Be careful With Your Solution

During the closing time of 2017, we are surprised by the viral campaign on social media, which was started as social movements to reduce Public Display Affection into celebration of persecution in this very era of democracy.

The campaign itself was created by Graphic Designer students in their 5th semester.  The campaign is called @cekrek.lapor.upload or CELUP, a social media based movement that invite people to report any kind of PDA action by snapping picture of the suspected couple unbeknown to them and send it to CELUP account. Later, CELUP account will publish the photo as social punishment.

Their vision is;


“let’s catch them red-handed and make sure they will be ashamed for the rest of their lives.”




Social Movement CELUP campaign  has wreaked havoc the social conversation during Christmas

I would like to re-create what these students were thinking during the campaign creation and their train of thought to the problem and solution. From this point of view, maybe I can find what they have missed, something critical along the process and as the result, a horrible campaign was born.

A campaign that is based on crowdsourcing activity is not entirely new. Should the campaign is crowdfunding, you will find charity campaign. Should the campaign is crowdsourcing, mostly you will find user generated content or UGC where it relies on people to submit their “creation” in order to participate. But again, a good campaign must know exactly what their objectives. Is it to inform people? Or is it to move them and act in a certain way? Or is it a long-term investment and change one’s attitude? This is critical to define the strategy and creative execution. A campaign for merely awareness must have different mechanism compared to a campaign that demands action or changing someone attitude.

CELUP basically is a social movement that induces fear and shame to repress PDA in people or teenagers (it’s not clear whom is the target to be honest). It relies on the user generated content and let people contribute in the making of “wall of shame”. Nothing is wrong with that. Sometimes creativity must break the norm in order to effectively answer the objectives. And if necessary, you should go along with something controversial to grab people attention, or excitingly join the movement. But that doesn’t mean you can act without risk, or expectation.

There are steps, that are genuinely simple, yet effective as train of thought during campaign creation. Most people know this, but not all of them understand how to use this. Let me re-define CELUP with this frame of work so that we can understand where is the problem.

Define the situation

When you want to initiate a campaign, you must analyze the situation in your vicinity. It can be market situation, human behavioral situation, or cultural situation. But bear in mind, situation is not the same as problem. PDA is annoying, more like PRETTY DAMN ANNOYING. It’s so annoying it creates uncomfortable feeling for some people in a public space that is meant to be neutral. Again, some people can ignore it. But some people just get butthurt. Maybe deep down they think it’s offensive, not meet their own values and principles, or maybe they just simply jealous. That is the situation. PDA is happening in public places, in malls, public park, airport, bus stop, or train station. But does it automatically become a problem? Wait a minute.

Define the complication

You get the situation. As I reiterate again, a situation is not merely become a complication, or in here, a problem. Something can be qualified as a problem if it clashes with other values, believes, or resulting shortcoming to a system. But again,


A planner should have broad perspectives

When you qualify something as a problem, it can become very subjective. Here are some tricks that can justify your assumption so you can make clearer decision.

  1. Does it really affect everyone? Or is it just me?
  2. Why does it affect everyone? Does it implicate cultural tension? Or financial tension? Or does it even hazardous for some people?
  3. Does it against the current law?
  4. Set the right context by defining your target audience! It’s important. Does PDA is a problem when it comes to adult people? Maybe. But does PDA is a problem when the suspect is underage teenager? Of course it’s a problem.

The basic meaning of PDA is when people (mostly frisky teenagers, or new couple) showing their affection in the form of holding hands, kissing, touching, groping, licking, nuzzling, cuddling, or even performing sexual acts.

So with this definition, does PDA is really a problem? It depends. It can be a problem if you strictly set rules of what kind of PDA that you will consider as problem, and where the event takes place. If it is stretched to performing sexual acts and it’s in Aceh where sharia law is applied, I think it’s a problem and of course, it will be sensitive to the culture. But I don’t see CELUP campaign is deliberately set rules and boundaries to the definition of PDA, their target market, or even the context. The problem is, CELUP fails to convince people that PDA is the real problem in our society. When you want to make a campaign and state that you need to stand against PDA, but most people don’t think it’s necessary, you are doomed. That’s why, setting the right context is very important, and it should be also reflected with your preference of target audience and the idea itself.

Assumption is critical when defining a problem. But a good assumption must contain broad perspectives. Now in this case, frisky teenagers often think about penis, vagina, and lust. Maybe it’s true, in the end they are at the age of their puberty and high curiosity with their sexual life. But it’s normal right? So where is the problem? Or maybe the question is : who is the real concern and target audience in this campaign? Is it specifically for teenagers? I don’t know. I think they (the creator) don’t know either.

