Top dogs wanted. Patience rewarded.

The Blak Labs Grad Challenge is back! So fetch your 5 best pieces of work and send them to talktous@blaklabs.com before end of June 1, 2017.

If your book gets our tails wagging, then you could be the top dog that wins an 8 week internship at Singapore’s leading independent creative agency.

We can’t promise it will be a walk in the park. But hey, you gotta start somewhere!

 

 

Up for your first real brief?

The Blak Labs Grad Challenge continues in 2017. If you’re a recent NAFA Graduate, we’re throwing you a bone. The chance to win an 8 week internship in one of Singapore’s leading independent creative agencies. Fetch your 5 best pieces of work and submit them to: talktous@blaklabs.com before end of day June 1, 2017.

 

Think you’ve got the right pedigree?

It’s that time of year when the young pups from NAFA come out to play. And following the success of last year’s challenge from BlakLabs, we’ve got another internship up for grabs for the Graduating Class of 2017.

To sniff out the most talented individuals,  we at Blak Labs, are offering an 8-week placement for one top dog.

The challenge highlights the dogged mentality needed to succeed in advertising, requiring graduates to submit 5 pieces of their best work to prove they have the bite to thrive in this dog-eat-dog business.

Although aimed at NAFA graduates, this challenge is open to anyone looking for a place to sit, stay and play.

Send 5 pieces of your best work to talktous@blaklabs.com by 1st June 2017.

Would you sell your own daughter? The disturbing truth behind Blak Labs latest campaign

Blak Labs newest campaign for Hagar Singapore, part of the global humanitarian organisation Hagar International, highlights the plight of human trafficking victims.  The aim is to encourage Singaporeans to help stop this crime, while commemorating International Women’s Day this month.

The campaign features a series of four print ads and a thought-provoking online video.

HAG16_2601 Hagar ads_A2 pathRunning in media sponsored by SPH and Expat Living Magazine, the ads are based on true stories of human trafficking survivors who have recovered under Hagar’s care. Also part of the campaign, a gritty online video documents the shocking reality of a mother selling her daughter to the viewers, with an unexpected twist.

HAG16_2601 Hagar ads_A2 path“Human trafficking has devastated millions of lives across the world, but there’s always hope for recovery, and that’s what we want to achieve with this campaign. In Singapore, we’re partnering the government’s Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons on various initiatives to raise public awareness, and provide victim care and support for trafficked survivors to meet their recovery and reintegration needs,” said Lynette Lim, Director of Marketing and Communications at Hagar Singapore.

“What these survivors have been through is horrific, but what’s even more amazing is how they have recovered with Hagar’s support. We are glad to be able to lend Hagar our support in this important cause,” added Charlie Blower, Managing Partner at Blak Labs.

HAG16_2601 Hagar ads_A2 path

Now we are 6

Thoughts and thanks on Blak Labs reaching our 6th Anniversary.

Yesterday we celebrated Blak Labs’ 6th birthday with awfully chocolatey cakes, bowling and dinner.

Over 3,800 days ago when we first started, we had no idea how far we could go or how long we would last.

And when you consider the stats that say over 90% of start-ups fail, it feels good to be able to sit back, enjoy a slice of cake and a glass of good red for a minute.

We’d better make the most of those 60 seconds though. Because if we relax any longer, we run several risks.

In this economy, we have to work twice as hard to earn every penny. Clients nowadays are squeezing every drop of thinking and value out of every job to get the best result. That’s because their livelihoods, and jobs, depend on it. (As do ours.)

The second risk is this – relying on a single client, or a single market.

Fortunately, we have learned to think beyond businesses and borders; with nascent success in Myanmar.

Since we added new talent to our Yangon office and moved to a much improved home/office, business has improved significantly too.

As I write, we have one team missing our birthday celebrations to shoot a new campaign near Mandalay. Later this month, another team will be filming two success stories in Yangon.

The third risk? Believing you can do it all on your own.

We wouldn’t have made it this far without each other. A team of partners who support and challenge each other every day.p1120731

In turn, we are thankful that we have the support of several other important groups. First of all, our talented teams of creatives and project managers in Singapore and Yangon. Not to mention, the producers and photographers, retouchers and directors, printers, publications and couriers we work with.

Secondly, our clients. From those who took a chance on us all those years ago, to newer ones who choose us because of what we’ve achieved.

Finally, our families. We couldn’t do this stuff without the love and support that our loved ones provide.

