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So tomorrow, I have a new planner coming to join my merry band of ‘folk that think’ … Hari … and I’m very excited about it.
The reason for this [apart from the fact he is a smart, decent guy] is that in Asia, it’s really, really hard to find the sort of planner I like … and in general, the demand for planners is far outstripping supply.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of unbelievably clever people out here - probably more than any other place on Earth - however the problem is …
1 How locals ‘gain’ their intelligence.
2 What planning is becoming.
Lets deal with point 1 first …
In Asia, huge, huge, huge emphasis is placed on education … because they believe knowledge is the foundation to fulfil the filial and progression responsibilities inherent within Asian culture.
However this ‘knowledge’ tends to be ‘learnt’ by memory rather than ‘practice’.
Education tends to be a one-dimensional linear process teaching one-dimensional, linear logic … and whilst this is all well and good … it also means that the ability to think around issues [as well as include different viewpoints] is especially rare.
Of course I’m generalising … because not only are there some brilliant Asian planners [and Asian wanna-be planners], but there are some great people advocating broader views towards education [Professor Mark Chong @ SMU being one] … however all too often information is blindly taken on face value and if you question it [or offer an alternate means how to get it], you really sense an air of confusion, fear or annoyance.
To be fair, the people I’ve worked/dealt with have been very open to my questioning/methods, but that’s because I have somehow managed to gain a reputation for truly appreciating and understanding Asian culture rather than [as is often the case] simply taking Western values [or Western interpretations of Asian values] and shoving them in an Asian context … but that does seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Now to point 2 …
I’ve written at length about this … planning is fast becoming a [bad] research dominated, management consultantesque role and I passionately believe this is harmful to the industry, the consumer and the client.
The problem is Agencies have sold creative so far down the river, that the only way they can make decent cash from clients anymore is by flogging them some pseudo-management consultant role.
While that may be all well and good for agencies short term profitability … I can’t help but feel in the long term it’s going to bite them in the arse, because the true benefit of advertising / planning is the ability to connect with people … embrace them, motivate them, encourage them … because when you know what people need/want/fear/desire, then you know how to motivate the masses to achieve our clients short and long term business goals.
I don’t want to work with anyone who aspires to be a management consultant … I mean, I can appreciate [sometimes] what they do but we’re in the people motivating business, not the business structure business … and yet because …
1 This is the way the industry is going.
2 In Asia management consultancy is more aspirational because it is believed to be more ‘intellectual’ and ‘financially rewarding’.
… this is who headhunters try to send me time and time again.
For someone to be part of the team … I want them to have experienced a varied life, have a point of view, have a real empathy and understanding of people, be close to their family and have longterm friends, be smart but not desperate to prove it, believe in the power of ideas and imagination, be media neutral, be open minded, be a teamplayer as well as a leader, be enthusiastic about life and not afraid to show it, inspirational, can think on their feet, be in touch with what’s going on in the World and see how it can affect the everyday, appreciate life doesn’t always operate via logic, be clever than me, have tried ‘stuff’, are entrepreneurial, inquisitive, honest, decent and [abit] socialistic in their values … and whilst this may sound like a massive, complex list, they are out there and definitely worth searching for - because I passionately believe they are the only folk who can truly help make the ad business shine again – something I need and want for both personal happiness and contentment reasons, ha.
Welcome to the madness Hari – lets see where you can go eh!
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Yep, it’s another ‘Meat-off’ competition and this time we’re against the very delicious ‘Lamb’.
As sausages have the ability to come in many varieties [lamb / beef / chicken / duck / herb / etc] this should be an easy victory … but because life has a nasty habit of NOT being fair … I urge you to click here and cast a vote for the banger. Come on, you know it makes sense.
Given the ‘Chief Sausage Whip’ [Andy] is in Argentina causing a variety of diplomatic incidents, I warn you that should we fail in our quest, he will get very, very angry and just like the Incredible Hulk, you wouldn’t want to see him very, very angry.
Oh no. Especially as he turns red rather than green.
So what are you waiting for … gooooooooooooooooo sausage!
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I’m not a religious man but if there is a God, I want him to prove that he exists today.
Starting specifically at 2pm Sydney time. We all believe mate.
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So Fred and I arrived in Bangkok for a meeting with the wonderful DISCOVERY Channel and whilst we were waiting for a car to pick us up from the airport, we spotted a rather fancy Conrad Hotel Car … a bloody Mercedes SLK!!!
