Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day of Rememberance by Dr Lukoye Atwoli.

If we forget our past, we are bound to repeat it.

One year ago this month, Kenya went to the polls with the hope that we would begin the new year with a new set of occupants in Parliament brimming with new ideas and plans for the nation. Instead, as the year closed, reports of widespread killings, looting and breakdown of law and order flooded the local and international media.

Kenyans spent New Year’s eve huddled in their homes digesting the import of the latest rumour doing the rounds via mobile phone text messages and FM radio stations, and woke up on the first day of 2008 to reports of mass murder and arson in the North Rift, with churches and schools not being spared. Many believed the end had come, and those that could, escaped to the relative safety of neighbouring countries. Others ran to the nearest police stations and churches to seek succour, while young men banded together to defend whatever was left of their families and property.

Although ethno-political flare-ups have been common in Kenya’s election cycle during this pluralist era, January to February 2008 must rank up there with the worst periods in our history. It would, therefore, be the height of folly for us to move into the next year without pausing for a moment to remember what happened after our elections. Though this collective amnesia would just be a continuation of our national character of “forgive and forget” when we are fearful of confronting the unpleasant realities of our past, this time, we must gather the courage to face this particular demon and say to its face: “Never Again!” We must remember what happened last year to begin the process of exorcising this curse of so-called political violence that repeatedly rears its ugly head every time there is some sort of political contest in this country.

As the philosopher Santayana says, ‘‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and Kenyans should not delude themselves that they can move to build a future without interrogating their past.

Commemoration of tragic events in a nation’s past is one way of reducing the chances of their recurrence. It would therefore be a double tragedy for this country if after so much death and destruction we also learn nothing from the conflagrations of January.

It is necessary that the agencies involved in the humanitarian response to the post-election violence come up with a way for us to keep it in our memory for as long as it takes to ensure that a repeat is practically impossible.

The Government must designate a day when we remember the long dark night of terror that Kenya endured. A date in late December or early January should be designated the Day of Remembrance for all those who lost their lives, limbs or property. If this is not done urgently, it is a guarantee that as soon as the politicians engineer some other crisis to distract the citizenry, the lessons of the 2007 election will be forgotten.

Commemoration will also remind those that are still struggling to rebuild their lives that the nation has not forgotten, and that we have collectively vowed never to go down that road again. Our children will begin to develop a new morality, where it is not acceptable to hack your neighbour to death and burn his house just because you happen to have different political views or surnames.

If our political establishment is reluctant to remember this period for obvious reasons, then civil society organisations must take it upon themselves to maintain it on our national consciousness.
A day of peaceful processions and messages of peace would be a fitting reminder of what we went through.

Celebration of our diversity would also be a useful way to keep us focused on the project of nation-building that began when we acquired a national political consciousness and resolved to eject the colonial government and replace it with majority rule.

Dr Lukoye Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer, Moi University School of Medicine, Eldoret (article from Daily Nation Kenya, Tuesday December 30, 2008)

--- end of article ---

Every nation is marred by a moment so dark that it becomes an unspeakable truth for generations to come. Kenya a year ago, was shadowed by what was known as the most violent political upheaval post-independence. We too in Malaysia had our moment known as the 13th May incident. The racial clash nightmare that happened in year 1969. It was so bad that was subsequently swept under the carpet and remained hushed hushed, only worth certain brief mentions in the history text. It was never mentioned for fear of a similar occurence should the opposition win again. But really, if we don't remember it, shall we fear it? As from the article above by Dr. Lukoye, dates of such importance should be remembered and 'celebrated' lest history should repeat itself for those who lapse in memory. Such events should always be forgiven but never forgotten.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Out-of-town notice.

Away in the land of time-stopping sunsets. Will be back after three weeks :)

Have yourself a very very merry Christmas, full of extraordinary lovely surprises and a very very happy and fulfilling 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The new BMW Z4 Expression of Joy.

Why does sportiness always conjure images of performance or aggressiveness? The vroom vroom? Check out new BMW commercial of how to communicate this 'sporty' feeling without shouting, being all laser tail lights, revvvvvving sounds, too fast too furious shots. The new Z4 embodies the true art of performance. Literally.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Does your brand have a social life?

An equally gung-ho-about-2.0 friend sent me this from mad.co.uk. I didn't have the time to read it until just now and absolutely have to share as it's right up the alley of some projects I'm currently considering working on. It's amazing how things just turn up at your doorstep when you have faith :)

--- start ---

Yann Motte, CEO of Webjam, discusses the part social networks can play in online branding.

Online branding has come a long way since the days when simply having a corporate website was seen as the cutting-edge. With the majority of purchasing decisions now being made online and an increasing number of online retailers, a unique brand web-presence and reputation will only become more essential. It is now common practice for brands to allow consumers to comment on them through blogs and forums and many brands also encourage consumers to share and remix brand content online through social networking sites. Yet, branding through social networks has still not matured into its full potential.

Branding through social networking appears deceptively simple, but is notoriously hard to execute. Not only are consumers extremely fickle about the information they will consent to pass on, but it is also increasingly difficult to be heard in our modern media-saturated environment. Yet, there can be no doubt that social networking can provide a powerful forum for brand building, since the influence of friend recommendations on purchasing decisions is well known. Additionally, social networking is fast becoming the conduit of choice for disseminating information very quickly, by making it easy to spread the word virally to “friends”. Add the ability to reach massive audiences (about whom you can access a lot of demographic and behavioural information) and you have a marketer’s dream. That being said, the interaction is very superficial at present. Brands need to go further in exploiting the potential to engage with their prospective followers that social media presents.

The popularity of the most well-known social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace, meant that they were often the first port of call for companies trying to build their brands through this new medium. However, marketers are now beginning to realise that the creation of a brand profile on these sites does not really achieve anything, since there can be no one to one relationship between a brand and a consumer. Simply having Nestle as a “friend” is unlikely to alter a consumer’s purchasing decisions. These brand “pages” have become little more than adverts embedded in social networking sites.

Brands need to encourage consumer interactivity in order to spread information about themselves across social networks. The future belongs to brands that will not only engage with their consumers but also empower them to create their own discussions on communities that they themselves manage. Consumers will soon be able to repackage the brand in their own words, which they are doing on some forums already, through reviews and recommendations. Brands may soon create their own social communities, with a goal more akin to social publishing than social networking. Social publishing refers to communities of consumers, who are drawn together online to form a community around a brand, a company or an organisation. Although a brand cannot communicate with individual consumers, these communities of consumers can connect and build relationships amongst themselves. These consumers can then collaborate on their own projects, inspired by their favourite brand or organisation - a shared passion for anything from Nike clothing to helping the NSPCC stop child abuse.

Social publishing allows consumer communities to cooperate across a wide variety of content such as blogs, forums, galleries, videos and polls. Through user generated content (UGC), social networking and shared editing of web-pages, consumers with similar interests can now collaborate on a common goal. Additionally, consumers should be able to talk to each other freely and not have the brand as the hub for all communications. However, brands may well choose to support community projects, such as sponsoring events or organising competitions.

Yet, the holy grail for most organisations is to build a character around their brand values that transcends what the product or service itself provides – to move from being a simple purchasing choice to a lifestyle statement. By allowing affinities between personalities to evolve toward affinities with a brand, social networks are a place where marketers can let brand personality blossom. If a brand has succeeded in communicating about its values, then it is normal that users start talking about those values rather than the product itself. For example, if Lucozade values sporting performance, then that is the type of discussions the brand should foster between
its users.

