Friday, February 27, 2009

Singapore to tap on New media for next General Elections

In a recent interview with our PM Lee, he mentioned the party will be looking into exploring the power of new media with the coming General Elections. The article is copied in exact text below :

THE Government will leverage on new media in the next General Election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

In an interview with Channel News Asia to be aired on Tuesday night, he noted the growing influence of the Internet on politics, citing the recent United States presidential election as an example and said Singapore would go the same way.

President Barack Obama's campaign, for instance, used new media to put out their messages, organise and even raise money. But PM Lee said the change here will not be an an easy one.
'We are still learning. It is not easy to make this transition. It is like going from sea to land or vice versa, you are changing your medium and you need to get comfortable with it. But we are working hard at it.'

He also said the party was on the lookout for more MPs comfortable with new media. His remarks are the latest sign of the Government's changing mindset towards new media.
Last month, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said that the Government is 'fully into' e-engagement, when responding to suggestions made by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society.

Since then, Government agencies have also begun responding to forum letters posted on The Straits Times website. PM Lee stressed, however, that traditional media will always have a place in presenting trusted, unbiased and informed opinions. But he didn't dismiss online views outright.

'Well, there is a place called the Wild West and there are other places which are not so wild. And the new media - some of it are Wild West and anything goes and people can say anything they want. And tomorrow take a completely contrary view and well, that is just the way the medium is,' he said.

'But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give and take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful. That is another range.'

The interview on the evolving media landscape was in conjunction with Channel News Asia's 10th anniversary in March.

By Jeremy Au Yong

My two dime worth

I believe the evolution of tapping on new media in Singapore is possible. But evolution means it will take time to grow through stages of change, trial and error. And I agree that real name should be used.

A blogger, Angelina_jo mentioned, "May be our PM still does not get it, Sporeans cannot use their real names esp if they are against Govt policies, for fear of reprisal." I think the concept has to be put right first. Being "Against" has to be with grounds and rational. If accompanied with constructive suggestions and evidence, then the word "against" no longer applies. I would think, when Singaporeans first decide to speak, appropriate and respectful language should still be used. Ultimately, respect is essential for any conversation. Be it to the government or simply your neighbour. Only with due respect, would anyone be interested to listen. And if someone chooses to speak up, make sure its a valid statement and not simply some form of intended scandal and message of angst.

I am sure both public and government can make out the difference between the two. The Internet has a long memory and even our government understands that. SG government is wise enough to know what advices are to be taken positively and negatively. Just a reminder, our island's success is by no chance simply a case of luck.

But again, USING the new media platforms is not equivalent to UTILIZING the new media platforms. Obama had a Social Media Head. Does our Singapore government have one? Training to get the staff hop on the social media wagon may not be the best way to implement these measures. Focus, time and in depth understanding of netizen behaviours and social media scope of influence is essential to the success of such a campaign. Obama has been crowned the best marketer of the year by adage. His online strategy was a revolutionary well planned case of Digital PR and marketing combined. In a moderated society like Singapore, the extensiveness of such an effect probably cannot be matched.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Great G Crash - The Day Gmail Rocked the World.

The fact that this blog is hosted on Google and I had to login with my Gmail account makes the post even more ironic.

I have named today, THE GREAT G CRASH. A very significant day for all global netizens. The day where the entire planet stops to talk about its downtime. It will be interesting to find out on how many tweets and blog entries were created to commemorate this event.

Google manages to get Gmail up as we speak. Not too bad, it managed to restore the service within a minimal downtime. However, downtime is simply unacceptable for an internet giant like Google. Technical glitches? Yes, we all know that happens. But downtime for Internet Giant will mean coverage on the paper's headlines tomorrow. Bad publicity? Well, not necesasary.

If this was meant to be a Buzz Marketing strategy for Google, attempting to tap on a taboo scenario... I would say they have been extremely successful. EVERYONE is talking about it. From Singapore, to USA, to Argentina and Eygpt to wherever. Google has certainly created a talking point (if any publicity is good publicity) and Gmail has further positioned itself as the top of mind recall free email service even more strongly than before.

Could there be a possibility this was the plot? Very unlikely, but still, it shows us how an information can be spreaded across the globe so swiftly. And what one service provider like Google is actually capable of. That thought could be both provoking yet scary. With that much dependence and information hosted on Google's servers, it would be most unimaginable to think about what would happen if Google simply disappeared for a day.

Is it time to rethink about how we would better diverse our dependency and data (like you would do profiling for investments) that would put our digital property at less risks.

All netizens will remember today. The Great G Crash. Let us observe a one minute silence of mourning.

Why are Maps drawn North to South?

