Work anchored in human truths works: BBDO

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Agency of the Month series in newly-refurbished MARKETING magazine features BBDO Malaysia
Exciting brand stories that go up in a flash and then forgotten soon in this digital age; campaigns that are trendy but not inspiring and data-driven creative which cater to the market but soon get replaced by another such; building capabilities and right partnerships in an ever-shifting market-place– these are the realities of today’s advertising world which most agencies are grappling with.
In our Agency of the Month series, BBDO Malaysia presented its take on all the above and more.
Executive Creative Director VJ Anand (of Cannes Lions fame), said, “when we get lost with doing what’s new and what’s trendy, we forget to do what’s memorable. That’s one thing we try to make sure we do here in BBDO. We make sure our work is memorable. We make sure that it always goes back to a human truth and insight. “
With BBDO bagging the most creative agency network in the world in the Gunn report, 11 years in a row, what its CEOs and seniors say, spells a significance for the industry.
Agency head Farrah Harith McPherson, while commenting upon the restructuring trends in the agencies in 2018, said, “We are already beginning to see restructuring happening in agencies. With the rise of digital, we began to see specialist agencies pop up. But soon, the clients began to find it difficult to manage so many agencies on their roster.”
“It was a challenge to ensure seamless integration between agencies. Recognizing this, we at BBDO Malaysia have done away with the traditional division of labour between traditional and creative digital teams. Our team is a hybrid, led by a digital native.”
“Our objective is to come up with a media-neutral creative idea, that is anchored in sound strategy – and then figure out the best way to dimensionalise this idea through the different channels,” Farrah added.
On managing the culture around the brands, VJ said, “We always go back to what’s relevant in our culture and society, then make sure Malaysians connect with it.”
“There’s something iconic about each piece of work so that they will remember it. A good example of this is our Mercedes Benz C Class campaign on Instastories (Instagram Stories). This campaign drove actual footfall and test drive bookings for our client, which at the end of the day is why we do what we do,” VJ added.
“Things are moving from a product and brand economy to an experience economy. We believe in building experiences around the brand and its audience.
For example, we were extremely lucky to be able to work with Taylor’s University to create a “mind reading café” at their Open Day. This was a very engaging way to connect with their audience in a non-traditional way.”
Planning Director Rafiq Ridzwan (an Asian Marketing Effectiveness award winner), talked about building capabilities and creating right partnerships. “What’s exciting is that there are so many more avenues where we can find access to the data that informs the experience we want to create – from social listening, to lookalike targeting, to programmatic. Building capabilities is about ensuring we have the right people, processes and tools to deliver what is best for our clients. This also means ensuring we have the right partnerships in place that can help us achieve this.
For example, the BBDO Creative Agency partnership with Facebook puts us as an agency in a very strong position to leverage on that platform from a creative standpoint.”
On BBDO Malaysia’s unique strength, Farrah added, “We are beginning to see more clients request ONE team – and we at BBDO Malaysia are beginning to present the “BEST OF” teams – which gives us the ability to pick the most capable people, for the right roles and offer a customized client team that best caters to their needs.”
BBDO Malaysia is also riding high on its ‘Heels of Steel’ initiative – a series of talks by prominent leaders aimed at inspiring and accelerating the progress of women in the workplace.
BBDO recently won the Campaign’s Gold for ‘Southeast Asia’s Creative Agency of the Year!

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry. 
This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging. 
Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.
This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 10 categories, and 7 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!
Campaign entries must have run between June 2022 to May 2023

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