Within a brand network consumers can exchange tips, ideas and opinions not only about the product or service, but also about what the brand means to them or helps them achieve. It is through such networks that online branding will really come into its own.

(underline mine)
--- end ---

Brands on social network need constant and careful monitoring. Unlike traditional media where bursts come and go, a social network once created cannot be undone less it brings unfavorable speculation towards the brand. Therefore, for those who are planning to go on a social network, be really careful and be ready to sleep, eat the brand, more so than ever now. Once a profile is created, it cannot be deleted overnight as it will leave footprints online. My advise is to engage a trusted team of brand guardians who are an all rounder - savvy in PR, branding, web 2.0, consumers, users, communications, etc - to take care of the profile. Building a presence amongst the consumers means brands have to be accountable and they are liable to questions posed by their fellow peers within the community. Honestly, how many brands can handle that kind of honesty?

*Interested in building a social life for your brand? Mail us here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jan Chipchase in Lift Asia 08 part II.

Something else he said.

It's easier to design for single use. Designing for shared use is always harder because it's more complex and there are more variables.

To what extent is this true when designing automobiles? Is there a husband's car and a wife's car? Of course there is but what distinctively separates the two other than usage? Is it the final call of decision made by the husband or the wife? What about the father and son? What about two sisters? Is this what Toyota mean by universal design? But didn't we learn that in order to serve happiness to people, we've got to put them into meaningful clusters to unearth their diverse needs? Remember, it's no more about the sweet spot, it's the sweet spots. So if that's the case, then how do we design a shared space that still maintains the personalization depending on who's using it, when? More space for mom's groceries? Same space for dad's golf clubs? How about a personalized temperature and music controller that remembers the driver? If I'm not mistaken, that is a technology of BMW (who else?). What else?

Friday, December 12, 2008

GM's official apology.

It'll be interesting to see how GM swings back from the rut starting from this statement:

GM's Commitment to the American People

We deeply appreciate the Congress considering General Motors' request to borrow up to $18 billion from the United States. We want to be sure the American people know why we need it, what we'll do with it and how it will make GM viable for the long term.

For a century, we have been serving your personal mobility needs, providing American jobs and serving local communities. We have been the U.S. sales leader for 76 consecutive years. Of the 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads today, more than 66 million are GM brands - nearly 44 million more than Toyota brands. Our goal is to continue to fulfill your aspirations and exceed your expectations.

While we're still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today's globally competitive industry. We have paid dearly for these decisions, learned from them and are working hard to correct them by restructuring our U.S. business to be viable for the long term.

Today, we have substantially overcome our quality gap; our newest designs like the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS are widely heralded for their appeal; our new products are nearly all cars and "crossovers" rather than pick-ups and SUVs; our factories have greatly improved productivity and our labor agreements are much more competitive. We are also driven to lead in fuel economy, with more hybrid models for sale and biofuel-capable vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer, and determined to reinvent the automobile with products like the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and breakthrough technology like hydrogen fuel cells.

Until recent events, we felt the actions we'd been taking positioned us for a bright future. Just a year ago, after we reached transformational agreements with our unions, industry analysts were forecasting a positive GM turnaround. We had adequate cash on hand to continue our restructuring even under relatively conservative industry sales volume assumptions. Unfortunately, along with all Americans, we were hit by a "perfect storm." Over the past year we have all faced volatile energy prices, the collapse of the U.S. housing market, failing financial institutions, a stock market crash and the complete freezing of credit. We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Just like you, we have been severely impacted by events outside our control. U.S. auto industry sales have fallen to their lowest per capita rate in half a century. Despite moving quickly to reduce our planned spending by over $20 billion, GM finds itself precariously and frighteningly close to running out of cash.

This is why we need to borrow money from U.S. taxpayers. If we run out of cash, we will be unable to pay our bills, sustain our operations and invest in advanced technology. A collapse of GM and the domestic auto industry will accelerate the downward spiral of an already anemic U.S. economy. This will be devastating to all Americans, not just GM stakeholders, because it would put millions of jobs at risk and deepen our recession. By lending GM money, you will provide us with a financial bridge until the U.S. economy and auto sales return to modestly healthy levels. This will allow us to keep operating and complete our restructuring.
We submitted a plan to Congress Dec. 2, 2008, detailing our commitments to ensure our viability, strengthen our competitiveness, and deliver energy-efficient products.

Specifically, we are committed to: - produce automobiles you want to buy and are excited to own - lead the reinvention of the automobile based on promising new technology - focus on our core brands to consistently deliver on their promises - streamline our dealer network to ensure the best sales and service - ensure sacrifices are shared by all GM stakeholders - meet appropriate standards for executive pay and corporate governance - work with our unions to quickly realize competitive wages and benefits - reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil - protect our environment - pay you back the entire loan with appropriate oversight and returns (underline mine)

These actions, combined with a modest rebound of the U.S. economy, should allow us to begin repaying you in 2011.

In summary, our plan is designed to provide a secure return on your investment in GM's future. We accept the conditions of your loan, the commitments of our plan, and the results needed to transform our business for long-term success. We will contribute to strengthening U.S. energy and environmental security. We will contribute to America's technical and manufacturing know-how and create high quality jobs for the "new economy." And, we will continue to deliver personal mobility freedom to Americans using the most advanced transportation solutions. We are proud of our century of contribution to U.S. prosperity and look forward to making an equally meaningful contribution during our next 100 years.
--- end of statement ---
These days, we're seeing so many official statements crawling online. I guess the net really does help in disseminating these important information to the right target. Realize how GM uses 'you' instead of the usual 'the American people' when referring to the third party as, well, third party? I guess that's because of how press releases are now syndicated to uncountable news sites, they will be shared (like how I did it here) and we're all bound to come across the same statements. Well, at least they did one thing right so far. They managed to address the reader in the most personal form possible, albeit in such an impersonal manner. They've addressed the 'yous' correctly.
First step right.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jan Chipchase in Lift Asia 08.

A profound statement - a prohibitive sign crops up when X number of people are behaving in the said prohibitive manner. Below the X number, perhaps a 'tut' in most Asian countries as a sign of disapproval or a frown or a raised eyebrow or even a simple displeased shake of the head in other lands will seemingly do the job - which is to communicate annoyance due to the disapproval of a certain behavior/mannerism.

But my question is, what is the number which X represents? Whether in whole or percentage that so call 'official-ize' this prohibitive behavior?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Social anthropology or art?

The Room Project by Annette Merrild, a classical and fine art student by nurture, but her work speaks volume of anthropological values. What started as a home project armed with a camera and a curious mind, had become a much followed series by itself, commanding attention from the art world all around. How often is it for anyone to be allowed to disrupt one's most private physical place which is the home with a clear intention to share it with strangers? How much of this 'notice' is shared with the owner to ensure that he or she is still willing to participate? And for those who did, to what extent did the owner allow raw footages of his/her home be taken without tidying up beforehand? Of which the result may still represent the culture of the country (as testified by the furniture, pieces of instruments, decorations, etc) but may have tainted our impression of the owner's real personality (when most of his/her stuff has been taken out of the picture, literally)? In what countries then, would the residents be okay with showing the world who they really are versus who they really are individually?

So which is it? Science or art?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Once again, the norm is challenged.

I've been faithfully keeping up with Malcolm Gladwell's books. The first two were smash hits and so is the third. I think any decent planners should have read at least one of his books.

