Be Sensitive and Be Good (week 11 blog)

There’s a slang in Indonesian which is ‘Jaim’ short for ‘jaga image’, which literally means ‘keep your image’. While this slang is often said to people trying to keep it cool, I personally believe that this is applicable to brands. Keeping your brand image has become increasingly important if you want to stay relevant.

Nowadays, brands have evolved into representations of our way of life (Roman and Maas, 2003, p. 11). We also project ourselves when consuming the brand (Kuksov et al., 2003, p. 294) Thus, when brand produces terrible ads that are not in line with our ways of living or our contemporary societal/cultural norms or context, we will be outraged and that is bad for the brand’s image.




A recent example of a ‘tone-deaf’ ad that tarnished the brand’s image would be Pepsi’s ad that featured Kendall Jenner. People (including me) were outraged to see an ad that exploits many contemporary issues, particularly Black Lives Matter. Trivialising their fights for social justice just to sell a can of soda very much belittles their struggles. Other minorities in the ad were also seen as accessories for this celebrity to make this ad seemed relevant but ultimately failed in the end because they had no other roles.

One terrible ad can do a bigger damage than you might think. While people would see this as just ‘another terrible ad’, others would see the brand as being culturally insensitive and might refrain them from being a consumer in the future. Now you know how important brand image is.



Kuksov, D., Shachar, R., and Wang, K. (2013) ‘Advertising and Consumers’ Communications’, Marketing Science, 32(2), pp. 294-309.

Roman, K. and Maas, J. (2013) How To Advertise: What Works, What Doesn’t – and Why, 3rd ed., London: Kogan Page



The Role of Advertising Agency Now (week 10 blog)




Presently, we are faced with the plethora of user-generated content on every social media. From YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. User-generated content, which can be simply described as any message or communication created by individuals that can be accessed by anyone (Haven et al., 2007, p. 2), has even extended itself to the advertising industry. An example of this would be the viral Mentos and Diet Coke video in 2006, which apparently generated a massive amount of sales profit for Mentos (Haven et al., 2007, p. 7)

With anyone can seemingly create advertising by themselves, then where does that leave the ad agencies? Have they conceded their status as the creatives who create the ads?

As a former ad practitioner, I can confidently say that this won’t be the case.

The thing is, as audiences change and adapt with the digital world, agencies have adapted as well. That’s the reason why we have agencies who specialise in digital advertising or traditional agencies who open up a special division for digital advertising.

Sheehan and Morrison (2009) say that agencies have to find a way to bring consumers in the process instead of the traditional ‘show and tell’ (p. 41). As agencies, we are now responsible not just for creating the advertising material, but also to find a way to direct consumers to be involved in the advertising as well. This sentiment is shared by Thomas Lyngsfeldt, who mentions how user-generated ads beat the traditional ones in his article.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for user-generated advertising, considering how rapidly technology changes each and every year.



Haven, B., Li, C., and McHarg, T., (2007) ‘Leveraging User-Generated Content’ Forrester Research, pp. 2 -11

Sheehan, K.B. and Morrison, D.K. (2009) ‘The Creativity Challenge: Media Confluence and Its Effects on the Evolving Advertising Industry’, Journal of Interactive Advertising, pp. 40 – 43


Invading The Media (week 9 blog)


A good ad is not about just having a creative idea or the best execution. A good ad is also about maximising the usage of various media channels.

Back when I was working in an advertising agency, I participated in awards competition where we were given a brief to create an integrated marketing campaign, either using various media channels or using various digital media for maximum consumer experience, that would eventually be submitted in 24 hours. It was difficult, to say the least. But when you look at the winners’ campaign, they really did great in maximising various media usage, albeit in limited capabilities.

Barry (2016) simply explained that integrated is an idea translated into a various form of communication or media (p. 256), but I think this video explains further about the whole concept:


Now, let’s talk about example.

The example of the first image above is Bonds’ The Boys campaign. The image has some few details about the campaign. However, it would be better if you see some more details in this case study video

This video detailed some of the media that the brand used (YouTube and Facebook) and how they utilised them to their best. Furthermore, they also had a brilliant Out of Home media usage that you can see here

Again, I cannot emphasise how brilliant this media usage is. The execution itself was ballsy (pun intended) and strong insight as well. No wonder this campaign won a silver in last year’s Cannes Lions awards.



Barry, P (2016) The Advertising Concept Book: Think Now, Design Later, 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson

Design Your Identity (week 7 blog)

Art direction and design of an ad play important roles in communicating messages through print ad forms. However, should they be merely perceived as tools for communicating the messages? Or do they have bigger roles?

Fortunately, some of the best brands in the world know very well how to utilise design for their own merits and create distinctive identities. Designing identities for the brand is important. As Zinkhan (1993) said, the design identity must convey the brand’s image to distinct itself from the competitors. At the same time it also has to communicate the brand to the internal audience within the corporation because they are among the audience as well(pp. vii – viii)

One of the best examples of design identity is from Absolut.





