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 This phenomenon has emerged since the 1940s when magic bullet theory was no longer applicable to society.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

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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. 

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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!

Confession from a Job Seeker

These past 3 months in 2016 were sparky, I would say. After I celebrated the most overrated moment in life : Graduation Day, when I had to wake up early in the morning and wore the oversized toga, and heated in the thronged room full of thousand graduated students so we could be called one by one as a symbol of graduation, I officially left Yogyakarta and went back to Tangerang.

Most people are embracing graduation day like it’s a celebration of their enormous effort to be graduated with magnificent credits and certain timeline (mostly the “fastest” one) that makes them very proud. To view graduation as an achievement (I’m speaking this on behalf of my major, not commenting for other majors) is missing from the truth. The truth is, graduation, is your obligation, not achievement. You have to graduate to finish your study and move on to the next phase in your life, and the greater challenges will come to face you soon. So, people who cherish graduation day with something “miraculous”, “because of their hard work”,  “God’s work” are too exaggerating.. I mean come on, we are not from faculty of engineering/medical, so come back to earth and realize that we don’t need to calculate any numbers or dissect corpse to be graduated

So the journey has begun, and I’m doing it now, to seek the available vacancies in advertising world that will accept me as their next apprentice. It has been a month since I graduated and the available vacancies in advertising industry are quite big, but don’t be picky. But the problem is, the major vacancies are revolving in design, creative, or social media area. And it is fair from my observation to conclude that most of them don’t welcome the fresh graduate student. So, yeah they seek for person with one to two years of experiences.

Only big agencies (and some of them) are doing management trainee program, to welcome the green and unexperienced human being like me. I personally don’t grasp the idea of management trainee program in advertising industry, apart from the client service area. Because, management trainee is basically, excelling your managerial skills. The ideal management trainee program is that you have to know all aspects in the industry. It means that you have to at least being involved in all areas in advertising agencies and your performance will be reviewed. MT is beneficial for those who still don’t know what to do with their life, because basically you have to try everything at certain time before you get plunged into a fixed position/division. But, what about certain position that required certain skills? Let’s say in the creative team. Creative is mostly divided into two areas, design/art and copy. So, these fields require a special skill, in writing, or designing. I’m not saying that applicant can’t learn these stuffs, but this job will be more effective if it’s designated with the right person who.. have the requirement skills. What I’m saying is, why does someone with graphic design major want to take MT program when he/she can directly apply for GD position at advertising agency?I had witnessed MT program during my internship, and most of them are placed in human resource division, or traffic management division, or account service division. Why would I want to work as a human resource officer in advertising agency, where I truly can develop myself and improve my skills in planning or creative division. Is it wrong to think this way?

What would happen if I apply for MT in advertising agency with zero experience in designing, and I get transferred into design division? And what can we say if we have 2 years experiences as an MT in advertising agency? 2 years of copywriting? 2 years of art directing? 2 years of strategic planning? 2 years of .. what? because  as  MT, you just try this and try that in a period of time, before you get transferred again. I personally thinking MT in the most effective way can be applied in client servicing area, because managerial skills are critical in that field. I’m not saying that managerial skills are not important in other area, but you know what i’m saying. It’s clear that senior copywriter/senior planner will be chosen from junior copywriter/junior planner, not from management trainee. Or it isn’t? I really need to understand how MT will work at advertising industry. So if someone can help me, you can contact me to give me understanding about this matter.

Back to the available jobs in advertising. The number of advertising agencies in Indonesia is growing. But only big agencies can hire a strategic planner (maybe because of their budget), and several of them rarely accepts planner from fresh graduate level. So imagine the difficulties from my perspective if I want to be planner in advertising agency as a fresh graduate. Actually I don’t have to bicker around and complain about this. Just find another job in two years and then apply for an entry level in planning team, right? (seriously it’s for junior strategic planner). So again, it’s really hard for human being like me to dream having a job in advertising agency with no skills in designing (for creative matters and answering the major available vacancies). I can only pray to God to give me the best way during easter, I guess?