Outliers disrupts the norm of societal beliefs and the conclusions we so often jump into when associating success with innate intelligence when it could seriously (and most simplistically) be a series of fortunate events happening to person A over person B. Of course, intelligence isn't some trivial fact that's easily dismissable but like basketball players, after being over a certain height criteria, the feet don't measure up as much anymore. Same goes to intelligence, hence I guess there is ultimately a limitation to the phrase 'brain over brawn'. In this century of knowledge economy, everyone cites the importance of smart working over simple hardwork. Malcolm Gladwell plays the devil's advocate in putting that phrase which so often is the cause of the common misunderstanding of 'taking the easy way out' into the interrogation room and in doing so, interrogates it well. Maybe our forefathers had it right all along. It's the hardwork spent toiling the soil that brings in the greatest harvest.

Mind opening.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Light play. Like it but think it's a little too showy. It's crazy how you can use headlights to create 'expressions'. If our eyes are windows to the soul, I think this speaks a lot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Urban excitement.

Go, scour the streets for interesting angles at

or keep in touch here

(click to go)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Soon, a new excitement in the city.

Soon, the all-new Honda City. Log on to www.excitementinthecity.com.my tomorrow morning at 0000 hour to quell that curiosity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High fuel price saves lives?

High fuel prices helped to save up to 140 lives this year because motorists slowed down and drove less aggressively to save money, an analysis by the AA suggests. Road deaths fell by a fifth in April, May and June, the biggest drop in any three-month period for 20 years. There were 580 deaths compared with 721 in the same period last year, the Department for Transport said. Traffic fell by 1 per cent over the period, indicating that only a small proportion of the decline in deaths was due to people driving less.

In a survey of more than 9,000 AA members conducted in August, 22 per cent said they had slowed down to save fuel and 42 per cent said they were accelerating more gently and avoiding sharp braking. Edmund King, the AA president, said: “These actions could have contributed to a reduction in deaths.” - Timesonline.com

Coincidentally, while having coffee with Audrey from Msportsbike last week, we talked about the social problem of Mat Rempits here and how high prices of higher cc bikes actually help to curb the problem from escalating; imagine dangerous machines in naive hands. And come to think of it, because of the fuel price, it may in a way help discourage these malicious groups to hang out too much on the road. But then again, it could swing the other way. When they become desperate, the frustration increases proportionately as well. They may very well do something, anything just to sustain their need for petrol. Haihh...

Monday, November 10, 2008

BMW Night Vision TVC.

The 7 series is a luxurious executive sedan that exudes the Alphaman in every angle, yet the commercial was able to bring out a side of softness without being too fuzzy wuzzy. Made it looked like a luxurious family sedan without even showing kids or wife

Like its night vision, it's simply quite brilliant.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another week, another brief.

Something landed on my table last week and looked pretty exciting. The 2009 KL Motorshow.

Truth be told, I vaguely remember attending KL Motorshow once when I was still in college. And honestly, I don't remember much. I remembered the venue though. It was PWTC and I can't believe that almost a decade had passed and it is STILL PWTC. I was there to check out the hall last week and pooooooooh! I definitely don't remember it being in that sort of condition. No offense to whomever is taking care of the venue or maintaining it, it was old, dusty and it stank of funny. And worse of all, if you do park at the car park, whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK UP. You have been warned.

The last motorshow I've attended is the one held in Tokyo last year which kinda blew me away. The magnitude of it was unbelievable and the thinking that went behind each booth design (especially the Japanese ones) was amazing. Needless to say, the scale of the budget escalates with the size. The amount of lighting, sorts of structures, LED screens, I wonder when we will catch up? I'm thinking about Paris Motorshow for next year since it's supposed to be the one that kickstarts the season. Oh boy, France!

Anyway, next year, we will be in charge of Honda's booth so I'm pretty excited. My first time strategizing for a motorshow. I'm always gamed for a first time anyway. If you don't do, you don't know how good or bad you will be anyway. If I suck at it, at least there's proof! So right now, I'm trying to get my thinking together, exploring possible ways to deliver the best visitor experience. I forsee many will be showcasing their Hybrid cars since it's almost like the next best thing since slice bread. I wonder what impact will it have on Malaysians? Would we care? Would it even change our thinking pattern much less our habit? I don't know and we shall see.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Career in advertising.

Something struck me odd. Can someone articulate the difference in job scope of an Account Executive versus a Senior Account Executive? Likewise an AM versus an SAM, or the difference between an Account Supervisor and an Account Manager? Or the even lighter grey area of Senior Account Manager and Associate Account Director? Or worse, an Account Director and a Senior Account Director? Either my English had simply escaped me or finally, there is something that Google doesn't know. Well, thank God I'm a Planner so the line is pretty distinct. In the planning team, it's either you can plan or you can't. The only grey area which probably determines your seniority aka 'paycheck' is how much you know that determines how well you can plan which determines how much it can be made realized which ultimately determines the dollar signs.

I think there should be a standard checklist for the above mentioned designations. Unlike manufacturing where the roles are carved quite distinctively, it's never the case in this fast-paced communication business. I think a checklist would be good to:

1) Standardize expectations.
2) Weed out over-titled 'bogus' Directors and save everyone a lot of heartache.
3) Standardize the salary bracket where extra monetary rewards can be awarded to employees who volunteer to take on new projects and not simply because they're en-titled by default. And also, so that no one has to go through unfair employment.
4) Help advertising personnel to strategize their own career advancement and self develop values or traits needed for their next promotion and goals.

Yup. I think so too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The first milestone completed.

Looking back, it's been a whirlwind year. Somehow, I've always had this goal in my head, a rough vision of what Sparks would be like in the future. In retrospect, it may have detoured a little but it's still heading the same direction. I guess different people will have their own personal definition of what 'growth' is about. In my sense, it's never translated in terms of manpower but in the amount of quality work that's been produced and the immense satisfaction that came with it.

I never thought I'll announce this but there is a little change in this company's direction of late. After much discussion, frustration, negotiation and satisfaction, I've finally decided to fully collaborate with Dentsu. Some call it a sell-out but I beg to differ. Read: I am and will not give up Sparks. After much experience with the Japs (still not much enough though, they think strange), I came to realise that I do give a lot of respect to a certain trait of this giant corporation. Although to many, a company's vision is always just another highly expensive motherhood statement coined by highly paid dark-suit-consultants, but I think I can testify the 'actual practice' of this common vision of Dentsu-jins. At least in Japan though. Sparks respects its DNA of cultivating both poles of individualism and communalism to become a respectful business partner to their client in creating new values. Motherhood statements never did well with me because I think most of them are iffy and meaningless. But this one, I've seen it happened and I can see myself being part of that value chain. Well, plus the fact, I'm openly admiting that I am officially a Honda philosophy convert.

Anyway, Sparks has always been about 'change'. Change not for the sake of changing, but change always for the better. I think there are two changes that will never change in the way Sparks does business. The first one is about changing corporations to find its true purpose and creating a selling culture which truly adds a sustainable value to the society that supports it and secondly, changing people. Changing the way income earners earn income by empowering them with the power of creation so that their highest job satisfaction does not only come from monetary reward but through the actualization of their ideas. I personally find immense satisfaction in empowering people so that they bring the best of them to the table utilizing their diverse talents and passion. Both which I hope to be able to provide when I'm officially part of Dentsu. Now that's mutual value creation; empowerment, accountability and social responsibility.

