I would like to, first of all, thank the organisers of ADWAVE 2004 for the opportunity to be here.
I would like to make use of this opportunity to share with you a bit of my thinking about where we are as we move forward in what is now a borderless environment in media terms.
And how creativity and innovative thinking will make an important difference in whatever we do, especially in communication.
When the cavemen wanted to travel in style and comfort, and with some speed to match, they put on their thinking caps and they created the wheel. That was 6,000 years ago. The wheel they created gave them not only mobility and speed, but changed the world they lived in forever.
So, it was the cavemen who started the ball rolling for the high rollers in ancient China, where as you must know, they had this habit of keeping many concubines. These were the people who really needed to travel in style.
The urge was great to create something better than pulling the cart.
So, some 800 B.C., some three thousand years after the cavemen invented the wheel, the Chinese created what turned out to be the world′s first steam-propelled cart. It was nevertheless the car of that time. This thing could move just a little faster than you can walk.
It′s true, things moved rather slowly those days.
For instance, the world waited another 3,000 years before an inventive German by the name of Karl Benz created the world′ first car. It was actually a tricycle. He made it move by adding a combustion engine to it.
It had a top speed of 15 mph. That was a little faster than you could run.
Thank goodness, things started to pick up speed since then.
Thanks to the amazing advances brought on by the creative mind, the world today is nothing like the one into which your parents were born.
The creative minds who came before us did a lot of things that effectively changed the world they lived in.
What used to take years can now be done in a matter of days, and soon, hours.
What used to require the combined energy of a thousand people can now be comfortably managed by a single person working on a single computer.
The cellular phone is now a radio, a calculator, a camera, a video recorder, a TV monitor, a computer and soon, your health monitor. It is so small you can hide it behind your ear. It used to be so heavy it had to be carried by two people.
The size of your laptop used to be the size of this function hall. The first commercial computer took up 15,000 sq ft of space, and that was in 1955 – just about 50 years ago.
All these are thanks to the men and women whose passion to explore and create has resulted in amazing advances that have changed so much the way we live, the things we do and the way we work.
These are people who defied accepted norms, who refused to just accept whatever that was handed down, and whose efforts in making things better have brought about unimaginable advances to everything imaginable. Driven by their passion for innovation, these people accomplished the most amazing feats of the imagination.
The world′s most advanced countries are also the world′s most creative. The two go hand in hand.
These countries do not produce the world′s best selling brands and introduce the world to new concepts and lifestyles, they also produce the world′s most influential advertising – campaigns that influence millions and create world brands that take in billions.
Everywhere in the world, it is the creative thinkers, the norm breakers who are driving the development of the world′s most successful companies and the world′s most powerful economies.
If Malaysia were to achieve fully developed country status and be among the world′s most advanced, and that we must be, than we must work to become a truly innovative nation.
We must change the way we think. We must think global. We must be prepared to be competitive.
Malaysians are naturally gifted, with creative abilities and inclinations. What is needed is to be put in place is the right teaching and learning culture that will bring out the best in our young – a culture that inspires, not one that stifles.
Our education system must be one that can effectively play a facilitating role.
It must not be inflexible because creativity itself is a dynamic agent of change. Breaking the norm and not just accepting whatever that is handed down in order to find better and more practical solutions or more competitive options is the very purpose of the creative process.
The creative process is one that is driven by the search for strategic options, not unquestioning compliance.
Do you know what is the oldest profession in the world? I believe it is advertising……
Before anything can happen, it is inevitable that some form of selling is done – a message is delivered, however subtle it may be, however exclusive or intrusive, however direct or indirect. Before anything is bought, a message has to be sold, a connection has to be made. In short, communication would have taken place.
Even in the days of Julius Caesar, thousands of years ago, advertising was already in practice.
Archeologists have discovered signs painted on the walls of buildings in the ruins of ancient Rome and Pompeii.
One such outdoor advertisement, excavated in Rome, offered property for rent and, another advertisement, painted on a wall in Pompeii, invited travelers to a tavern situated in another town.
In medieval times a simple but effective form of advertising was very popular. Merchants of that time employed “town criers” who shouted the unique selling propositions of the merchant′s products.
In this context, the purpose of advertising has never changed, but nearly everything else about it and around it has.
It has evolved. It has revolutionised. It has segmented and it has fragmented. It has become much more complex and complicated, yet much more focused at the same time.
It has become known as branding. It has become known as relationship-building. It has become known as Internet and digital marketing. It is now about brand architecture and imagery engineering.
Whatever it is called, it is still all about connecting, convincing, persuading and cultivating.
Given today′s rapidly changing media environment, highly segmented audience, increasingly globalized and competitive market environment, advertising is now a rather complex practice.
It can no longer be driven by a nice jingle, an attractive picture or a clever slogan.
It has become much more sophisticated in the way it works and the way it is made to work. It now draws from the experience and expertise of a whole gamut of professions to present an idea, a product or a service to the target consumer.
In a professional content creation environment, you are likely to find an integrated convergence of expertise that covers cost planning and scenario mapping, marketing and promotions, branding and packaging, scripting and storyboarding, research and perception management, Internet programming and media planning, public relations and crisis management, searching and web-casting, psycho-profiling and persona imaging. A rather daunting scenario.
It is, however, still driven by the power of creativity and innovation; and the excitement of discovery and competition.
That has not changed, and it never will.
Advertising still is an industry that attracts the best creative minds. It is an industry that survives and draws its energy from the leading edge of innovation.
It is still about the passion to excel, and dedication to succeed. It is still about making a connection meaningfully, sensibly; it is still about changing mindsets and shaping opinions.
Hence, it is actively used by Governments these days to promote policies, foster unity, evoke patriotism, cultivate identity, build electoral support and orchestrate motivation.
Those who think that advertising is all gimmicks; that creativity is just about glossy pictures and looking pretty are missing the point completely.
If advertising is not about credibility and integrity, I do not know what is.
Going forward, we must change the way we think.
As a country, we must benchmark ourselves against the best.
As a people, we must be inventive. As a nation, we must be innovative.
As a society, we are judged by the advertising we produce. Advertising, good or bad, whether we like it or not, will shape the image of the country in the eyes of the world.
Advertising seen on our television and billboards, in our newspapers and websites, affects the way the rest of the world think of us.
We owe it to ourselves not to produce work that is unintelligent or plain silly, nonsensical or simply of third world mentality. Work to safeguard the dignity of our industry, and that of our society.
It′s rather unfortunate that we still see on our television, commercials that would have looked silly, or downright stupid, even if they were shown in the fifties.
I find this really alarming.
Why on earth should the stomach of a child swell to the size of a very pregnant mother within seconds from eating some potato chips?
And why do we continue to portray our women as slaving housewives who are completely clueless when it comes to choosing washing powder?
Hello ! Our people must be smarter than that !
We do have the talents and the skills, the resources and the expertise, and we have the unique advantage of a culturally rich and diverse society.
We have all the ingredients we need to produce the best work the world will get to see.
We owe it to ourselves to produce work that will reflect well on our country′s image and reputation; produce work that works not only in this country, but in every other country; produce work that will not only win awards, but the hearts and minds of everyone everywhere.
Malaysia today is a leading trading nation. We make good shoes and good clothes. We make good furniture and good home appliances. What we need to do now is make them famous.
On that note, I would like to show you a couple of video clips, both written to leave behind a meaningful message.
Through them, it′s easy to see that communication that is purposefully conceived, diligently researched and intelligently delivered never fails to touch the heart or engage the mind – whether it is to promote an idea or simply to make a point.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Have a successful day.
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