Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's time for Agencies to consider a sustainable role towards the future.

The nice people at ADOI did a write-up on The Green Chronicles research which we did last year. I think Agencies really need to stop and think about the future and realize that they too can be a strong advocate in sustainable production. Everything that has anything to do with production and manufacturing will come under the spot light when it comes to sustainability.

At Dentsu Utama, doing the research was a first step to an effective CSR outreach. Contrary to popular belief in this industry that knowledge should be kept for the sake of competitive edge, we have long-debated and decided that sharing in this case is much more important. This is not an area where we can afford to be selfish. Hey, if another agency does a better job than us from utilizing our research, then great! It only means we're picking momentum, the pressure is on and change is happening.

Honestly, I don't know how many agencies would really care. But it's not about whether they do. They have to. Think internal - our paper consumption, visual presentation, cost-efficient material and think external - pressuring both our clients and vendors to practice at least a 1 degree of change when it comes to communication and production. If every day, we can change 1 degree, we only need 180 days to throw away old habits and embrace new ones. That's less than 6 months. That's half a year.

To those of you who want to know learn more about the state of our environmental understanding and action in Malaysia and more importantly, want to know how they can play an active role, individually and collectively as a company, please do not hesitate to contact us.

I'm sorry the jpg is too small, you can read it in this month's ADOI starting from page 48.

Music: Does not suffice by Joanna Newsom.

A simple love story.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book: Insider's Kuala Lumpur by Lam Seng Fatt.

Insider’s Kuala Lumpur is one of the most enlightening, engaging and seemingly honest book I’ve ever read about the city’s history and its coming of state. Lam Seng Fatt, a veteran in journalism has managed to put together facts, which I’m sure, painstakingly to uncover our beloved capital’s both glorious and hideous past. Reading the book was a strange play of emotions. While leafing through the pages, I was proud, heartbroken, amused and frustrated at the same time.

I’ve learned about the significance of Yap Ah Loy in the founding of KL, of which, without him there will probably be no us today. I’m sorry, if the government decides to take offence since it was a Chinese who took the trouble to build the city state from its old tin mining days. I just don’t want this to end up like another case of Hang Tuah’s posthumous disputed identity. So what if he is Chinese!? Yea, Yap Ah Loy is Chinese. As in CHINA Chinese. I am Malaysian, WE are Malaysian. Admit it, thank China instead and move on! It doesn’t matter which race started the development. The more pressing issue is where do we go from here as One.

I’ve learned so much more about the coming and unfortunate going of Bukit Bintang Girls School, as well as the still-in-existence Victoria Institution. I’ve got many friends who graduated from those schools, but I bet they never knew the inside outs of their school. Did you know that VI was the first school to introduce the prefect system? First founding of Scouts in Selangor? First to introduce science classes? And the murderous drama involving the acting headmaster’s wife? Time to pick up this book.

I was amused by how Malaysians always make fun of ‘having curry rice’ in Malaysian prisons. Honestly, till today I thought that was the staple delicacy served behind bars. This misconstrued statement came from the fact that the early wardens had names of ‘Fish’, ‘Curry’ and ‘Rice’. How canny is that! So there. If ever a Malaysian tells you they serve fish curry and rice behind bars, you know better.

I’ve understood that cronyism isn’t a modern governmental habit. They probably picked up from their governing ancestor, Frank Swettenham who conveniently had relatives, close and far, to be part of his dodgy ‘extended’ investment programs while developing the city. So, now we know where the root of the problem is. Then maybe, just maybe, the certain individuals governing this country, didn’t think there was anything wrong with engaging relatives when it comes to executing certain projects. Because it was OKAY in the late 1800s, thanks to Mr. Brit.

I’m awed by Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Malaysia’s first and highly revered Prime Minister) tenacity when it came to building the National Monument to celebrate the country’s fallen heroes whose relentless fight against communism, provided peace to the rakyat. There wasn’t any ‘national’ budget allocated for even such respected intention, instead he had to (read this) raise funds on his own. Can you believe that!? Talent contests, dance shows, you name it, they donated it. All funds collected were used to build the monument to commemorate those who fell but remembered eternally. Today? What do we have? No proof, but I’ve a knack that sometimes the budget can be misused, or worse, wasted.