If you want to rely heavily on cultural tension (i.e PDA is forbidden by God since it is very sinful and they deserve to go to hell), you talk about conformity. When campaign is just talk about conformity, it will create a never ending discussion. Trust me. There will always be a pros and cons arguments. And it doesn’t solve anything.

It’s another story if you have strong arguments that shows the negative impact from PDA. For example, if Celup can provide the numbers of people who are doing PDA is increasing, and it is hindering their education progress (for example, because of PDA, students become lazy to study and prefer to have sex all the time), then your real problem is not the PDA, but the downfall of education quality in teenagers.

But if Celup only think PDA is forbidden because it is sin, please at least elaborate what kind of PDA that they think it’s qualified as the problem? Because what I can sense from their posts, interview and vision, CELUP only see people who commit PDA as the one who have fetish to have sex in public space, even in car (outdoor experience, amazing). Now let’s be clear, people who perform sexual act in public space usually wait the place till it’s quiet and “safe”. The one who perform it in the middle of daylight and in front of other people should be reported to police, it’s obvious. But what about the one who perform it in the quiet afternoon, or night? I’m not saying it’s ok, but from this campaign, I assume Celup invite people to become stalkers and spy on suspected couple and wait for them to have sex and snap their pictures and judge them to go to hell.

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Posts from CELUP campaign

Define the strategy

From failing to define the problem, context, and target audience, Celup also choose poor idea to execute their objectives. IF THEY HAVE OBJECTIVES in the first place, what would it be? Let’s think about it, I assume their objectives “to educate teenager that sex is private and shouldn’t be done in public because it’s sinful.”

Now, when defining a strategy I love to create a log line. According to my previous mentor in advertising agency, a log line expresses the essence of a story, idea, in one or two simple sentences. Usually it consists of the objectives and the basic idea you want to convey. So let’s see when it comes to CELUP..

“to educate people that sex is private and shouldn’t be done in public because it’s sinful, we move people to do public shaming by snapping their photos online unbeknown to them and caught them red-handed so they can feel remorse and repent their action.”

Well, there you go. Do you find how wrong is that when you read it in one sentence? Aside from the strategy is clearly can breach another law and basic human rights. What is missing from this idea is since the idea is too controversial to solve something that is not entirely agreed as a problem for some people. Should this idea is applied to campaign that talks about anti corruption, or sexual harassment (from catcalling to rape) maybe it will work beautifully. But for merely PDA, well, it’s not strong yet.

An idea shouldn’t be killed. An idea won’t be effective if the strategy is not right. But despite all of that, an idea will not answer objectives if you fail to define the problem.


Train of thought that everyone should have when they create a campaign

I hope from everyone who read this, you may now consider that asking the right question is critical to define your problem, thus making you easier to create solution on whatever campaign you are working on right now. Feel free to share this writing if it’s useful, or contact me should you have something to discuss!

Happy new year!


Data Should be Playful

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Big Data is as delicious as Big Mac  © Bakudapan Journal, 2017

With the hype of sharing economy and internet of things, consumer data monetization has increased like crazy and all brands are dying to get this big mac.. i’m sorry, big data. The big data are being used by advertisers to create programmatic advertising, which is an automation process from media buying to creative content. Yes, an automation on creative content especially on video formats. My first reaction when i read this article about personalized video ads is amazing yet creepy. First, there are retargeting ads that have been used (mostly by e-commerce players) to incessantly drive us to buy their product. Now, there is a personalized video ads that can speaks differently to different audience at the same time, and it’s automated.

Now, when we talk about data, all of us will think about endless numbers, cells, and charts that will fill up our brain. But actually, data will be just data if we don’t connect them with human insight. What is the meaning of rising numbers of likes on Facebook post that promotes bigotry and hate speech during presidential election? What is the meaning of thousand tweets about #unboxingraisa on Twitter during Raisa’s wedding with Hamish? Are there any correlation between the rise of download numbers for Traveloka mobile app and Air Asia’s sales performance ?

Recent article shows that sometimes human insight is less favorable for advertisers because it doesn’t reflect majority of the population. For instance, in that article, Tricia Wang has warned Nokia to shift their business from providing high end smartphones to mid-low smartphones. This is concluded from her ethnography studies in China for some years. But apparently, Nokia has failed to notice her advisory because her argument only comes from small amount sample. And now, where is Nokia in smartphone industries?

