Monday, November 30, 2009

Social media: Twitter Tips.

From Social Media Examiner.

Interview With Brian Clark of Copyblogger from Michael A. Stelzner on Vimeo.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

This short animation was produced by agency Propaganda as a tribute to Sophie Lancaster, the young Goth who was brutally beaten to death by a mob in August 2007 in her selfless attempt to save her boyfriend's life. Just because she was dressed 'differently'.

Sometimes being in communication and media, we should be doing more of these kind of work. Giving voice to those who have none, to change what we can in this world, no matter how minute the effort may seem. It is after all, an effort.

Stop praying for change. Be the change.

Bye bye Windows, hello Google Chrome OS.

What about security? And malware? And the rampant online virus?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anthropology: How PSAs have changed.

Compare what we see now (if there are any PSAs (public service announcement) at all) with what was produced in the 50s.

It's really interesting to see how the film was 'composed'. The usage of animation to target children. In the event of a nuclear blast, just 'duck and cover'. It's strange. The first usage of the atomic bomb was in 1945 wiping out civilization in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The extend of its horrendous consequences must have been noted, studied and tracked for half a decade before the production of this film. Do you think by ducking and covering, the Japanese kids could have gotten away from the atrocities of an A bomb?

This is a pure example of advertising and propaganda which technique is known as card stacking. A method of presenting information that is positive (or best positive) to an idea and conveniently omitting the 'rest of the information'. According to the Institute of Propaganda Analysis which was founded in the 1930s, the best way for people to overcome such intentional propaganda is to search and secure more information - to see both sides of the story, all sides to a coin. The 'card stacking' method is less and less effective in today's age because of the advent of the internet. The influx of information, both accurate or otherwise, allows the mass to 'think and decide' for themselves and not be malleable to whatever advertising says.

If you've been advertising using this method, shame on you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Will work for Optimism.

Job recruitment for Comms Planner by Wieden+Kennedy, London:

Job Description: Communications Planner, W+K London
November 2009

Comms planning genius required to create the best work of their life.

Wieden + Kennedy London is a creative communications agency.

In fact, our ambition is to be the most admired creative business in the world. This goes way beyond just advertising. Sure, we make ads for our clients (which include Nike, Honda, Nokia, Lurpak and The COI, amongst others), but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. We’re constantly thinking about, talking about, and making stuff for both ourselves and for our clients (both in the real and digital spaces) that challenges convention and gets people thinking, or behaving, differently.

The Planning Department (or, possibly more appropriately, the Planning Collective) at W+K London plays a central role in this. Made up of a motley bunch of people that, in a former life, have variously been digital planners, content planners, partnership experts, media planners, clients and even good old account planners, we’re all bound by a few things that, regardless of background, remain sacred: strategic nous, curiosity and passion. On top of that, as the source of inspiration for the agency, it’s vital that we’re both interesting and have a point of view.

The Role:
Communications Planning at W+K London is quite different to Communications Planning in, say, a big Media Agency. For a start, there are none of those big process flow diagrams that you traditionally see wheeled out at pitches. The ‘process’ here is far more iterative – you’ll work hand-in-hand with account teams, creatives, producers and other planners to make world-class work happen, whatever it takes. You’ll be involved from idea inception, right through to final implementation - and beyond.

Specifically, this role is to support the Planning and Creative Departments (and the Agency at large) in understanding how we take what we make and connect it with people; whether it be housewives buying butter, teenagers drinking too much alcohol, or football communities hungry for Nike’s point-of-view on Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick at the weekend.

You’ll need to be able to bring comms planning alive for the agency, and show us how media can be used creatively to give ideas an extra dimension. You’ll need to challenge and inspire the creative teams day in, day out, and encourage them to think differently about how channels can work to enhance what they’re producing.

This is a horizontal role. By that, we mean that rather than running one or two accounts, you’ll work project by project across all pieces of business in the agency, as well as the odd pitch. Part strategy, part creative, and part media, this is a high profile and vital role which sits at the very heart of what we’re striving to achieve as a company.

The Person:
Ultimately, we need someone that gets how communications planning and media works. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have worked in a media / comms agency, but for obvious reasons, that might help.

We need somebody that’s digitally fluent but not myopic. The right person will get how digital media fits into a broader communications framework and will be equally comfortable talking about ‘old’ media, too.

At the risk of this sounding too much like a formal job description, the person we hire will have to be a ‘self starter’. This isn’t because you’ll be left to sink or swim (you won’t, we promise) but there will be many occasions when you just need to get on with stuff. We work in structured chaos, and that needs to be something that you’re happy and comfortable with.

You’ll need to leave your ego at the door. We have an aphorism at W+K that gets used a lot: “The work comes first”. This comes straight from the top – it’s a founding principle of the agency and it applies across the board, from the grad Account Exec right up to Dan Wieden himself. It basically means that we need people that are willing to put our creative output above their own ego. And as such, we don’t tend to hire many ‘glory hunters’.

Similarly, and this probably goes without saying, we tend to go for people that have something a little different about them, whether it’s an interest, a skill or whatever. It doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of nutters, but it does mean that we’re constantly learning from each other and being stimulated by the people we sit next to. Which we think is a great thing.

And being funny, alongside an appreciation of Nathan Barley, will probably help too. (Although that’s not a pre-requisite).

We expect the right person to have around 4-6 years’ professional experience. But that’s not fixed – if you’re up to it, feel free to prove us wrong.

We also recognise that people don’t work for free. So if we like each other, we can chat about money and benefits later on.

Sound interesting? Drop us a note ( and we’ll have a chat.

***end of JD***

You think I stand a chance? I will work for optimism and I'm sure I will make a good addition to their collection of international peoples from all over the world ;) I bet they don't have a Malaysian (yet).

Culture commoditized.

Remember we spoke about how culture can only flourish in this age when it is commoditized?

Mehndi inspired cookies.

Anantara Spa: Time for scheduled service.

It’s been awhile since I last had my body treated and kneaded like today. I went for the ‘Revival’ spa ritual because I thought my body needs overhauling before going back to the battle field next week. And boy, was I in for a surprise.