The contract is currently being drafted to ensure fairness and protection of interest to both parties. There are of course many grey areas since Sparks will continue its business as usual and I do appreciate Dentsu for respecting that. However, there will be some limitations to what I can continue to provide for future clients in terms of brand strategy. Therefore, I've decided that Sparks will move on to become fully web based concentrating on web strategies and solutions, and only provide non-web based strategic consultation exclusively to Dentsu.

There. I've finally spilled it. It will be another exciting chapter soon. It will be a lot of hard work but I'm really looking forward to it. I will continue to blog but my thoughts will represent Sparks and myself with no endorsement or whatsoever by Dentsu and/or Dentsu Utama. Thanks for staying with me for one year (clients, partners, readers, friends and phantom ones) and more importantly, thank you for growing with me.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reformation number 2?

Since last year, Malaysians have been keeping an eye on the political scene. Once an uneventful issue had since grabbed headlines, becoming more sensational each day. We had an 'unofficial' debate last night on whether it was 'politically' correct (pun intended) for Anwar to seize power albeit in the most non-confrontational manner when the majority had decided and voted for ruling party, BN to continue governance in this country. Well, it's a tough question because, as much as these new generations of Malaysians, inclusive those awakening from their indifference, want to see a positive change in the country and perhaps, even dared to imagine waking up to a new Malaysia two days ago, they however do not represent the majority as proven by the results of the election. Seizing power after a nationwide election does seem like we're sidelining what we have been propagating thus far, which is full democracy (although, how many of us had truly enjoy that privilege?). So do we wait? Do we sit and do nothing for the next 5 years till we vote again and perhaps, this time, we vote with more courage? I have no answers. All I know is, Malaysians have reshuffled their priority and have grown leaps and bounds in terms of maturity which was greatly underestimated by the government. Perhaps the one thing which stands between us and reformation, is racial integration which sadly, is not what BN has in mind. If you ask me, I know what I want and I'll vote for whomever who is able to remove 'racial identification' from any forms, provide monetary assistance and benefits by segregation of socio-economic classes and needs and not by race. This will ultimately give 'bumiputra' (translate: NATIVE) recognition to anyone who has a birth certificate from this country. Also, I will vote for whomever who is able to narrow the digital divide between our country and at least, our leading neighbouring countries, thereby improving our broadband infrastructure and status by injecting funds into the right places for the right projects using the right expertise and to finally allow for fair competition amongst native corporations and a controlled competition from foreign ones.

Racial issue is a sensitive one because unfortunately, some of our leaders are a little short-sighted in this area where they mix business with their personal cause. Drawing the Quran and attempting to use it as the so-called 'infallible' sword to garner forced-support from fellow Muslims is not the way to run the country. At least, not the way I would run the country. And I cannot sum it any better than Din Merican who is one of Malaysia's prominent bloggers especially in his post on the Press Release from the Muslim Professionals Forum - ha! This is for cowards who are hiding behind their false religious beliefs inciting unnecessary dissension amongst our countrymen!

If I, Sparks, were to be detained by the ISA tomorrow (if I stop blogging for a week, you'd know), I won't even know who or where to get help from. I am supposed to feel safest in my country after all, no? Well, perhaps there will be many others like me, probably hundreds, even thousands of bloggers who have the same sentiment as me, detained? It won't be that lonely after all...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ultimate branding.

I took this photo on a recent trip to Putrajaya Botanical Garden. Whilst this may not seem strange to many but it does to me. Onitsuka Tiger. And specifically the Kill Bill edition. Whomever who did this poster, I must say, he or she has good taste.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome

Something nice is brewing.

Watch the brains behind Google's latest offering. A webvolution - Google Chrome is no longer a web browser but an application browser since most of the stuff we do online these days involve some sort of app or another. Well, that really makes sense because as infrastructure moves ahead, softwares get improved, and even the web has turned 2 (or possibly 3 or maybe 3.5, I lost count!), how could something as important as the browser still runs like same old same old?

Gone are the days where we open thousands of tabs to 'read' information, only to stare in horror when our browser cannot support the little patience we have. Today, we get involved, we interact with artificial intelligence as well as those located from afar (truly different from the web we used to know) all connected in a network of information. And browse at top speed while ensuring individual tab's stability in that. Sounds pretty awesome. I'll be downloading the beta version and see if it's any good. Will post my review then.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cool or what?

Makes you think - what are some of the best practice of hybrid products? Products that are essentially different but when combined, become an ingenious produce. If whatever that can be discovered had been discovered, founded had been founded, then I think it's time for mankind to embark on a hybrid journey. What that had been discovered and founded to be fine tuned to perform even more effectively with thoughtful usability.
*Original post here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chinese or what?

The Olympics ended spectacularly last night. I still remember the auspicious date of 080808, also the momentous night of the opening. Needless to say, I was impressed. It wasn’t just the Olympics, it was China’s way of showing the world, if this was what she can do for sports, imagine what she could potentially do for everything else. It was her way of getting back at those who undermined her since the less than popular Cultural Revolution days which happened almost half a century ago. With pyrotechnics of equivalent scale, launched simultaneously at the Tiananmen Square last night's closing ceremony, I’m pretty sure Chairman Mao would have rolled over to catch a glimpse too.

Closer to home, ever since the eventful night of lighting the torch of hope in that impressive nest, I’ve been hearing Malaysians commenting on all sorts. Mainly it was about them feeling proud of China and to be more precise, they were proud to be Chinese. Hang on, didn’t I just say Malaysians? Well, Malaysian Chinese to be more precise. I can’t help but wonder where then do our roots begin and where do they end? Honestly. I couldn’t help but feel some for form of emotions stirring in me too when I saw what China did with flying athletes and super visual projections. Yea, I was proud too. Just that I wasn’t sure if it was because I was Chinese or because after my accidental interest in studying about the Little Red Country while in university and no one can deny, they had come far. If my friends and I were proud of being Chinese, would that be considered as being disloyal to our native land? I don’t know. If we grew up without having to identify our ethnicity or to be more exact, without having to be identified through checking the relevant racial boxes every time we had to fill up a form, would we have proclaimed that we are proud to be Chinese? Well, here’s to you, Mr. Government, who can you blame when we were (and still are) being constantly reminded that we’re Chinese?

Well, no need to blow things out of proportion. What we felt was certainly some form of emotional pride (wherever that strange feeling came from). But beyond that, I think the most poignant moment came from seeing badminton silver medalist, Lee Chong Wei repeatedly kissed the Malaysian flag on his baju when he won against South Korean Lee Hyun-il in the Olympics semi-final. I think for any Malaysians regardless of racial segregation, that was what it meant to be Malaysian. It certainly brought some of us back to the glorified Thomas-Cup-Sidek-brothers-Foo-Kok-Keong days. I remember what it was like to stay up that night, gripping with the nation to see them rose as champions. I remember because the next day was a declared national holiday, so there was no school. The perk aside, I just hope we needn’t wait for every 20 years to witness something like that.

*Sparks salutes Lee Chong Wei regardless if he’ll be given datukship in Penang and hopes that he stays true to himself – a great sportsman – and that he will be willing to carry the responsibility of inspiring the young and creating significant change in our sports industry which was inevitably bestowed upon him with that Olympic silver medal.

**Photos from Telegraph UK and NST Malaysia.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Looking for collaborators.

Is your mission to change the world? And your weapon goes beyond words? In videos, photos, graphics, multimedia format, web applications, user-generated? Contact us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Can we drive an environmental car please?

Dubbed Honda OSM, this is the latest sports vehicle from the automaker that vowed to challenge current industry carbon emission standards.

