Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Saul Bass's Why Man Creates

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Market leader.

Remember Apple's 'Hi I'm a Mac' campaign 5 years ago, making fun of PC users?

Seems like the table has really turned.

And that's a good thing.

Because for once Microsoft (or Nokia) is is making ads focusing on the product and consumer insight, with predatory thinking.

Dave Trott would be so proud.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emotion is not enough.

I'm a cynical guy when it comes to advertising. (Surprise!)
If I don't separate my own experience and prejudice, then all media communication are all attempts to get us to spend money on stuff we shouldn't be spending money on. That cute kid they use on the ad? Yea we exploited the parents' dream of having a child star to sell toilet paper to you! SELL! SELL!
If I don't take that sort of skewed cynism out of the equation (I believe film buffs call it the 'suspension of disbelief'), then I could never focus on the technical aspect of the ad itself.

The video above is what they call a 'publicity stunt' to raise awareness of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I'm writing about this because 1) I've been to the MSO and I can say the insight of 'hey! I can do that!' is absolutely spot on, and 2) because it's been done by a friend.

And sure, any other day I'd be extremely skeptical and wonder if the public actually did conduct the orchestra or were they professional dressed in plain clothes. Were they actually playing the music we're listening in the video, or is it simply great editing?

But it doesn't matter, because my friend did it.

And that's relevant to me. That's why I'm sharing it.

That's the important thing.

Big agencies, for the longest time, have championed the rational approach, then the disruption method, and then the 'emotional' sell (lovemarks, anyone?), and then now it's all about engagement, social participation, the share and care.
This campaign made me realise the most important thing in communication, is relevance.

If you live in Melbourne, and you love classical music, then this is relevant to you. Most likely, you will find it heart-warming and surreal. (That's where I take my train to work! I recognise the landmark!)

Does it make people pay money to the MSO? Maybe.

But it does make you feel happy to be living in Melbourne.
And not many ads or campaign or facebook pages can do that.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Confessions of a mediocre ex-creative.

For the last week I've caught up with three friends in advertising who simultaneously declared that I'm out of the industry. One even introduced me as the one who 'escaped, like, in Shawshank Redemption'.

I'm not sure they said that out of pity, or simply relief that I no longer pollute the industry, I definitely did not climb through a tunnel of shit like Tim Robbins.

But it got me thinking, now that I've been banished, perhaps I can talk a lot more freely about my past experiences. And who knows, that may prevent you from making the same mistakes like I did.

Here goes.

One of the most common and consistent peer feedback / review I received was that I did not exert enough enthusiasm. (It probably didn't help that whenever I received said feedback I always roll my eyes.) I do not deny that. My explanation is that I'm Asian and I have a genetic feature evolved from generations of oppression. Granted I'm not a hostile person, but I'm the sort that gets pissed off when 12 steps were taken to finish a job when only 4 were required, which happened almost constantly.

This one time, a suit felt discouraged that the creatives (in that instance, I) never complimented their effort on delivering briefs.

This is something I do not miss in an agency. The finger pointing. The justification. The sensitive souls. I couldn't do my job because the creatives weren't encouraging enough. Really?

I honestly don't remember. Maybe I wasn't enthusiastic because I was busy getting the job started, or I just wanted to get back to the job I was interrupted 10 minutes ago. But the fact that the comment travelled all the way to the managing partner, typed out in a piece of paper and came up in my review, really surprised me.

This is the equivalent of me mounting 10 presentation boards for a pitch, demanded the planner to come and admire how they're all symmetrically pleasing to the eyes, failed, and then lodging an official complaint to HR.

Again, cut to me rolling my eyes in the principal's office with the giant pop art painting. Or pinball machine. Or giant moose head that isn't a real moose. Definitely one of those.

Cut to all of us being lectured to be supportive and be nice to suits. Do not eat breakfast on the table after 10am because that upsets them. Do not belittle their hard work even if it's full of spelling mistakes and information from the client's website.

So lesson 1.

Beware of cry babies. They're easy to spot. They make a lot of noise (I heard rumours that suits in Ogilvy Sydney get pay raises by crying in the conference room, or threatening to quit in a middle of a pitch). The Chinese has a proverb to describe them: Loud thunder; soft drizzle.

Make friends with them. Handle them with care.
Send them chocolates even if they scheduled meetings at 5pm.