But let’s not talk about how lame I am complaining about myself. I will talk about my recent trip to Pattaya! Thanks to the free trip from Citra Pariwara, I can attend Adfest 2016 to see the glimpse of advertising in pacific asia. It’s really get under my skin. Believe me, to meet incredible talents from all over the world and see their presentation and updates about how advertising works right now. But that’s not the important matter, because what matters for me at the moment is the free trip, and the free food. What? I’m being honest. The foods are incredible and ranging from 5 types of salads, 5 types of meats, 5 types of vegetables, lots of local and international sweets for dessert, free beers and wines, and don’t forget the delicious meal I got from Thai Airways.

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I went to Pattaya with my partner, and it was very challenging to travel with her because she never gets gastritis before. So she picked the best time to get one: during the trip, when she actually could get free expensive food all the time. So when I was eating all the time, she just threw up all the time. Anyway, we also got a hotel with rooftop swimming pool, although we just used it for the sake of instagram and didn’t swim  (so did others).

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selfie in the rooftop

On the third day, we decided to maximize our trip by fleeing to Bangkok and became urban dwellers for several hours. We decided not to stay for one night because of the limited budget (as always). So we went to Bangkok by mini van from Bali Hai point in Pattaya and arrived at Victory Monument station in Bangkok. Bangkok is very similar to Jakarta, maybe for the next 10 years if the MRT is done for real. It’s very crowded with people even though they already have many kinds of public transportation. I arrived at Bangkok at afternoon in friday, so imagine the traffic would be like.

 

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They have the skytrain, subway, airport rail link, bus, tuktuk, grab, uber, taxi, ojek, you name it. When I asked one of my limousine driver (sounds cool right) about online transportation reaction in Bangkok, I had surprising answer from the locals. They don’t actually become an anti for uber/grab. They just embrace it because the locals know that they aim for different target market. It was unfortunate for me not knowing the details about who is the target market, but I could make an assumption. Maybe, online transportation such as uber/grab comes to Bangkok when they already supply the roads with decent public transportation. So, when the apps hit the market, people don’t react much and just assume those as another kind of public transportation. And I also checked the price with grab bike and taking the train, it was pretty much same.

 

It is indeed different in Jakarta, when we bicker about our public transportation and those online transportation come to public with the proposition “as the answer of comfortable and affordable transportation”. Even Gojek aim higher and exaggerate their brand by bringing the nationalism theme. People in Jakarta react with online transportation as a form of rebellion, towards our prior transportation system. They love Gojek/Uber/Grab so much that makes the other transportation feel in danger. So that’s why in recent days taxi drivers, kopaja drivers, are protesting the local government for further consideration and policy management around this chaos.

To spend a nice evening in Bangkok, we decided to hit the weekend market for the locals and also a tourist attraction : the rod fai market! Bangkok has lots of convivial weekend market that make you want to visit each of them. So if you want to go to Bangkok, mind your days because they only open at.. well, weekend. The rod fai market was is located behind the esplanade building, near the Thailand cultural centre MRT station. It’s really packed with food, accessories, clothes, shoes, and seafoods. Some stores sell secondhand clothing like “sekaten” in Yogyakarta.

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selfie in the rooftop

It was really a wonderful time to visit Bangkok, and we decided to take a selfie at train station in the afternoon. Thank you again Sekar Bestari for the trip and see you again for the next project (and the free trip)!

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Remember Cameo Fun Campaign?

The famous and cliche word that has been haunting all the undergraduate students  is thesis. This thing has been glorified for its complexion, arduous effort, and the time-consuming process to get it done. It becomes a sensitive issue that no one will talk or brag about it unless you’ve done yours, like what I’m doing right now. Several universities have chosen another way to examine their students for final tasks other than thesis, like final exam, internship reports, etc. They argue that thesis is just another form of replication of theories and arguments that causes plagiarism to breed over and over again, replacing the original purpose : to do  an advanced literature review and build a solid perspective to see contemporary phenomena based on relevant theories.

