True love, part deux. Happy Valentine’s y’all!

As promised, Blak Labs has just released another in the series of true love films for our clients at Degussa.

Here are Michael and Cindy sharing their story. Get your tissues ready.

Degussa celebrates everlasting love for Valentine’s Day

Blak Labs’ latest work for Degussa appears just in time for Valentine’s Day. This year, we’re celebrating heartwarming true love stories. The first features Ash and Nora, a young couple who’ve stuck together through thick and thin. You can check the film out here: https://www.facebook.com/DegussaSG/

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Watch Ash and Nora’s story at: https://www.facebook.com/DegussaSG/

And then why not check out the Degussa site for your own Valentine’s gift? Celebrate your love with beautiful, high-grade gifts and jewellery, crafted only from the best materials and designed with lots of creativity and emotion. (FYI – the roses are real and dipped in gold and silver.)

https://shop.degussa-pm.sg/precious-gifts/gifts/roses

Watch this space for the next episode!

BTW, this is Blak Labs first new work for the year. So please do us a favour and give it some love!

ICYMI: 6 take Blak to the future

We recently announced some new arrivals to our little gang at Blak Labs. Here’s the official release. VAL20012.jpgFrom left to right: Ben Amdur, Pui Hun, Praveen, Ben Lim, Jun Hong, Dawn.  

Joining the agency are Benjamin Lim (art), Dawn Koh (art), Teh Pui Hun (art), Tan Jun Hong (copy), Praveen Amarasuriya (copy) and Benjamin Amdur (copy).

Lim, a recent NAFA graduate, converted his internship with Blak Labs into a full time gig following great work on SIT and other blue chip clients.

Dawn Koh was most recently with Havas Creative working as art director on Fairprice, Tokio Marine Insurance Group and CIMB Bank Singapore. She was also part of the team that clinched a D&AD Wood Pencil for their work on the Havas Gazette.

Pui Hun recently arrived from Malaysia’s Leo Burnett and ARC where she worked on Kronenbourg 1664 and Sunway Pyramid.

Jun Hong joins from Formul8, where he worked as a copywriter on MINDEF, CapitaLand, Temasek Holdings and Singapore Sports Hub. Prior to that, Jun Hong began his career at IPG Mediabrands, handling accounts such as Johnson and Johnson, HBO and Sports Singapore.

Praveen’s writing experience at Mandate Communications includes stints on JTC, RHB, Thai Airways, SingHealth, JurongHealth and MINDEF among others. Having started his advertising career in account management, he brings a well-rounded perspective to his work.

Benjamin Amdur arrives from Sydney and gigs at Zoo and FCB KL. Says Amdur,
“I grew up in Hong Kong and worked in Malaysia, so I have always had a soft spot for Asia. The chance to work in a world-class city in a world-class agency was a great opportunity.”

Said Charlie Blower, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blak Labs, “Blak Labs has just celebrated our 6th birthday which is why we’re delighted to announce the arrival of these 6 young stars.”

“It’s a pleasure to be able to reward their talent and promise with an opportunity. Attracting good talent is particularly tough, especially in a market where there is so much good competition. We’re lucky they’ve chosen us and look forward to their contributions.”

 

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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Time to cut the crap indeed 

Have a read. Measurement doesn’t improve quality. Time to cut the crap. Yep, someone at P&G is making sense. https://t.co/M2UpwTpAtx

Can anyone do what we do?

Every week at Blak Labs, we help our clients’ achieve their objectives.

giphy.gifWhether 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.

https://damonsbrain.com/2016/10/16/in-defence-of-the-often-maligned-creative/

 

 

thanks for the gif Art & Graft.

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.