Makes me wonder. All these great cars - the Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius and the great FCX Clarity which, listen to this, produce ZERO emission - heck, you can even drink from the tail pipe! Why on earth are they so groundbreakingly expensive in our country?! Not to mention, we don't even have half of the models mentioned above. And we're not even refering to the Beemer Hybrid. They say, we, (ahem, as in Malaysians) are not ready. Or are we? Who isn't ready? The majority? They never will! It's up to the minority to drive them. And if these earth-friendly machines are not here, then what drive are we talking about!?

I've got it all figured out. For really practical A to B people, they should drive a Puyo, for sports lovers, they should get something like the OSM model, for performance junkie then it has to be the X6 Hybrid (Beemer - can't think of one yet from Honda), for the practical and performance and stylish people with an extremely heavy conscience, they should ride on the FCX Clarity. And there. The world is immediately a cleaner, greener and happier place.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Green Chronicles.

Just started on a new project with DU called The Green Chronicles. Not sure if that name is apt for the research but I think it should work fine for the blog that was set up to keep up with the reports, activities and archives.

It's gonna be a lot of work but I think there will be a lot of fun too. Great things to come, so follow us on our journey there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How to have a wardrobe of designer stuff and pay a fraction for it?

Is this possible? A designer clothing, shoes, bags and accessories bank? Shared by a group of friends? Good friends? Best friends? How do you avoid cat fights when you need the same pair of Blahniks that your bff decides to strut on to her company's party on the same night?

Inspired by a trail of fashion movies, chick flicks and lits, designer wear is now even more accessible than ever. Especially when you're talking about a segment of very independent female power (more on the spending, less on the will) that is growing in the middle upper class segment. Sure, they can afford a piece or two designer bags which cost RM5, 000 each but with the bombardment of media these days fueling this insatiable desire to carry the latest season badges, who can resist the addiction?

In UK I read, women (best girl friends) are sharing closets. They purchase bags and shoes of thousands of pounds at a fraction of the price because it's split between the 'owners'. The only setback is, your closet may not be living together with you for at least an agreed period of time. I think it has always been a common practice among sisters to share clothes and stuff especially if they're the same size and have similar taste. But among friends? What happens if one decides to migrate? How do we fight for the custody of our shoes? Do you think it's even possible for Malaysian women to do that? I think it is. Who would start first? Is it possible to do this amongst strangers? What about an online fashion bank? How would it be different from the rental concept? What can be shared and what cannot?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Economist.

Instead of reviewing books, I've been reviewing a fair share of magazines lately. Well, that's because that's what I've been reading of late. Well, it is certainly a quicker feat compared to digesting thousands of words in font size 7 and another hundreds of pages.

Anyway, I've been reading The Economist and it is certainly a news magazine serving the very intellectual and the very politically concerned. I bought a copy because I was researching on this 'Green' movement and they had a very comprehensive special report on future technologies. However, other than the special report, I had trouble concentrating on everything else. Maybe I wasn't the target audience (I was 'accidental'), still overall I found the magazine to be rather dry. I don't know, maybe this is a magazine read by the Bushes and the Howards and the what nots, it certainly isn't what I would consider a weekend read. Great for research but... I shall leave it as that.

So far the only one with a real sense of humour.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The M and Rs.

It's been sometime now, that I noticed that not all Type Rs are Type Rs as much as not all M5s are the real McCoy. I've gotten used to the idea of hardcore Honda cultists replacing their silver Hs with the red emblem. The metal that embodies a racing dream.

What I thought strange was that I assumed the only barrier for enthusiasts to truly own a Type R is money since the Civic Type R in Malaysia is priced at a hefty RM199k+. Then I realize that it's not a question of not being able to afford the Civic Type R but it's all about propagating a belief. Some may snicker at these poor (or not) cultists who 'fake' their car - turning it into something it's not - but those who know will understand that it isn't all about owning the machine. It's about owning the philosophy.

And what I find even stranger is, you see the same phenomenon on the M series in particular the M5. Couple of times now I've seen the power plant bullet through the highway carrying an M5 badge leaving me behind gasping for breath in its dusty trail. Only to realise it's missing the other exhaust, some gills and the perforated brake discs. I knew it. It wasn't bulleting that fast after all. And hey, is that the M5 badge sitting on the wrong side of the rear?

So what is it about these Ms and Rs that got enthusiasts (the haves and have nots) willing to bear the disdain of those who do not understand the 'dream'? What is this power that performance badges command that got even those who can afford the 5 series to forge their ultimate driving machine? Well, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I guess the ultimate simply wasn't ultimate enough.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Directed by Michael Arias

Once again, we’re presented with a visually stunning narration of a half fictitious fantasy which is a renown trait that can only come from Japan’s creative furnace. Inspired and based on the comic by Matsumoto Taiyo, Tekkonkinkreet is an eastern-western hybrid anime directed by American, Michael Arias who is the first non-Japanese to direct a major anime but knows no less of the nooks and crannies of the yakuza culture and dark underside of Japan’s downtown traditions than any native.

The story tells of two orphans who roam and protect the streets of Treasure Town from thugs and yakuza with such passion that is sometimes mistaken as malicious. Things take a turn for the worse when a group of foreign entrepreneurs threaten to bulldoze their town and turn it to an amusement park. The orphans, aptly named Black and White, are connected so strongly with what seems like an invisible and spiritual bond that makes us wonder if one could live if without the other. As the main story unfolds, the many sub-plots also take turns to bloom in gradation dismantling obvious meanings, drawing us into experiencing a rich amalgam of emotions that many animated film attempted but failed to do so. This film has an uncanny ability to make us ponder upon and question our own spiritual battle of darkness and light, even to a point where it is strangely disturbing for a composition of the fantasy genre featuring children as main casts. Perhaps the idea was to masquerade the disconcerting truth of Man’s shadow with the purity and innocence of a child so that if forces us to think and rethink of our own closet phantom, layer by layer as we dive deeper into the plot.

Tekkonkinkreet had been greatly applauded at a trail of film festivals worldwide and was the winner of the prestigious Ofuji Noburo Award at the 2007 Mainichi Film Concours.
Get it from: Sun Comic, Lot LG-12, Cineleisure Damansara, T: +603-77221936

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New law for Malaysian speeding ticket?

I've been thinking and comparing Singapore's drivers point deduction system with whatever existing traffic rule we have in Malaysia. A simple reason why probably Singapore's system will never be effective (or as effective) in our country is because of the rampant 'duit kopi' (in international language: bribery). Not that there's none happening in Singapore (I wouldn't know) but what I'm pretty definite is, none as rampant as Malaysia.

Well, then an idea struck me on how to duplicate this point system and yet keep it in a way that has the least inteference from our so-called law enforcers (and this I mean by majority of them. Not all but majority because we always have a few good men. Too few if you ask me). Imagine a system similar to Singapore's ERP and/or Japan's ETC equivalent. Imagine all Malaysians from now on have to pay an extra credit of RM200 into their driver's license account. Everytime one hit the red light or went over the speed limit, a certain amount of money will be deducted from this 200 bucks automatically. It could be really cheap, I mean RM20 for speeding compared to RM300 if you've really been sent the ticket. But what the positive points which I'd very much like to highlight are:
1) RM20 is BETTER than paying RM50 for you-know-what because in actual fact you never really have to pay that RM300
2) The 'beep' when money is deducted from your account will serve as a life time reminder to never speed when you're not supposed to. Ever
3) It really, really, and I mean REALLY makes you think twice about hitting that red light too
4) Equal treatment and equal punishment for all since the system must also be deployed using special set of traffic lights and speed trackers. This reinforces the importance of enforced law and not chance

Anyway, come to think of it. Instead of paying back the 'rakyat' (people) cash for the recent fuel hike, the government could use this system to reward citizens with good behavior. For those who never gotten their RM200 deducted, will earn interest. So in order to make more money, you've got to stay clean. If at the 11th month of your interest-earning period, you decide to go with the wind on KESAS, then so will your money.