The best thing about Absolut’s series of ads is that how they can impose their identity in various different context yet still look good and natural (tip: click the URL and find out for yourself). Not to mention the typeface, which is another defining identity of the ad series. As Robin Landa said in her book, selecting typeface with aesthetic value is as important as the attention paid to the whole imagery (Landa, 2010, p. 131) especially if the whole imagery represents the brand’s identity.



Landa, R. (2010) Advertising by Design: Generating and Designing Creative Ideas Across Media, 2nd ed, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons

Zinkhan, G.M. (1993) ‘From the Editor: Advertising, Design, and Corporate Identity’, Journal of Advertising, 22(4), pp. vii – ix


So, Listen to the Radio (week 6 blog)

When we talk about copy in advertising, we often refer to headlines and body copy of print ads. However, as good as the copy may sound in a print ad, it has to be balanced with a context or visual that tells the story.




What about radio? Personally, I think radio is the best platform that fully utilises the greatness of copy in advertising. Radio is an intimate medium, it possesses a different relationship with the audience as they are truly captive when listening to the radio (Barry, 2016, p. 247). And with that, the copy of radio ad fully occupies the audiences’ mind, taking them to imagine things that they may have never imagined before.

One of the things that radio can deliver best is humour via incongruity resolution, where our expectation is deviated (via the story presented) and then resolved (with the product) (Flaherty, Weinberger, and Gulas, 2004, p. 26)

An example that is quite recent is this radio ad for Durex. This ad won a Bronze for radio category in Citra Pariwara, Indonesia’s advertising award. Go listen to it and I’m sure you won’t expect the twist and it will make you at least chuckle (it did for me).



Barry, P. (2016) The Advertising Concept Book: Think Now, Design Later, 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson

Flaherty, K., Weinberger, M.G., Gulas, C.S. (2004) ‘The Impact of Perceived Humor, Product Type, and Humor Style in Radio Advertising’  Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, vol. 26(1), pp. 25-36

Here’s A Little Story (week 5 Blog)

Everyone loves a story. Stories exist everywhere in our life. Have you heard about how your friend met a girl in a bar last night? That’s a story. How about that news where a man discovered his long-lost family? That’s a story, too.

Of course, advertising also tells us stories. Why do advertising use stories? According to Lin and Chen (2013), advertisers tell stories because they have the power to invite audiences to use their imagination and also to differentiate their products from their competitors (p. 692).

We can agree that a good advertising tells a story, but the best ones are those that do not look like an advertising at all. A good example in my perspective is advertising from Thailand. For me, Thailand is well known for their use of spectacular narratives in their ads; both print and TVC.

Take a look at this print ad from Grey Bangkok for Kiwi Shoe Deodorant for example


This ad tells a simple story that lets the audience think and imagine what it is all about. The concept is simple, but it nails the message very well.

Thailand is also well-known for their touching narratives presented in their TVCs. In their article, Punyapiroje, Morrison, and Hoy (2002) found that Thai consumers’ prefer TV as their main medium, where its combination of sight and sound elicits emotional arousal in audiences who are already emotional from the beginning and they often choose products based on their emotional decision (p.60). An interview in their article confirms that Thai people’s love for emotional advertising is caused by their sensitive nature and they often neglect ads that want them to think too hard (p.62)

If you want to study further about Thai advertising, you can always look up for their emotional advertising on YouTube. However, I found this particular ad from Thai Life Insurance as not only emotional but also evoking as it tells the story of how much Thai people love their king, truly inspiring.




Punyapiroje, C., Morrison, M., Hoy, M.G. (2002) ‘A Nation Under the Influence: The Creative Strategy Process for Advertising in Thailand’, Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, vol. 24(2), pp. 51 -65

Take A Leap or Fall (week 4 blog)




Creating advertisement is a tough business. Not because it is hard work, but because we already have so many ads in the world right now that it has become increasingly difficult to create one that does not look like any other ads.

Additionally, the world also seems to be getting tired of ads. Newman (2003) points out that the audience themselves are getting tired of ads because they see it everywhere; from TV, radio, magazines, bus ticket, even toilet door (p. 24)

With these two obstacles in mind, our job as advertisers now can be summed up as: “Create an ad that no one else has ever created and seen before and make them attracted to it.”

Taking a creative leap to overcome those two obstacles is not an easy task, and to do so you need not only a creative execution but the proper insight as well. This article, written by Avi Dan for Forbes, sums up the reasons why insight is important. I also believe that insight is the key that gives birth to an idea because, in the end, we are targeting ourselves. Advertisers are both producers and consumers of ads. We create ads that resonate with the consumers because we think and feel the same like them not just because it’s cool to create.

Take the Dumb Ways to Die campaign for example.

At first glance, its colourful characters contrasting with gruesome elements in it attracts a lot of people. Its insight is the fact that most people act dumb around train stations that lead to fatal accidents. The way this campaign was relayed and the way it resonates with millions of people is an evidence how this campaign took a creative leap from your boring public service ads, even the results of this campaign speak for itself.



Newman, M. (2003) Creative Leaps: 10 Lessons in Effective Advertising Inspired at Saatchi & Saatchi, Singapore: John Wiley & Sons