The ‘Revival’ option consists of a floral foot ritual (which really, didn’t make much difference to me), a detoxifying green tea scrub (oh yea!), a seaweed body wrap, couple of showers in between and the so called ‘indulgent’ Swedish massage.

I reckon going to a spa is like taking your car to service when it’s scheduled to. This is to ensure your wheels are on tip top condition, especially before and after trashing it on the tracks or hard driving. So like how you would polish your car once in awhile to keep that shine, you need to exfoliate your body too since your skin is the largest organ you own which you should thank God and take good care of it. The green tea scrub was applied with a bit of pressure so it felt good. Somehow I know it’s just psychological, visualizing how the little sand beads draw out all impurities from your pores and leave you soft and shiny. Like your car minus the soft part.

Then the seaweed body wrap is something like waxing your car, something like a moisturizer because your skin gets dry after you scrubbed it squeaky clean. When my masseur applied it on me, I was like ‘YEEEEOWWWWW’ because it was hot, boy! It almost burnt off a layer of my epidermis. But after withstanding the scalding experience, they wrap you in plastic so that the heat and moisture are kept in which is supposed to be good for blood circulation. Then I dozed off for about 15 minutes before she came in and cleaned me up. I had a soothing aromatic sort of sand bag on my eyes, but I could imagine what a mess I was in.

Next comes the challenge. I asked what was ‘Swedish massage’ before I signed up and if it was painful. The lady who attended to me showed me a very gentle ‘hand chopping’ sign and assured me that it will feel very soothing. Being a serious culture vulture that I was, I thought I should be adventurous and try different massages from all over the world. So, Swedish it was. And 10 minutes into the massage ritual, I figure that was how the famous meatballs came about. It started with warm assuring strokes on the back of your legs with fairly strong pressure applied. I requested for strong pressure in case I burst out laughing because I’m generally pretty ticklish. So I reckon better hurt than tickle. It was painful but not unbearable. Then the punctuated short strokes became more intense. It’s like after warming up your engine, you tap on the accelerator to rev the car a bit and it goes vroom vroom. And then, the strokes became really forceful before turning into a light rhythmic ‘chopping’ on my thigh, which was okay. At this point, she had almost straightened every single vein in my leg. Then the chopping became pounding. Yes, my masseur pounded on me like she was tenderizing minced meat for meatballs. And then it felt more like I was sparring with a Thai boxer and obviously I was at the losing end. I’m only 47.8kg and the way she pounded on my inner thigh (which by the way had me gritting my teeth to avoid any sudden outburst), I felt flabby. And she did the same to every part of my body, leaving no bone unturned. I was tempted to tell her, in case she didn’t notice, I’m no Swedish. My frail Malaysian body cannot take such hard pounding. And I’m no meatball. But still I clenched my teeth and fists all the way through the ordeal because I knew if I could survive a few pitches in a row, back to back flights and sleepless nights, I can survive this! So well, at least now I know. THIS is Swedish massage.

But it was all good at the end, my knotted muscles seemed more relaxed (yea, wait till I wake up tomorrow). My mind as the ritual suggested, sort of ‘revived’. Unknown to my masseur, she has kneaded into me a new sense of belonging in Anantara, Krabi. Darn, I don’t want to go home… Sigh

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Julie & Julia Project.

I watched the movie while flying back from Tokyo and I must say, it’s very enriching for the soul (and stomach if I could get a bite of that scrumptious looking beef bouillon). I wasn’t really sure what the movie was about but I remember reading the interview between Vogue and Nora Ephron who is the film director and writer, couple of issues back. And I also remember seeing the simple but artfully designed vintage cover of Julia Child’s cookbook in Auckland which to be honest, that was all that really caught my eye. Yea, book covers. Since I’m no cook myself, I didn’t really bother about the dishes you could whip up from the book. I love reading though and you’d be surprised how many ‘cookbooks’ I own. I read recipes like I read novels. I may not be apt in the kitchen, but I certainly have got imagination. To some close friends (and of course my family), I did try to cook diligently once upon a time (hell, I made fresh pasta from scratch, get it?). Well, that was before work hijacked me. I was inspired by Jamie Oliver. Celeb chef he is, but I was drawn more to his zest for life and love for feeding the world. And so I bought almost all of his books and read them like bedtime stories. It was really refreshing because Jamie writes as though he is speaking to you, directly. So when I read his books, I felt like I have a celebrity chef friend (albeit imaginary, very much like what Julia was to Julie). And so I randomly tried some of his recipes especially the pasta varieties because compared to the other recipes, pastas seem manageable. After some really bad attempts, I finally managed to score well with one. And it has this beautiful yummy name called ‘spaghetti with mussels in lemon basil oil broth’ that would just make your mouth water instantly. Well. Now, it’s just memory.

Anyway, I believe that at different stages in life, if you live carefully and pay attention to your surroundings, good old Life will share what she knows and you don’t, with you. These days, I realized that everywhere I go, I’m discovering more and more about food. Which is… strange. Because to everyone who knows me, I’m probably the least fussy eater of all times and have no preference or craving or what so ever. When I say I’m good with anything, then I really mean anything. None of those ‘oh, she says yes means no means yes means no’ sort of illogical crap (now don’t be sexist). But of course, there is some stuff which I’d absolutely refuse. For example, I don’t eat nato (Japanese fermented soybeans). I don’t eat eels. And I don’t eat bugs (those with legs and those without). And I absolutely refute the notion of eating PETS. But somehow. These days, things about food just gravitate towards me. It’s as though, Life wants me to learn more about what I put in my mouth, 3 times a day or more. On top of this eating marathon that I’ve been jogging along in the streets of Tokyo for the past couple of days, I have learned about a chef’s philosophy (a very contradicting and temperamental Kenny Shopsin), about the sociological science of taste that is recognizable to the human palate and how babies get used to a certain taste and refuse new ones after the age of three (so if you want your kid to start eating vegetables, you know what to do), about the design of food and how presentation is an art form itself and they ARE such people called food designers (!), and lastly but not least about design research on taste preference, ingredients composition and even packaging designs which are functional and how they all intricately weave together, centering around the user’s experience, to become the final product that sits on the supermarket shelf. And now, how ironic, I learned how food is beyond scientific explanation and like love, works as a balm for the searching soul. Eating is the obvious easy way out because anyone, and I mean anyone can take one bite and criticize. But cooking becomes the real secret to loving food and nature and to learn respect for other people’s food. To enjoy the process of preparation and see the ingredients coming together and melting into this wonderful thing called food is an awfully therapeutic experience (especially baking) and this I speak from experience, which by the way, I do realize that I never cook anything nice when I’m angry. Having said that, it’s the washing up that’s dreadful. But then again, if you love your utensils and treat them as your best buddies, you’d want them all clean and dandy, hanging and sitting at all the right and strategic places in your kitchen. I guess it’s just perspective and how you convince yourself to go through the pile of dirty pots and pans at the end of a big cookout.