I found out that we do have a local heroic criminal who thought he was Robin Hood reincarnated named Botak Chin. He was a hardcore local gangster who have had collected all the accolades to qualify him as the local mafia. I just can’t believe that he mandated a standard of code for his members – liquor OK, cigarettes OK. But no drugs (?!). Killing OK, robbing OK. But not of the poor. Instead, a percentage of his loot was actually ‘donated’ to families who were in dire need of monetary support. When he finally got caught and sentenced to death, he even offered his eyes and kidney as donation to the needy. Honestly, I’ve got strong mixed feelings towards this dude. He’s really as the book says, ‘a misguided genius’.

I pined in heartache to discover so many of our wonderful heritage buildings who once witnessed the glorious colonial days of parties and soirees, are no longer here and some, even unrecognizable. I wish someone would do something to restore these historic landmarks that should not be conveniently discarded simply because it’s not according to our Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage. Whatever that made us today, if it was part of our history, it was part of us. The Portugese, the British, the Arabs, the Japanese, the communists – they are all fragments which we should preserve to remind us just how far we have come. Not simply discounted and left to rot. Someone please… do something. Sigh.

What I just shared is only a minute portion of the wonders uncovered by Lam Seng Fatt. Really, it’s time for you to get this book if you consider yourself to be a decent Klang Valley-ite. I totally understand if you know only half of Malaysian history because you either dozed off in class or skipped it altogether. I was one of you. But this one, I promise you is one of the most refreshing perspectives of things – old and new.

If you can’t afford RM52.80, you can borrow it from me here.

Two cents conversation between Sparks and Lam:

Sparks: What made you decide to author this book and particularly about KL?
Lam: I was approached by the publisher to do the book on KL. They were coming out with a series. I think they managed to get the books on Perak and Malacca done too.

S: Who are your readers and what do you intend them to make of this?
L: The publisher intended it for tourists and locals who want to know more about KL.

S: How long did it take you to research, write and finally publish this book?
L: Researching and writing took about a year.

S: Are you happy with the outcome?
L: Yes, I'm happy.

S: How would you want this book to impact Malaysians?
L: I would like the book to inspire more Malaysians to write about their own country. If u go to the bookshops, you will see lots of books on Malaysia written by foreigners. That's a shame.

S: Have you gotten any support from anyone in producing and promoting this book?
L: Support came in the form of book reviews in the newspapers. Someone posted it in amazon.com. I was asked to give a talk at MPH in Megamall once, but few people attended.

S: If you have one wish with regards to this book, what would it be?
L: Well, I would wish that it would sell more copies.... (okay, on second thought, maybe you guys should really buy the book instead :P)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

If your day is not going too well and you need a booster. Take this:

This video speaks of a poem. I normally give 'inspirational' videos a pass but this one is really special. Because it reminded me of someone. Who gave me the exact same poem when I was little. The only difference between then and now is, this version is obviously digitized, edited with music that will make your hair fuzzy. I know this sounds a little soapy, a bit dramatic, an ounce too much of emotion for you, my oh-so-macho readers ;) But this and the person who gave me this, mean a great deal to me. Sometimes I wonder if I ever have impacted someone's life in that way... somehow.

But anyway, oh you macho macho men. If life (or whatever it is) is pressing you down and you feel like giving up. Rest, if you must. But don't you quit.

Bok House: When modern development supersedes cultural heritage.

After my recent enlightenment with Insider's Kuala Lumpur, I decided to do a bit of research on this colonial times mansion called Bok House. It was then, owned by Chua Cheng Bok who is also the founder of Cycle & Carriage. I had so many plans in my head - to initiate conversation with whomever who's taking care of the place now, to discuss if there're any opportunities that could marry my work discipline and national duty of heritage conservation, and to yadda yadda yadda. Only to my horrific discovery that this is the remains of Bok House.
And I'm gonna cut and paste the statement by Barisan Warisan, our national fighters in heritage conservation, here because I know if I link it, some of you lazy buggers, probably won't even bother clicking it. But of course, I know a whole lot of you, aren't ;)

Published in News Strait Times, 18 December 2006:

After labouring to promote a specific law since the early 1990s, Badan Warisan Malaysia had high hopes for the protection of our historic built environment when the National Heritage Act 2005 (NHA) – gazetted on 31 December 2005 – was effected on 1 March 2006. Albeit this Act was not in the form Badan Warisan would have preferred, but finally, there appeared to be a force of law which would champion of the nation’s heritage cause.

