Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fighting a common war - enforcement and implementation will avoid greenwashing.

Our neighbour is serious about becoming a sustainable city state. And looks like they've got their vision in place and all the little that make up the big steps in achieving it. As I was studying the various ministries in Malaysia and how each one is fighting their own green war, in some cases, even rivalling with one another to achieve their own KPIs, I realised that this particular war can only be won if there is synergy and common understanding amongst the different ministries, themselves. Little did I know what was actually missing from our big picture of things is what Singapore has already kicked start in January last year. They've set up a working committee called the Inter-ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development which comprises of ministries of National Development, Environment and Water Resource, Finance, Transport as well as Trade & Industry - all the key players of environmental economics that is crucial to sustainable urban growth, if you noticed.

In a nutshell, their vision is crystal which is to boost resource efficiency, avoiding market failure at all cost by putting the greatest emphasis on expanding renewable resources which protects social welfare while achieving economic growth:

  • Achieve a 35% improvement in energy efficiency from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Make optimum use of land.
  • Attain a recycling rate of 70% by 2030.
  • Ensure adequate supplies of water for future generations, and we aim to reduce domestic water consumption to 140L per person per day by 2030.

The above was tabled from extensive consultation with businesses, community leaders as well as the general public.

With Malaysia awakening to the importance of Green Technology, I'm sure it's just a matter of time we realised that we cannot fight isolated wars on climate change. Throughout the entire economic chain, the environment is hugely affected and it will not make any difference if one party decides to downplay the impact on environment over economic gains. It's time we look at not just what kind of battle we're in but how we're fighting it. But is the strength in numbers enough?

(original post here)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Malaysia: Comparison of old and new cabinet listing.

As I was compiling this today, I realised how ignorant I was in knowing the ABCs of my ministers. Some, I've never even heard of them before. I can only judge them through the state of things now, whichever portfolio they were responsible for. Anyway, I thought I should share the compilation here with you (fellow Malaysians), so that you're more aware of what's happening. The two new ministries formed: Information, Communication, Arts and Culture, and especially Energy, Green Technology and Water are the particular ones that we should watch out for. We live in interesting times.

If you want a clearer version.

Friday, April 24, 2009

VW Park Assist.

Er. Honestly? If you can't park? Don't drive.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

VW Golf GTi.

Although it's not new new but always worth to look at if you're comparing it with the baby BMW.

Tough choice. News have it that the new MK6 is launching in May. Malaysia?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stephen Bayley (CAR ukay) versus Adrian van Hooydonk on human response to designer machines.

(This interview portion has been extracted from CAR magazine (UK - May 2009 issue): Bayley vs BMW design, pg 108 - go get your own copy for a full cut of the meat)

SB: Is car design an art?
AvH: Yes. But it's not a free art. There are practical limitations and the range of expression is limited. I should add that there is no such thing as car design: it's a mixture of product design and graphic design.
(Sparks: Hmm... True to the Bauhaus thinking. Design that need not be there, shouldn't be there)

SB: The old 7-series was ugly. Why?
AvH: It's very hard to control everybody's perception. We always want to do cars that create an emotional response. If you want to avoid all negative criticism, do something wrong.
(Sparks: That's a very safe response. Having said that, the 2001 7-series does look like an executive sedan and the problem is just that. It's not supposed to be an executive sedan. It's a BMW top-notched executive sedan. Where was the BMW excitement?)

SB: Is there such a thing as beauty?
AvH: I do believe in beauty. And proportion is terribly important to the realisation of it.
(Sparks: That's what they say. I've heard somewhere that the key to beauty is symmetry. Apparently, Audrey Hepburn had a perfectly symmetrical face... which explains...)

SB: So do you use The Golden Section? (The classical formula for perfect proportion where a line is divided in such a way that the ratio of the larger part to the whole is the same as the ratio of the smaller to the larger. Or, to put it simply, about 8:13)
AvH: We've looked at it, but we don't have a rule book. I believe it would limit creativity.
(Sparks: Agreed. Creativity means reading all the books and throwing them out)

SB: Are you worried by criticism?
AvH: Nietzsche said 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. And you learn more from criticism than praise. At BMW we believe you must never relax on your success.
(Sparks: I'm glad you don't. Cause if you did, that will be the end of all design hope in this world. The X6 sedan x SUV x coupe, the new work-in-progress Progressive Activity Sedan, the 5-series Gran Turismo concept, etc sure set tongues wagging and industrial opinions soaring and plummeting, dividing design believers to 'us' and 'them'. But nonetheless, it keeps the argument going. That's what it's all about right? To keep the tension there. That's how art and design have been sustained through the centuries anyway!)

SB: But consumer reaction to the last 7-series was calamitous.
AvH: But you must NOT give people what they want!
(Sparks: Totally agree. Most of the time, people do not know what they want. And they do not know that what they want is actually bad for them. Give them what they need)

SB: What defines BMW aesthetics?
AvH: We have never done organic. All BMWs are still defined by sharp lines. We add details that customers 'see' only after two years. For example, on the C-pillar of the new 7-series I insisted on a small 2mm crease that did not need to be there. It highlights the side graphics. [We had a look for said crease. Erm...]
(Sparks: Uh... okay, I take back that comment I made on Bauhaus. Surely, there must be some functional benefit on that 2mm crease that's beyond simple aesthetic advantage?)

