Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dentsu's social media experience as told by ADOI magazine.

Dentsu Utama featured in ADOI magazine, July issue on the topic of social media. It's such an over discussed topic, but what's really important is the investigation behind the do's and don'ts in sustaining a healthy relationship with social media stakeholders. And be prepared when the relationship turns sour (yea, a lot of social media experts don't tell you the ugly side of this medium).

Get your copy now ;)

Wanna learn more?

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love and now Watch.

I read the book while I was on a trip (how ironic, right?). And I must say, it is one of the most magnificent but coincidental encounters in down-er than Down Under, younger than most new lands, none other than New Zealand.

It was a book which I wasn't planning to read because I'm not one who will support over-commercialized publications. Eat, Pray, Love was on everyone's lips and every magazine's book reviews, peppered with sprays of praise. Sheesh, I thought.

When I was in Auckland, I spent most of my evenings, waiting. Not the kind of wait that makes you bloat with redness in your face. But the pleasure-is-all-mine kind of wait. And one uneventful evening, during one of my 'waitings', I picked up this book at the local bookstore, picked a good seat and started reading. I decided to challenge Elizabeth Gilbert and see what she has to say about eating, praying and loving. And two pages after that, I was stuck. And that was the last night I waited in the bookstore. Because, every night after that I found myself waiting anywhere and everywhere with the book. And then magical conversations happened.

Two things which struck me was Gilbert's most approachable writing style. She's funny, witty, intelligent, curious, innocent, sometimes quite a doofus but in a good way, kind of way, and it captures you like a friend with a great listening ear. And she speaks to you as if you guys have known each other for years. There was no double meaning, no guessing, no wondering if you-could-have-meant-this-instead-of-that kind of situation. It was honest and the brutal truth about a woman who at the turn of her 3rd decade in life started going berserk because she wasn't sure if she likes to be who she was. Hmm. Sounds dramatic right? But show me a person who has never been at this crossroad before and I'll show you whatever you want to see in your life. Sometimes, some people pause for a long time, questioning the journey, wondering if they should get off the next stop (being epic is of course, optional). But sometimes, they only pause a second long enough before snapping out of it, returning to their joyous or monotonous life. Nevertheless, they paused.

The other thing which struck me too was, her audacity to chase after her directionless dreams albeit what society pressures her to be. And I think all of us can relate to that. It's almost like giving a voice to our subconscious who don't have the balls to face facts, own up, stand up and needless to say, who aren't blessed with New York Times-worthy English to have narrated like how she did in a book. Her life story, compiled and compressed in between two covers. I loved Elizabeth almost instantly and because it was a good ending, I'm assuming it must have given millions of other wondering and wandering souls (women or not) a kind of hope that if you are still living and breathing, you can always get off the next stop, buy another ticket, go the other way, go round in circles till you figure where you want to head to, or just be still at the station. And that will be okay.

You should read this. And you should get all your friends whom you suspect may be in a crossroad too to read this. And you can start by borrowing it from me here. Today, I'm no longer waiting. I'm actually going somewhere. Good luck ;)

Who else will fit such a role if not Julia Roberts? :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mimicking nature or cloning nature?

I remember the uproar when they cloned Dolly, the sheep. It was a debate between science and religion, whether it was absolutely necessary for mankind to play god in order to save themselves.

Today, there's this proposal of mimicking a leaf where Chinese scientists found a way to create artificial leaves that are almost identical to the real deal. Complete with the ability to capture light and all. If replicated on an industrial scale (according to Knowledge magazine), this could reduce our dependence on oil.

So... Dolly was not okay but leaf is okay. Will it help if I give a name to the leaf like... Betty? The danger of such technology is not apparent because it's masqueraded under so-called innovative endeavour to ultimately bring mankind forward. But we're still not addressing the ultimate issue which is our dependence on oil and negligence on sustainable consumption! Our entire consumer lifestyle is dependent on oil. By creating something like that, we may be weaned off one of nature's most prize gifts but still it doesn't do anything to our mindset in needing to achieve 'balance' not 'profit'.

Well, the debate may not be as controversial as Dolly's because this is a leaf. Living but vegetarian. You get my point. You cast your vote :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book: The Sustainable MBA by Giselle Weybrecht.