I was supposed to share my views on the Julie & Julia movie. Instead here I am, telling my opinion on an entirely different subject matter although it has a common theme. Well, I really think you should watch the movie because as you can see from here (scroll up, scroll down), it has this kind of effect on me. It made me think. And it made me want to pick up that ladle again and give the spaghetti and mussels another go. And it made me share what appears to be the most personal post I’ve blogged for as long as this page was conceived. So there, it has this kind of effect on you. I guess I’m beginning to open up to embrace something that I’ve always taken for granted, at least 3 times a day. It’s almost like opening up to a whole new dimension that I’ve never thought was so exciting – one out of five, the sense of taste.

Watch the trailer and read the writings of the REAL Julie Powell.

Now, who wants to go for dinner?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Everly Brothers: All I have to do is dream.

They were the inspiration of The Beatles during the 50s.

It's amazing what you can find in YouTube. An archive of all sorts. Videos I never thought I'll have the chance to watch. MVs from the 50s and 60s yo!

So you think you can be a Japanese?

Everywhere you go, you’ll definitely meet someone who wants to be a Japanese. No, don’t get me wrong. The person isn’t coveting the citizenship like how Malaysians would for a Western country’s PR, but more to be one. I think yea, they’re cool because their innovative thoughts are leading in endless fields. But, at the end of the day, there are both the good and bad sides to it. So to quench the thirst of those who want to feel like a Japanese, here are the 30 things you must comply to. Scoring 100% tells me you are a cheat because unless you ARE a Japanese, a perfect score is impossible (yea, yea, you can try). But scoring anything around 20 is pretty high. 10 over 30 is well, you’re 1/3 Japanese because that’s what it says! Anything below that, sorry buddy, you’ve got to try harder. Ganbatte ne.

So here goes.

1) Wear layers – I guess this really depends on the climate of your country but well, get creative. That’s what it’s all about, no?

2) Sink or swim – there are approximately 127 million Japanese living on those few islands. A lot of space for you to stay in the middle ground and hide but if you really want to be a true blue Japanese, you’ve got to compete, man. Time and tide wait for no kick- back-relax-have-a-beer kind of attitude. Down under and Up north I realize, are two very different places.

3) Support local economy and buy Japanese – that’s how the Japanese will never evolve out of their culture. Because believe it or not, their culture is commodity. That’s why you have Japanese kimono prints on eco bags. That’s why Malaysia’s strongest survived ‘culture’ is batik (though there is contention on the origins of it but that’s a different story all together). Sepak takraw? Gasing? Wau? Get what I mean? It’s sad but, commoditizing culture seems to work.

4) Mix classics with contemporary – you’ve got to absolutely own a piece of classic clothing item – Scottish tartan, Oxford shirts, brogue shoes, Burberry print, whatever. And then wear it with something modern like a pair of slim cut jeans.

5) Strike plural perfection – it’s all about individualistic choices. There are not 50 choices of neckties, there are 500 to cater to every stratum of the society and every archetypes of people in one shop.

6) Don’t complain, just do it – even if you do, do it quietly, under your breath, in the storeroom, in the lowest basement, to the mop. To be Japanese, you need to conform. And conforming means you don’t necessarily enjoy what you do though you still have to do it. With a smile. And a zest. That shows you’re absolutely most happy to perform the task, however horrendous it is.

7) You’ve got to own at least one thing of these colors – electric blue, crimson red, mustard yellow and jade green. And then add on layers (please refer to number 1).

8) Work till dawn – or at least think till dawn. They are always thinking. Why? Please refer to number 2 and 5.

9) Be a socialist – hey if you’re Wallstreet and all that, this place is not for you. Being Japanese means you have to put the priority of your collective self (your nation, community, company, etc) before you. I think many people will fail at number 9. Au revoir!

10) Appreciate design or at least learn how to – right down to the pencil and eraser and underwear you use. No one’s looking (well, at least most of the time) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing well-designed underwear.

11) Work and rework and rework and rework – in product manufacturing especially, this really means that perfection is an illusion that sits in the realm of infinity because your consumers will evolve and evolve and evolve.

12) Walk – a lot and to everywhere. Take out your bike and stop complaining that it’s hot and unsafe. I’ve got knocked down thrice in Japan while cycling but NEVER in Malaysia (yes, I once owned a bike in Malaysia too).

13) Service with a smile – and with such enthusiasm that either makes customers feel like they’re royal or simply just to scare them away.

14) Study everything you need with regards to what you do – pick up a shirt in the store and you’ll trigger an encyclopedic journey of how the style came about this season, what was the inspiration, who designed it, what was his inspiration, where the buttons came from, how you should wash it and how you could trick it out by matching it with different items, etc. You see a salesperson in Malaysia and ask for a size, you get: Sorry, no have.

15) Details, details, details – if you truly think about it, our world is really made up of quite few simple ideas but what differentiate you from Jo next door, is the detailed thought that you put into whatever you do. A classic oxford white shirt with red stitching and white stitching, whether they are close or spaced out, are essentially DIFFERENT things. If you can’t figure this out, then you’re the weakest link at number 15.

16) You don’t have to be born with good looks but it’s pertinent that you try – not all Japs are good looking but they’ve invested a lot (time, effort, money, etc) to look the way they do. If you don’t have time, effort and money, stick to your own citizenship.