That’s why I always combine population percentage and index whenever I read data from research tools. Population percentage reflects size of the potential audience, but that doesn’t mean it also reflects with the attitude statement when I cross-tab them. Hence, I use index number to measure whether the population agree or disagree with the statement. It’s always a matter of “most likely” or “less likely”, and never be a “100% sure” statement. And, the final touch to crunch this data is combine them with human insight.

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“Unique” Insight © Adweak, 2017

In creative agencies, human insight is our trump card when we do a presentation. We can spend time for nearly 3 days to crack human insight that ironically, everyone tacitly knows. To generate human insight, we must have strong sense on “why” question, in a way that we keep questioning certain human behavior until we get the reason to answer brand’s problem and support the creative idea.

But sometimes, creative agencies tend too much focus on simplifying “human insight” without a proper data background and frankly, too much focus on beautifying the presentation. I get it that design is critical part in creative industries but again, in the law of demand and supply, advertising agencies are exist to become client’s partner and help their business problem. So, they demand some significant reason every time we propose something to them. Agencies always simplify everything because everything simple sounds important. While client always trying so hard to put all the information in one slide, resulting a horrible and confusing deck. But, for certain cases, everything that too simple can be a problem because it doesn’t show anything beside the aesthetic element.

Actually, I don’t always find deck from non-agencies are all awful. Because, as long as we get the message in each slides, it’s fine. I have a friend who works at startup, and she once told me that she had a hard time to read deck from an agency because it’s all “too much focus on aesthetic element” and the data itself “couldn’t be read properly”. And she works at a dynamic place where big data plays critical part, means every outcome from the agency must be easy-to-read. She told me that she even ordered the agency to revise the deck and make it “more useful” for her and dispose the “unnecessary embellishment”.

In another case, I once worked on monthly report and used measuring tool to extract website performance data. I really had a hard time because the measuring tool provided the output with overly simplified chart that even disposed the exact numeric data without giving the raw source, and it was only available on pdf. How could I conduct a proper analysis  if I couldn’t read the chart properly?

So, I want to share you a gem website that combine the data driven approach and storytelling approach. This website provides you with beautiful, interactive, and visual based data driven essay. One of the coolest article they produce is an essay about repetitive pop music. I really admire how they combine storytelling structured essay with statistical data in an interactive way. It’s like reading an infographic and in depth analysis.

I’m still learning to work on qualitative method to crack big data and human insight. But I also want to learn about the quantitative part of the big data, so I can grasp the meaning behind every numeric numbers and interpret the very basic thing. The most important part is not to argue whether your deck is too wordy or less aesthetic, but have a storytelling way of thinking to magically transform any sort of data into playful, simple, and useful insight.


An Overview of Indonesia’s Creative Troop

Everything is changing especially with the surge of creative industries in developed and developing country. If we take a look at the human history, growth in the first industrial revolution was driven by engineering, the second through electricity and production lines, and the third by technology and information. However, creativity is predicted to bring transformation to the industrial revolution in today’s modern economy (Palti, 2017). Creativity will bring a revolution for economic growth by putting skilled talent a crucial factor in production. A new transformational thinking is needed for young generation. Thus, I’m trying to define transformational thinking from a self-reflection, reminiscing series of events that had happened in my life and start wondering what will I need in the future.
Creative Force Transforms the Modern Economy

Most of the countries already invest their human resource in becoming skillful labor, including the country where I live. During my college years back in 2015, I remembered one of my lecturers issued the launch of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and talked about how I should prepare myself with skilled talent among ASEAN countries. At that time, I just thought how hard it would be for me since English was not my native language. But funnily, my lecturer told that most of ASEAN countries still use broken English. So the key to face this opportunity is being confident, and just be me. Following the launch of AEC, Indonesia will be on the hot seat. According to Kharas (2017), Indonesia will have middle-class markets that are $15 trillion bigger than today by 2030. 64% of the middle class are entrepreneur or work in private business and industry (Salim, 2012 as quoted by Afif, 2015). That’s why Indonesia under the President Joko Widodo’s regime has formed Creative Economy Agency to strengthen and support the role of the creative economy in Indonesia with the rise of the middle class. According to BEKRAF, the next big thing in Indonesia is our creative economy industry, which has contributed 7% of the GDP in 2016. The contribution of art, music, film, literature and creative industries with the help of technology advancement can produce great work and become potential for the global market.
The Power of Collaboration on Indonesia’s Creative Economy