End of lesson 1.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Must be the horse meat.

This is a retail supermarket ad in the UK:
 And this is a retail supermarket ad in Australia:
I really hate being the person that always complains shit and not have a solution, but I really can't help it. Why can't Australia be up to that standard?

Tesco is a leading brand; Coles is a leading brand.

Is it the budget?

Is it simply the price?

Is it the client?

Is it the agency?

Is it the consumers?

Is it (lack of) competition?

I think Coles is really going to be a the ultimate textbook example against creativity.

And no one knows why.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Despicable MY.

Watch the short video above.

Wouldn't it be a great day if I were to tell you that these were Malaysians jumping queue and rushing in to vote for the last election?

Or that they're fed up with the government and are starting a protest against the injustice and corruption in the country?

But alas they are simply trying to get into McDonald's to get their hands on the cute toys. Because in Malaysia, cute overrides democracy by default.

Bear in mind, these are adults. So the 'young and ignorance' plea does not apply here.

If this was a test, the correct answer should've been: fuck you and your toys, I want a fair government. What's the point of having toys when they won't have a future?

But the temptation was too strong, I  mean look at the cute toys! Who can possibly resist them?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Optus goes Olympic.

At 19 I arrived at the country. I used the public phone to call home.
(With the calling cards. Remember that you gen-y piece of shit?)

Then I tried to sign up for a plan. Telstra looked too cold and expensive.
Vodafone and 3 were still setting up shop, didn't really trust the Dodo bird, so I opted for Optus. (They have more animals, they must be better.)

Then I got stung by unexpected fees.
Sometimes the bills cost more than my Siemens phone.
I got out of the contract as soon as possible. (2 years.)

This is when I fooled around with other brands like Vodafone (because it's foreign it must be better) or 3 (if they can give out free video chat they must be awesome). But slowly I realised it really didn't matter because they all sucked.

When I found out pre-paid is actually the way to go, I was already in the workforce, 5 years later.

That's when I realised normal white suburban Aussie 'mates' use Telstra and they use all that BigPond crap, even when they know it's just a internet device that deadlocks your content with ads. Let me simply put, if you don't care about money, you use Telstra.

And that was roughly the time when Optus started using real animals in their ads, missing the point of having the animals to disconnect consumers from real life situations in the first place. (The marketing board directors shouting: Business is down? It must be the animals. No don't kill them, make them play soccer!)

Vodafone was my choice because I could cap my spending at $29 a month with $300 credit and rubbish 3G connection. ($26 if you recharge from Safeway.) Meanwhile 3 was going 'psssssss' like a deflating balloon. Virgin was like 'I'm just here because my dad wants me to be here'.

So fast forward to 2012 there's a huge restructuring as they called it, no more discounted prepaid plans. I graduated to Telstra, still prepaid, still cared about money, but happy to not have to care about signal losses and what not.

And the funny thing is that Telstra rebranded as a more upbeat, colourful brand. 3 was no more. Not sure of the difference between Vodafone and Virgin since they're both red. Optus was still trapped between animals and a very fast but somehow tangible 4G yellow cube you can hold in your palm but kinda blew your face away.

Until this year.

Sorry for the absolute bollocks of a lead up. I initially planned to just share a YouTube video, but  I guess it's good to provide a bit of context.

I'm sure by now you've seen the big Optus rebrand that has all designers walking around in a wet dream coma state:

You can see the complete suite here.

My feeling is that I can't feel any prouder, to be a Telstra customer.

No seriously, it's actually a compliment to Optus. If I'm still 19 as a university student, or even 23 working as a junior, I'd love this new character to give Telstra the finger. To make me feel all cute, and relevant and cool. Truth is I'm a cynical Asian running a business now. I am not their target market.

They've done a great job polarising the market, and the plan is obvious. Why fight the blue Telstra when you can destroy the red double Vs first? And the timing can't be better, because they've got this case study that the public really likes cute stuff (cue Dumbways to Die). As much as my dreaded cynicism is yelling 'It's telco, no one gives a shit as long as it's cheap and reliable', I really hope it works.

p.s. Yesterday I was watching daytime TV. And they're doing this infomercial with the logo bang smacked at the bottom left hand corner. I guess amidst the big rebranding mock up they didn't think about how the logo or typeface would look with a lot of crappy text on TV.

It actually looks a lot like ... a Dodo ad.