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.
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 email@example.com
FYI, we’re not so good at bowling, better at creating new ideas.
Every week at Blak Labs, we help our clients’ achieve their objectives.
Whether that’s promoting a new credit card in a young market like Myanmar or driving visitorship to the latest floral attraction at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay or even launching a property in London, the demands are the same.
To do this well requires a degree of creativity that is hard to replicate.
And as the esteemed Damon Stapleton so rightly says doing this well, day in, day out, requires desire and discipline. Otherwise the result is just bullshit.
Have a read and see what else he has to say. I have to say I agree with him.
Today is “Brexit” voting day in the UK. And after a week of jury deliberation, discussion and impassioned defences, we have just witnessed the effect our votes had on the winners of the 2016 Cannes Cyber Lions awards show. Before we get to the winners, let me take you back over the last couple days of being in the room.
Of those that made it through, you have already achieved something truly significant. Your work beat some world class crud. Our final list of golds looks like this. Not nearly enough from Asia.
And after one round of voting for the Grand Prix, we have eliminated all but two pieces of VR. We pause and take a moment to discuss what that outcome would say about the category and our industry, not to mention our collective reputations. We vote again on just keeping these two exceptional pieces as golds. It is just too early for VR to lead the way. The craft has a long way to go. The experience needs to be more inclusive.
After the struggle, and the respectful discussion on our choices, we review, debate and vote on our final Grand Prix contenders. When we’re done, there is a huge cheer and lots of hugging followed by champagne to celebrate.
We realize what we have just achieved. And in record time apparently. So we head out to celebrate.
After the intro from Phil Thomas, the Cannes Lions CEO, Chloe Gottlieb, our jury President and a Grand Prix Winner herself, takes the mic along with the President of the Innovation Lions, apparently the ‘fun’ jury…
Chloe kicks off the press briefing with an update of the key trends.
With the new filters that the jury has defined over the past week, we think that the biggest ideas deliver on several levels.
They are seamless in how they travel between the cyber or digital world and the real world, i.e., no clunky tech getting in the way of the storytelling.
They’re beautifully crafted and above all, the thinking and approach deliver magic in how they touch people’s lives and move us towards ideas, brands and causes.
We decided to award gold to ideas that are game changers. To achieve a Grand Prix the thinking has to be iconic, enduring, universally appealing and live seamlessly in whichever part of our connected world you experience it in.
The two Grands Prix are quite ‘amaaaaazzzzing’ as Ignacio, everyone’s favourite Argentine from Google, occasionally says.
One of them showcases how tech and AI has helped create a new Rembrandt centuries after his death. It’s brave and beautifully crafted.
The other is the unbelievably charming story of Justino. He is the night security guard who engages the staff he never sees with simple beautiful stories and pranks told on Instagram and Facebook. The quality is Pixar-level, and the individual stories just make you laugh, cry and much more. (I am a huge fan, having followed Justino on his Instagram during the campaign.) ICYMI, it’s for El Gordo, the Spanish Lottery. Take a look http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/entry/756159/justino
This is where ‘Cyber’ has its true strengths. As a means to connect and unite people behind a single possibility over a variety of digital and ‘real world’ channels. Which of course is the point. The category has evolved so much that the best work is alive wherever you experience it.
We hope you’re happy with our votes. It was exhausting, exciting and eventually extremely rewarding. Thank you to my wonderful fellow jurors, thank you creativity and thank you Cannes Lions and Mediacorp.
And congrats to Team Singapore for winning the Young Cyber Lions!
Well hello Cannes. What a pleasure to be here. It’s my first time – so a quick thanks to MediaCorp for putting me forward to judge the CyberLions. And thanks to the organisers for the lovely welcome kit. The welcome drinks were welcome too as I caught up with my fellow juror from Spikes, Kazu from Japan.
The preliminary judging has reduced our task…slightly. So far we have collectively viewed over 2800 pieces of work. Individually we have gone through more than 500 entries online during the prelim round a few weeks ago. We’re still in our judging groups, which means no one has seen everything yet.
In the jury room, the shortlisting takes place in silence, which is occasionally broken by snorts, giggles, guffaws and sighs. We view the work on desktop workstations with earphones listening intently to the carefully crafted case studies…which by now are all beginning to blur into one.
It’s a bit like being in a call centre. Except we’re not solving customers problems…There’s absolutely no chance of help if your idea is woolly, your case study not sharp enough, your objective irrelevant, your results less than convincing.
At the breaks and meals, there’s a fair bit of discussion about what exactly we have just seen. Is it a data idea? Who makes microsites any more? Why? Where are the Asian entries?
Each day, Chloe our president and previous winner, captures a new set of filters which we will use to define this year’s CyberLions.
Every now and then jurors get the chance to check out new tech. One bunch went to try the VR experience from the movie the Martian. I got to have a virtual knock up with Marina Sharapova.
We’ve had a couple of lovely dinners. At the first, the waiter was superb. His description of veal as baby lamb had everyone stumped. He could be the French equivalent of Borat.
That’s it for the time being. Tomorrow we do a final cull of the shortlist, before we get down to the real business of awarding the Lions.
Quick shout out to my long-suffering wife and partners for looking after things back in Singapore @blaklabs while I do this. Love you all!
We’re always on the lookout for fresh talent at Blak Labs. Which is why we’re issuing a challenge to all graduating NAFA Students (that’s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for those who don’t live in Singapore.) Take a look a look and see if you make the cut.
We reckon you should be able to spot at least 10 mistakes. And even if you don’t know what the mistake is called, you’ve still got the good taste to know that it’s wrong. And that’s the kind of eye for detail we’re looking for.
Designers, art directors, thinkers, dreamers. You don’t have to be the finished article – if you’ve spotted all the cock-ups we’ve included, send your answers on a postcard please to firstname.lastname@example.org
You could win a 12 week placement with Singapore’s fastest growing independent multi-national creative boutique (offices in 2 countries!) and the opportunity to work on the likes of Maybank, Gardens by the Bay, TANGS, SIT and others.
“With this challenge, we hope to cherry-pick top creative minds with an eye for detail, befitting Blak Labs’ philosophy of offering our clients the highest level of Creative Care,” adds Koh Hwee Peng, NAFA alumna and Blak Labs Co-Founder.
We also hope that we can find some talent capable of creating an original idea instead of dusting off an oldie but a goodie for the inter web age.
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.
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.
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.
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.email@example.com Ruth.firstname.lastname@example.org
Or if you prefer to connect in the local language, please connect with
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
The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
Trust Agents by Chris Brogan
Platform by Michael Hyatt
Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
Youtility by Jay Baer
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman
The New Experts by Robert Bloom
Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina
Reality Marketing Revolution by Mike Lieberman and Eric Keiles
Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich
What’s the Future of Business by Brian Solis
Power Stories by Valerie Khoo
Unknown to Expert by Catriona Pollard
Love At First Site by Jon Hollenberg
microDOMINATION by Trevor Young
Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley
The 7-Day Startup by Dan Norris
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.
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