The week in review: Nivea’s pit of shame | Thailand’s ‘creepy’ tourism ad | Why an agency boss won’t leave Hong Kong | India bans rape documentary | Another bad Singapore government ad | WSJ launches first subscriber loyalty programme

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week in which Nivea drew fire from a Singapore gender equality group for stigmatising dark underarm skin, a Singapore publisher faced court again for not settling up with retrenched staff, JWT hired a new CEO in Singapore, BBDO got a new APAC boss, India banned a BBC documentary on rape, and a video for Thai tourism went viral for being “creepy”.

Stories of the week

Nivea's film was described as “cheap humour” with a “terrible message”Nivea’s pit of shame. The body care brand posted a three-minute video for a deodorant that lightens and firms skin on Facebook that depicted a woman who is socially ostracised because she has dark underarms. Though supposedly humorous, the video was criticised by many on Nivea’s Facebook fans and a gender equality group for playing on women’s body image insecurities. One poster wrote that it is “sad that women have been portrayed as the pariah of society just because of their dark underarms.” The German drugs giant later removed the video, telling Mumbrella that a statement would follow (we’re still waiting).

Alphabet Media logoAlphabet soup. The publisher of Singapore-based gov-tech publisher FutureGov faced court again this week (today was the date for a labour tribunal hearing) for not paying staff who had been let go, it emerged earlier this week. Vinita Penna was a member of the events team that was axed a few months ago, and claimed that unlike the rest of her team had not been given a months pay in lieu. Penna informed Mumbrella last night that the outstanding money had quietly been put into her bank account, and has withdrawn her court plea. A partial payment was made in the form of a cheque deposit on Tuesday, the day after Mumbrella’s story broke. The rest arrived as a cash deposit yesterday.

Quotes of the week

The Economist’s chief marketing officer Michael Brunt explained in an interview with Mumbrella how the news and current affairs magazine, which has lost 11 per cent of its print circulation in a year, is patching the gaps with a digital audience, and is marketing itself in a region where it has the lowest penetration.

But readers of The Economist have not lost their love of the print edition, it appears:

When we launched the app in 2010, we thought migration to digital would be swift and irreversible. Which is only partly true. It’s been far slower than we thought it would be. We didn’t think print would go away. But we were genuinely surprised that over half of new subscribers now choose the print and digital bundle.

On the title’s digital marketing activity, which uses a lot of content from the magazine itself, he said:

People say you’re more likely to be struck by lightening than click on a banner ad, but we don’t see that.

David Ko, the founder of Hong Kong digital agency Daylight Partnership, posted on Facebook that despite Hong Kong’s problems, he doesn’t want to up sticks to Shanghai or Singapore just yet.

As a business owner in Hong Kong, 100% of people I meet assume I will open a mainland China office if I want my business to grow. They’re probably right. But why?

Hong Kong is lost.

We act like the abandoned child who must now live with stepparents in a new house under new rules, alongside new siblings who seem to do everything better than us. They are hungrier. We don’t like it, but we don’t know how to compete with them, so we rebel and constantly bicker with our new parents. We refuse to go to school, we lock ourselves in our room and refuse to come out, just to spite them.

If we want to make something of ourselves, we need to be looking outwards. We need to work hard, better ourselves, and look forward to the day when we succeed on our own terms. Depending on who you ask, our new parents are either benevolent dictators, or indifferent to our woes, or simply have bigger things to worry about. It shouldn’t matter.

I’m old and financially independent, I could move somewhere like Singapore or Shanghai tomorrow if I wanted to, but I don’t want to (yet). I still want to work hard here as if I am 25. Stay and fight the good fight.

Hong Kong’s young people need to work harder, get much better in English, strive to have a global perspective, and expect NOTHING from anybody. Can Hong Kong bring forth the Li Ka Shing of 2020? Will the next Facebook/Apple/Google be invented here? If we don’t believe so, we need to ask not just why not, but can we collectively turn that “not” into a “fuck yeah!”

Best work

Mountain Dew. Spectacular stuff by JWT India.

Tourism Authority of Thailand. Creepy, possibly.

Government of India. It’s not often that prime ministers tweet ads featuring cartoon versions of themselves. That happened this week.

Worst ad

SMRT. “Capture audiences with enthralling ads”, presumably not like this one to sell space on Singapore’s train network.


Best-read story on Mumbrella Asia

Singapore publisher in court again for not paying former staff as claims mount of unpaid bills from government customers

Good week for…

WSJ+Wall Street Journal. The newspaper that was first to charge readers for content on the internet became the first to launch a global subscriber loyalty programme, WSJ+. The programme offers subscribers a series of events, experiences and special offers, including free access to Evernote Premium and free e-books from HarperCollins Publishers.

MediaCorp. The Singapore media company recruited a head of digital – Shane Mitchell from Australian firm Reddo Media Services.

Jean-Paul Burge. With the move of BBDO’s regional boss Chris Thomas to the US, Jean-Paul Burge stepped up to CEO and chairman, Asia.

Apple. The computing giant emerged as the brand that features in the most Hollywood movies.

Mercedes-Benz’s cars looked tough after the following video of a man trying to break into one and knocking himself out in the process went viral.

Isobar. The Dentsu Aegis digital network cemented its presence in Vietnam by acquiring Emerald.

Bad week for…

Press freedom in India. The government decided to ban a video documentary by the BBC in which a man involved in a gang-rape of a student in Delhi was interviewed.

Google. The internet giant announced it was breaking up its Google+ social network into two entities, Photos and Streams.

TVB. The Hong Kong broadcaster was accused of self censorship. Footage related to a silent march by lawyers was said to have been deleted from the final episode of TVB’s “Raising the bar” drama series.

Hunan TV. A popular reality TV show in China, Wonderful Friends, faced a boycott led by animal rights activists. The show features celebrities training animals at a wildlife park.


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