On 12 April 2006, the President of Badan Warisan wrote to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage nominating Bok House as national heritage as provided for under Section 68 of the NHA. The basis for this nomination was articulated in an in-depth Statement of Cultural Significance which clearly stated its architectural, social and historical values – and which referenced the persona of Bok House expressed in published public documents, historical essays and other records over the past few decades. This request to the Minister was to be an acid test on the effectiveness of the NHA.

We have pursued the matter rigorously after the law was enforced, using all means open to us in seeking the opportunity to explain to all levels of government the unique position of Bok House in Malaysia’s national heritage continuum.

The demolition of Bok House, despite our persistent and dogged attempts, sadly demonstrates our failure in getting our appeal recognized and endorsed by Government.

Let us ask one simple and basic question which must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds – is Bok House a heritage building?

If the answer is yes, then it should have been accorded protection under the provisions of the NHA, and in this event, protection would have been in the form of gazettal, regardless of financial implications. Why then has it been allowed to be demolished? If there was objection to its gazetting, the laws of the country offer recourse for the landowner, and logically, the law should be allowed to take its own course. Or were there not powers to gazette it?

We can only presume that the decision-makers at Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) have approved the demolition. Can we assume also that the highest authority in DBKL would have deemed it expedient to refer to his superiors before making this momentous and unpopular decision. DBKL could not but be aware that Bok House, and its future, was already an issue, expressed not only in a letter from our President to the Mayor, but in the innumerable letters, and public discourse in the national press? It is a subject within the public domain.

In the final analysis, can we assume Bok House has been deemed to be NOT a heritage building?

We have been given to understand that an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage has written a letter to the Trustees of the Estate of Chua Cheng Bok on 28 February 2006 – precisely one day before the NHA came into force. Supposedly the letter stated that at a post-Cabinet Meeting on 22 February 2006, the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage decided it was no longer interested to take over, or, to gazette Bok House as a Heritage Building, and it therefore did not have any objections to the development proposals for the site.

So, if this building which is of such great historic prominence and provenance has been deemed by the authorities not to be a Heritage Huilding, Badan Warisan Malaysia would like to know what the government’s definition of heritage is and what criteria were applied to arrive at this decision.

Sadly, we cannot but come to the grave conclusion that the demolition of Bok House within the first 12 months of the life of the NHA is an omen of things to come.

The Council of Badan Warisan Malaysia
15 December 2006
Badan Warisan Malaysia(Heritage of Malaysia Trust)No. 2 Jalan Stonor50450 Kuala LumpurMalaysia Tel: +60 (0)3 2144 9273Fax: +60 (0)3 2145 7884 http://www.badanwarisan.org.my/

Original post here.

I can't believe I'm only reading this 4 years after the incident. That just shows how much coverage this issue had. I'm sure with the internet and persistence of information now, we could perhaps create stronger public pressure should this ever happen again. I don't know...

Sigh. Well, to leave you with the memory of Bok House, here's a very beautiful, melancholic and artistically shot of Bok House. Credit to photographer, Azrul K. Abdullah.
I'm sorry to realize this too late.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

FREED's launch (personal) photos.

As much as I've worked on many different projects (though, I can't really claim I have enough experience just yet), I love launch events the most. I guess it's just the dynamics of being able to watch something come alive 'physically'. Without an event, launching on ATL alone somehow doesn't give you that 'oomph' if you know what I mean. The other two which I love working on is out-of-home and digital media. Impact, yo... impact ;)

From L-R, first row: Uchida-san (DJ), Ando-san (Honda R&D), Florence, Wong, Steph, Jerome (all DU), Shiao Fong (Honda Malaysia), Hosokawa-san, Okubo-san (DJ), Hide-san (DU)
From L-R, second row: Mimi, Cynthia, Toon, Jacq (DU)
From L-R, third row: Lawrence, Nicole, Karmen and Tanabe-san (DU)
The Dentsu-Honda team ;) Do not underestimate girl power... ahem, sorry about that, Lawrence. There's always an exceptional case...
Yea, uh... I was saying, girl power... (and if I get any thinner, I'll be 2D :P)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Death of a strategic planner.

The key word of today's marketing communication discipline. Integration, integration, integration. Traditional planners become the consumer voice, conduct extensive social type researches to get a slice of the consumer's life and present it in the most inspiring manner for creative to chew. Traditional planners also provide indicative direction to the must-have mass channels in the campaign, supported by media data. Traditional planners help (and even encourage) creatives to say one thing and one thing only in the campaign, regardless of media. That's not wrong. Because that reflects the traditional consumer who's a digital immigrant (I learned a new word today) compared to his or her digital native younger counterpart. He or she is forced to use digital medium (computer, PDAs, handphones, etc) because that's how the world has evolved into it.

