. It is perfectly acceptable to start something and not finish it, unless it is a bottle of gin.

The Club also has this to say to anyone who is about 19 years behind with their timesheets: gather them all up and throw them away while nobody is looking.

Alternatively, you can flush them down the loo, along with the office goldfish whose bowl was used as an ashtray but died of natural causes all the same.

I do hope you have enjoyed this short introduction to the Really Creative Creative Directors Club of Singapore. Membership rates are reasonable. Simply send a cheque, which we will either lose or spill coffee on or the art directors will draw all over, and which will therefore never be cashed. You can't get more reasonable than that.

Once a member, we hope you will defend the Really Creative Creative Director ethos or whatever we eventually decide to call it.

Some people say that the trouble with Really Creative Creative Directors is that they are lazy and just sit around all day reading Hello! and catching up on Corrie on the internet, whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

Really Creative Creative Directors work really, really hard. It's just that so much of what they do happens when nobody is looking...

Henry Adams
Creative Director
Rapp Collins (Singapore)

Henry's desk which she says explains "everything".

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tell Me It Isn’t So!

I have recently been seeking angel investment for a newly-developed business portal, and a comment by a potential investor has stopped me in my tracks.

He advised that positioning my new business as a Singapore-based dot-com might be a disadvantage and suggested that we might get greater awareness and support from local Singaporeans if we were to launch our portal overseas. .

Please tell me this is not true!

In my career, I have worked in many countries and chose to return to Singapore to realise my vision, believing that we Singaporeans would support fellow entrepreneurs, judging achievements on their own merits and not devalue them just because they are home grown.

We have the support of the Economic Development Board under the Innovation Commercialisation Scheme for the development of our proof-of-concept. We have recently launched our portal and are hoping to gain support from fellow Singaporean business professionals. Are we going to be disappointed?

Our mission is to help small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be more efficient in their marketing and business development efforts through online capabilities. We aim to empower them by making technology accessible and easy to use. To further show our commitment and support, we make most of our services free of charge.

Although I truly believe we will be successful, I want and need to know that I will get the support from my homeland. Deep down, I want to do us all proud.

Please tell me that the advice I heard from the investor is not true!

Jesse Ting


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pencil Pushing: A day at work as a D&AD judge

Morning walk to ExCel

The Morning Coffee: It’s always exciting on your first day at work. Especially if your work is to look at someone else’s work.

It also helps to see familiar Asian faces like Piyush Pandey, Akira Kagami, Jureeporn, Eugene Cheong and Tan Kien Eng – a telling sign of how D&AD has truly turned global.

Clocking in at 9.30 at the ExCel London Exhibition Centre, we were ushered into the main reception area where coffee was served by the gallons. We’d need that for the day ahead.

Reception area

The Boss (and his boss): Over coffee, John Jay, the foreman of the Integrated category, wanted our panel to think about what makes a great integrated idea, something that has eluded conventional categorisation and is still evolving at an exhilarating rate.

We were quickly whisked off to attend a judges’ briefing by this year’s president Tony Davidson.

So what is the judging criteria for the world’s toughest advertising and design competition?

- An original and inspiring idea
- Well executed
- Relevant to its context

It sounds so mind-boggling simple, I doubt D&AD would mind my revealing of this criteria, it’s not like I’m giving away model answers to the final exam papers.

Somewhere a junior copywriter just wondered aloud, “That’s IT??”

Indeed, that’s it. But there’s a difference between simple and easy. (And to ensure brutal judging standards, I noticed that several judges looked like they abstained from sex for a few months.)

Deadlines: We were tasked to cast silent votes on some 55 entries (typically 5-10 minute videos), and engage in full-on discussions and debate to finally decide in-book, nominations and yellow pencil winners. Tick tock tick tock.

Know your IT Manager: Voting was done via a handy Nintendo DS console. Despite the occasional hiccup and time spent on troubleshooting, it was a necessary tool to quickly and systematically tabulate results.

The Grind: Once the first video got rolling, there was no turning back. Thank goodness we were working with an already culled list of entries, having gone through an earlier round of online voting.

It was interesting to see how agencies present their integrated thinking on video. Long videos quickly became boring, underproduced videos did the ideas little justice and you won’t believe how many creatives think having a drums & bass/trance soundtrack is a great way to complement their video.

