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

Another historic campaign from Blak Labs?

Blak Labs new campaign for National Museum of Singapore rewrites history for today’s social audiences

It gives me great pleasure to share Blak Labs’ most recent campaign for “Treasures of the World from the British Museum”. It’s the latest blockbuster exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore and if you’re in the city and you have some time, you really should go and see it.

A knight at the museum
A knight at the museum. One of the Lewis Chessmen from the British Museum’s Treasures of the World exhibit.

It’s only taken a couple of million years to pull together. With an extensive collection of over 200 stunning artifacts from around the world, we thought we’d have some fun with it.

Thankfully, our client at the National Museum prides itself on keeping history relevant. They like to present things in a way that connects with audiences today.

FB Post for PR

Judging by the fact that the show has been extended by a couple of months, it’s good to see that the content is clearly connecting. The campaign runs across key outdoor sites in town, together with strategic social media initiatives. Blak Labs won the project via government tender last year.

So is the ancient art of copywriting alive and well at Blak Labs?

We like to think so. Because it sure as hell isn’t in our blog posts!

If you’d like to see other executions in the campaign, leave us a comment below. Hey, leave us a comment even if you don’t!

Always happy to get a response. Thanks for reading.

FB Post for PR

 

FB Post for PR

 

Blak Labs opens for business in Yangon, Myanmar

Our latest experiment is building a business in a new market. And here’s our new office at Hotel Yangon, complete with wifi, table, chairs and our team. Our first work is now in the market and making the competition nervous – our clients’ competition, that is.

If you have a project you’d like to discuss, please contact Charlie.blower@blaklabs.com.mm Ruth.goh@blaklabs.com.mm 

Or if you prefer to connect in the local language, please connect with 

Sett.kaung@blaklabs.com.mm

And cc us all. Thanks!

   

  Early days but exciting times. Watch this space…!

The power of email and good social content

I get a ton of emails every day, most which I just delete after a cursory glance.  But newsletters from the chaps at Bluewire Media always get read. The reason? I often learn something new. Plus they believe in the power of sharing and the “thank you economy”. They freely share their own social media planning tools and templates, which I find useful and they also do a bunch of podcasts, webinars and monthly giveaways. Which are also filled with good usable stuff. My advice? Check them out!
Yesterday Bluewire Media turned 10. So congrats to Adam (@Franklin_Adam) and Toby (@Toby_Jenkins) on achieving that milestone, from an independent agency owner here in Singapore! Your reach extends way beyond the shores of Oz, and your monthly competition does too!
Which is why I’d like to say thanks to Adam and Toby for letting me win their December competition.
The prize? Their top 25 marketing books, including their own publication.
Here’s my reading list for the next few months
  1. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
  2. Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
  3. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
  4. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan
  5. Platform by Michael Hyatt
  6. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
  7. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  8. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  9. Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
  10. Youtility by Jay Baer
  11. Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
  12. Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman
  13. The New Experts by Robert Bloom
  14. Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina
  15. Reality Marketing Revolution by Mike Lieberman and Eric Keiles
  16. Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich
  17. What’s the Future of Business by Brian Solis
  18. Power Stories by Valerie Khoo
  19. Unknown to Expert by Catriona Pollard
  20. Love At First Site by Jon Hollenberg
  21. microDOMINATION by Trevor Young
  22. Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley
  23. The 7-Day Startup by Dan Norris
  24. Engagement from Scratch by Danny Iny
And of course their own book…
25. Web Marketing That Works by Adam Franklin and Toby Jenkins
I’ve no idea how much this competition set them back in terms of book purchases etc. But I do know that Adam and Toby have created something of real value with Bluewire News. If you’re interested to learn from a couple of chaps who’ve done it for themselves, then you can sign up for the newsletter here. I hope you enjoy their content as much as I do. 
And here’s a couple of little flipagram thingies I made over lunch using nothing but an iPhone, a pair of scissors and some sticky back plastic. 
Here’s to learning more and being open to trying new experiments in 2015 at Blak Labs. Thanks again guys.
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