The best thing about this book is, it provides everything you need to know about running a sustainable business at every level, for every size. Giselle Weybrecht provides every point of view possible in running a conventional business and compelling reasons why you should be re-looking at current strategies in view of today's economic, environmental and social climate.

The Sustainable MBA is easy to digest with straightforward facts and ideas written in point forms to avoid the lethargy of needing to digest overly technical business jargon that would put any MBA potential to 'Z' land. Though its flow is simple, nevertheless after every chapter, it inspires you to reassess current business situation and question how better things can be done now. While I don't think anything written in this book is rocket science but it does provide an extremely holistic view on how to operate a socially and environmentally conscious business in the 21st century. The problem most managers are facing is the inability to see the big picture simply because the sustainable canvas is too wide for a single perspective. But without viewing the situation in whole, it becomes a real challenge in trying to convince upper management or even stakeholders (external or internal) on why change is imminent and instead of reacting to it via 'bolt-on' tactics which only provide temporal results, we should be responding and even capitalizing on it for the sake of the future. Not everything is accounted in dollars and cents. Like Mastercard so thoughtfully put it: Somethings are priceless.

Long gone are the days of unprofitable social business. For business to stick around for years to come and reap profits, it now needs to consider the social side of things. Whether in terms of investment or returns, it's high time we all learn to steer in the right direction before it's too late.
Sparks Open Library Project

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Malaysia's first sustainable seafood guide.

The good people in WWF and MNS joined hands to bring you Malaysia's first (and only) sustainable seafood guide. So that you are better informed instead of stuffing mindlessly on shrimps and sotongs and what not every other week.

Coincidentally, I've had a shrimp dinner galore at Bubba Gump last weekend (I wonder out loud where they got their shrimps from...). The same weekend, RedFM also organised a competition on 'how much shrimps you can chomp in 60 seconds'. Well... I feel a little guilty now cause four mouths, there were REALLY a lot of shrimps. Can you imagine how many millions of them, scampi that go into Malaysian tummies in one month!? They better be regenerating as fast as us eating em' otherwise our children will know no shrimps in the future!
Read more about what Sparks thought on sustainable seafood consumption in Malaysia (published almost exactly one year ago, freaky) and the rate we're going at globally which is faster than we can say pesce (which is Italian for fish). I think the whole idea is, to be a bit more balanced in our diet yea, which is a good thing anyway. I'm just thinking with all these women trying to replace carbs with protein, hmm... poor fishy fishy fishy...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is what legends are made of.

Watch this full screen, with your headphones (HD for sound if there's ever such a thing) and be blown away. My palms were sweating after that breathtaking corner...

And this is what Honda is made of.

Book: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel.

Yann Martel did it again. And this time, he changed his rule of engagement entirely although there's still a sense of familiarity in the setting. To those who have thought wonderfully about Life of Pi which won him the prestigious Man Booker Prize, will definitely not be disappointed this time round as well. I promise.

Beatrice and Virgil is about Henry, a successful writer who hit a road block in his creative endeavor. While trying to deviate from the reality of not being able to complete his task, he was half hiding and half in denial when he found himself mysteriously drawn to two fictitious friends narrated by an equally mysterious taxidermist who stood no where near Henry when it came to writing fame. The enigma of mystery finally brought Henry lessons in life that should and could never be forgotten.

To be very honest with you, when I started reading the book, it was kind of slow. Perhaps of my exceptionally high expectation on this book, thanks to Yann's extremely engaging Life of Pi. Even half way through the story, I was not particularly empathetic towards the characters. Instead, I was getting slightly impatient and was only drawn to the plot only at certain twists and turns. And then *wham*, it hit me right in the face. The crux of the story came and went very quickly but was so intense that I had to 'rewind'. I leafed a few pages back and re-read the entire scene to fully consume the message again. You've got me, Yann. You caught me off guard ;)

The plot is tight, the climax is short but diabetic-ally sweet and it hits you in the gut. Then this overwhelming sense of guilt suddenly washes over and chide you for being such a lax reader and taking the 'point' so carelessly. It suddenly made me realised that Yann had perhaps intentionally set the pace in such a way that we (as expected by him) would see history as facts that set the mood for a lethargic afternoon, than truly embracing it as part of an important lesson to be remembered and held with such esteem so that we will never, ever allow it to repeat itself.

