The week in review: ‘We are all guilty of scam’ | What was the best April Fools’ stunt? | Foreign talent told: ‘adapt to local culture or leave’ | Singapore clamps down on another news site | Nike kicks off World Cup ads | PR agency closes

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week that began with brands playing the fool on 1 April, PR agency CommunicationsDNA closed down, another Singapore news website felt the weight of regulation, foreign talent was told “adapt to our culture or leave”, DDB Singapore won HPB (but lost APB), and Omnicom’s agency trading desk Accuent lost its second senior executive inside a fortnight.

Story of the week

April Fools’ Day pranks. A fake customer made an Ikea showroom her home in Singapore, Chup-Chups replaced lollipops with gem stones, and Metro Trains had another reason to blast its Dumb Ways to Die campaign. Elsewhere around the world, Domino’s unveiled the world’s first edible pizza box.

Quotes of the week

Nicole Seah, IPG Mediabrands executive and Singapore politician, spoke out against foreign talent in Southeast Asia who do not integrate with local culture.

If [foreign] business leaders, self-proclaimed or otherwise, are unable to integrate themselves locally and re-adapt their management style to suit the demands of the workforce, then it is they who are doing the local workforce and economy a disservice, not the other way around.

Aaron Lau

Aaron Lau

Aaron Lau, Cheil Worldwide’s Greater China president and CEO, offered a word of warning for the ad industry at Mumbrella Question Time Hong Kong:

Unless as an industry we embrace change, we embrace technology, all of our best young talent will migrate to tech firms. They’ll go to Silicon Valley.

Ad agencies used to be run by creative people. Now they are run by accountants. As margins get squeezed, we risk becoming like supermarkets. We need to stop chasing only financial return and remember why we are in this business.

One commenter had a word to say about the result of the Asia Pacific Breweries pitch for Tiger Beer in Singapore.

Maybe the problem isn’t DDB, Iris, Y&R, BBDO, DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi, M&C Saatchi, DYR Malaysia, Batey, O&M (did I leave any previous Tiger agencies years out?). Let’s hope the new owners put the right people in charge before playing agency musical chairs. Again.

Ruth Rowan, APAC CMO of BT, told her audience at Mumbrella Question Time:

All awards prove is that agencies are good at entering awards, not how advertising affects the bottom line.

Questionable press release statement of the week, courtesy of Microsoft, the owner of Skype, which has just opened to advertisers in China, the Philippines and Thailand.

Advertising on Skype allows brands to sponsor human emotions.

Wayne Arnold

Wayne Arnold

Wayne Arnold, global CEO of digital agency Lowe Profero at Mumbrella Question Time, on how marketing is failing to connect with consumers.

There is a shocking gap between the work the advertising industry is putting out, and what consumers want and need.

Leela Jesudason, the MD of CommunicationsDNA, reflected on the PR industry after closing her agency.

Clients want digital marketing capabilities from PR agencies, they don’t just want PR. It is such a different world now compared to just a few years ago.

Aaron Lau responded to a question at Mumbrella Question Time about Sir John Hegarty’s point last week that advertising is an art and not a science, and that big data is overrated.

It used to be that advertising was all about passion and no data. Now, it is all data and no passion.

In an interview with Mumbrella, Xaxis APAC boss Michel de Rijk played down the arbitrage controversy surrounding agency trading desks.

The arbitrage issue has been made bigger than it actually is. If it’s a concern for a client, then they should look at a different business model. Media is increasingly about ROI, and it shouldn’t really matter how you achieve that, whether the margins the agency makes are disclosed or non-disclosed.

YouTube terrified the less bright in its community on April Fools’ Days with the announcement:

We are removing all home-made ‘video-diary’ style entries on our hosting sites as they are no longer part of our core content.

Aaron Lau on scam at Mumbrella Question Time:

We’re guilty of it too, just like every other network in Asia. Until agency bosses stop hiring creative directors who produce scam to grow their portfolios, it will never end.

After a lengthy email exchange with an ad agency in China over how to describe their company, Mumbrella was sent the following:

I think it will be better to just describe us as Integrated Solutions Agency [agency X] or just [agency X] instead of “Chinese ad agency” as it may make us less attractive to international talents. Also, in China, when an agency is described as a “Chinese ad agency” it usually alludes to very local management and thinking and could have negative connotations. Therefore, we will like to request for that term to be removed. Your understanding is much appreciated mate.

WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell and News Corp boss Robert Thomson cast doubt over the Dentsu-Aegis merger at a conference in Europe. Thompson questioned whether Aegis was the right fit for Dentsu’s:

Uniquely unique character.

Sir Martin Sorrell said that while the marketing group’s “frienemies” regularly change, Google is an “extremely smart” constant in the mix, about which he is regularly told its sales team are trying to:

Hang us out to dry.

Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute on April Fools’ in an article in Digiday headlined ‘Why you won’t see many April Fools’ headlines from top publishers’.

Running satire on April Fools’ Day is kind of like giving flowers to your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. Any asshole can do it.

Aaron Lau on the waning allure of the ad industry:

30 years ago it used to be hard to get into the advertising industry, as it was a desirable profession. Nowadays, we rank alongside used car salesmen.

Best work

Nissan. To celebrate the brand’s 80th anniversary in Japan, the carmaker celebrated its role in family life.

Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand. How to fire your agency.

Boomer. A man is stripped to his underwear in an airport.

SPIES. The travel company’s ‘Do it for Denmark’ campaign revealed that Danes have 46 per cent more sex while on holiday, which could be the remedy to Denmark’s falling birth rate.

Nike. Not being a World Cup sponsor, Nike has gone early with its “Pressure shapes legends. Risk everything” campaign.

Google. Probably the best of the April Fools’ stunts was the announcement that YouTube was to stop accepting its users video clips.

Worst ad

MediaCorp attempted to persuade Singaporeans that its reporters “set people thinking”.


Top international media and marketing stories

Best-read story on Mumbrella Asia

The Wall Street Journal’s Adam Najberg on what the MH370 story says about modern journalism, the news cycle and Malaysia’s relationship with the media

Good week for…

BBDO. Named APAC Effies network of the year. The network’s Singapore office also won the local Tiger Beer account.

Beer brands in Hong Kong. Particularly Carlsberg, among the sponsors of the Hong Kong Sevens. Three per cent of Hong Kong’s annual beer consumption takes place over Hong Kong Sevens weekend.

Bad week for…

CommunicationsDNA. The Singapore PR agency closed, admitting that it had struggled to keep up with the changing needs of clients.

Accuen. Omnicom Media Group’s agency trading desk lost its second senior executive inside a fortnight with the news that Peter Burton, head of operations, was following Matt Harty for the exit.

Press freedom in Singapore. Mothership.sg became the latest Singapore news website to be instructed to register for a media licence. Failure to comply would mean that the site would close.

Korea‘s ad market. 2013 was another year of sluggish growth, with just a 2.2 per cent rise in ad spend.

Sarah Reiter. FutureBrand parted ways with its APAC president after eight months in the role.

Prediction for next week

Protesters take to the streets in Singapore over the recent clamp down on news website Mothership.


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