In the judging room

Friendly Co-workers: Guys like Matt Devine (Glue Society) and Paul Brazier (AMV) were very vocal and considered with their comments – which is great at creating a lively and respectful discussion atmosphere.

Meetings Meetings Meetings: After lunch we went into open discussion on the pending in-book entries.

This proved to be the most challenging part, with every judge pulling rejected entries back into consideration and taking out entries that weren’t quite great enough but somehow made the cut. It was an exhaustive and exacting process -- every detail scrutinised, every weakness prodded, every answer questioned.

A piece of work needs to be almost perfect to elicit the backing and belief of these select few.

It was a trademark application of the ‘simple’ judging criteria in full play.

Office Politics: Almost none. If the judges had any of their own work in the discussion, they were required to leave the room immediately.

Working Overtime: Deciding the nominations and yellow pencil winners took an extra two hours. Every judge had to be perfectly comfortable with the final selection because these few gems would help define and point the way forward for an exciting and evolving category.

Regardless of the outcome, my favourites remain Axe’s Gamekillers, a truly superb creative leap in terms of concept and craft, for a humdrum product like a deodorant, no less; and Zoo’s 10K Blowout, which had two marketing guys ‘waste’ the whole ad budget on true-blue laddie antics like bouncing around with topless models and flying a jet.

Noteworthy too was a campaign from Japan that had a plane powered by their brand of AA batteries. Serious.

Taking your work home: Having done a full day of judging, I went straight back to my room and crashed. Then I remembered that I’d been asked to blog this experience. So here it is, I hope it was good for you, it sure was good for me.

Victor Ng, deputy CD of Leo Burnett Singapore was judge for a day at D&AD, sitting on the judging panel for the integrated category. Marketing would like to thank Vic for kindly agreeing to be a guest blogger on Your Pitch.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Seeing beyond clicks with online video ads

I’ve never been a great fan of online video ads.

And this is NOT because the ad format is inferior. But rather, it’s the execution.

One cannot help but notice that very little effort has been put into creating online video ads for people who actually use the internet for its unique character and capabilities.

I won’t bother pointing out what makes a badly executed online video ad here. Suffice to say, the outright conversion of a TVC to accommodate a 300x250 pixel space does not add any tangible value to the online user (more so when the TV ad is bad to start with!) nor the advertiser.

Given my sentiments on this, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled into the new Xbox online video ad that uses clips from the Blue Dragon game. Why so?

Well a major reason being, the ad lets the advertiser track customer interaction beyond clicks. A simple polling element within the ad allows for the collection of quantitative data which can be translated into a meaningful piece of information. Giving the audience an option to continue with his or his viewing experience also allows the advertiser to measure how sticky or engaging the ad is. It’s definitely more polite than trying to shove an entire block of TV ad down the throats of the viewers!

I’ve always believed that performance is a function of 3 things - Product, Execution and Media. And this rings even more true now that I’m on the other side of the fence. With every available measure of ROI being important, I find myself looking for more meaningful information other than simple clicks.

So whether it’s about getting that customer info, finding out what they like or dislike, etc - immediately before they click on the ad to visit my website (which may then be more costly and troublesome to execute) - I’m definitely getting my creative and media partners even more involved from now on.

John Ng, Assistant Vice President, Business Development, iBanking

DBS Bank

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Step forth and comment


Marketing magazine often receives emails from readers who have keen observations and strong opinions on industry topics, so we've decided to launch a platform where these points-of-view can be aired and shared.

Your Pitch

This new blog, named Your Pitch, is part of a series of initiatives we're launching to get closer to our readers and get a better feel of the pulse of the business -- and in turn help you do better business. It accompanies the previously launched The Pitch blog where the Marketing editorial team waxes lyrical about its experiences.

The Pitch

If you've seen an ad you like or not, heard a comment you'd like to share, have an issue that's been bugging you for a while, or even have a problem you can't seem to solve, email us at

We're trying to set up a system where you can get your own log-in and upload stuff to the blog without going through us but until that gets sorted out, the Marketing team will be your point of contact.

I hereby declare the gate of marketing debate open.

Debbie Cai
Marketing magazine