This book isn't just about words weaved into fiction, aimed at lulling us into another dimension of imagination. That is only half of what this book is really about. The other half is him using words as a technique to relive a part in our memory that has begun to erode...

A must read for all thinkers. And from the horse's mouth (no pun intended, Yann :)):

Sparks Open Library Project.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dentsu on Sustainable Marketing by Brand Equity 2010, Volume 2.

Special thanks to Brand Equity for featuring our point of view in their publication on Sustainable Marketing. If you want to read about it, get this month's issue, out now at most newstands and bookstores.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Paul Arden, came back to life in Cannes.

High quality production which makes many wonder, "how on earth...??".

But in terms of the script and storyline, I thought it would have been a 'warmer' event if he cracked a few jokes to make the situation a little more light-hearted. As many of you advertising people know, Paul Arden is an award winning Creative Director and best-selling author who passed away in 2008. Which makes this a little... spooky? Sad? Freaky? With him appearing in such a sombre mood. Best is how he went *poof* (complete with dropping of the microphone and all) at the end of the presentation. It's strange because it leaves audience in an awkward mood, not knowing whether to cheer or be silent. Knowing that he is gone forever (and it doesn't help with the last line which he was scripted to say). I think seriously, if it was less serious, it could have been better :) Nevertheless, it's awesome how technology can now make us immortals.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Remember me on memory lane.

Everyone has a Warwick Avenue. Where's yours?

And Duffy needs Majolica Majorca waterproof mascara :(

I defy gravity.


Seriously, seriously.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Management 101: Motivation x Momentum.

Motivation is directly proportionate to momentum. If you're gonna leave your team idle, you better hell make sure their spirit isn't.

Note to managers: Do you know what your staff is doing when they are bored? You think they are just Facebooking but in fact they're probably thinking where they should go next and editing their resume :)

Take a break if you must (everyone needs one!) but don't let the engine become idle for too long, else it will stall.

Shangri-La new commercial.


Boredom lives next door.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BMW M3 GT2 x Jeff Koons.

Jeff Koons, the neo-pop artist with BMW as canvas ;)

Welcome to the hall of artistic super cars made famous by the legendary likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dentsu: Offsetting our carbon footprint at Raja Musa.

Dentsu Utama had a big green day out last Saturday, joining forces with other good green people to plant some seedlings at Raja Musa peat swamp. It was a hot weekend but we trudged on! It's actually pretty simple to plant the seedlings, if there's a system and achieved rhythm. One person will shove into the soil and make a quick circular hole, another one to tear the plastic casing of the seedling, and another to drop it (soil and all) into the hole. Well, it's definitely hard work for some, but a really fulfilling one ;)
We pledged a donation of RM10,000 to GEC (Global Environment Centre) and volunteered for a day of 'planting' experience. In order to raise the fund, we produced and sold ec0-bags priced at RM22 each. If you're interested in supporting our pledge (which we already fulfilled!), please email me :) Er... right now, we just need to make sure the bags go out-of-stock.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I've had sometimes too.

I know.

That's why I won't judge.

(Tumblr post unknown)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Revealing BMW 1 Series M Coupe.

BMW is spiritual. And that silence? Is certainly deafening.

Social media marketing greatest barrier.

I don't blame brands in Malaysia for not jumping into the bandwagon. I know it's hard. But we can work on this together.
Source: R2integrated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Little Miss Brit Pixie :)

Don't cry me out. Cause it ain't gonna change nothing.

Picture that makes me go woozy.

I have a fear of heights.

I just found out from this picture.

Whoa... steady...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book: Jamies Does... by Jamie Oliver.

Jamie returns... with yet another wonderfully and lovingly penned travel-recipe-logue. After reading a few of his books and watching what he did with Fifteen Foundation, I think this world would seriously be a better place if we have more individuals like him. He inspires a whole lot of others to, in the words of Michael Jackson, make a little space, make a better place.