17) Research and reference – everything that can be tested must be tested. Research is a very dynamic business in Japan because everything must be measurable, reported and documented. That is only how the society can improve. Nothing that I know of is properly and consistently researched and documented in Malaysia. The census is only done once every 10 years. ONE DECADE! The most consistent one being MCMC’s internet study. Even that, the numbers are inaccurate upon further research. Accuracy is the name of the Japanese game.

18) Be punctual – duh.

19) Eat well and appreciate all 3 meals a day – appreciating good food is something which I think most people can do. So, I think everyone will pass number 19.

20) Draw your inspiration from other richer cultures – European culture is something which the Japanese have always aspired to. The German, French, Italian, and upcoming the exotic mystery of Eastern European are some cultures the Japanese tinkle with to create a whole new hybrid of EuroJap way of life which as I mentioned before, can be bought as commodity – be it a house, a piece of cake and even socks.

21) Own at least one expensive suit – and wear it even if you have to wrestle with sardines to take the train. Yes, even when it’s rainy and wet.

22) Listen to your superiors and learn to behave – these are the ingrained cultural norms that you must never break or risk being doomed to be an eternal outcast.

23) Stay cute or try to – no matter if you’re male or female or transgender, no matter if you’re a child, parent or grandparent, no matter if you’re boss or slave. Cute is the most overused word in the Japanese vocabulary in a day.

24) Never say no – ask any non-Japanese businessman dealing with the Japanese ones and you’ll know what I mean. You should never say no to any request. You should listen, think, make some mmm mmm sound and then say maybe. If the gaijin (foreigner) persists tomorrow, repeat steps all over again. Until he gives up and gets that it’s probably a NO.

25) Ironically, don’t stand out – you will function best collectively. Wanna see a headless chicken Japanese? You single them out of the system.

26) Wear a mask – this is to protect other people from your germs. On the contrary, Malaysians wear masks to protect themselves from other people whom they think might be contaminated. Tsk tsk tsk.

27) Wear cool glasses and cool shoes – even the minority of uncool Japanese wears cool glasses and cool shoes. Muji ones are very affordable.

28) Do your hair – if you think the only style short hair has is… short, then you are wrong. In this land of hair-dos, you’ve got to have the right cut. Most of the time, I’ve got this out-of-bed hair look, as in the most literal sense. So I myself may not pass number 28. Sumimasen.

29) Carry a man bag – well this is totally optional. But hey, if you can carry it off, then carry it on!

30) Consume, consume, consume – what is Japan without the retail experience. Shop till you drop. Shop like there’s no tomorrow. Feast your eyes on all those well-designed and superbly crafted whatevers that you know you don’t need, until now. Can you shop like a Japanese?

Well, there you are. Thirty defining points on whether you make it as a Japanese. I probably score one or two out of all of the above which is why I should remind you of nothing short of a true blue Malaysian. Because I am anak Malaysia. Was, is and forever will be.

The above writings are purely purely purely for entertainment purposes only. Please don’t take it to heart whether you ARE a Japanese or one who is really trying hard to be one or one who just got offended for no particular reason at all. I’m typing this on a ^$*!@# 7-hour flight. Give me a break, what would you have me do? Don’t write hate comments on this post. I’ll delete them. Trust me. Try me.


Nike+: Men vs Women.

Simple. Fantastic. Brilliant. Fundamental insight that's been mind boggling since the days of Adam and Eve.

Let's run.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gene Kelly: Happy in love.

I'm singing in the rain by Gene Kelly. All cars and no play, is boring. Hopefully this entertains you as much as it did for me ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New BMW 5 series: Highlights revealed.

Are we looking at a younger 5 series driver? 30 something achievers as the older group (those who emerged as winners and survived as the fittest from competition) ascends to the very executive 7s.

F10 is looking more and more like a mature 3 series, if you know what I mean. So the 3 is now for the RA RA RAs while the 5 is probably targeting the same age group, but to those who have a more collective sense of refinement. Muscular. But in an athletic sort of way. Not body building, if you know what I mean. Oh yea, I sure know what you mean!

Kenny Shopsin: Eat me.

I bought this from MUJI, Tokyo. Love that shop, love this book. Can't help it, it's all Christmasy and warm (inside not out) here, got to buy something home-y, if you know what I mean.

From the back cover:

Thus speaks Kenny Shopsin, legendary cook and owner of the New York City restaurant Shopsin's. Since it opened nearly forty years ago, Shopsin's has been a downtown institution. A meal there is more than just a meal. Yes, it's a way to eat the most satisfying comfort food possible, from White trash Chicken Hash to Bread Pudding French Toast. But it's also a way to enter a world that barely exists anymore - an old-fashioned salon, where customers interact and the ringmaster, Kenny himself, leads conversations (and arguments) on everything from the best way to raise children to the right way to run a business, from the benefits of Freudian analysis to the nature of friendship. Shopsin's, the restaurant, is all about what Shopsin, the man, considers the two most important things in life: food and people.

If you wanna read more, you got to buy the original one. Or loan it from me. When I'm done. Someday.

Or check out the very cute website.

With a menu that looks like this:

It's packed with rustic goodness, you'll be spoilt for choices for every variety of dishes possible.

That also comes with a 'general' online store that sells awesome awesome creative goods:

Now you know where to drop by when in New York. However, I thought you should know that not everyone who walks into Shopsin gets to be the customer. If you wanna know what I mean. Read the book.

New BMW F10 5s: Peekaboo.

Hello world. Hello you.

BMW will officially unveil the 2011 5 Series on November 23 at 8 p.m. Central European time. Talk about German precision...

Monday, November 23, 2009

What is Tokyo?

It's essentially a shopping mall bigger than Singapore. The minute you land, the door of your airplane opens you to a world of consumerism that redefines retail experience like never before.

Forget about sightseeing, there's nothing to see in Tokyo. Forget about the museums, if you arrive on Mondays. It's a mall that's made up of international designer brands to proud homegrown ones, mega chains to specialty boutiques. You don't have ten racks to spoil you of choices. You have ten streets. You don't walk, you take trains. Forget about tourists worried of skyhigh room rates, it's the backpackers who realize they don't have enough space to transport everything back in their 25l Karrimor.

Tokyo is one great big mall that entices you with things you never knew you needed, provides you with museum-worthy pieces that could solve problems you never knew bothered you, and rubs off its good looks on you in ways you never knew possible.