If traditional media is dead, then guess who's buried with it? Yup. Planners.

Today's planners need to be a Jack of all traits and Master of some. They need to know all interactive medium such as digital, mobile, PR and events because engagement is the key to integration, on top of what they already know about mass advertising. True value creation today comes from collaborative willingness from consumers. Part of the responsibility of communication should be socially skewed, to provide conusmers with a sustainable long-term value versus short-termed benefits. It's hard to spell everything out in one paragraph but, in a nutshell, planners should really evolve to consider the social innovation realm as part of the marketing mix discipline.

Evolve. Evolve. Evolve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Honda All New FREED debut in Malaysia.

Finally after months of slogging and the initial tension of watching this come alive, it's finally here. Freed is Honda's new compact premium 4-seater plus a whole lot of ideas. Equipped with many unique, advanced and first-in-class features such as dual auto-sliding door, centre walkway which allows you to walk through between the 2nd row of captain seats, low floor design and many others, the new Freed impressively achieved 6 stars JNCAP in safety rating. And of course, who can miss the unmistakable Honda imprint of fuel-efficient performance and design philosophy as demonstrated by its 5AT mated 1.5 i-VTEC engine housed by a stylish exterior and complemented by a spacious cabin interior, Here's some photos for you to enjoy ;) Enjoy.The new Honda Freed is priced at RM112,980. Honestly, it's not bad for this car considering it's an import with so many of these unique features. You probably have to pay 200 grand for some of these features in a family car. It's a zippy urban mover that provides a lot of orientation in the cabin to cater to different lifestyles and needs. If you want to know more about the vehicle, watch the following video:

I'd like to thank all who put so much effort into putting this campaign together. You know who you are ;) It's the relationships that were built out of this that was (to quote Mastercard), priceless.

Contrary to popular norm, please do not access http://www.honda.com.my/ for the time being. Last we checked, the response was SO overwhelming, CPU capacity has reached 100%! Honestly, this is something which every brand manager will use as an excuse to execute the agencies in charge, but for me. This on the flipside, is extraordinary news! We have never. EVER. Reached such capacity before and actually doubted if Freed was going to be a hit on local shores due to the price. What can I say, but the numbers seem to think otherwise. Thank you for your support oh you who are interested in the vehicle. If you still can't access the site, don't get frustrated. Leave your comments here and we will discuss :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I am a pilot. Even for just one day :)

I have to thank a super lovely friend for really making one of my dreams come true. Couple of weekends ago, I went for a day of piloting and I must say, it's a pretty amazing experience. When I heard about all these 'be a pilot for a day' programs, I thought they're quite iffy. You pay RM500 to probably fly the plane for like 10 minutes in the air and that's about it. Not much you can experiment with. But to my pleasant surprise, this was different. I got to taxi the plane to the runway for take off, upon take off, I have control in the skies (just have to watch out for those tricky turbulence due to wind and cloud), level the plane and get the nose back to the right direction, get it ready for landing and upon landing, taxi it back to the hangar. But honestly, although my trainer was really supportive and kept giving me 'control' over the plane, but it's freaky. A LOT MORE freakier than I thought.
Before the whole flying thing took place, the captain assured me it was like driving a car. Oh trust me, it's not. There're only 4 ways to navigate a car, but this one has got a lot more things happening all at once. Keeps you on your toes and at the edge of your seat. The pedals are used for taxi-ing, up and down if you need to apply brakes. When in air, amidst fighting for control with the wind and some bumps, you need to keep at a certain feet and towards the right direction at exactly North 33' or whatever. Hmm. Not rocket science but not exactly dummies guide either, since you only get an hour of verbal prepping before take off.
It's a little scary on air but the pilot was pretty confident so he gave me a lot of assurance. Other than the cool factor, I don't know what else would propel me to take up a full pilot license ;) But I have to say, it's really really pretty darn awesome. Now I can safely tell someone - I've piloted a plane. And I've also jumped off one before. There. Another item in my list checked.

Wawsomes ;)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Puma: The best out-of-the-box shoebox is to have no box.

Sorry about the previous post cause I think there was something wrong with the player. So here's one from YouTube ;)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taiwanese boy sings like Whitney Houston (and some say even better!).