My Taiwanese friend gave me a question. And I returned her with a long answer.

Question : Why are most maps drawn North to South and seldom South to North when from astronauts point of view, they usually see earth the opposite direction?



My Answer : 我覺得我們所看到的地圖大部分是北上南下,因為是約定俗成的知識,且普遍的認知上北上南下這已是我們傳統上變成人人皆知的事。的確宇宙不分南北西東。但是人類總需要一些指標去確認方向於是就發明了這個方向盤,所以就自然而然的變成這樣。如果今天先人發明的是南上北下,那我們也自然而然地覺得那很正常!比如飛機不叫飛機而叫做火車,從一開始就是這樣的話,我們也就不會去質疑它為什麼叫做火車了。


The reason why maps are drawn North to South is due to a tradition set forth by our forefathers. Although the Universe has no clear directions but humans need a navigation guide to set our compass right and put a reference to everything, hence the invention of bearings and directions. If today, bearings were invented with South on the top and North at the bottom, we would naturally find it acceptable. For example if aeroplanes were known as trains all along, we would never have doubted why was it named as trains in the first place.

My other rationale is that although Chinese are likely the first people to draw a complete world map, yet it were the Europeans and Americans who began mass producing it. And they would naturally place the orientation of their own countries on the top. This is due to the psychological way of human habits in looking at things. We always look top down. Even China would not have used the South-to-North Map. China is known as the "middle kingdom", the center of the world. But if placed in a South-to-North map, they will no longer be positioned in the "middle". Hence traditionally, politically and historically, south-to-north maps will never be used and produced widely.

*The above answer is simply my rational with no basis of research. Casual discussion welcome. =)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is the internet giant treading on thin lines?

Google has developed such wonderful services that no one can deny their greatness. Google Earth is almost like gaining access to a top satellite service without owning one. Its technology and integration is first class and awesome. As a consumer, I definitely enjoyed every part of it.

But... is Google treading on dangerous lines? In a recent report by Times Online, Google Earth seems to have revealed photos that has unraveled the secret history of US base in Pakistan. These photos have since been removed with request by several governments. But it was however obtained by Pakistan's English publication before that was possible. And of course, that means internationally, the photo has been officially exposed.

Last year, Google Earth also ran into a controversy when Pentagon requests they remove pictures showing important military bases in USA. Last week, there was also a report on a man's journey to hunt down the treasure of a Spanish sunken ship when he observed an abnormal landscaping with an outline looking like a shoe-print. The case has since been brought to court to review a possible legal excavation of the site.

Will the Google Earth service be brought down due to the many controversies and sensitivity? Will there be censorship of information and protection of interest to control searches and results? Will Google lead to the end of democracy on the Internet?

The Internet is such a wonderful haven because of its transparency and limitless possibilities. Almost anything and everything is available and an abundance of information ready at disposal. However, there is always both sides of the coin to argue. If global safety is at threat, should certain information be censored and deleted? Should the conversations of netizens be monitored and actions taken when something wrong is being said that may cause a social up rise? To what extent will this potential censorship takes place?

Recently in New Zealand, there is a heated discussion over the Guilt Upon Accusation Law, which led to an "Internet Black Out" movement. It is a bill that allows for Internet disconnection without a trial on accusations of copyright infringements. The bill will take effect on 28 Feb 2009 if the National Party takes no further action. Right or wrong? Well, it depends on which side you want to contest. Although I don't agree to the infringement of privacy but infringement of copyrights does not seem right either. Each country has it's own law and it's hard for anyone else to say anything about it. But I definitely don't think the statement that says, "Without Trial" is fair.

Should we or should we not? Perhaps one day it will evolve to an era where there will be a cyber-government who governs the global netizenship. Perhaps cyberspace may be even accepted as part of United Nations? Who knows?

Advertisers Get Heads Up!

Everyone is trying to get attention. Everyone. From the individual to the advertiser. With so much interuptions and vie for attention, to what extreme would one go to gain some eyeballs?

Air New Zealand seem to have the answer to this question. Their heads up initiative got thumbs up responses. When I first saw this ad, I secretly thought it was one most ingenius idea. "Head down to New Zealand" is a very very clever tagline to use with this gureilla marketing effort. It is simple, straight forward and requires some bravery from the volunteers. Participants are rewarded with free air tickets to New Zealand, which well, is icing on the cake and cost the company almost nothing. Most people really do this for the fun of it. Afterall, it fulfills the objective of gaining attention for both parties. The individual and the advertiser. Although it looks like it was not able to reach the mass on the ground, but this eye-catching act has created lots of good PR value, which ended up in global papers and guess where, the internet of course. I got the link of this article from the New York Times through Twitter via @karllong.