Everytime I come here, I go home in debt.

That's Tokyo.

Why Japanese food tastes so good?

The Chinese believe in the 4 tastes - sweet, sour, bitter, spicy.

While the West buddies believe in sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

And then there is the 5th which is called the umami. It's the full-bodied taste that turns water into a kind of food which is soup. Most of us would remember Ajinomoto which when translated is 'the source of taste'. It is essentially an amino-acid salt or better known as MSG (yup, the stuff that urban legend says makes you go bald). Ajinomoto was advertising itself to be the 'umami', the 5th taste in our palate. I don't know how credible that claim is but this extraordinary 'taste' can also be achieved if you use meat stock or dashi (a type of Japanese kelp broth) minus the hair falling bit.

Japanese food essentially tastes so good (other than the fact that they use nothing short of the freshest ingredients), it's because dashi is used as a base for most of their cooking (soups, sauces, etc).

The simplest way to nail that umami taste, unknown to many, is when you add just a tiny bit of salt onto raw tomatoes. Yup, you've been having that for as long as you can remember and wondered how on earth salt and tomatoes can taste so... full-bodied for lack of a definition then. Well, now you know.

Sea Wolf.

What can I say? Easy listening indie tunes - bit of folk, bit of rock that brings to mind the soundtrack of Topshop. Led by Alex Brown Church, this group of 6 hail from Los Angeles.

Wicked Blood and Stanilaus are very catchy. Read more, listen even more. Contemporary old skool rock that brings back groovy good old times ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Subaru Australia.

Global promotional content is now travelling across borders in lightning speed. This ad really gives me a different perspective of Subaru. A huge cry of difference between the Australian and Malaysian market. Question: Is this good or bad for the brand?

I think I'd still prefer an action-packed film for the good old Subarus as we know it ;)

Citroen DS3 commercial.

Cool. But what are you saying?

Fun. Agile. Like MINI but not MINI.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Engage @ loading.

Time and time again, I get frustrated when people tell me, there is only one way of doing things. In our beloved country where broadband is at snail speed, web designers/agencies/clients/project managers are always sceptical in producing heavy duty web stuff for fear of inducing unnecessary bounce rate due to a 9-month equivalent waiting period for the page to load.

But doesn't that tell us something? Instead of reducing the heavy duty web stuff (which, I don't know... some stories are best told in heavy duty web stuff?), can't we engage users at loading point instead? Why wait till the page has finished loading? We all say 'hello' the minute we pick up calls, don't we?
I don't know if I will wait forever for this. I just think it's kinda cute to watch the origami car inching towards the finishing line in Malaysia's broadband speed. Ganbatte!

Yellow Bird Project.

Sparks >> Who are you?

Yellow Bird Project >>We are a Montreal-based nonprofit called Yellow Bird Project. We work with an amazing range of indie rock musicians to create unique t-shirt designs that benefit an array of charities, each chosen by the musicians.

Sparks >> Huh. Tell us more?

YBP >> We don’t care if it’s shaken or stirred, our mission, and yours - should you to choose to accept, has three fundamental aims:

1) To raise money for charities directly through the barter and trade of our fab tee-shirts. Unfortunately we no longer accept goats; money proved to be an easier currency to store.

2) To raise awareness for charity organizations and their aims through artists’ endorsement. YBP is a very different venue for these charities. It brings in a lot of younger people and encourages philanthropy from treble and bass clefts. It is definitely more work to have multiple charities, rather than one fund, but we think it allows the artists to pick something that is truly important to them.

3) To raise the profile of artists we like. We by no means want to or presume to have the ability to make artists into marketed machines and different versions of Ms. Spears, but we want to help raise their profiles and get them the attention that they deserve. We hope YBP can in some way help artists and music to prosper, and in turn help those less fortunate.

Sparks >> Wow. We're inspired. Your creativity is contagious and we will follow you! By the way, good sense of humor ;)

*Click on jpg to visit them.

Bollywood on ice.

Wonderfully original hybrid idea. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Usually I don't post stuff like this. But this is too darn cute to not to.

*Thanks Jimbo

What is strategic planning?

Like creativity, it's a state of mind.

Like creativity, everyone has it, it's just how much you choose to use it.

Like creativity, it's not just another freaking department in the agency.

The new breed of agency people are made up of those who are beyond titles. They are essentially planners who are creative and creatives who are strategic. They are producers and sellers of their own ideas. So where does that leave account management? Uh, fret not. They too will survive if they choose to be either strategic or creative. So, evolve or dissolve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From November's Monocle.

Interview with Jigme Yoser Thinley, current PM of Bhutan.

M: Can you explain what Gross National Happiness (GNH) is?

JY: GNH is based on the theory that since happiness is the ultimate desire of every human being, it is the responsibility of the policy-makers to create conditions whereby citizens can pursue happiness. Happiness is a state that one is able to attain when equilibrium is achieved between the body's material needs and the mind's emotional and psychological needs.

*** end of excerpt ***

That's a first. GNH instead of GDP. What coincidence, I met up with some people from Temple of Fine Arts recently (who are the same good people behind Annalakshmi restaurant) and they enlightened me about how they are a not for profit organisation. So how do they define 'growth', I asked? Since most business/corporate organisations quantify growth in terms of profit. Growth to which they answered, is quantified by how much more they are reaching out to the public - in terms of the various social projects carried out and in terms of the number of volunteers signing up.

Our capitalism definition is always about economic growth surrounded by tangible modernity in brick and mortar infrastructures. Well, Bhutan doesn't need any of those. Obviously, there are no Hiltons and Westins kind of amenities catering to spoilt first world tourists. Bhutanese having found the centre of peace embrace their tradition and environment and don't need heated toilet seats. Yup, they've found equilibrium. A country should first and foremost serve her citizens. According to Jigme, Bhutan is 97% happy. And that's all that matters, ain't it? I won't be surprised that countries like Japan, America and Britain, having chased materialism for decades on end and touted as world urban leaders, would not be able to score anywhere close to Bhutan's level of happiness.

Can CDs be recycled?

