Why does advertising exist?

Advertising is as old as time; just that it was not called advertising then.

Every company in the world needs to market itself to succeed.

Every company. Permit me to say it again: every company.

As an industry, we stimulate commerce (read economy) and growth.

And behind this engine of growth are ideas that drive sales, profits, and brand equity in the marketplace.

Advertising is an ideas business.

That is the product we offer the market. We simplify and amplify.

Ideas that differentiate, re-enforce, re-assure or whatever the marketing objective is. I don’t take this subject lightly…

Facebook is not an idea, it is a platform.

TikTok is not an idea, it is a outlet for expression.

Unfortunately, half the world thinks otherwise.

Which may be a good thing for those who know better.

Once upon a time, Malaysia was regarded as the most creative in Asia as we beat more than 40,000 pieces of creative work submitted globally to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

I say “once upon a time”, now our best have left our shores (don’t get me started on Talent Corp), and our creative reputation is zilch.

Lest readers think I am blaming anyone, let me start the ball rolling by blaming myself for these woes. I am guilty of the state of the industry. There, I have said it; now can we do something about it?

That’s why I sent a frantic message early one morning 10 days ago, after a sleepless night to my readers asking, “What do you think is the most creative ad in Malaysia you have seen over the last two years. One that made an impact on you as being Malaysia’s best and is worthy of winning a global award for creativity.”

An industry leader immediately replied, “Now I can’t sleep Ham, because I can’t think of one ad or campaign that is worthy of winning a global award.”

I received almost 600 responses; half of them mentioned their own work as being the best, some asked why an award winning ad is the criteria for my judgement of a great ad, many said they couldn’t think of one, and so on. I suppose it is a start…

It took me almost two days time to go through all the responses, and cull a story that I am going to share with you in this issue.

I have decided not to publish the names of the respondents but will quote them verbatim, even though they said I could publish their names.

Having run quite a few award shows across two countries over the past two decades, I’d say I know a few things about how they are done.

My brother gave me the best advice when I asked him if I should run the first independent advertising awards show in Indonesia….

“As an event organizer, think of it as a necessary evil. Not everyone can win everything every time. Just stay the course and stay true. After some time, you’ll end up with some enemies for life. Just suck it up and coast along. After a couple of years, rinse and repeat.”

Lots of Love,
Harmandar Singh


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