The week in review: The Guardian eyes India | Singapore content agency launches with cats on staff | Alibaba acquires ‘like a drunk man at a bachelor party’ | News Corp CEO: Google is a ‘platform for piracy’ | Ashley Madison seeks PR agency in Thailand | SCMP goes native

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week in which a content agency launched in Singapore with performing cats on staff, The Guardian newspaper expressed an interest in launching in the world’s second most populous country, marital affairs website Ashley Madison went on the sniff for a PR agency in Thailand, a widget that blocks ad blockers launched, the boss of News Corp called Google a “platform for piracy” and BBDO Singapore’s ran-once print ads for Guinness won handsomely at the Clio Awards.

Story of the week

The GuardianSo, The Guardian could be launching in India, one of the only newspaper advertising markets in the world that is still growing. It would face some intense local competition from the likes of The Times of India, the world’s best-selling English language daily. But the left-leaning broadsheet would enter a country with a rapidly expanding reader market, thirsty for news.

Quotes of the week

News Corp CEO Robert Thompson sent a letter to the European Commission, complaining about the power of Google, in which he labelled the internet giant a:

Platform for piracy

Ravi KiranRavi Kiran, the former boss of Starcom South and Southeast Asia and now a startup consultant, expressed his views on the approach of media agencies to innovation.

Since brand managers demand innovation quite regularly from their agency partners, agency folks put too much emphasis on tactical and incremental innovation and put a ton of money on it to make it noticeable. So you can question what makes it noticeable – the idea and execution or the money. Award shows and how they are organized also add to this problem, but enough has been said about that.

Mark Tan reflected on the news on Mumbrella that Philips is setting up a regional digital control centre:

The idea that clients can set up in-house capabilities suited to their needs is a wake up call to traditional ad agencies to stop offering generic one stop shop services where they excel in nothing.

The head of communications for adultery website Ashley Madison on the reality of trying to hire a PR agency in Asia, and is coy on a potential launch in Thailand.

Given the challenges we have faced in other markets in the region, we are being proactive in sourcing qualified partners for when our plans may change.

One poster responded to Sapient Nitro‘s announcement that it had appointed three people with interesting, non-advertising backgrounds with interesting job titles such as “experience architect”:

We don’t call burger flippers, chefs or bus drivers, pilots. As an industry, we really have to stop treating our clients and Joe Public as gullible punters and ourselves as over inflated rock gods.

Commenter Harvey responded to the launch of a new technology that creator Brightcove says can beat ad blockers and hide fast-forward functions to make it more difficult for consumers to avoid watching online video ads.

Only a complete nitwit who knows nothing about persuasion would assume that consumers will act upon ads if you force them to watch.

'Slightly humoured'

‘Slightly humorous’

A press release for the launch of online travel site Wego‘s first ad campaign did not exactly oversell the quality of the creative, describing the ad as:

Slightly humourous.

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti spoke out against copycat rivals in an interview with The Drum.

A lot of people say ‘journalism is really hard but a collection of cute kittens must be really easy. Anyone can do that!’ Actually there is more competition to make the definitive collection of cute kittens than there is most journalism.

Kaiser Kuo

Kaiser Kuo

Kaiser Kuo, the director of international communications at Baidu.com and formerly head of digital at Ogilvy China, said at The Holmes Report’s In2 Summit in Beijing:

Alibaba is very good at spending money on random acquisitions like a drunk man at his bachelor party.

JWT APAC boss Tom Doctoroff said in an article on BBC.com on why Western celebrities were used in Chinese commercials:

You have people who are urbanised for the first time, owning apartments for the first time, who need household cleaning ingredients for the first time. These are new consumers, and new consumers always need more explicit reassurance than more mature consumers.”

Best work

Wrigley’s Doublemint. A funny local execution of a global campaign by BBDO, featuring Chinese comedian Jia Ling.

Coca-Cola. A moving twist to Coke’s global Share-a-Coke idea from the Philippines.

Globe. The Philippine telco posed the question, if you were given a chance to connect to anyone anywhere, who would you call?

Pictionary. The newly launched Singlish version of the guessing game showed that it knows how to endear itself to the Singaporean market with a tactical doodle around Lee Kuan Yew’s birthday.

Pictionary tactical ad

Samsung. A sarcastic nod to the new iPhones.

Best-read story on Mumbrella

Philips brings agency staff in-house as it opens digital command centre in Singapore

Good week for…



Chris Foster. The regional boss of Saatchi & Saatchi was promoted to COO of Saatchi & Saatchi/Fallon.

Australia. The region’s most awarded country was most shortlisted nation in the innovation category at Spikes Asia.

Content marketing in Singapore. Another specialist agency in the area launched, co-founded by former Sapient Nitro creative director Henry Adams and journalist Kaye Blum, and with four cats on staff.

BBDO Singapore. The agency behind some print ads for Guinness that ran once in a single edition of I-S Magazine won more awards than any other Asian agency in the print category at the Clios.

The confidence of marketers in Asia. Levels have rebounded in the month of September after the biggest fall in confidence in a year in August, according to a rolling study by Warc.

Dunkin’ Donuts. In a good PR move, the company bowed to pressure from green groups and agreed to break the links between the oil it uses to fry some of its doughnuts and the destruction of tropical forests.

The South China Morning Post. The Hong Kong English language paper did what so many published are doing or have done, and set up a native advertising division.

Bad week for…

110%CNN. The rolling news broadcaster often seems to have problems in the infographics department. In its coverage of the Scottish referendum, the 24-hour news channel reported that 110 per cent of the population of Scotland had turned out to vote.

Michael Roth. The boss of Interpublic, the holding company for McCann, IPG Mediabrands and FCB, must be thoroughly bored by now of people asking him if the company is going to merge. The Economist didn’t do him any favours, taking out of context his quote: “We’re the next one to be consolidated” in its special report on how technology is affecting adland.

Alex Tagaroulias Saatchi & Saatchi. An unfortunately art directed picture of their newly hired Indonesia executive creative director.

Ad blockers. Ad tech firm Brightcover launched a product that prevents consumers from skipping online video ads.

Instant noodle brands. The president of China, Xi Jinping, said while on a tour of the Maldives: “Don’t throw water bottles everywhere, don’t destroy people’s coral reefs and eat fewer instant noodles and more local seafood.”

TOI Entertainment tweetTimes of India. India’s highest circulating newspaper found itself on the receiving end of a bitter backlash after a tweet about Deepika Padukone’s cleavage.

Asahi Shimbun. The Japanese newspaper apologised after it emerged, via a story in The Guardian, that it had run inaccurate stories based on false testimonies about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the use of sex slaves by Japanese troops during the Second World War.

Prediction for next week

Dentsu’s ‘Sound of Honda’ wins top honours at Spikes Asia, but Australia is the most frequent visitor to the awards podium.


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