SB: Germans always used to believe in Gute Form (the idea that there is an inevitable, perfect, rational design solution). Does it still exist?
AvH: I wonder if German design still exists or has it morphed into Euro design. If you look at BMW's history, you can see that car design was always outside industrial design. To be honest, cars never were completely rational. These are machines that move under their own power, that have a life of their own. BMW design is always emotional. It's not a science project.
(Sparks: Emotional! Yes, people are first driven by emotions then practicality. Get it into your head, Proton!!)

SB: Is there a future for the big car?
AvH: There is a future for cars with a lot of room inside. And that's easier to achieve in a big car, obviously. In future we will offer more space in a smaller footprint. And there will be another change. Traditionally, big car meant big motor. In future we will see small, highly developed engines in big cars.
(Sparks: We'll see...)

SB: How will BMW design evolve?
AvH: The language will change with the times. We are all responsive to the zeitgeist. Design must always be an authentic expression of what you feel. It is a promise of pleasure to come. Anybody can make a car look fast, but if it is not fast, that's a big disappointment. Authenticity is the key. BMW is like a family: the cars have similarities, but significant differences.
(Sparks: Amen)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SPOT - all things new and unbeknownst to us.

Dentsu U has finally got a website up (somewhat). It's a blog and it's an internal initiative on trendspotting. It's hard to justify 'trend spotting' since what is trendy to you may not be to me. What is trendy differs for every income level. So which trend do we pick since every income level is and should be important to marketers? Besides what is known to pick up popularity may very well bomb out tomorrow. But what SPOT does is to pick up all things that we or some of us may not know. Hence, SPOT-ting without the limitation of defining what is trendy ;) Smart huh. Sparks is now contributing to it, so do check out over there if you need to be in the know. Of everything and anything - there's never lack of knowledge, just lack of initiative and attention :)

*Still under construction (spare us, it's only been a few days old!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The consequences of over-globalization.

Globalization is good. It brings people closer and erases the boundaries which our nationalities (and forefathers) have tried so hard to separate. But what happens when we over-globalized? Capitalism kicks in and we slide into a downward spiral of greed and ignorance. Between the two, I think human ignorance is a harder war to wage against...

But businesses can make a difference. Corporations, entities which are responsible for the economic situation should also be responsible for the environment which they function in. Whether it's environmental or societal, the impact on these issues should be considered right from drafting the business case to advertising the end-product. And all parties involved should drive a role in ensuring the well-being of the community being prioritized instead of reacting to clients and partners, passing the buck around. The buck stops here. Right here, right now. If you have a business, and if you are reading this, and if you are guilty as charged. Do something.

*Short film by Ferdinand Dimadura at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Warm welcome home.

Another uneventful day at Dentsu ;) celebrating a colleague's return.
Magic poster ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New advertising models for content portals? Or new communication models for advertisers?

Content portals with social networking capabilities are essentially products of Web 2.0. Yet the business model remains traditional which is selling advertising space and sponsorship opportunities to targeted advertisers - the conventional pull strategy.

If content is king (and I'd consider applications as content too, just look at Facebook!), then these portals should be the holy grail to many marketers dream of easy-peasy branded content. Perhaps, these social media sites/content portals should re-look at their business strategies. No, nothing is broken and nothing needs to be fixed. But the question remains, if we've evolved from 1.0 web habits, shouldn't the business model do too? The opportunity I guess lies in repackaging and/or rewriting existing data to become knowledge that will serve a multitude of niche markets (think long tail). There is a huge difference between traditional advertising space in content portals (my brand, your space) versus branded content (your content, my space) in terms of the communication delivery and effects which should ultimately optimize both user and brand experience, creating win situations for both.

Example. (I hope I'm not being too hard sell, but you get the point)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rassa - A little taste of Malaysia.

This is a free advertising spot for a friend's friend: Paid for simply by passion ;)
Simple design. Straightforward navigation. Almost-zilch user frustration. Interesting at all the right and unexpected places. Engaging copywriting. And most important of all, Karipap (Curry Puff) looks irresistable. Yes, that is what ultimately brings in the dough! (no pun intended)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sparks supports.

If you're in business (and in Malaysia, sorry bout that) and you need to be in the know and most importantly, network with the right people, then come for KVM Connect. KVM is a marketplace ministry by ACTS Church to extend prosperity to the community (Christians or not).

Next session speaker is Jason Ching, who will be talking about "How to avoid common pitfalls of investing (non-market view)". He has had years of experience in the Finance Industry, currently attached to an Investment Bank and occasionally gives Stock Market road shows as well as speaking at certain key Stock Market events. Also, Luis Daniel, General Manager of Kenny Rogers, will also be sharing his faith testimony on receiving favour during these times of famine (Kenny Rogers? Famine? Now how is that possible...)

So be available on the 25th of April (Saturday), 9.30 to 11.30am at Juliet's Garden Cafe, Kota Kemuning. Don't know it? Google it.

By the way, happy easter y'all :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

True music sharing.

Due to a friend's recent sharing of Nokia's Sports Tracker app using GPS, I thought it'd be brilliant if iPod has the same GPS function (maybe iPhone does, but that wouldn't work as you will find out in awhile).

iPod x GPS = Imagine this. You drop your iPod somewhere and pick up someone else's as you commute. You have no idea who it belongs too except the playlist it contains should give you some insight. But if every iPod was pre-registered in a site. You'd be able to track your own iPod and see how far it has travelled all over the world. And the best part is, 'pick-uppers' will be able to describe your personality via the site based on your playlist. And perhaps, recommend some from their own? And you could check your own profile to see what people say about you based on the muzik you so love. Now that's music sharing. That's about bringing people closer more than what local telcos are currently doing, enabling subscribers to transmit prepaid songs to each other. That's just a money-making scheme.