Tell me if you think something like that would work here. Or in your country, wherever you are. Cause I think it's a pretty good idea, no?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

MME pre-shakedown in Malacca.

Now that we've just finished the Super GT race (well done, Takata Dome), we're getting prepared for the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race. Not many people know much about it, I guess you'd really have to be a motorsport enthusiast to follow a homegrown race. Although the race cars are not as iconic as F1 or Super GT but it goes to show that MME does kinda filter out those who are just pop-racing fans from the real McCoy, doesn't it?

This is Honda's pure blood - the Civic Type-R on Mugen Power.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

BMW Gina.

A lot of auto forums are raving about BMW's break-all-rules philosophy about designing a car which defies rules. Any rules. The highly futuristic Gina.

People who know me well, will know that I am a young padawan of the beemer power and M5 is my Beanie (name of my current wheels) on steroids (someday). I've always felt that BMW's design philosophy, coming from the birthplace of Bauhaus, is the apex of design innovation. They are the Einsteins of machine on wheels and have been the driving force of shaping emotions. But this one...

I don't know what to feel about this one. I don't know. Is it by coincidence that it's named Gina and reminds me of a certain certain part of the female anatomy? Look, I tried being proper, professional and kept it scientific as much as possible but I just don't feel the design orgasm here. Maybe that's what they are attempting to do - mean machines are stereotyped to be muscular, tough, unbreakable, untouchable - and to breakaway from it all. And I mean ALL rules of how manly beemers are meant to be, they go for textile (hang on a minute, is that satin?), soft, smooth, flexible, tactile. And an opening right in the centre as if we don't know Gina is feminine enough. Maybe somethings are just meant to be what they truly are?

Oh, please bring back the M-series!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Colour me learn?

An anatomy guidebook for students or anyone who wants to learn more about what goes on in our shell. Which is rather interesting as colouring seems more like child play to some. I think it's a cool method to teach the learner subliminally without forcing too much into his or her head.

Colouring is an acknowledged form of therapy, although I'm not sure whether it is, scientifically. Colouring can help us to take our mind off our surroundings and immerse into a meditative and concentrated state which ultimately helps us to relax. When we're more relaxed, our mind becomes more inclined to absorb knowledge, therefore whatever we think it's just child play, could be subconsciously seared on the back of our minds. If only my history books came in pictures instead of text, I would have coloured every single thing and score with flying colours.

I wonder what else could we use this system for? I think primarily it will be highly beneficial for fields related to teaching and learning. Anything else?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

9 months now and welcome Jacq.

Jacq is a Public Relations and Journalism graduate, and has a total of four years in corporate communications and publishing. She is currently contributing to a male magazine and splits her time between writing and doing the blog-jog. It keeps her fingers slim.

She has spent one year immersing in trends and attempting to foretell them when she got her first taste of playing The Editor of an interactive magazine. It was the most laborious role-play she has ever experienced but she’s glad she got the part because it sparked a deeper interest in music and the cultural phenomenon inspired from it. Outside of music, she fascinates herself by tracking sites on literature, food and advances in design. She believes that knowledge on trends will help us make more discerning choices (read: no more bubblegum pop) and instigate a life beyond the ordinary.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My source of inspiration.

The truth about travel. Absolutely love it.
How is Conde Nast Traveler relevant to the ad industry? Everything! To think out of the box, we must look for things outside the box, no? At least it tells me where I should go next to look for inspiration :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Question for web 2.0.

Instead of thinking online activations for brands, can we use two point ouh to enhance the brand experience? Instead of working separately on what is online and what is off, or using it to drive traffic either way, how can we use the internet as a platform to improve lives, re-create and fulfill desires that traditional media cannot? (Or even traditional usage of innovative media cannot?)

Hmm... RE-creating user experience...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A new metropolis.

Been quiet been busy, been very busy with a new pitch which is dated a day old by now. In retrospect, there are both good and bad news. Good news is that the 3 weeks worth of hardwork, sleepless nights, near fist-fights, etc has paid of. We won :)

But the bad news is, well, at least for me personally and nothing to do with the team. The strategy didn't exactly fly. In retrospect, I personally felt that it was a strong non-argumentative approach which leaves no room for client to nit-pick. It was tight but at the same time it was a little too safe. Not exactly pitch material but I guess it is at least, what a sensible partner who has been on the client's business would present.

Darn. Wish it had flew though.

Nevertheless, thank you, God and everyone. We'll fly next time round :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The little difference.

Lately, I encountered someone who asked me what is the difference between an Account Servicing person and a Planner, after all we're all in the same ad business. I mulled over that for quite some time, not knowing what the answer was since both need to achieve the same thing - that is getting the communication out.

I thought and I thought and I thought. And finally manage a vague reply. I won't say it's the truth but simply a matter of personal opinion.

I think an Account Servicing must have a love for the brand. Whilst a Planner, a love for people.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Honda is crazy!!

These guys are crazy! Out of their mind! And that's what makes this ad so freaking cool! Only ONE chance, and there were moments, you don't even know they will make it. The length they go to, not as an advertising agency or for the sake of pleasing a client or advocating a brand that puts the bread on the table or winning metals and papers. This video clearly demonstrates that these people have faith. Faith not just in typical ad business talk, 'you got to believe in the brand you're selling and bla bla bla' but believing in the most important person in the value chain of creation - you. That they are here to do their job and do it in the most definitive way possible. To tell the world what Honda means and were even willing to risk their lives to ensure a job is more than well done. This is absolutely mind-blowing. Makes me wanna work for Honda, hell. Makes me wanna sell Sparks, pack my toothbrush, run off to Wieden Kennedy London and beg them to give me shelter. Simply because I too believe that in order to 'create', especially in this business, our business, the ad business, there should be no boundaries. And these boundaries are not the stupid boundaries we so often impose on ourselves, lame excuses of budget limitations, team players who don't grow balls, and whatever else. There are limitations in whatever business we do, if there's no limitation, then where lies the challenge? To me, the phrase 'difficult is worth doing' isn't just merely an advertising phrase. It just so happens that it's Honda's campaign concept. It really should be how we work as professionals, isn't it? If we're serious about creation. If we're serious about bringing values to people whom we're trying to communicate with. Then we should take the road less travelled! Darn! These guys are good!


Indonesia' broadband penetration stands at around 8 to 10% compared to Malaysia. Small figure you say? That's an equivalent to 20 million users. That's more than 70% of our total population size already. Although a struggling country in many aspects, but that does not stop them in playing catch up with the world. I wonder what prospects await digital businesses there. Hmm...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Honda Racing NSX-GT

Click to go.
The sleepless nights only get better and better.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What on earth...?

What prompts a brand to rip its values apart and fight on sheer naked cost?

