Opinion

The week in review: Singles’ Day’s $9.3bn record | A great TV ad from Singapore? | Paragon’s Christmas promo | Nissan’s rear is bigger, Kim | Xaxis ‘completely transparent’ says GroupM digital boss | Apple’s CEO as a brand | Mean things no-one said | Asia’s most powerful country brands

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week in which $9.3 billion in sales were transacted on Singles’ Day in the world’s largest commercial event ever, Nissan jumped on the tweet of Kim Kardashian’s rear end, music streaming site Guvera launched in India, and an ad agency faked some mean tweets about its work in the name of fame.

Story of the week

Jack MaSingles’ Day. The obscure Chinese holiday that started life as a sort of Valentine’s Day for single people in the early ’90s, has turned into something that could not be described as particularly romantic. Particularly for Jack Ma, the boss of Alibaba, who earlier this week said that being as rich as he is has caused him “great pain”. The e-commerce giant raked in its first billion in seventeen minutes flat as hundreds of brands such as Nike, Xiaomi, Tesla, New Balance and Huawei, flogged their discounted products to millions of Chinese customers. Single’s Day this year didn’t just break sales records – it annihilated them, as MEC’s Mudit Jaju points out. Alibaba’s total sales came to $9.3 billion, a 63 per cent increase over last year. And this year, Singles’ Day became “truly mobile first”, Jaju observes, with 42.6 per cent of sales via mobile. Meanwhile, upmarket Singapore shopping mall Paragon, which launched a controversial creative tender to find a promotions agency in September, unveiled its Christmas promotions to lure shoppers, which included a free purse for credit card holders who spend $16,000.

Quotes of the week

Dan Sloan, editor-in-chief of Nissan’s Global Media Center, was asked by Mumbrella if his conversations with Nissan’s global agency of record TBWA are awkward, given that his team is effectively taking business away from agencies. He said:

Any brand that engages in its own content creation may be taking business away from someone. It was not said by our agency, but I’ve read comments from heads of global agencies, who’ve said that the history of content creation on the client side usually ends in tears – that might be wishful thinking. We’d like to cooperate and also get something back from them always. It’s not a zero sum game. We’re all working for betterment of the brand.

GroupM digital chief Rob Norman was quick to tell his audience at an IAB event in Australia what is really meant by transparency in the context of agency trading desks:

When people talk about transparency what they are really talking about is disclosure, which is not the same thing as transparency. I think it is important to recognise that.

PHD Malaysia GM Jimmy Lim revealed the chicken and egg conundrum that faces the creators of new technologies for marketers, as the agency launched the media lab platform PlayPen.

No client wants to spend money on new technology if that decision could put his or her job at stake. And the publisher doesn’t want to invest ahead. There’s a stand off between the publisher and client that we need to break down

China president Xi Jingping was metaphorical in his response to a New York Times journalist at the APEC summit on whether restrictions on foreign journalists entering China might be eased:

When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to step down and see what the problem is.

The New York Times responded in an editorial that concluded:

Demanding that journalists tailor their coverage to suit the state only protects the powerful and those with something to hide. A confident regime that considers itself a world leader should be able to handle truthful examination and criticism.

Hari Ramanathan, chief strategy officer, Y&R Asia, penned a report that argued that brands should not take a consistent approach to advertising in Asia, as most Asians do not like the homogeneity that comes with globalisation and the threat it poses to culture and traditional values. He said.

This need to connect with people’s cultural identity is what brands really need to focus on instead of the supposed choice, and endless tired debates, of Globalisation versus Localisation.

A quote on Twitter from British ad guru Dave Trott:

The client wants to put it into research. Translation: Your ads are with Jesus now.

Geoff Beattie, Cohn & Wolfe’s global head of corporate affairs, on the decision by the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, to reveal his sexuality.

He did what any good brand should do. He took something that was a potentially uncomfortable truth, and aired it. In the process, he has turned his public persona from being someone who was faceless to someone who matches up to his predecessor. Now he has become something of an icon. And he can really build on that.

Best work

Nescafe. That rare thing, a really good Singapore TV ad, and an ambitious campaign – to get Singaporean heartlanders to be more neighbourly.

Swachh Bharat Mission. Slow clap for India’s litterers.

Qantas. ‘Feels like home’, an ad that seems to have reduced every Australian to tears, is now viewable outside its home country, although the airline told Mumbrella today that there are no plans to air the ad outside of Australia.

The North Face. Never stop exploring, China.

Nissin. Manchester United players Rooney and co, in anime form.

The Economist. Featuring Google boss Eric Schmidt.

HIV Awareness, New South Wales. How to remind gay men in Sydney to wear a condom? Cover a statue with a pink sheath.

HIV Awareness NSW

HCL. Are we where we want to be, or yet to get there, asks HCL in this corporate brand film.

John Lewis. One boy and his penguin. Guaranteed to do well at Cannes.

Best-read story on Mumbrella

Japan is the world’s strongest country brand: FutureBrand study

Good week for…

Nissan Tweet

Japan. The world’s most powerful country brand, according to FutureBrand.

Nissan. While Paper Magazine did not succeed as intended to “#BreakTheInternet” with their cover image featuring the well-oiled rear end of Kim Kardashian, the stunt did provide a rather large platform for others to pounce on. Well played, Nissan.

Twitter. The microblogging service is to expand its APAC presence with an office in Hong Kong.

SingTel. Reported a 19 per cent jump in second-quarter net profit, helped by contributions from the overseas firms that it owns.

Alibaba. The retail giant hit $2 billion in sales in the first hour of Singles’ Day.

Fraser & Neave. On the back of a six per-cent rise in revenue and improved margins, the food and drinks giant’s profits before interest and taxation were up 29 per cent, to $277 million.

South Koreans. They’re the fastest sharers of video ads in the world, according to a study by Unruly.

Bad week for…

DDB. The network’s Canadian office has faked Twitter accounts to produce a video of mean tweets said about its campaigns, it emerged.

Press freedom in Singapore. Blogger Roy Ngerng was found guilt of defaming the prime minister.

Prediction for next week

A surprise choice emerges to head up Twitter’s Hong Kong office.

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