The development of Creative economy can transform our way of life and beyond. However, I am part of the generation that will truly decide what will it be in the future. I think it will be interesting to see how I and my generation act and do in the creative industries. Creative industry talents consist of people who work in an advertising agency, start-up, graphic designer, art performer, musician, or artist. It will be interesting to see how we come to this point and what we’ll see in the future. Most of us live in the post-Suharto era, where freedom of speech and diversity has become the backbone of Indonesia’s identity. This makes us have a greater degree of openness towards others, and develop communal spirit as our way of work. Many creative talents in Indonesia initiate collective groups based on same interest and create collaborative projects. The collective groups consist of different people with the various background but have a related interest whether in music, art, film, technology or literature. These collective groups can be traced in an urban area in Indonesia where the creative economy and popular culture throb at the heart of the city. The benefit of collaboration allows you to broaden your perspectives when you work on certain projects.

When we collaborate, each of us automatically has roles, intent, vision, and metrics to achieve shared goal (Coleman, 2009). Roles define each participant’s responsibility, intent and vision create clear goals, and metrics help the group to create measurable evidence to achieve the goal. I have a friend who has started a collective study group called “Bakudapan”. “Bakudapan” initiate collaborative projects about food and combine it with social research and art. One of the remarkable collaborative project from “Bakudapan” is a program called “Cafe Society”. “Cafe Society” is a weekly mini film screening in a city called Yogyakarta. In “Cafe Society”, people can get collective experience from watching a movie, eating thematic food, and social interaction through intimate discussion. Other collective groups such as “Mes56” and “Forum Film Dokumenter” support this program by curated the film and provide their working space as the mini theater. This opportunity allows the collective groups to create a scenario where people can access art in a unique, playful, and holistic experience.

The spirit of collaboration ramifies with the rise of collective groups and communities as the evidence. Thus, it also generates more demand on co-working space in Indonesia. The demand is increasing significantly that local government has taken part to upscale the situation by providing creative space for artisans to collaborate, such as “Jakarta Creative Hub” in Jakarta and “Simpul Space 1 & 2” in Bandung. Collaboration can transform the progress of creative economy in Indonesia to the point it entangles all the stakeholders to move forward.
What is Transformational Thinking?

Transformational thinking should make us able to create generative change, build a sustainable ecosystem, and produce great work. I realize the spirit of collaboration has immersed in my culture and become the key to obtain transformational thinking. “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” has always been the national motto in my country, which means “Unity in Diversity”. With the spirit of collaboration, we let ourselves to be more diverse. Diverse groups bring out the best in individuals too. In diverse groups, all member has their own role and can fill each other’s flaws. This will create them to be more innovative and creative. In the advertising industry, the trend has been divided into 2 categories; culture, and collateral (Golding, 2017). Collateral is a safe zone where data is heavily optimized and directs the overall campaign, resulting low-production-cost and flexible (templated) marketing. The intention is not to be brand-building, but nudge an audience member along a consumer journey. While culture is a bravery act where creativity and culture are integrated to create disruptive cultural events, which will lead to a relevant social phenomenon for the audience. Of course, from the business side, popularity can trigger growth for the brands (Sharp, 2012). Being collaborative means embracing our own uniqueness and culture to the table. Although data is important, cultural insight is the main ingredient to create a powerful campaign.

As a strategist, it will challenge us to make a campaign that will create an impact on the culture. Hence, it can also be an opportunity for brands to act beyond marketing and support the cultural shift by creating disruptive collaborative work. With this, brands can also get deeper engagement with their audience and develop fame to sustain their growth. One of great example is a campaign by Tiger Beer called “Air Ink”. Tiger beer initiated a collaborative project  with Marcel Sydney and MIT Spinoff Graviky Labs and created an ink made from air pollution. They were also incorporating street artists to work with the ink and produced art exhibition. With this, Tiger Beer already embrace transformational thinking by creating collaboration project and fabricate cultural event.
Collaborate. Learn. Play

Applying transformational thinking is not an easy task because not everyone is a team player, including me. But we’ve seen the power of collaboration, from supporting the backbone of Indonesia’s creative economy landscape to producing a powerful campaign that creates a cultural phenomenon. To collaborate, I think the first step to do is just be ourselves while working. Remember the story about my lecturer had taught me to prepare the AEC? It’s the same advice. One of the premises of collaboration is collecting unique individuals on the table. So, embrace yourself and discover the best you can be, and how big is the difference you can make. The last step is thinking all the projects as a playground. Really. Collaboration is often marked by lots of open discussions and brainstorming together to achieve shared goals. We can learn and expand our perspectives while playing around with our work. Hence, we will able to find powerful ideas as our solution.