So whether you’re a partner, a team member, a client or a loved one, THANK YOU for helping us reach the age of 6.

Cue the commercial message: If you’ve got a business problem or are looking to do extraordinary work (the two are closely linked), please give us a call or drop us a line at talktous@blaklabs.com

FYI, we’re not so good at bowling, better at creating new ideas.

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Blak Labs does jury duty…a reflection

As we head towards another festival of Asian Creativity at the Spikes, it’s timely to reflect on my experience as a Cannes juror this year.

Perhaps you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to write this after Cannes? Well, apart from the fact that I have a business to run, clients to tend to and Campaign asked me to write a little more, there is another reason. On the journey home, I remembered the words of Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB. He told me that “the high from Cannes lasts about 2 weeks before you’re back to normal.”

So how has my time back in Singapore been?

Following my stint on the Cyber Lions jury, I took a short break in post-Brexit England. Lunch with my mum and my sisters in the pub across the road. As we sat down to eat, I was peppered with questions. “Is Cannes important?”, “Who goes apart from you ad people?”, “Why on earth did you spend a week on the Cote d’Azur in a dark room?”

I tried my best to explain using the Jury’s two Grand Prix winners. While they seemed to appreciate the Pixar-level storytelling of ‘Justino’, they weren’t so sure about ‘The Next Rembrandt’.

But it was their real-time responses that sum up for me how most of the world views what we do. Before the end of each viewing, attention had turned to more important matters; “What was the other half of Britain thinking?” etc.

In the Cyber Lions category, we judged almost 3,000 entries of which around 20% were from this region, if we include Australia and New Zealand. We ended up with a shortlist of 230 pieces. Out of 91 metal, 8 Lions came back to Asia.

Campaign asked for my view on why Asia is under-represented in this category.

Before I get into that, you should know that I live in Singapore. My view is very much based on what I see from this cultural and commercial crossroad.

Is it representative of Asia? Hardly – much like my opinion.

Cannes is an English language-led festival. Asia is a wonderful mix of diverse cultures and peoples, all who speak languages other than English. Stories and concepts are expressed more clearly and in more nuanced fashion by local storytellers.

Do these ideas always travel well? No, but many could give themselves a better chance. One entry from China somehow made it through with a case study that must have been created with Google translate. I kid you not.

The point here IMHO is that there often isn’t the patience to let storytelling develop. “I want it yesterday” is SOP. Everything is urgent. With the result that very little is given the opportunity to be outstanding.

Upon my return to Singapore, I had to give a major presentation. Out of 20 attendees from the client side, about 70% of them were focussed on their smartphones. What were they doing? Checking stock prices? Facebook? Texting each other where to go for lunch? Search me… but their ‘attention’ certainly wasn’t on the presentation that defines their next two years worth of marketing. This is what I’ve begun to call AAD – Asian Attention Deficit.

Looking at the ideas that won, the jurors tried hard to award stuff that was truly outstanding.

We chose work that moved us with the power of a simple idea (Hello for NZ Road Safety). We awarded executions that brought people together and overcame the barriers of clunky tech (the VR of Field Trip to Mars, Giga Selfie). We celebrated those hacks for hope that turned a social platform on its head for a good cause (Manboobs, Check it before it’s removed).

The organisers gave us a book called “The Case for Creativity” by planner James Hurman. It’s a long-term study that links ‘imaginative marketing’ with commercial success. Keith Weed of Unilever and Jim Stengel of P&G both agree there is a link.

Even though the book is one long case study for entering Cannes, clients in the boardrooms all around the region would do well to heed its message. I too believe it is worth investing in the kind of thinking that delivers outstanding ideas first and seeing what happens next.

My view is that collectively, Asia needs to slow down and find the time to deliver. We need to find the time to avert AADD – Asian Attention Deficit Disasters. Because we have all the potential and the promise.

So has my own Cannes high survived the subsequent weeks back home? Am I back to normal yet?

Very much so. But with a clearer idea of what we can and should be doing to help our clients win. And no, it won’t be a crowd-sourced app that rewards those who go out of their way to save refugees.

I’m no expert…but this guy is

In the world of influencers, social media experts and of course, our own industry’s ‘creative experts’, there are few who actually know what they’re talking about and many more who just regurgitate other people’s hard work. @seanblanda has nailed it. Well written, well said and well worth your time.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 17.38.19.pnghttp://99u.com/articles/53863/the-creative-worlds-bullshit-industrial-complex?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+The99Percent+%2899U%29