Newspaper Advertising - The Creative Potential: Changi Museum - Singapore

BACKGROUND

This campaign for Singapore's Changi Museum was deliberately controversial, using hard-hitting creative to compensate for a small media budget.

Ogilvy & Mather Singapore was briefed to attract visitors to the museum, drawing on its rich war archive. The client wanted to expose the truth of war and decided to use a cross-media campaign, which included posters, magazines and newspapers.

The work was designed to appear more graphic and real than the other advertising and editorial running in the Singapore press.

The ads, which ran at the end of 2004, have been recognised by international awards. Ogilvy & Mather Singapore is one of the network's leading agencies when it comes to picking up creative accolades. Last year it landed a number prizes, most notably for its outdoor and print work for the Anglican Welfare Council.

Press was an obvious media solution for the Changi Museum campaign, given the strength of the newspaper market in Singapore. Newspapers are far stronger than TV in the country, making them one of the best ways to reach a large audience effectively.

The overall daily newspaper reach in Singapore is 85 per cent.

All general-circulation titles belong to either the government-owned MediaCorp or Singapore Press Holdings, which has strong ties to the government.

The eight leading paid-for dailies - all owned by Singapore Press Holdings - are broadsheets, with the exception of one of the two English-language titles, The New Paper. The other English-language daily, The Straits Times, is far and away the biggest title in the market, selling nearly 400,000 copies in a country with a total adult population of 3.2 million.

REVIEW - Edmund Choe creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Malaysia

Newspapers remain one of the most powerful media across Asia because of their ability to keep a captive audience. However, in our part of the world, most press advertising has become wallpaper. There are several reasons for this.

First, there is a widely held belief that print quality tends to suffer in newspapers. Sometimes this is true and this makes us play safe with ideas. It also means media buyers often overlook newspapers when booking space, opting instead for glossy magazines to advertise more upmarket brands. Unfortunately, they often forget news print technology has come along way over the past few years, especially in Singapore, where print quality is now superb.

Another reason for the malaise is, perhaps, that we seem to be treating the medium rather like a notice board. "Buy! Buy!" and " Special offer!" seem to be the order of the day.

Also, the current trend seems to be for creatives to make print ads look like posters - totally stripped of copy. This is a big mistake and a wasted opportunity. We forget that people read papers because they want detailed information, so why do we insist on giving them the opposite?

Despite what I've just said, it's not all doom and gloom. Newspaper advertising is thriving and there are still plenty of really good ads around.

The best newspaper ads to appear in Asia over the past few years are for Singapore's Changi Museum. Changi is an institution dedicated to portraying the horrific events that took place in the Far East during World War Two.

Although the events featured have long been swept under the carpet and conveniently forgotten by many, this campaign really brings them back to life, picking the subject to the very bone.

As you come across them during your cornflakes (or curry noodles), the images hit you like a bullet between the eyes. Horrific pictures combine with wonderfully crafted copy to make highly impactful communication.

After all the work that went into this campaign, it's great to see that the newspapers have done such a terrific job in reproducing the artwork.

For me, newspaper advertising doesn't get better than this. Well done agency, client and newspapers. This is press advertising at its absolute best.

CREDITS Titles: "Cockroach", "Shit Creek", "Railway", "Lucky Chap" Client: Changi Museum Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Singapore Copywriters: Steve Hough, Eugene Cheong Art directors: Tham Khai Meng, Steve Hough, Adrian Chan Creative directors: Tham Khai Meng, Eugene Cheong