CD's are classed as a mixed plastic, usually defined by a 7, very few recyclers will touch these due to the cost of recycling them into anything worthwhile. Though most local authority recycling centres should have a bin or skip for this type of material. You could always try selling them, either on ebay or amazon though chances are that most CD;s won't be worth much.There's also a new UK company that is offering to buy and refurbish CD's as long as they come with original artwork, they also sell CD's very cheaply too -

Answered by The Book Garden, Yahoo Answers


Another question.

One way to recycle (without dismantle) is to donate your unwanted items OR sell them in the local flea market. How important is it for collectors of these 'unwanted items' to consider sellers' privacy? Even at recycling collection centres, is there a need to retain donors' anonymity? To make it simpler for you - how do you feel about people looking through your personal hygiene products while separating the bottles? If you were balding? And needing special tonic to replenish the withering garden? That comes in a recyclable bottle? You get what I mean? So, would you put extra care in keeping anonymity now?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What happens when advertising agencies don't invest in social media?

We were all okay, until...

Everyone is talking about how brands should be getting online. No one thought about what advertising agencies would evolve to become? When clients get first hand information and feedback from consumers, why do they need to pay for strat planning fee for Agencies anymore? Agencies will become creative executors. We will lose our edge when we lose sight of insights. Then we will not be on the same page with our clients NOR the consumers. Think about it. We'll be left out :(

BMW ActiveHybrid X6.

Close up on new 21-inch wheels rim design. Reminds you of something? Very nice touch to reinforce the ActiveHybrid concept.

You can see the fan-looking mini wind turbines in action, better here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New 2010 Volvo S60 Teaser.

What do you do for a teaser campaign when with a click of a button, the results yeild 324,000 images in 0.04 seconds?

You take the opportunity to talk about what's hidden within the product. The idea is the storyline, not the product. You engage to pre-sell something which everyone knows how it will look like. Brilliant teaser strategy.

Surely Volvo Malaysia could do a better job in their advertising strategy?

Well, in case it got you wondering... Here's one out of the 324,000 images yielded by Google.

What people think about...

Came across a pretty insightful line today:

"If you give up once, you'll always give up"

My thoughts: Where do you draw the line between grit and self-beating? Of true progression versus hitting the brick wall?

I sent it out to my database and these are some feedbacks:

Respondent one:
Can’t say I’ve ever heard that saying before.

Respondent two:

*deep in thought*…
Ya worrr….

Respondent three:
ya, why so philosophical today ? ;p
= you give up, you tanggung yourself la (tanggung is Malay for 'bear')

Respondent four:
I give up!
Okla. Nice. It’s same as “Once a quitter always a quitter.”

Respondent five:
But that’s saying the person is weak.. just based on giving up once. Quite poor thing right? ;p
As long as you have the wisdom to know what you’re giving up for, ok la I think.

Respondent six:
If you give up once, you may be smart or a quitter. So it really depends on the situation. Haven’t we all given up before? Think about a sport you used to play as a child. Are you now what you thought you could be? Or maybe we dream big dreams…. Bla bla bla bla bla…..
It’s hot. And I’m not thinking straight….

***end of responses***

I guess it really depends on the context - working in an office environment versus in a battlefield. The strength of the words simply changes.


10 ways to connote 'Sugar is sweet'.

1) Candy
2) Lollipop
3) Ant magnet
4) That strange tingling sensation on my tooth
4) Delectable delight
5) Crystal licking good
6) Disolves bitterness in black coffee
7) Diabetic
8) Melts like syrup
9) Saccharine baby
10) ... and so are you.

So don't tell me, there's only one way to say it.

本田インターナビ (Honda INTERNAVI).

In conjunction with this year's Tokyo Motorshow, Honda showcased its INTERNAVI in-car navigation system realized by strategic creative execution via digital media, produced by Dentsu Inc.

You can pick between a real time aerial view of a network of lights or a scenic road view on fastforward mode. It's downloadable as screensavers too.

Site design is totally non-obtrusive but engaging (right down to the loading bar - notice that). True to Japanese minimalism with a focus on user experience via sight, sound and touch (that's where the interactive part comes in). Enjoy.

The story goes:

All roads have expressions. The view of what comes and goes. The light, the shadows and the colors of the sky. The feeling of the driver changes dramatically according to the view. INTERNAVI has a 'Scenic Route' function to search a scenic route for you.


Remember. Always always always user experience comes first. Both on and offline.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoughts of a self-proclaimed planner.

Not everyone who can ideate, can execute.

Not everyone who can execute, can manage.

Not everyone who can manage, can ideate.

Ideally, we have traits all three of the above. Come on, be honest. How do you score?

BMW M3 film.

I could live with 'listening' to this film forever. I'm not so sure about the storyline though cause I hate women being projected in this fashion in car ads. There's definitely some serious sexual tension happening there, okay fine, I can associated that to an M3. Sexual. But not sex. Featuring that lady that way, cheapens her, cheapens the car. Money huh? So who's being picked up now? Gosh.

Anyway, having said that, on a different note. Just you concentrate on the sound and close your eyes. Just listen. You could almost 'see' the muscular force of the machine swelling and surging forward. Your grip tightens, your breathing quickens and at additional pedal force, you reach an orgasmic torque with power that leaves you panting and downshifting in split seconds once again, just to push the beast up again and let it kick you in the sweet spot in your gut one. more. time. And one more. And one more. And one more. Drifting away in sheer ecstasy, upshift, downshift, upshift, downshift. Well, you get the idea.

But visually, this is unappealing. Kinda disappointing. Kinda offensive. Bordering bad taste. Hmm. A thought though - perhaps showing non-facial expressions of the driver instead? Closed up features - tight grip, focused eyes, kneaded brows, beaded sweat on forehead, a swallowing moment of a close call, a forceful but quiet exhale of relief, etc. Seriously. I think it will work a whole lot better. Don't misunderstand, I like girls. But... not in this manner. And definitely, definitely not in a BMW film. I can see that in a Kia Forte Koup or something like that. Woop. Sorry. No offense.

And uh... by the way, she looks a little underaged yea? Tsk tsk tsk.

Volvo XC60.