In his new book, Jamie's recipes are borrowed from the various countries which he had traveled to, namely Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Sweden. He shares on how his perspective had been widen through the different cooking processes that were embraced and practised by all these unique local cultures. Jamie shows us how to steal a great idea and makes it his own with appropriate quotations to what and who inspired him. Never, ever copy someone else's idea. That's just wrong.

Even if you're not a fan of cooking, this book is a keeper because of all those interesting photos that were spontaneously nevertheless carefully captured in the moment. It will spark the travel bug in you.

Now the part which I love love love most that Jamie shared was:

Something France really gets right is the way it fights to protect the heritage and integrity of its food product and producers. So cheeses, butter, wine and other agricultural products with a history and tradition that make them unique are protected by the AOC label (Appellation d’origine contrôlée, or 'controlled term of origin'). This means that the artisan producers who make Roquefort cheese, for example, are monitored to make sure they are making their cheese in the traditional way, using the proper ingredients and ageing the cheese in the same caves at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon they've always aged in. Only then can that cheese be called Roquefort.

Seriously, seriously. It's not just the quality of the product that will be guaranteed, but local heritage, tradition and artisans will also be secured. For example, Ipoh white coffee must be:

1) Use beans which have been roasted with palm-oil margarine without any sugar2) Be served with condensed milk
3) And above all, MADE IN IPOH.

Which means, Ipoh white coffee is protected as a national heritage product which deserves its own patent in this country. Which also means, not Tom, Dick and Harry can claim they too have Ipoh white coffee. Aik Cheong, Old Town, Ali Baba, Tan Cheong, Whatever and most of all NESTLE. What does a German know about Ipoh white coffee!? You get my point.

Anyway, back to the book. So to widen your horizons especially when we realise that food, travel and culture intermix like a marble cake, this book is a definite keeper :) Enjoy!

Sparks' Open Library Project

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Global Knowledge Economy Index ranking.

I saw on Facebook, a few Bangladeshis debating on their country's state of Knowledge Economy and how far it is away from the initial vision. Bangladesh is ranked at 138 with one positive jump from 139 since 2000. Now before you look at other countries and smirk... I think you should know where Malaysia sits in this grand knowledge scheme of things.

We are ranked at 48. Not bad right?

The boo boo is, get this. We've been number 48 since 10 years ago. Now I hear ya (what the #$*$#&%#)%*^(@#(# right? Right.) For 10 years... 10 long freaking years. We've been sitting here, being safe, enjoying mediocrity, spewing a workforce who has no balls to challenge the norm nor question the leaders, a mentality of 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' with no intention to improve status quo except to satiate their selfish ego and gain family benefits. A decade comes and goes so easily.

You must be frustrated (and bruised) to know that you're part of this statistic if you're a Malaysian. But there's something you can do. Learn your rights, stretch at work, break some rules, question the norm, push yourself, support an opposition, etc. I'm not here to sway your vote but I'm just saying that only with a strong and vigilant opposition can keep BN in place (maybe moving is a better word, in case we're STILL at the same place after 10 years). You may liken Pakatan Rakyat as the lubricant to a rusty engine. We don't have to replace the engine. We just have to make sure it's well-oiled.

Musician fan integration. Awesome video ;)

This is Robyn's new web video for her latest track: Don't f*cking tell me what to do. It seems like everything is killing her (and us).

The video engages fans via Twitter. Just tweet something with #killingme included and it will appear in the music video with due credit given. It's the middle point where musician and fan come together. Similar principle to the MySpace fan video that was done last year (or was it early this year) but done differently.
It's really trippy (it's supposed to be 3D), watch at a distance so that you don't get swirly eyeballs. And you've been warned.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Dentsu: Cutting down paper usage.

