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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The More Things Change...

Jerry Della Femina’s "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor" has been re-issued to capitalise on the success of Mad Men as it is, so we are told, the book that ‘inspired’ the series.

Having not read it first time around I took a look to see what I had missed. Apart from the dated language – it being the sixties, agencies were full of ‘hip cats’ – the three martini lunches, the drugs and the fact that very few of the agencies he mentions are still around there are some parallels with the business today.

His description of the older established agencies as desperately trying to appear with it but; ‘winding up looking like a fifty-year-old-lady who’s wearing a miniskirt and dressed like a kid’, could also describe some of the desperate attempts of today’s big agencies to catch and ride the digital wave.

Of course what he was describing was a creative revolution led by Bill Bernbach and DDB which dramatically changed the industry at the time. I am not sure what today’s revolution can be described as; a media revolution? A democratising revolution? A content revolution? One thing it doesn’t seem to least not yet is a creative revolution.


Do you remember Spikes Asia 2010?

The final result of any presentation is surely measured by the extent to which the audience recalls it afterwards. So if you were at the recent Spikes Awards in Singapore how much do you remember?

The answer for us is not very much. And although it could be argued our short term memory was somewhat affected by our alcohol intake, we think our scant recollection could also be the result of sitting through a succession of seriously dull presentations.

With a few exceptions these could be summed up as flat, dreary and repetitive. Making the event about as inspiring, from a creative point of view, as an insurance seminar.

This was especially true of the presentations made by the agency ‘suits’ rather than the creatives; many of these seemed more suited to a new business pitch rather than a creative awards seminar, and we had our suspicions that one at least one was the agency new business pitch with some logo changes.

Of course presenting to a large audience is difficult and very few of us are natural presenters, but standing at a lectern reading from notes in a dull drone does not a presentation make. Surely these huge agencies can afford to invest in presentation training skills that go beyond discovering the ‘cube’ dissolve in Keynote!

One key component that seemed to be missing from the whole event was fun (apart from the parties of course). There was just no life and little energy. The only exception was Australian author Bryce Courtney who, at the age of 78, was positively evangelical as he bounded around the stage like some southern Baptist preacher extolling us all to ‘follow our dreams’. It was simple, it was corny and it was very un-digital, but it certainly woke everyone up!

The digivangelists were out in force and the big agencies – predictably given their sponsorship deals – took the opportunity to tell us just how on top of this digital, conversational, social media, interactive new world they all are, illustrated by their latest video case studies. Trouble was many of these examples had already been shown by previous presenters – one example was used five times over the two days! – so we had to sit through the same three to four videos over and over again.

Perhaps more of these agencies should just follow DDB’s example and bring in someone interesting.


How many ad agencies have really embraced the future?

It has been almost 50 years since Arthur C Clarke predicted that in the future we would all be communicating instead of commuting.

So with the advances in communication technology that have come to pass have the majority of ad agencies embraced this brave new world where, in Clarke’s words, "skill can be made independent of distance"?

In a word, no.

Despite their desperate rush to embrace all things shiny, new and digital, when it comes to their own communications and working practices they are still lumbering about on advertising’s Jurassic plains.

These monolithic monsters continue to force their employees to commute for hours through stinking, over-crowded, polluted cities to spend their days in air-conditioned cubicles devoid of any creative inspiration.

So why is an industry that should be at the leading edge of the 21st century way of working still locked into an industrial age model? Why preach what you don’t practice?

The technology exists: Skype, Cinesync, Truelight and others have been around for ages and have truly freed us (the Naïve Network at least) from the chains of the office. But in our experience few agencies in Asia are making full use of the flexibility, creative freedoms and cost savings that come with this more open way of working.

Our theory is it all comes down to control and the big agencies fear of losing it i.e., what’s going to happen if we let all of those creatives off the leash and out on the streets, how are we going to control them?

We believe that if you try giving up a little bit of that control you might just find that, as Arthur C Clarke put it "The future will be absolutely fantastic".


Print 1980s Style

The appearance of NTUC's topical flood ad in Singapore, as well as the flurry of ads that followed Kevin Rudd's departure as PM of Australia last week, brought back memories of the heyday of print, and of the topical ads that used to appear regularly – at least in the UK –  alongside many of the big news stories.

For instance the Ian Botham ad for Hamlet that appeared the morning after the legendary cricketer and boozer (now Sir Ian) admitted in a newspaper interview that he had smoked cannabis which led to his suspension from cricket for two months.

Interestingly the NTUC ad even looked like an ad from the 1980s with a type face and layout style that wouldn't look out of place in a circa 80s newspaper.

Will we see more of these topical ads in Asia? Given the grindingly slow, committee driven approval process of most clients I fear not.

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