"Just print out the confirmed booking from MAS and I will pay the difference. As for the sub-Zero Fare, which will be launched in the next few days, it will be cheaper than zero,” said Fernandes in an interview. - The Star, 6 May 08

I've always thought Tony was a brand man, I guess I thought wrong looking at how both Air Asia and MAS are taking the fight outside. I mean who could be benefiting from this? Firefly? This reminds me of the 3 year (or more maybe?) war waged in the mobile service playing field. It took everyone to bleed to stop the costly battle (yet celcos are still laughing to the bank, sigh, oh what margins!). Now, we're looking at another. Is there any other way Malaysian brands can offer value to consumers without having to cut each other's throat? Throwing zero cost products and services out like that is like throwing toys out of the playpen. Well, but then again, that's strictly from a business point of view. But as for being the consumer's voice and an avid traveller, I'd say, bring it on!! (I'm just glad I'm not the agency in charge).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.

All the videos I've watched and all that I've heard about ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot can't compare to when I finally met him in person. He is one darn thing. Totally mechanical, yet able to draw uncounted people through his ability to inspire and empathize. Areas we human, so often failed to do. Why is it so?

Watch Asimo teach, practise dance and basically how he fits into our family, our lives seamlessly. In fact, you can watch him live in Honda's Fan Fun Lab in Motegi circuit, Japan.

And then, watch him in awe.

*TVC by W+K London

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sign of caution.

What does this 'P' driving sticker truly mean? Yes, we all know it means 'Probational Driver' in Malaysia which you need to stick it on the front and back of your windscreen so that it projects high visibility to other road users. But really, what does it mean?

Is this merely a sign to signal other 'unfriendly' road users to be patient and give way? Or is it to tell other drivers that there is a newbie on the road. And the newbie, sometimes becomes the unruly one for various incomprehensible show off factors, which we need to beware of? You won't believe how much power men (or women) wield when they get behind the wheels. Which reminds me of an insight we discovered a couple of years ago when pitching for the Ministry of Transport. When people get behind wheels, they morph into different beings. Cold, impatient, rude, spiteful and they can even speak French when provoked (a different kind of French that is). Can't imagine that being your girl-next-door colleague, or your kids-hugging-wife-kissing dad, right? Yea, we all morph into horrible beings when behind wheels. You and I.

Someone told me that her mom puts the P sticker on even when she doesn't need to because she thinks it's 'safer'. What other meanings can we find in this sticker which is unintended but significant? Is it really safer when we see a P driver? Safer to whom? Or is the letter P another lame excuse for lame driving skills? Speaking of having stickers to signal caution to other drivers, Japan has a special one for elderly drivers who are 70 and above (70, if I'm not mistaken). Can we adopt something similar here? Can we have different stickers to signal different sort of drivers behind wheels such as the elderly, the handicapped, the pregnant, etc? Sharing more specific information like this, would it help people to change their expectations, attitude and behavior when they see different sort of stickers? Well, I think helping people to be more aware of the surroundings simply helps them to react better. No?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dream the impossible dream.

Compare this

with this

DETROIT, U.S.A., April 23, 2008– ASIMO will focus attention on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's (DSO) nationally acclaimed music programs for young people in Detroit by conducting the orchestra as it performs "Impossible Dream" to open a special concert performance with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at 8 p.m, Tuesday, May 13. Honda hopes ASIMO's appearance will draw attention to the DSO's music education programs, and particularly the DSO's effort to encourage and support involvement of children in Detroit.

In addition, ASIMO will demonstrate its unique capabilities for hundreds of area school children at 10:45 a.m, May 14 prior to a specially arranged master class in Orchestra Hall, where a select group of music students will receive personal music instruction from Yo-Yo Ma. In attendance will be students from the Detroit School of Arts (DSA), Detroit Renaissance and Cass Technical high schools, as well as from schools across metro Detroit and Windsor, Canada. ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is designed to help people and will someday assist the elderly and disabled in their homes. But while Honda continues to develop and enhance ASIMO's capabilities, ASIMO is being used today to encourage and inspire young students to consider studies in math and science. The addition of music education to ASIMO's repertoire is a natural extension of these efforts. (Honda Worldwide Website)

Someday, all our dreams will come true...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The secret of Japan.

Am back. Shop's open, work resumes as per usual. Sigh.

A good sigh for a good trip :)

Anyway, one of the best parts of my trip was to finally be able to articulate what I thought was amiss in my own country. The habit of always, not resting, not giving excuses, not dampening others' efforts, to always, ALWAYS find a solution to every problem. That's the essence of Japan's entire being. The secret to their success. So if you want to be successful, emulate that.

But of course, there are many supporting but significant factors which continuously spur this spirit of innovation. One of the many is volume. With a population size of approximately 127 million, they have enough volume to almost support any sort of invention. Whether or not it takes flight or flop is a different story. The inventions almost always evolve from the initial concept anyway, constantly improved on which explains why everytime you fly with JAL, you'll be pleasantly surprised in the little improvements made here and there. And why everytime you fly with MAS, it's same old same old, you can almost rehearse the safety script with the Malaysian Girl :)

Imagine niche inventions evolving into bigger ones, combining with other concepts, constantly changing and meeting more needs, solving more problems, serving a bigger purpose. Like an amoeba. Except this one, instead of dividing itself to survive, it keeps swallowing the smaller ones causing it to grow bigger and bigger by the day. Countries with the will but not the volume needed to support it, will have to take bigger risks and higher investments to pursue innovative concepts. It could be a longer route (and a more expensive one) but it will get there. Countries such as South Korea maybe? Taiwan? Singapore? But countries with volume that can swallow up the globe, unfortunately may not have the same mindset and/or skill set (yet). They will also take some time to fully realise their potential. India? China? Brazil?

How about Malaysia? Will we one day be able to catch this thinking? Even if we're 100 million heads behind?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Brand showroom.

Consumers have evolved. Period. At least the urban ones have, becoming smarter, pickier and more distinguished in their choice of brand. Most often that not, this post-modern consumer who is bombarded with thousands of parity brands, make his or her choice based on an alignment of values - obviously between him or herself and the brand. When functionality and/or functional difference are/is out of the equation, then it all boils down to values, the shared vision and interests. If people really do buy brands like they make friends, then we really ought to think about the hospitality we're currently giving to our 'friends' when they visit. Audi did it right although it's not the first, following many other megabrands. Having a brand showroom versus a car showroom, provides customers an experience which definitely lacks in the usual dealer showroom. Long long ago, in far away lands, other brands have already been creating concept stores to showcase products, innovations, history and concepts - Sony has their Sony Centre (for your information, Sony Building in Ginza has been there wayyyy before our dear KLCC), Toyota has its Megaweb, Honda has its mother of all brand showrooms in the form of a circuit in Motegi, Adidas has its Original Store and Apple obviously did not lose out.

I don't think it's necessary for a cool brand to own a conceptual space. Neither do I think its a sure ticket to cool-dom. I think what matters is what do you have to say to your customers whom you want to make friends with? Building a relationship means opening up your past, creating present moments and working towards the future together. It means shared interests, values and respect for each other. Isn't this how we all make friends since the day we dropped our diapers? How did we manage to forget such basic rule?

p/s: Audi Forum? Nice :) check back for some juicy R8s

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ming and Aoki - should there be an age limit to entrepreneurship?

Unbelievable. What do you do when you have a multimillion dollar mom who has the fashion world on its knees? You come up with your own collection of course! I'm sure a lot of celeb kids are doing that but at the age of 7 and 4!? There are so many websites sprouting earnestly to get kids into business like teachingkidsbusiness.com, internetbasedkids.com, entrepreneurshipforkids.com, and franchild.com. Looks like mommies and daddies can't wait for their kids to grow up and bring some bread home too.

