The Naïve Blog

Welcome to the Naïve Advertising Asia Blog / Marketing Asia Blog.

From time to time we'll be posting our very own biased, opinionated, partisan comments from the front lines of advertising in Asia. Be sure to drop by to catch the latest breaking news stories as we gradually become aware of them. Or subcribe to our RSS feeds below, if you prefer.

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With Asia’s staff churn problem set to worsen, is it finally time for a new model?

A recent report by specialist recruiters in the media and creative marketing sectors suggests that creative staff turnover in Asia is reaching epidemic proportions. In some markets, it said, turnover rates are approaching 40%.

Partly this attrition is borne out of an Asian marketing sector experiencing continuous change through the growth of ‘digital’. Online media and mobile has exploded, and many large companies are now building their own, dedicated internal digital teams often recruiting directly from existing agencies.

With such obvious dissatisfaction amongst staff perhaps it is finally time for advertising agencies in Asia, who are struggling to retain their top creative talent, to consider a different model; a model that gives the creative team more freedom, flexibility and control.

The outsourced creative model, where creatives become independent operators coming together to work on specific projects is not new, but it’s one that agencies in Asia seem loath to experiment with, despite it offering a way to keep creative staff motivated and connected.

And it’s a model that is much better suited to today’s multi-platform world. A world where the leveraging of technology is so much more important to marketing in Asia. By breaking down the traditional agency barriers, art directors and copywriters can collaborate with digital specialists and creative technologists to utilize new technology, and to create new ways of engaging and involving consumers.

As pioneers of this model for Asian marketing we know, from our own experience, that it is a way of working that appeals to a lot of creative people. And it’s our view that happy people produce better work and tend to stick around.

At the end of the day it comes down to trust. Most agencies marketing to Asia are still tied to a 20th century factory model of employment, and expect to see bodies sitting behind desks; otherwise who knows what those crazy creatives will get up to when they are left to their own devices.


Why Do SMEs in Asia Stick With Big Agencies? 

We’ve seen it time and time again: small clients marketing in Asia getting half service from their supposedly "full service" agencies.

Expensive, slow, unresponsive, and unimaginative are the complaints we hear often from our Asia marketing network.

So why do so many small clients stick with their big agency when they could be working with a smaller, nimbler, cheaper and probably much faster alternative?

In short a creative team that is a much better fit, and more suited to their business and marketing needs.

Is it ego? A desire to run with the big boys in Asian marketing? Or perhaps it’s a masochistic desire to be treated badly?

We’ve seen it so many times and yet it still remains a mystery.


dove turns black women into white women.

Thanks to Copyranter for finding this little gem from Dove.

Whether the racism is intentional or not seems irrelevant to anyone who has worked in advertising for more than 5 minutes. The question has to be: How on Earth did this ad ever get through Unilever's research and approval process, and actually run?

According to Gawker, Dove released this statement regarding the controversial ad:

The ad is intended to illustrate the benefits of using Dove VisibleCare Body Wash, by making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week. All three women are intended to demonstrate the "after" product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.

Having worked on Unilever in Asia recently, we find it astounding that the idea was not killed off after the first round of qualitative research, such is the client's sensitivity to anything remotely offensive or negative.

The problem appears to stem from the unfortunate layout which makes the 3 women appear as some sort of skin transformation from dark to light. Had the before/after skin demo been positioned below the headline, and the women rearranged into a non-tonal sequence, no-one would have been bothered.

Our own experience of working on Pond's skin-lightening beauty advertising in Asia gave us first-hand experience of just how sensitive beauty marketing can be:

Asian women love fair skin. And Asian men love women with fair skin. That's just the way it is. It's not racist. It's a sign of social status. Fair skin is the privilege of wealthy, urban women who live and work in air-conditioned comfort, cocooned from the brutal tropical sun. And dark skin is the curse of rural girls who live and work outdoors, often helping their families to plant and harvest the annual rice crop. So naturally, these girls want some of that fair-skinned beauty too.

What we found extraordinary is how many people who are not from Asia, find this concept of beauty to be racist and offensive.

A TV campaign we created for Pond's Flawless White attracted hundreds of angry comments on Youtube mainly from women in the western world, many of which were so loaded with profanities that they have since been removed. Fortunately however, the campaign was hugely successful in Asia and Latin America, and attracted adoring comments from these consumers.

But how is this Asian concept of beauty any different from caucasian people who find tanned skin attractive?

Tanned skin usually a sign of social status which shows that you have enough free time on your hands to lie in the sun, or are wealthy enough to fly to an exotic holiday destination and tan your buns while everyone else is shivering at home. And even if you can't make it to the beach there's always tanning salons, or spray-on tanning products as a last resort. (Never mind that you're irreversibly damaging your skin so you'll look like an old handbag by the time you're 40!).

But no-one in the western world seems to get angry about this concept of beauty. Asian women, on the other hand, find it ludicrous that anyone would want to lie in the midday sun to make their skin DARKER! Just go to any beach resort in Asia and count how many Asian women are lying there in their bikinis.

As we say in Asia: Same, same, but different.


ogilvy hires uk creative legend to head china.

In another example of the growing importance of advertising in Asia, and the larger global power-shift to the East, Campaign today reported that Graham Fink has been appointed by Ogilvy China as their new Chief Creative Officer.

Graham is something of a legend in his own lifetime in the ad business, becoming the youngest ever president of D&AD in 1996, as well as being voted into D&AD's "Art Direction Book" which featured the top 28 art directors of all time.

He's also been described as an "intolerable, self important pompous twat" by blogger David McNulty, but we hope for Graham's sake that isn't the case, as it certainly won't help to ingratiate himself with the Asian creative teams now under his wing, if it's true.

We're sure some of the more cynical Asian creatives will see Graham's appointment as just another example of aging "Western" creatives having a last hurrah in Asia before becoming completely irrelevant. But being on the wrong side of 40 ourselves and still surviving in the business, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome Graham Fink to our side of the planet, and wish him all the best in bringing his own unique brand of advertising to the world's biggest consumer market.


Could social media have created the Singapore Girl?

An article that appeared this week says that Asian budget airlines are increasingly using social networks like Facebook to boost their business. The chief executive of Tiger Airways was quoted as saying that print media now barely figured in his company’s marketing budget. “Spending money on print advertising just seems so old-school now, so why do it?” he is reported as saying.

This is in the same week that TBWA announced the return of the Singapore Girl. This icon of gentle, gracious service will be winding back the clock and wafting her way through the streets of Paris, Jaisalmer and San Francisco on a TV near you soon - and yes she’ll be riding that tram again.

Obviously a budget airline takes a very different approach to its marketing, but it did get us wondering whether you could create anything as powerful and enduring as the Singapore Girl using social media alone.

She’s certainly dipped her toes into the digital world with the latest campaign previewed on YouTube. Time will tell whether she’ll move over completely or whether she’ll stay wedded to her "old-school" roots.