You know what they say, never judge a book by its cover. It's really true. Don't just 'know it', but practise it. This little Taiwanese boy (okay, though he's not exactly little little), Lin Yu Chun is just... amazing! You know you've beat the competition when it gets recorded and spreads like viral on YouTube. Like Susan Boyle. These amazing people are just inspirational! Enjoy ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to do census for your country? Engage them.

A pretty neat idea. Sometimes I wonder, if what the government wants to do is to make people do (or at least cooperate) to do the things it wants to do, then why doesn't it do it better? Do it creatively, do it engagingly, do it humanly, do it with a smile, do it with an idea, just do it right.

Malaysia government campaigns are not your typical advertising campaign. They don't have a strategic direction, no KPIs (wowee!), and the best part is? There's no creative idea. Perhaps it worked 10 years ago when communication was a top-down approach. But not today. You've got to chase em' consumers yo. You've got to chase them...

Video: Simple DIY techniques for post-it stop motion.

And to think they're only students but created such an awesome video. Here's sharing the techniques in post-in stop motion. Learning for everyone.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad now launched (with the commercial ;)).

Now available in US stores. Soon in Malaysia ;)

And watch further for more inspired viewing ;)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Take a photo of Earth for only £500? Why spend billions!?

What happens when you put an experimental mind + digital camera + a GPS device + some duct tape + a balloon + some helium together? You get a million dollar photo at only a mere three figure. Seriously, the list of items needed looks like an everyday kitchen list.

Robert Harrison (yes, THE experimental mind), christened this the Icarus project which is literally in his own words, 'a home brew project to send a camera high into the stratosphere to take pictures of the Earth from near space.'

'Nuff words. Look at these awesome home brewed photos :)via The Icarus Project

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The happiest breakfast ;)

Puts a smile to the grouchiest person who woke up on the wrong-est side of the bed :)
via Glass Horse Heart

The Malaysian government and social media (part 2).

You know what? Following my recent post on Malaysia gov 2.0, this is my utmost sincere suggestion.

DON'T be on Facebook and Twitter. Get off it. No, seriously.

Huh? You say?

While the whole world watches these two social networks and Malaysia gov just got started and you say DON'T be on it?

YES. I said it.

Here's the cepat-cepat strategy for you (because I understand what happens when you have morons posting demonic comments just to spoil the party). It's hard to be positive when you're surrounded by all these negative little people:

1) Build a social service that allows objective participation with the comment engine disabled. Communicate that this is a 'service' portal meant to serve the people, NOT for complains. Want to complain? Ambik nombor.

2) Utilize FB and Twitter as promotional tools for the portal, NOT political views nor personalities. Disable comment post if possible. Only post on the wall or tweet on updates.

You say: So, there you go. You're not listening again. You're supposed to listen on web 2.0.

Well, we are. Hence the application portal, e.g: Help us plot all the holes on Malaysian roads and we'll fill it up. Once we've fill it up, we'll update you.

It's not that we're not listening. But come on, we cannot listen and be driven by the public's every whim and fancy. Because it's the government for Pete's sake! If they start to be nice to everyone, then they'll be called the NGO (even NGOs don't do that okay). What we need to do is to draw feedback on areas we are focusing on amidst the one million other unhappiness and mosquito bites the population is experiencing. Change. One issue at a time...

The most visually compelling message ever - Matched.

When I saw this photo, I was speechless. Like seriously dumbfounded. Because of the infinite layers of messages piled upon one simple visual that could have happened anywhere, anytime yet it's eternally locked in one moment that could have destroyed its power, half a second too early or half a second too late. It need no words. None at all.

We're safe here...

Via bitte ein kuss.

Malaysia: Endau-Rompin National Park.

Hmm. Butt's itchy. Need to scratch. Some trees would be nice.

What are you thinking?


Endau-Rompin National Park covers the borders of Johor and Pahang, sprawling over an estimated area of 49,000 hectares (which in layman term is approximately, KLIA x 5). And supposedly contains one of world's oldest rainforests and the volcanic rocks there date back 240 million years and not to be mistaken from the Endau-Rompin State Park. They're different yea.

I'm not really the camping kind but if there's a nice little laid-back chalet (with hot shower), I'll be totally game.

I think Malaysia is beautiful. It isn't any more beautiful than any other better promoted countries, it isn't any less either. To prove my point. Compare the two photos below. Which one do you think belongs to Malaysia, and which one belongs to New Zealand? I'm sure you can tell but you know what I mean. God is fair ;)