It's been a year now since we've implemented some sustainable practices in-house to walk the talk of advocating sustainability. We've:

1) Change our paper brand to one which supports sustainable forestry.
2) Started re-using print-outs (recycle usage)
3) When both sides are used, we recycle the paper

The results:

1) Although the initial cost of changing the paper brand was slightly higher, but in the long run we were able to offset the additional investment because we were re-using the print-outs.
2) Cost-saving in terms of less paper usage because less reams are purchased every month compared to before
3) Additional (although almost negligible) gaining from recycling our papers, nevertheless it's still a gain

I think the biggest question everyone has in their mind is: How do I know how much is optimum? I've been asking around but there doesn't seem to be an industry benchmark available as reference. In short, we really don't know if we've reached the optimum level. Of course, an environmentalist would argue that zero paper usage is the optimum level. But we know in our industry, that is not possible so we would argue otherwise. Print-outs have got its own significant usage, and sometimes paper usage is deemed necessary to facilitate official processes. These processes may provide us a higher value (in economic terms) than the by-product but like I say, only when it is deemed necessary.
A lot of times we click 'Print' carelessly without really thinking if it's absolutely necessary to have it printed. Which is why it is utmost important for us to support industry and effort benchmarking so that we can help one another to be more sustainable. Without reporting, we may be disillusioned. We may think we're doing well but continue to kid ourselves without knowing how far we are from the optimum usage. OR we could easily be barking up the wrong tree, wringing a dried towel where our efforts, resources and attention could have been diverted to another equally pressing issue.

In order to start the ball rolling, we at Dentsu Utama have started to calculate the cost of printing per head (this is most viable at the moment) and from there, average out the cost and monitor closely and counsel those who have exceeded the average cost per capita. This way, we're able to nip the problem in the bud without involving others who could already be doing well in using paper responsibly. I think another management issue which appears here (which also needs to be intricately considered) is staff motivation. A lot of times, when the management team decides to implement new policies to 'correct' an organisation or operational problem, they shoot a mandate officewide. This may address the troublemaker but at the same time, may also demotivate those who are not part of the problem. While many may think 'controlling paper usage' is a non-issue but trust me, anything which requires a change of habit is an issue.

We've just implemented this system and will continue to monitor. If you have an experience to share, please do. Like I mention before, we should all support reporting for benchmarking!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fairytale sweet.

This is pretty.

But truth is, it doesn't happen in real life.

I Fuh Fuh Fuh FOUND.

Yellow Bird Project music video.

By The Tallest Man On Earth. The video is so cute in every metaphorical sense, it tickles the heart ;) Way to go YBP!

The Tallest Man On Earth - A Field Of Birds from Yellow Bird Project on Vimeo.

Book: She's Leaving Home by Monica Trapaga.

I got hooked because the cover was nice. And each page that follows was nice. The whole book was nice. To look at. Because I'm not a very fervent cook, neither am I very good at it. But I get inspired by creative and motherly cooks to be a better person. How is that so? When life gives you a lemon, you make zest out of it. That's how.

Monica Trapaga is a mother of many and an extremely big hearted cook. From her personal notes and the way she speaks of each personal recipe (now available to everyone), just shows how much love she has for people. I think she's the ultimate connection between Man and Raw Ingredients :) Her pots and pans are like magic wands that zap heartiness into each meal.

My favourite quote: There is nothing more satisfying that homemade soup. Whenever I've wanted to let a person know that I really love and care for them, I make them soup. It fortifies the soul and seeps into every nook and cranny of the body, rejuvenating, nourishing and energising with love

Okay. My mission from now on to all I love: SOUP ;)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dentsu: Hiring bright green potentials.

We're looking for local graduates from Environmental Science and/or Sustainability & Management stream (or fields along the same line). If you think graduates from the just mentioned streams can only work in dull grey offices, then think again. We're about to decorate ours with bright 'green' ones.

Dentsu is an integrated communication agency that is 109 years old, while Dentsu Utama is five located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We support the green economy and would like to spark the first out of a million green jobs in this industry.

If you are interested or know someone who is (but too shy or confused on why an advertising agency is hiring an eco graduate) then email me please.

Life driven by fun!

Another 3 YouTube videos from VW that went viral! Honestly, they all look fun :)

Views: 1,125,688 since June 11th

Views: 290,601 since June 11th

Views: 361,021 since June 11th

Remember, we can only create the videos. Only the wise crowd will determine if it's viral. So stop calling your videos viral when presenting to clients unless you're 100% sure you can make it viral! :) (Sparks supports campaign accountability)