The Danger of Personalized Content

The advancement of technology allows us to choose information that we want to consume. This phenomenon has emerged since the 1940s when magic bullet theory was no longer applicable to society. Magic bullet theory is a model of communication suggesting that an intended message will be wholly accepted by the audience. Since people start to have a sense of freedom to filter, this is also aligned with the development of user and gratification in media, where people can access media for different satisfaction, either for entertainment, social needs, or even politics.

The birth of personalized content is marked with the ramification of big data. Digitalization, automation, machine learning (AI), and user-centered experience are part of critical elements that allow human to interact and communicate based on their interest in this sea of information. Take a look at google feeds, or Flipboard, a personalized magazine app that allows people to read only on topics that user be fond of. Streaming music services, or premium content subscription in general are also applying personalized content that allows people to select what kind of entertainment they are looking for, even the technology provides set of an algorithm that will calculate your historical activities and suggest a new content that similar with your preference. This is the power of machine learning and user-centered experience. Social media in the broadest sense is also offering a sense of freedom for people to have freedom and publish their thoughts. Social media also encourage us to be selective and only connect with our ideal peer group.

Nonetheless, all this utopia dream can crumble if we too much focus on the technology advancement without a proper education infrastructure. I realize information is getting more accessible thanks to the ramification of smartphones and cheap internet packages. Still, education gap will make people suffocate from the information, unable to process every message with a clear critical thinking.

Indonesia is sitting on the hot seat thanks to recent political dismay in Jakarta with the Christian governor sentenced to jail for blasphemy. I’m pretty sure all the high power and corrupt people try to create a wave for upcoming 2019 presidential election by staging all these nonsense bullshit, and we as the citizen has been played by these religious issues all over again. This is our inherent problem.

I once read Alain de Botton in his book “The News” that in the era of personalized news, especially political news, censorship is an obsolete way to win over the audience and maintain power. It’s true, since social media allow every single of the citizen to become the publisher, censorship won’t be effective especially in a country that pursues democracy as their core value. So what the government/stakeholders do is creating a distraction by sparking scattered issues that will keep audience distracted.  Their goal is to influence the salience of topics in the public agenda.

Back to an era when TV is still leading in Indonesia, agenda-setting is done by owning media institution. Of course, this method is very conspicuous and the media can lose their credibility. (but hey, it’s still happening in Indonesia right now!) Nowadays where everyone can be media, information is very scattered and hoax is spreading through social media, including our family WhatsApp group. From fake news being cited in our Facebook wall, to fake account sprouting hate speech in a massive scale.

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who the fuck are these people?

The citizen with lower access to education can get distracted and start to believe everything these fake information offer. These fake arguments are structured and organized in such way to ignite a little fire, while the rest will be debated by people and blur the core problem. That’s why we always unable to cease this situation. And it’s aggravated by our news channel that always quotes “What do Netizen Say” in their TV Show. Who the fuck is netizen? Don’t they realize half of the population of social media user are fraudsters with a political purpose?

So what can we do? Maybe we can start to set things right by warning the danger of personalised content to the people close to us, such as families, friends, or even collagues. And maybe, we can start to tell Facebook, Twitter to set new algorithm that will prevent the spread of fake account and hoax. Because, everyone is responsible for this shit, right?

Media Agency : How to Make Sense of Data


Media vs Creative

On December 2016, I had a late night conversation with my partner while brainstorming about a project. At 01.00 AM, cold air conditioner, and savory snacks, we discussed about the true characteristics of being an Indonesian creative players in creative economy industries. We interviewed some of our friends who are qualified to be entitled as creative worker in this creative industry.

First, there is the core layer, people who utilize culture as their source of power while doing work,  and produce what you may call it an art. These guys can be categorized as artist, art performers, actors, sculptors , painters, dancers, or writers, or film makers. The outer layers are for those position who are getting more and more indirectly utilizing people and culture as their source of inspiration, such as designers, architect, start-up entrepreneurs, advertising, public relation, and media. The point is, creative economy industries value idea to move the system, and whatever your job that values idea over anything can be classified as part of this industry!

To gain insight about the characteristics of Indonesian creative workers, we talked about our work environment, what we usually do, and what had driven us to do this kind of job. Even though we worked under the same company, but apparently my partner didn’t get a clear picture of what I always do on daily basis. Well, don’t worry, me neither.

I began to tell him my daily job, from developing media strategies , supporting media administration and reports, to develop schedule for media implementation. I told him about how I ate numbers and quantitative data everyday just to translate them into media strategy, and how financial management plays critical part of what I’m doing, because you don’t want to fuck up 10 bio money from your clients and put it in the wrong spot on TV station.