What sort of sad schmuk would request a 2 seat sports car pick them up … especially a 2 seat sports car with the words CONRAD written all along the side of the vehicle???
2/1 it’s mainly overweight, self-important American businessmen with a high admiration for Donald Trump and a low regard for females. Wankers in other words.
On a more positive note … one of the things I LOVE about Thailand is the food, and while last time I was here I got to remember my childhood by eating loads of jam donuts … this time I was transported back to a time where I was a little bit older, a little bit wiser and a little bit more [ahem!] sophisticated by chowing-down on these bloody amazing Passionfruit Cheesecakes …
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Do you know what those little things you can see in the above piccie are?
They are massive cargo ships coming in/out of the World’s busiest port … Singapore.
Everyday, literally hundreds of these superboats come in and out delivering or sending millions upon millions of goods … from iPODs made in China … Computers made in Taiwan … or Furniture made in Thailand … all around the World.
Infact, World demand is so high that the cargo boat building business is in a massive growth phase. How about that eh?
Just like people who predicted the television would kill the cinema … people said the plane would kill the seas … but they are wrong, they are so, so, so, so wrong.
Actually, business is so good that they are trying to build the ultra-cargo ship … something that can hold upto 30,000 huge containers per journey – which to help put into some kind of proportion, is THREE TIMES more than the current super-cargo ships can manage.
However that isn’t what I want to write about. Oh no … it’s about how the East are winning off the West’s belief in pure innovation.
You see many people are under the misguided belief that Asia innovates … but they don’t. Infact, throughout their history, they have been practitioners of exploitation – be it from SONY televisions to Toyota cars.
[Only recently have certain Asian brands started to try and be true innovators - Samsung / LG for example - but they are still the exception and their financial modeling plans have been questioned by many economists around the World]
Sure they have come up with certain innovations of their own … but in the main, they’ve always been ‘enhancing’ an existing technology/capability rather than creating something totally new from scratch.
Do Half Time’s look familiar? Bit like KitKat? Yep …
You see in most parts of Asia, their philosophy is to make enormous cash by either making or delivering the products the West spend years and billions trying to create.
It’s not about creation … god no, there’s far too many risks in that … it’s about fulfilling someone else’s dream. Of course if something becomes really, really, really successful, then they’ll do something about it – however it tends to be either ripping it off mercilessly or doing their best to screw the business potential up for them.
There’s a rather famous story of a Chinese Government Department who invited a German train building company to come and ‘present their technology’ to them.
With dollar signs in their eyes, the German company flew over … and in a matter of months, built a mile of track so that they could show off their train to the best of their ability.
The Chinese Government Department took a close look at what the Germans were proposing … thanked them for their efforts … then sent them on their way and built an identical track it for themselves. Who needs to invest in expensive R&D when you can steal it from someone else.
Ethical? No. [but lets face it, lots of Western companies are hardly ‘posterboy’s’ for ethics]
Clever? As embarrassing as it is to say it … yes … it sort-of is.
You see I am convinced that China is NOT this land-of-opportunity that so many Western companies think.
Sure there’s 1.4 billion people there … but when you take away some key issues [like 60% of the people live in rural areas!!!] the opportunity gets much smaller.
Sure 40% of 1.4 billion is still a huge number … but when you take away other considerations [ie: poverty levels / distribution costs / income levels / advertising costs etc etc] the investment needed to stand even a 2% chance of profit is outrageous.
I personally blame us shareholders … because we’re constantly demanding more and more return from our investments, thus subliminally pushing companies to find new territories to sell/expand even if in the cold light of day, their potential is no way near what the ‘hype’ suggests.
My favourite bit is that so many Western companies target Shanghai … because apart from the fact it is the most un-Chinese of China, the population have so got used to Western brands trying to get a foothold in the country, that they have started to think they are ’special’, thus alienating themselves further from the rest of China which inturn, minimises the chances of a Western brand to make it there.
Don’t get me wrong, some Western brands are making it big out here and whilst their impact is changing certain aspects of culture [from diet to marriage] the real power is not with the Western companies who own the company … but with the Asian brands who are making and distributing it for them.
We’ve seen how retail brands like Asda, Tesco, Woolies and Sainsbury’s are now more powerful than the once powerhouses of Coke and Unilever etc … and we can definitely expect to see it with Asia versus the West … so the next time someone say’s innovation is where the money is at, think about the way they do it in Asia and just hope the Chinese and Indians never get it together because with their two astounding skill-sets [Manufacturing and Technology] they could quite simply end up ruling the World!