Global viewpoint from Singapore
A view from Paul Gage

Global viewpoint from Singapore

It's awards season in Singapore, and I'm privileged to be on the judging panel for the Asian Marketing Effectiveness & Strategy Awards and the Singapore Effies. It's a great opportunity to see if the ambition, passion and rhetoric are having an impact on brands and business.

Judging awards is quite a challenge here as Singapore has a reputation for "scam" work. Scam is ideas originated by agencies to qualify for and win awards. Some of the most wonderful creative work is crafted, but usually no "real person" has seen or participated with the idea.

But now, in our digital world, it’s harder for scam to hide. A quote from a client, a vague statement about "amazing results" or a video of agency staff getting involved in the idea just won’t cut it any more. While views, likes, comments, Tweets, pins and shares are not real business or brand outcomes, at least digital KPIs bring greater accountability to the industry.

In reviewing more than 200 awards entries, I’ve got some simple learning for Singapore when it comes to social participation.

People in Singapore love to watch, but don’t like to contribute. Singapore is a nation that watches the most videos in Asia, and they’re more than happy to join a queue for a free gift or sample in the real world. And yet, when asked to comment, upload, vote, Tweet, use a hashtag or share, they fall way behind other markets. The campaigns that had light and critically anonymous participation did well.

SingTel’s "Hawker Heroes" is a great example, where local hawker chefs competed against Gordon Ramsay to make the best Singaporean food. Branded content went viral and live events were the talk of the town.

People in Singapore love to watch but don't like to comment, upload, vote, Tweet or share

Singaporeans are happy to move from social to real world. There has been debate about whether social can drive real-world behaviours. In Singapore, everyone has their phones in their hands and is never more than ten minutes from some shops. So brands such as Heineken, McDonald’s, Adidas, StarHub and Nestlé have all shown that social media can drive footfall and sales.

Adidas gave real value back to their fans when the haze hit Singapore last year by providing gym memberships to people so they could train indoors. Nestlé created the Appetite for Life initiative that allowed people to send virtual baskets of healthy and nutritious Nestlé products to friends, family and colleagues. These virtual baskets could be converted into real-world discounts in supermarkets, providing a sales uplift across the island. (Full disclosure: the Adidas and Nestlé campaigns were produced by Iris.)

So while Singapore may always have some dubious awards entries, it’s encouraging to see genuine innovation and real results. Just plan for light, anonymous participation that clearly links to real-world value and you’re on to a winner!

Paul Gage is the regional planning director, Asia-Pacific at Iris