Definitely, I think this simple "human billboard" idea could look less glamourous and insignificant as compared to Australia's recent "Best Job In The World" campaign. But my my, these two pacific countries are going all their way out to create some hype. I'm impressed.

Marketing is really not about who has the most advertising dollar to spend. But rather, finding a channel that can most effectively send out the correct message and best fits the objective. Flashing giantic ads may create some awareness but probably not the excitement or urge to purchase. What advertising should really try to do here is to build a positive emotion on the consumer that will lead to action. All marketing efforts are redundant without a call for action.

This "human billboard" concept is fun, engaging and attention-seeking. As much as the creative people had fun conceptualizing about it, I'm sure the participants had as much fun being a part of it. After all, you can be assured they will continue to be an Air New Zealand customer for a long time ahead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spread the anger around!

If you had to name one successful viral campaign that had made an impression on you in the past 5 years. Which would be your favourite? For me, it definitely has to be the Subservient Chicken by our friends from BK. The campaign was launched in 2004 to promote its tendercrisp. And the simple idea produced astonishing results, entertaining millions around the globe. Especially the office workers who just wishes their boss will become that chicken in the video.

Burger King then launched a very successful "Whopper Sacrifice" in 2008, a campaign tapping on the power of networking on facebook. And the new member of their viral campaigns is the SEND AN ANGRY GRAM that has just been launched this year, to promote their Angry Whopper. This is a pretty fun campaign that allows you to send really angry words to your friends and whosoever.

Playing with taboo almost always mean success (Refer to Mark Hughes's book, BuzzMarketing). And BK recognises that.

Emarketer recently interviewed the man behind the success of these campaign, Jeff Benjamin. So here's Jeff sharing his thoughts on viral with you.

Creating a Whopper of a Viral Campaign FEBRUARY 13, 2009
Jeff Benjamin, Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Jeff Benjamin, the award-winning creator of online viral campaigns such as the “Subservient Chicken” and the recent “Whopper Sacrifice” for Burger King, spoke to eMarketer about how to think virally.

eMarketer: The Crispin Porter + Bogusky employee handbook goes into the agency’s philosophy. One point is, “Keep money in context.” What does that mean?

Jeff Benjamin: There are a lot of people wasting money on the online space, and then there are a lot of people using their money really effectively.

We try and find spots where it’s not just about buying impressions—it’s about creating something that makes people create the impressions for you for free. People can do the advertising for you if you give them the inspiration and the tools.

That was the case with the “Whopper Sacrifice” application [a recent campaign for Burger King]. We did do a little bit of a media buy on Facebook, but ultimately it was all about people putting it on their page and creating impressions and sacrificing friends. You’re getting more bang for your buck at the end of the day.

eMarketer: What are some misconceptions about viral marketing?

Jeff Benjamin: One big one is that in order to be provocative and get a lot of buzz, you can’t be true to your brand. I think a lot of brands make that mistake. They try to become something else just for the sake of being viral and making something sticky.

You always have to make sure those things belong to your brand. Otherwise, I don’t think it’ll work and people won’t remember you for it. It won’t do anything to further the brand.

People go into brainstorming viral, and you can’t go into it with that intention. What you can go into it with, though, is the idea of making a great ad. If you do make a great ad, people will talk about it. The viral part will sort of be a consequence.

But a lot of times, clients will come to us like, “Hey, we want something viral.” That’s not very inspiring, because that doesn’t really give any insight into what the ad really is.

Ultimately, we want to create great ads that are going to do great things for the client. If we do our job right, the consequence of that will be something that gets passed around and talked about.

Even before the Internet, viral advertising always existed. It’s just changed its form. What’s been effective over the years keeps evolving. Like right now, I don’t think viral is creating something terribly subversive or anything. I think it’s about utility and tools that make our lives better or easier.

--- Interview from eMarketer

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The way I remember Singapore

Just a quick update for everyone incase you are wondering (although I don't suspect you will), 2 publishers called me back. Yes I know it isn't a big deal, but there are only a handful of publishers in Singapore.

I believe the concept is intriguing, working hard to make it happen.

Hopefully the next time I write here, I've got a book deal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A little insanity goes a long way...

There are a couple of stuff I'm planning for. Which in actual fact, I've been thinking for a pretty long time. There's two main ones to share with you.