That reminds me of the online ethnography project that we've been working on lately, where Shaun found a lot of kids using their blogs to earn money and build their little business ventures, which was really interesting. It shows that the internet bunch is really different from their counterparts who did not grow up with the internet. The web is like a gold mine waiting to be discovered by opportunistic minds. I'm glad. Because this means we're bending rules which we were brought up to believe. Education = Degree = Career = Big money. It'd be interesting to note the social repercussions when education becomes active instead of passive. That would mean quaking the whole equation. Yes, I think we may be looking at a government change in a couple of years time if the status quo remains. Oh well, that's just my hypothesis but you can always beg to differ :)

By the way, my thoughts on the Ming and Aoki thing? Personally. I think it's quite disgusting after watching Kimora's reality show. I would applaud their creative participation of course, but geez, there's way too much attitude for those two little people. Wonder where they inherited that from...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honda's all-new Accord launched yesterday, April 22nd.

It's finally here. So many sleepless nights, but if you ask me, I'm sure we'd choose to do it all over again ;) I didn't manage to take any photos of the launch because as you could have guessed, in any launch, time flies. Really flies. But anyway, in conjunction with this launch, the team (that includes everyone behind the scene) has decided that an original composition is much needed to celebrate this full model change of one of Honda's flagship babies. Hence, as I promised earlier, here are the lyrics:

Only with you
When I'm with u
It feels so true
It doesn’t matter where
Where I am going to
Only with you

Sometimes, you wake at night
Coz every single day (just) feels the
Sometimes, you try so hard
But it becomes someone else’s
You feel it's time to go
But still you miss it so
(It feels so true)

Only with you
When I'm with you
It feels so true
It doesn’t matter where
Where I am going to
Only with you

And you feel it burning deep in side
Like it's never burned before
you see it coming like a tide
still you keep on wanting more

This time I might have gone too far
But it feels so close
keep on reaching, reaching for the stars
And the star is yours...

Only with you
When I'm with u
It feels so true

It doesn’t matter where
where I am going to
Only with u

(Sorry. I wanted to upload the mp3 here for you guys to share but I simply couldn't give an extra hoot to figure out how. Blogspot is driving me nuts. So, I've decided to to take the easy way out this time and direct you to http://www.accord.com.my/ > click gallery > click The Accord Song > click Download Here on the top right hand corner of the pop-up. Enjoy :))

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Only a week more to go.

Work's been crazy on this end due to the up-coming car launch which will be happening next week (plus many other crazy but exciting projects). We're still looking for help (scroll down to the post below) because we believe that excitement is contagious and we need to pass it on :) ha ha ha.

Anyway, after the 22nd, I'll share something really nice and personal about the all-new Accord with you guys here so please check back.

After next week, will be flying off to Tokyo again. One week work and the following to recharge. It feels strange. Like I'm going back to my hometown (which is not Tokyo, mind you). I'm planning a short trip down to Naoshima which is dubbed Japan's 'Art Island'. It's an island of all things art, even the hotels are supposed to be art museum inspired. So I reckon, it's gonna be pretty nice. A bit of time for me to straighten my mind and get things back on track. Coolness.

So my apologies if the posts are not up as often starting from next week because it's gonna be full throttle on the all-new Accord :) And I promise you, she will be SWEET.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Robert Solomon on how to be more than an account servicing person.

I think Client Servicing teams in agencies are the most underated bunch. But of course, occasionally you'd find one or two not-so-bright ones with an ego of 25,000 Watts, big enough to run a car engine.

Anyway, let there be light for others then. This book is highly recommended to anyone who's got the guts to truly stick his or her neck out but needs just a little extra nudge. If you've been in client servicing for some time now and wonder why no one listens to you or treats you with respect, then READ.

On the other hand, I think it has helped me immensely too. At least I know now it ain't easy being in account management and for those who do manage to come out of it unscathed, truly deserve a badge of honour. I think one of them, has to be Robert Solomon. I don't think this book is only meant for the accounts team. If by working in an agency, we are all expected to be creative, then we should all be expected to know how to manage the client (and each other) as well. Especially those who fantasize about being Creative Directors.

I think what truly inspired me was how Robert Solomon painted an almost perfect human being. Anymore perfect, than he had to be Jesus. For those who have all the guts in the world but need something extra:

1) Blame no one but yourself (I think this should be applicable to everyone. As long as you're breathing in the same sphere, remember these three words: Blame No One).

2) There's only one scapegoat in the company. And that's you. Be the bigger person and take the heat because that will (hopefully) melt the toughest creative guys.

3) Do what the client wants (which is most often than not, what all account servicing people are doing now). Then do what you think is right (this is the second part of the epic which we, so often, fail to see).

4) Romance the client (good job). And the creative, and the planners, and the suppliers (great job).

And the list goes on (anymore, and I'll be sued for plagiarism). So go on, enlighten yourself.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The all-new Altis.

Had some free time and went to Toyota showroom for a test drive on the all-new Altis. What struck me as odd initially was the endorsement by Orlando Bloom. I knew that the previous worldwide campaign endorser was Brad Pitt. Now it's Bloom. But why Bloom? Stylish?

The new model is definitely an M-size Camry. Even the salesperson comfirmed that, himself. I guess it's another case of instant gratification for those who aspire a Camry. They can now afford luxury on lesser investment. Honestly, the car did not create any deep impression on me, maybe it's because I've been seeing so many Camrys around already. So yes, in a way it was quite disappointing. And I'm not saying this simply because I work on Honda.

The interior cabin is nice though. The dashboard area and information display are both sleek and modern, far from the rubber dials you get from Vios (phew!). Unfortunately, these sophisticated looking buttons are only available for the 1.8s. It seems to have more thoughtfully design compartments compared to the previous model also. You'd probably spend the first month 'exploring' all these secret areas in your new car before really running it down.

Although it's now lenghtier and wider, it doesn't feel like I was drowning in all the extra space in the car. I'm not exactly tall so the power seat on the driver side for height adjustment is nice. Plus the four corner parking sensors since I'm quite blind. However, I don't like it when car manufacturer skim on things, because the power seat is only available on the driver side. It almost feels like it's modern but not quite there yet, you know?

The driving experience is really smooth due to the new power steering. The car literally glides on the road with seemingly very little effort. If you remember how Legolas is in Lord of the Rings, then you get the idea. It's... er, powerful, in its very own elf-ish sort of way. Whatever that means to you. Anyway, unfortunately when it comes to both real horsepower and produced torque, Civic still tops in terms of performance (comparing the 1.8s). So I'm thinking, this car will probably be sought after more by females? Because it's... 'gentler'? Hey that sounds just like Legolas! Now it's all beginning to make sense...

Overall, I think it is a pretty good car with a very comfortable and relaxed driving feel but for a segment of people who are seeking a totally different driving experience from a Civic. I guess it's really a question of whether you prefer to be the Elf. Or Aragorn :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The future now.

During my recent trip to Tokyo, I was once again, bewildered with Japan's technology of tomorrow for today's people. As my comrade rightly put it, "Sh*t, this is the future. And it's not even supposed to be here yet!"


The future is here and now. Digital photoframes that can read memory cards, plug and play with your PC, digicam, whatever. Yes, plug it in and watch each of your captured memory slides in and out of the frame. Your album in one single frame. Your whole life in one single frame.

Now, that's putting a new meaning to: As I watch my life passes me by. How apt.