The week in review: Singtel apologises to rivals for smear campaign | Straits Times rejects LKY tribute ads | Wieden: creatives are too entitled | Cannes or SWSX? | HSBC celebrates 150th birthday | Why Google Glass failed

Mumbrella Asia logoIn a week in which advertisers in Singapore raced to create tribute ads for former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singtel was exposed for paying celebrity bloggers to smear its rivals, Dan Wieden suggested that creative suffer from a sense of entitlement, Phu Truong left TubeMogul, The Economist launched a standalone video arm, and Tiger Beer launched a campaign that revealed who invented chicken rice.

Story of the week

The new-look SingtelSingtel. It was another tough week for the telco that recently rebranded with slogan ‘Let’s make everyday better’. First, feisty local beauty blogger Xiaxue, who has had her fair share of controversy involving sponsors in the past, leaked a brief from Gushcloud, a rival brand-blog network that she openly despises. The brief detailed instructions from Gushcloud to its celebrity bloggers to write negative things about the rivals of Singtel. This practice breaches Singapore’s code of advertising conduct, and when StarHub and M1 found out, they signalled that they would take Singtel to court. Cue an avalanche of apologies, first from Singtel corp comms, then Gushcloud, then the sponsored bloggers including Xavier Ong, and finally, yesterday, from Singtel’s CEO. Singtel distanced itself from the matter by firing Gushcloud, firing the employee who issued the brief to Gushcloud, and saying it was an isolated incident.

Quotes of the week

Jared Leto at CannesShould ad folk go to Cannes Lions and SXSX wondered Ad Contrarian in their blog. It’s like trying to decide which is more important:

Ads That Never Ran or Things That Will Never Happen

Dan Wieden, the co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy, spoke at an event in Australia about the need for creatives to reinvent the ad industry. He said:

I believe the problem we face is some sense of entitlement. Unfortunately we got into a groove, we developed a sensibility that was so fresh, so much fun, so precious and we learned how to reboot variations of it year after year. We treated this work like it was some sort of fine crystal. Maybe it’s time to break a little crystal.

Straits Times publisher Singapore Press Holdings, at the request of the Lee family, has said that it will not accept ads that pay tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, who is critically ill in hospital. SPH’s head of marketing told agencies:

We have received many queries with regards to advertisements containing tributes or references to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We wish to inform all that at the request of the family, SPH will not be accepting all such advertisements.

Astro Teller, the man charged with creating Google’s most imaginative projects, said of the failure of Google Glass at SXSW:

The thing we didn’t do well that was closer to a failure was we allowed, and sometimes encouraged, too much attention to the program. I wanted to say to the world this is an early prototype of something we think is exciting, where should we go from here?

Xiaxue, real name Wendy Cheng, had this message for bitter rival Gushcloud on Twitter after her exposé:

Obviously you caught with your pants down you don’t condone being exposed. Next time, how about just don’t do sneaky shit?

A commenter on Mumbrella called ‘So what have we learnt’ remarked on the Singtel-Gushcloud furore:

1. Paid bloggers have zip credibility and will say anything they are paid to mouth.

2. The disparaging and condescending attitude towards competitors and rules of competition start at the top.

3. And trickles down to gung-ho and arrogant middle managers.

4. This doesn’t stop in the telco industry

5. Despite Gushcloud’s and Singtel’s apology, I don’t think the lesson has sunk in.

6. Wendy has effectively killed the entire blogging gravy train.

Matt Von der Muhll, APAC boss of SpotXchange, predicted that the programmatic ad space is soon to experience a bout of consolidation as more and more ad tech players flood the market.

When you think about the size of the pie, yes the programmatic ad space is expanding rapidly. But the rate at which proprietary companies are building around the industry is growing very quickly too. And at the same time, it’s getting easier for advertisers to trade programmatically themselves rather than work with third parties.

Best work

Tiger Beer. How was chicken rice invented? Singapore’s famous brew thinks it has the answer in this mockumentary to mark 50 years of Singapore and 50 years of Tiger Beer in a can.

Airbnb. The online lodging staged a cute activation campaign at Sepang ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix. A corporate suite was turned into a furnished home by the KL office of independent agency GOVT, giving competition winners a track-side view.

Airbnb Malaysia

HSBC. Celebrating its 150th birthday with Asia’s largest lightshow display projected on to its home building in Hong Kong.

Best-read story on Mumbrella

Xiaxue exposes Gushcloud for paying celebrity bloggers to write negatively about Singtel rivals, Singtel denies issuing brief

Good week for…

Asia's Got TalentAXN. The pan-Asian channel’s premiere of Asia’s Got Talent has proved to be an early ratings winner.

The Economist. The news and current affairs magazine introduced a standalone video service called Economist Films.

Bad week for…

Adani. The Indian energy giant was named the World’s Worst Company, according to an article on Buzzfeed, for its plan to build a coal port on the Great Barrier Reef.

Qantas. A fake Qantas Facebook page was set up offering a year’s worth of free first class flight.

CNN Lee Kuan Yew tweet

CNN Lee Kuan Yew tweet

CNN. The international broadcaster tweeted that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had died based on an announcement from a fake government website.

TubeMogul. The DSP is to lose its Southeast Asia managing director Phu Truong, who is moving to Thailand to take a job with Google.

Nike and Li Ning. The two sportswear brands were labelled “greenwashers” by Greenpeace for failing to live up to promises to cut down on the toxic chemicals they use in manufacturing.

Brand China. Another week, another incident involving Chinese tourists. A video was made by a Thai celebrity to show how a group of Chinese tourists had pushed in line at the airport.


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