The way I remember Singapore
I had a plan to write a billingual Coffee-Table book (you know, the kind of photographic pictorial with lots of poetic captions. Pretty much a concept book.) to record Singapore before 2010. The thought had been stuck in my mind for the longest time but no actual moves were actually executed to put it into action. Browsed a few bookshops (I browse bookshops when I'm bored, lacking inspirations or simply depressed) then dropped by a cafe round my neighbourhood yesterday and decided to get an Erdinger. I was staring into this neon signboard and a perfect phrase depicting the scene floated into my mind like magic. The lights of the city from the eyes of an 8-year old child and how the same scene is being translated differently as we age. And yes, I told myself. That is what I want to do. I want to make that thought a reality.

So today, I did a research on the local publishers and wrote to every one of them, with a brief summary of the concept. It's my first time tackling with publishers, so you could imagine I had absolutely no idea where to start from. With the recession this year, I can expect publishers are weary about selling unsolicited works. From publishing books that are more leisure than educational. I suspect I would have alot of convincing to do. The next is putting the team together. That would take alot more work. I don't mind working on the project alone really, but I recognise the fact that I may not be the best person for everything. Will keep everyone in view on the outcome. Will probably start a book blog if a publisher indicates interest. It is essential that this book is printed within a designed lead time, as it is planned to celebrate Singapore entering the new era of 2010.

The remake and rebirth of Market-Share Blog
Hosting on blogspot is great. I don't have to take care of all the templates, CMS and marketing. Blogspot is easily searchable and friendly to use. I don't have to worry about downtime because Google cannot afford to disappoint. So I am relatively happy here actually. But on the other hand, I also understand the importance of personal branding, of owning an address and "home" that helps to create an impression. And I reckon that it is best that I move back to my own host. The idea is not hard and stone yet, but plans are underway. If you have some experiences or opinions to share, I'd be more than happy to hear it out. In any case, do expect to be ready for access anytime today. ;-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Great Expectations

We've heard it perhaps a thousand times, since the beginning of the credit crunch. In any case, this is actually a familiar word somebody must have told us at some point of our lifes. The keyword is... Managing Expectations.

This is however more relevant in times today where people are losing their jobs by the minute, if not second. There is an estimation of 6 million unemployment in China, 8% in USA and on our sunny isle of Singapore, a 3% high. No one has the answer to when this tsunami may end. Finland's government has collapsed. Hence it is far more important for us today, to be able to manage expectations. Expectations of our life, of our job and our desires.

If man was ruled by needs and not wants, if greed was replaced by gratefulness, the world will not see itself being washed into these great big waves, a deja vu of the Great Depression, where Karl Marx once observed that history will repeat itself. As he said, the first time was a tragedy, the second is a farce.

I ran my own food business for a short period of 4 years. And as an employer, I made a very interesting observation. In contrary to common beliefs, I realised that age nor qualification is an obstacle to getting the desired job. Usually the people who manage to get a job, always gets a job, no matter how many times they have job-hopped. And the people who fail in getting a job, will never get their hands on that ideal job. It is all a matter of attitude and managing of expectations. As they all say, to change your life, first change your mind.

There are always similar traits in people who carry a positive attitude. They are polite, full of smiles, able to express themselves well, sincere and eager to contribute. The people who tend to fail in an interview are usually self-absorbed, mr-know-it-all, mr-know-how, rude or it may seem to pain them to say an additional word when questioned. They are almost too eager to ask what the company can provide than to ask themselves how they can add-value to the organisation. Usually, I like to judge my first impression of people from a handshake and if they will put the chair back. I think it tells alot about a person, about his/her attitude , upbringing and interest. A firm handshake and putting the chair back in its original position lightly will definitely get in my good books quite immediately.

Returning to the topic of managing expectations. There are alot of adjustments to make and it's all in the head. Firstly, don't expect the same salary and job comfort. There will definitely be alot of intensity and adjustments in salaries. Especially for fresh grads waiting to embark on an exciting career, I'm sorry to say it may not sound too exciting afterall. For the mid-career change, who has just got retrenched or terminated, it may not be easy to find a job in the same capacity in this period. Take the best use of this time to upgrade skills and get yourself intouch with the industry. Opportunities are only for those who are prepared for it. Hence, make sure you are always prepared, always on your toes. When the economy rebounce, you don't want to be caught left behind.

Manage expectations in your lifestyle. Man has always been in a neverending pursuit for luxury and material wants. In unforeseen weathers like this, cash is king. Keep that dollar for a rainy day use, be very very careful with spending on credit (actually, don't even try), manage and plan loans with delicate care and read investment products thoroughly to understand your risks before attempting to outwit the market. Understand that you may not be dining out as often, cut down on that monthly shopping spree and perhaps trade in your BMW for a Toyota.

Be grateful about the things you have in your life and not the things you seem to be losing. In actual fact, we lost nothing. We had nothing to start from anyway. If we all rule our lifes with our needs and not wants, we will see a lighter side of life.