I paused for a moment. My friend began to raise his eyebrow and asked a question

“I don’t see the creative part of what you are doing this whole time. Where is the process of ideation phase?”

Well I could understand his interest since he used to work at creative agency, where ideation process happens every second of his life even in the weekend (I know, I know) and has squeezed his brain out.

To elaborate the creative process in media agency, I think I need to explain clear proposition of media agency in advertising nowadays.

When you talk about creative agencies, you talk about idea, communication strategy, behavioral insights about how human do and think. Does the message make sense to the brand and consumer? Does it relevant and attractive to persuade consumer? What do you want to communicate as a brand? What is your purpose?

But when you talk about media agencies, you talk about media vehicle, platforms, money, cost, expenses, buying strategy, and data from Nielsen to measure KPIs. Does the vehicle effective for this campaign? Have I effectively reached my consumer with reasonable budgets? Do people access this platform nowadays? What are they into?  What is your objectives for this year? Awareness? Or drive penetration?

Media agency  used to maintain media strategy to support communication campaign of a brand, but now the line is getting blurred. I have worked in media agency only for 6 months, and I thought that my responsibility was delivering accountable campaign for clients. But, during the process, clients love to “challenge” media agency to form a creative campaign utilizing the effective touch point. As a result, we also propose creative ideas in the form of 360 communication plan and several activation that can lead to sales penetration. Still, the “creative process” doesn’t use the same standard in creative agency. As one of the global planning directors in my place says,

“Media agencies are expert at answering Who and What, but creative agencies can answer Why deeper and more thoughtful than us”.

Have you seen the preparation of a media agency while doing pitching? They always come up with enormous set of data and insights that will fill your dumb brain in a matter of seconds. This is the ultimate killer weapon from media agencies, data. They have important data and will utilize them to formulate accurate strategies for clients. Everything is measured, everything is accountable, everything sticks to number. I’ve supported one pitch, and the strategy creation is heavily focused on data mining alone. I spent almost 6 hours  to gather important data, and poured them into deck in the most simplest and seamless way. Gathering data is quite easy when you already know how to do it, but formulating data structure to be seamless is one of a hell job.

Working at media agency is truly a golden opportunity for people to learn how can we make sense of data, while the perks of working at creative agency is to learn how can we make sense of people. It means, creative agency is better at pouring their opinion about how human works and interact with their surrounding and culture. The challenge is, media agency has started to move in the same direction, they don’t want to stop at what and who. They want to know why.

So for those who are interested in data, charts, numbers, money, and client servicing (media agencies don’t have AE) you are more than welcome to apply!


What to do in this Holy Month

In this holy month, most brands will join the festive season and tell us to buy/use their products because those things resembles certain values. For example, Google embraces spirit of tolerance in their latest campaign. In this video, a group of friends are auditioning their band to a music producer in Bali. Fortunately, it’s Ramadan time and they need to adapt to new environment. Having friends who don’t fast is pretty challenging, but being minority (because in Bali, majority are Hinduism) during fasting time is tough. Rudi Soedjarwo directed this short film for Google. It managed to gather 3 million view in one week. In the end, Ramadan is a festival, celebration. A celebration means we have to spend more. That’s why Ramadan is very cluttered with sales promotion or social campaign from certain brands, and of course will end up with sales. Everything goes up during Ramadan, from food, ingredients, meat, transportation, to advertising spot in media. Although our income also goes up (the sweet THR), but in the end we have to spend more for the sake of that celebration.

When creating an effective communication campaign, especially about social issues, most people believe that generosity, kindness, or goodness will always be associated with act of voluntarism. It means that when we are at Sudirman Station and suddenly Greenpeace army come to ask for donation, in the name of greater good, we will voluntarily give amount of money  to them. I think this situation will not happen. Instead, we must ask google how to avoid them in public place. However, when we know midnight sales will happen in Jakarta, we will automatically spare our time to join the battlefield. 


Keep the Greenpeace army away!

When we talk about social issues, do people care about them? Such important issues like global warming, human rights, war, terrorism, or environmental crisis don’t tickle most of us, yet if a brand announces certain discount we will automatically change our focus in a blitz.

