Mumbrella Asia’s best-read stories of 2015

Mumbrella Asia logoWhat were the most popular stories on Mumbrella Asia this year?

Given that more than half of our readers are now Singapore-based, the ranking is fairly Singapore heavy. But there are guest appearances from articles on Malaysia and the Philippines.

1. Grammar school for Singtel

Singtel logoA new slogan, ‘Let’s make everyday better,’ introduced for a newly rebranded Singtel was called out for being grammatically wrong. Singtel and agency Ogilvy chose to ignore the criticism at first, and then responded by trying to explain what the word “everyday” means. Cue more criticism.


2. Lee family asks SPH not to accept Lee Kuan Yew tribute ads

Singapore Press Holdings, the publisher of the Straits Times, wrote to advertisers and agencies to inform them that the paper would not be accepting any ads that pay tribute to Lew Kuan Yew, the citystate’s late prime minster, at the request of the Lee family. After LKY passed away, ads were stripped from most mainstream media channels, including outdoor digital signage across the island.


3. Brands salute defeated Manny Pacquiao

McDonald's Pacquiao tributeJust after Mumbrella had finished watching the Manny Pacquiao V Floyd Mayweather fight on Periscope, we noticed a number of brands in the Philippines jump on Twitter to pay tribute to the defeated Filipino boxing legend. McDonald’s, Nescafe, Kitkat, AirAsia and KFC were among the brands to show their support. “Power punch or power hug?” tweeted Nescafe, pointing out that Mayweather had drained his opponent by leaning on him rather than boxing.


4. The impossible brief

The impossible briefAn opinion piece that ran in October pointed out that whoever wins the Singapore Tourism Board pitch, which we learned this week was TBWA\Singapore, would be faced with a near impossible task to define what Singapore means and sell it to the world at a time when the travel industry is being disrupted.


5. Blogger exposes Singtel and Gushcloud for sponsored sledging

XiaxueAnother story involving Singtel in what has been a fairly mixed year for the company on the publicity front. Singtel’s blogger-brand agency Gushcloud found itself at the centre of a controversy for paying its bloggers to write negative things about Singtel’s rivals, which broke Singapore’s code of practice on comparative advertising. The blogger, Xiaxue, leaked a brief from Gushcloud on her blog that showed the dirty tricks its celebrity bloggers were being paid to make.


6. TODAY reporters banned from government briefings for embargo breaking

Today logoJournalists from Singapore’s second-largest circulating newspaper were banned from attending government press briefings for repeatedly breaking embargoes. The restrictions would have meant that the MediaCorp-owned paper would have missed out on important technical briefings around the budget, one of the biggest media events of the year, but the communications ministery lightened the ban after Mumbrella made enquiries.


7. Agency bosses slam universities for being out of touch

David TangDavid Tang, who was appointed as regional boss of DDB following the retirement of John Zeigler in September, pointed out at a Mumbrella Question Time Singapore panel discussion in May that Singapore’s universities were failing the advertising industry by not keeping up with the dramatic changes it is going through. The industry was “lucking out” with whatever talent the current curriculum was producing, he observed.


8. Waze hires first Asian employee


Just a few weeks ago, at the Malaysian Media Conference in Kuala Lumpur, it emerged that Google’s traffic navigation app Waze had hired its first employee in Asia. Edward Ling joined the company from LinkedIn as a sales manager based in KL. He was formerly sales manager, Malaysia, for LinkedIn.


9. Ogilvy’s controversial mums and maids campaign

Mums and maidsA campaign by Ogilvy Singapore for charity IGiveADayOff.org raised questions on Twitter about the agency’s motivations for the campaign and its approach to encouraging Singaporeans with domestic helpers to give them a day off once a week. Influential blogger Kirsten Han tweeted that the ‘Mums and Maids’ film shamed women by suggesting that Singaporean mothers don’t know their own children as well as their maids, and the campaign’s motivation was to show “how a big ad agency “gives back”.”


10. Using non-local agency is to blame for declining tourism

Fiona BartholomeuszWhy are tourism numbers to Singapore falling? Partly because Singapore Tourism Board uses an international agency and not a local shop, local agency boss Fiona Bartholomeusz suggested in a Facebook post in February. “Ain’t no surprise our tourism figures are declining sharply,” she wrote. “Idiotic global ad campaign and STB continues to farm out the work to an agency that isn’t even local (seriously, what’s so damn bad about local agencies in Singapore when global brands are happy to use us?” Cue a heated debate in the ensuing comment thread.


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