Read in sur la terre (Kuala Lumpur) on Volvo's XC60's test drive write-up:

Other safety features that come standard in the XC60 is a list that reads like an encyclopedia on auto-mobile safety (you ready? Take a deep breath, here goes...): dual stage driver and front passenger air bags, SIPS, dual chamber SIPS at the front, inflatable curtains, whiplash protection system, seat belt pre-tensioners, electronic all-wheel drive with instant traction, anti-lock brake system, electronic brake distribution, hydraulic brake assist, ready alert brake, fading brake support, dynamic stability and traction control, roll stability control and roll over protection system (phew... if we keep braking somemore, we'll never get anywhere!).

Non-italics mine.

While the Volvo brand has been synonymous with 'safety' for the past half a century since they invented the three-point safety belt which obviously revolutionized the automotive world to what it is today, but the above 'encyclopedic' verses of safety features just... didn't bring an ounce of imagination to my head at all if I were a potential buyer. If at all, it sounded like a really boring vehicle. While I think it's great to know that I'm almost completely protected from head to toe while driving/riding in a Volvo, but what is life without a bit of excitement?

Anytime, I'd prefer the marketing proposition to say something like this instead:

"Nobody rides tourist class in a Volvo; everybody rides at least business class. All five seats are a priority."

Nooow we're talking. Immediately a sense of luxury is provoked in the mind. Luscious interior that speaks with assertive elegance of contemporary Swedish design with an uncluttered, ergonomic dashboard that makes everything look so... pleasing to the eye. By the way, the above statement wasn't made up. I'm sure you wouldn't have guessed that I could have come out with something so smart (as yet) but it was the very thought of Peter Horbury, Volvo's former Vice President of Design that brought about this exceptional comfort to all occupants in a Volvo. Now doesn't that sound more appealing?

Side note: Volvo will soon evolve to become one of the preferred brands for the 'alternative gender' market (albeit unintentionally). Understated, 'alternative' to luxury that's not German, sleek lines and detail to design, these are all the cues, we think.

Burberry: The art of trench.

Awesome site we love.

Autopsy of details:

- Music volume grows softer and louder depending on content emphasis, bringing in relevant 'live' sounds from the street just to transport users closer to the focal 'object'

- Content organisation is well-structured and simple in navigation - by what is relevant to the art of wearing a trench which makes perfect sense: kind and harsh public sentence, who you are naturally, accessorized or not, different shades for different days, moods and weather. Compare typical fashion classification: Gender, size, colour

- Dispersion capability of content is only two clicks away. Yea, get done away with layers!

- A great example of controlled content versus UGC. Some form of quality in photography needs to be in place yea? Afterall, it's Burberry.

- Single minded message, no frills: One trench, infinite possibilities, real people.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BMW 5s limousine.

Teaser. Every horse in the stable is truly distinct. But the same DNA.

BMW M3 GTS Part 1 and 2.

Part 1:

There is only thing which needs to stand out. All else can fade into monochrome in comparison. From world to dust.

Part 2:

Hear the beast growl at approximately 30s into the film. And feel it smokin' again at 2:12. Watching this is like watching a big budget explosive blockbuster drama complete with an originally orchestrated soundtrack (Die Hard number 48172192), unfolding on the big screen. It's only YouTube but it gives you that kind of awesome effect, you know! Those twin multi-spoke 'spider' rims are also very becoming. I'm all right, I'm all right 'cept for the colour. Remove the orange peel and let the ghostly non-coloured beast shines through. It's film like this that makes you wanna go shopping. Wonder if it comes in black.

But I'm kinda surprised that they shot this without a driver's helmet though. Hmm.

popot n pipit launched.

Couple of years back, there was some nonsensical discussion on baby business. Obviously, years flew and many online diaper-type businesses took off. I think there's still a very optimistic growth for this kind of consumer market. My job was just to spot it. Again, dream for dream, passion for passion, I hope this creative idea of a dear friend of mine takes off too. So... here's a special advertising post to it :)
It may not seem much for now, but I have faith. The whole idea of popotnpipit is to inspire people to love the things they own (or intend to give away), because the people behind it put a lot of thoughts and love into ideation and creation. Baby stuff is probably the first baby step. So, we'll see :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

3,473,905 (6 plus this) mentions, 278,255 visits, 2,459 number of audio/video, 2,674 comments, 1,053 tweets, 9,434 FB fans. Well done!

Question. From a marketing point of view - we're curious what exactly does everyoneconnects campaign serve? Broadband subscription? Favorable brand perception? Increase connectivity? Even if it's mobile connectivity? Promoting social media for mass acceptance? So that the rakyat won't 'potong'? How does the communication activity explains (or sells) TM's business competency? Or is this another mandatory effort to promote the Satu Malaysia konsep? Hmm.

While we think this is one of the most viral campaigns we've seen so far in Malaysia (no doubt with a big fat budget to boost), we're just curious - what kind of ROI does this justify for a connectivity monopolist?

Compare with BT's version of social media communication which is mainly to promote collaboration (same concept) across the enterprise in 170 countries, connecting 110,000 employees. Catering to the Digital Generation (same insight), BT understands that collective wisdom could perhaps propel the company faster than when it's not on social media. Some of BT's efforts in leveraging on social media:

1) BTpedia (BT's own version of wikipedia) enabling information sharing with 800 over articles and growing within the company
2) BT Collaborate allowing project teams to edit and add comments within minutes internally as well as promoting effective knowledge sharing amongst all team members
3) Blogging - from senior managers engaging their teams to executives sharing their learning experience from trainings
4) BT Today wiring employees to the latest news and happenings via an online newsdesk
5) MY BT - an enterprise social network similar to Facebook provides great functionality by allowing employees to connect with each other through their individual skill sets
6) Podcast to encourage user-generated content via audio and video material

Although the sound business case of ROI was unclear initally, for the deployment of social media in such scale but Richard Dennison (Senior Manager - Social Media at BT) believes that the value it adds on to the business is self-evident.

Read more of the case study here in Dennison's blog.