To answer that, I just read a good chapter that explains about incentive from Steven Levitt in “Thinking like a Freak”. Incentive is something that will motivate us to do something. In commercial campaign, incentive is the critical element to cajole people buying our product or participating in our event. Whether it’s in the form of prize, recognition, social approval, or the functional benefit of the product itself. For example, you need a soap to take a bath. You decide to go to the market and buy the soap A. In the market, you see that soap A have sales promotion “BUY 1 GET 1” by uploading your picture with the soap in Instagram. You don’t feel this is the right day to post any picture because it will be lame to have a picture with friggin soap, but you need the soap anyway. So you skip the promotion and buy the product instead. In this case, the soap actually offer you the incentive,  but you prefer to skip it. But you still need the benefit from the soap, so you buy it. On the other hand, what’s the benefit for you from saving the whale shark in the ocean? Or what’s the benefit of reducing the use of plastic, when you actually need the plastic to carry things? See, as long as the impact doesn’t hit you directly, you won’t have a second thought to care about them. And that is normal.

Basically people need incentive, if you talk about majority human being. Well, that was a real case about people ignoring incentive, like we did to Ibu Saeni in this holy month. In Serang, Ibu Saeni decided to open her warung despite the local government had officially forbade any restaurant to open during Ramadan. As the result, Ibu Saeni’s warung has been  confiscated by the local police. They took all the food in front of her and the TV crew. Later the incident was reported to national news. A netizen and also a stand-up comedian, started an online fundraising to help Ibu Saeni making up the previous raid. In short period, the fundraiser had gathered over 200 MILLION rupiah for Ibu Saeni.  This case had been debated incessantly on the internet. This is not about what Ibu Saeni’s guilty/innocent act, nor about intolerance/the righteous of Islam, but about the donating itself! When the fundraiser was started, most people just donated ten thousand rupiah (the minimum donation) without long consideration. Why?

Instead of demanding incentive, people reacted to Ibu Saeni’s case as a statement. The rise of internet and social media had blown up too many news/fake news about intolerance in Indonesia. They were exhausted with the low quality news and perceive Indonesia as pure bigots, thus donating the money could be classified as a challenge to the bigots. It showed that the bigots had no power against the common people.  Well, so some cases allow people to participate without any incentive, but will it happen again? I would say rare.

Instead of hoping every social campaign will be as smooth as Ibu Saeni’s case, let’s talk about incentives. In the book, Steven stated that the most popular incentive for human is money. But it’s not always about money. Finding the right incentives will be the right thing to do when setting up a campaign. After finding the right incentives, finding the right angle to communicate the campaign is also critical. Even one of the venerable strategic planner in Indonesia stated in her interview, “don’t ever think people will care about your concern the way you do”.

In the book, Steven quoted an experiment by Robert Cialdini, a psychologist on the study of social influence. Robert wanted to learn about the incentives that would encourage people to use less electricity. The researchers listed factors that will influence decision people to conserve energy;

  1. It saves money
  2. It protects the environment
  3. It benefits society
  4. A lot of other people are trying to do it

After listed the factors, they began with phone survey and asked people to arrange the factors from important to least;

  1. It protects the environment
  2. It benefits society
  3. It saves money
  4. A lot of other people are trying to do it

Sounds like people still concern other than themselves right? What a beautiful world we live in. For the next experiment, Robert created different communication approach for each factors and used it for the campaign;

  1. Protect the environment by conserving energy
  2. Do your part to conserve energy for future generation
  3. Save money by conserving energy
  4. Join your neighbors in conserving energy

Now, with this 4 different messages, which one do you think will successfully persuade people to use less electricity? If we refer to previous survey, “Protect the environment by conserving energy” will win. But it turned out that message number four was the champion for this experiment. People don’t care about moral or social responsibility, or at least they are aware, but don’t give a shit. However, they are willing to join their neighbor because of the mob-mentality. People are easily influenced by their peer groups because of social pressure, or social recognition, or simply because they want to do it after someone else do it.

In conclusion, it’s good to do social campaign to create more kindness in this cruel world. But, don’t be a naive person. Don’t be the guy who brawl about social issues and patronize someone else who doesn’t give a shit about those issues. “Lecturing” is a forbidden communication approach when setting up a social campaign. It’s simple, a lot of people have undergone their life with full of shit, so why they have to spare time thinking about others, or the planet? Always remember that someone might be aware of the issue, but lazy enough to make a movement. So, the right thing to do is find the right incentives as a reward, and trick them to participate in the campaign.



Aesthetic Interpretation

Coldplay has released music video for ‘Up & Up’, directed by Gal Muggia and Vania Heymann. Both directors are from Israel, and have mastered magnificent skills in music and branded content. When ‘A Head full of Dreams’ was released in December 2015, I was excited and bought the album in record store. At that time, my top 3 tracks from the album were ‘A head full of Dreams’, ‘Birds’, and ‘Up & Up’. ‘Up & Up’ feels different from the rest of the song because Noel Gallagher has collaborated with Coldplay to work with this track.

Thank God they released the video yesterday, and it made me love the track even more. With beautiful surreal scenes, Coldplay enunciates topics about environment, war, and refugee crisis. I won’t talk about my interpretation nor semantic analysis towards the video or the music, but I just realized that the art direction was done with someone who clearly has worked in advertising agency, or at least has background about delivering message for commercial purpose.

To elaborate my (shallow) argument, I will tell you my experience when I attended an art exhibition while I lived in Yogyakarta years ago. ARTJOG is Indonesian artist art fair and annually held in Yogyakarta. Live in Yogyakarta for four years, I am surrounded by friends who have interest in art. It’s nice to expand my perspectives and learn about art anyway. Yogyakarta is heaven for artist to grow and make community. So, attending art exhibition like this will likely become your habit, and you will start to notice how their visual works, about interpretation and whatnot. Most artists with contemporary influence will make installations that are surreal, and spark different aesthetic interpretation from each audience. Understanding the “true” aesthetic interpretation from an installation/artwork is not listed on the artist’s agenda, because the purpose of art is to become “enjoyable”. That’s why the exciting part while attending this kind of event is exercising your brain and trying to understand what the artist is trying to say. But on ARTJOG 2015, I found out that one of creative director from local advertising agency in Yogyakarta were also a contributor for the event . His exhibition grabbed my attention. Most of his artworks were crystal clear in delivering their message to audience. Instead of art prints, those artworks were more suitable to be categorized print ads. Why? maybe his pattern of work in advertising agency influences his style in making those “art prints” : make a visual that clearly tell your single message. If audience fail to understand the message, then your print ad will also fail.

Back to ‘Up & Up’ video, my first impression told me that each frame from this magnificent clip could be rendered as individual print ad with certain message for certain brand. Thus, I can assume that this terrific work is bunch of clips that translates the lyrics, and Coldplay as a whole entity, including as a band and their thoughts. Well, that is the basic concept of music video clip, and as a director it’s your basic job to translate those ideas. But with this particular approach, it feels special and different from other music video clip. The directors strongly give you visual aid that helps you think about what Coldplay is trying to say, with surreal and dreamy tone. And that is thrilling! I just found out that advertising skills can be also applied for making music videos with unique approach.

Speaking of aesthetic interpretation, I just found out an interesting article about nature of advertising in Japan, how it works, and why it’s different in a sense that they have their own rule and style. The writer of this article is James Hollow, president of MullenLowe Profero Tokyo. With long experience running an agency in Tokyo, he explains that you can’t apply western strategic thinking in Japan. What is western strategic thinking? It’s a way of thinking in strategic communication platform, that enables you to determine your business objectives with creative approach. It’s what they call as a “strategic planning with creative execution”. This approach is common in almost all agencies in the world, including in Indonesia. With this approach, you must create creative execution with relevant insights, and of course, it must answer the business problem. The result is, with this execution, you can create poignant campaign with sensitive issues, adapting from local wisdom and cultures, and create both social and sales impact. But In Japan, you don’t need all of these stuffs.

That’s why when I joined Gatsby commercial movie competition on 2015 with my friend, we had a hard time to restructure our way of thinking during the creative process. We used to think something creative based on problem and insights. But when we saw the characteristic from previous Gatsby ads, all of them shared the same attribute. It was all about being stand out and short term. James Hollow later explains that aesthetic is the key in order to win the advertising in Japan. They are aesthetic driven, and always need to stand out. The best answer to overcome this is with humor.

Japan is very unique. The ramification of industries are very fast, resulting new products emerge from market in high frequency. Those products need to compete thus need to stand out, even the market is cluttered. It’s like, they don’t have time to think about long term campaign with emotional impact, because, the audience also don’t care about it either. That’s why Japanese advertising industry is not favored by certain advertising awards. People in Japan consider TV as escapism, a situation to run from their daily life. That’s why humor content is leading in Japanese TV industry, because they need entertainment after working like a stooge. Such a delicate environment with different aspects resulting unique media habit in Japan. Thus, the marketers need different strategy to overcome this problem.

What about Indonesia? Does global agencies in here lead the market? Does the local agency are being suppressed? Do global agencies have more money to expand their business and more trustworthy in the eye of clients? Do we have unique local insights about media behavior and culture that will benefit local agency (since only locals will master it)? Well to answer that, I need 10 more years of experiences!