While we believe that social media is the future, but we're hardpressed to force fit the tool into practice just because it's trendy. The best part about social media is it could help you to solve almost anything if it's used strategically and its integrity respected. That includes solving non-existent problems. Social media solves future problems before they occur if the power to anticipate is accounted as part of the communication strategy. That's simply because communication can solve almost everything. Perhaps TM should reconsider its 2.0 strategy to focus inward instead, building employees collaborative skill sets which in turn contributes to the building of the company. Then again, this is just our two cents worth.

Sorry. What was TM trying to sell again?

The future of planning.

Extracted from Campaign Live:

From Context to Communication Planning, the evolving consumer and media landscape has spawned a profusion of planning specialisms; an abundance of smart, new media, new era rhetoric and opinion.

The logic goes that a more complex world requires more niche expertise: Bigger teams, made up of more specialists, for more complicated challenges.

Is this necessarily the case?

This paper describes a global project for Nokia delivered by a small, multi-skilled team.

A hybrid combination of creative strategist and strategic creatives.

Planning produced a Communication Design to deliver:
- Strategy based on Fitting in, not Standing out;
- Understanding of emerging cultural behaviour;
- Ongoing monitoring and tactical direction;
- Fluid development of creative output -planning & creative responding to consumer involvement in real time.

A strategic approach that produced more interesting work, better results and significant added value for Nokia.

*** end of extract ***

Globally, advertising giants will soon find it hard to compete with smaller set-ups that remain small for a strategic purpose. They're lean and can be mean and they're fast in ethnographic immersion, intense in cultural understanding and they're apt in building on each other's idea collectively to build a new hybrid of thoughts (that probably could not be put together by the wisdom of one. Goodbye Einstein, hello Wiki). In big agencies, there are too many furnitures, cold storages, baggages, whatever you want to call them - duplicated by the dozens, running the ad business like an automotive production line. Reminds me a bit of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

We need to be small because we need to ensure that everyone in the team brings a value to the table. There will be no hostages when there is passion. There will be no freeloaders when there is accountability. There will be no simplicity when there is a strict focus on strategy and craft. Everyone should know what he or she is doing. Running the ad business should evolve into an 'open source' kind of platform or it will fail. Why? Because, collectively, Consumers are light years ahead of the thousands of Suits and Creatives combined. We are doomed until we do something about it. Fast.

Chris Jordan's stark truth about human and birds.

From Chris Jordan's website:

Midway - Message from the Gyre

These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking. To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent. ~cj, October 2009

--- end of message ---

We've seen a lot of gruesome photos unveiling new ways (every day) on how our inconsiderate thinking and actions have resulted to killings (in every way). Every day is a new story, every day comes with a new discovery. And we applaud individuals like Chris Jordan. We need 'researchers' such as them to reveal 'hidden' consequences such as these that we never thought of at all during point of action. Perhaps then, we learn to 'see' further than just momentarily gratifying our actions.

Dealer 2.0?

Social media brought people closer (real time), likewise for businesses, it broke certain barriers, creating easier access for customers to channel their likes and dislikes and keep updated with current events and promotions. I guess the question is how brands can leverage on these 'ambassadors' to create a better ownership journey for customers without each working in isolation. While both dealer and brand try to communicate more and better with the public, they must not forget the equally significant communication between them both - which works the same as in any other social media environment - honesty and accountability with the additional 'support' to boot.

In social media, long gone are the days where communication is one way from brand to dealer to customers. It's all zig and zag now. Increased communication = increased chances of confusion. The tricky part is keeping the communication to the customer consistent which should ultimately puts the customer first.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The new Guinness World Ad - Bring it to Life.

Guinness new commercial - Bring it to life.

What a refreshing perspective on bringing about that mass awareness to combat present global issues. Macho men taking matters into their own hands. No more talking, no more showing bleak futures with dying plants and homeless animals, no more telling you what to do. That's the spirit, to quote an over quoted marketing line - just do it. Now if only resurrecting trees was that easy...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We like John Lobb - The Bootmaker.

Not everyone appreciates art. But everyone knows good craft.

It's always a pleasure to buy something that comes with a lot of text and explanation. It means that someone is putting a lot of effort into thinking during creation. Isn't it nice to own something that is distinctive in its own right? Versus owning things that mean the same to everyone?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kemistry Gallery x Geneviève Gauckler = Digitally Isolated.

Like :)
6 November — 19 December 2009
I've forgot what the weekend feels like. Good to have it here again. Enjoy yours :)

Nissan 370z new campaign site.

New campaign site for the 370z. I think it's a cool concept - mysterious thief, heated chase sequence, mind challenges, accompanied by a er... Japanese named chick (hmm... でも。。。ビミオだね). It's all good except I didn't think it quite fit the Fairlady. While I don't think I know enough about cars but I do have some knowledge in brand planning and certainly that image projection of the 370z is disturbing. We're talking about buyers who will be forking out more than three hundred grand for this Japanese version of a Porsche. It certainly lacks that aura that it should carry (or comes with the price tag, as a matter of fact).
But what irks me most is the... PIXELATED CAR(!!). Gosh. Sorry, it. Just. Irks. The. Hell. Out. Of. Me. Please, not any jpgs. Certainly not the 370z.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Honda City's 2nd official roadtrip.

Where we convoyed from Bandar Utama to Sungai Pelek to Tanjung Sepat to Sepang Gold Coast. It's cool to see strangers coming together and having fun. Really looking forward to the next trip. If you wanna join us for the next road trip, get posted here.

On a similar but separate note, Honda City's Facebook page has officially spilt over 15,000 fans yesterday! This means re-strategizing. Look out for more good stuff to come ;)


Monday, November 2, 2009

Know your GTi #8.

Beanie can do this!?

New Nissan Global Gallery at Yokohama.

Merchandize gallery for GTR and Nismo freaks.

Plug-in for EVs.

Good stuff strapped in.

Fairlady Z Roadster.

New X-Trail face lift?

Rather boxy.

And plain.

New Murano.

Am liking the details.

New Infiniti FX35.

Sweet booty.

Eye-piercing stare. If you get one of these tailgating you, you may seriously want to consider getting out of its way. With a 5.0l V8 pushing 390hp underneath the hood, it will chew you up.

Am not liking this angle at all. Reminds me of the BMW 1 series. A sedan hood simply slapped with a hatch backside. Not all unpalatable but takes time for digestion I suppose.