I have done my thesis defence yesterday and believe me, it’s totally different from any kind of presentation that I have done before. I have joined several competitions that allow me to present ideas. It was tough, full with fault-finding, and killer questions. The idea also has to be succinct and concise, so it can be delivered well. But during the thesis defence, I felt so powerless and clueless. Every argument that came from my mouth must be quoted from relevant theories, and the logic in my writing is still far from standard in academic world. Well, academic world has its own gist. At least, I have learned how to address my writing structure compactly and to the point.

I’m not an academic bitch who feel entitled with my own thesis and assure that my research will change the world. Doh. Imagine thousands of students attend one university and there are limited lecturers, examine all your thesis meticulously one by one. That will never gonna happen. But at least, I can summary my own thesis and transform it into a useful post about contemporary phenomena that happened during presidential election last year.  Yes. All my effort from my thesis will be transformed into a single post with facts and relevant opinions. Nice.

Remember Cameo Fun Campaign? The seven video series from Cameo Production on their YouTube channel, Cameo Project that had gone viral last year because they satirised both Jokowi and Prabowo during presidential election on 2014? Well, some of you may followed them last year and their prior projects before, the famous video campaign for Jokowi-Basuki using one direction’s song.

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Jokowi dan Basuki by Cameo Production on 2012

Cameo Production is a media production company on YouTube. They prefer to be categorised as a media instead of YouTube Star. YouTube Star had been ramifying since 2010 with the popular names such as Raditya Dika, Edho Zell, Bayu Skak, Skinnyindonesian24, Sacha Stevenson, and many more. Those are the stars that develop entertaining content on YouTube, known as video blog (vlog). They are popular and have solid subscribers in the internet. YouTube Star can be identified with one person as the “face” of the video blog, or the main character. Well, Cameo Production is quite different, they consist of a team, so they don’t have the singular “face” like others. They work like a production house, producing content on YouTube like a media. They form a new hybrid in new media phenomena. This internet sensation is a new gold mine for netizen to gain revenue by making themselves famous and get lucrative payment from YouTube or sponsored content from certain brand. By this time I’m writing this post, Raditya Dika is gaining money because of his popular YouTube Channel.

Cameo Production is really open and amicable when I proposed my proposal to conduct a research about their communication strategy during Cameo Fun Campaign. Thanks to them I can finally at one step closer to finish my thesis and able to write this post.

Why did Cameo Production make Cameo Fun Campaign?

Last year, the Indonesian presidential election on July 2014 had matched two fractions, Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla and Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa as the legitimate candidates for the next president and vice president of Indonesia in 2014. Following the counting and final results, Prabowo-Hatta (45,85%-62.576.444) were defeated by Jokowi-JK (53,15%-70.997.833) with 8.421.389 votes as the difference from total votes (133. 754.277). During the presidential election, unknown sources had ramified false information that aimed to disparage, vilify, and embarrass both of the candidates. Such material used in the black campaign were contrary with public order and morals, thus they had concerned the public’s attention.

So, Cameo Production were inspired to create a communication strategy for social campaign by creating content to counter false material in the form of black campaign and also to educate public to be critical and smart while consuming and responding the political information. Cameo Productions released seven video series where each video had its own different message and purpose. Afterwards, Cameo Production declared themselves to support Prabowo before the election day through the video “Cameo Fun Campaign : Ketika Harus Memilih Prabowo atau Jokowi?”. This video caused a storm in social media and Cameo Production were alleged to have political agenda.

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Cameo Fun Campaign by Cameo Production

Is it true that this campaign is actually a political campaign?

I conducted an interview with them couple months ago. And they were super friendly in responding to this issue. Cameo Production brushed-off this idea gently, because they weren’t affiliated with any candidates at that time. So, this whole campaign was pure independent with social purpose. They also made the videos one by one. They didn’t have grand plan to conduct seven videos in an instant at the very beginning. It just flowed through the madness reaction from the netizen.

The fact that several videos were dedicated to vote Prabowo, it was all because of experimental project by the team. They felt netizen worshipped  Jokowi so much that they started to attack Prabowo at any cost. This caused a question what would happen if Cameo decided to vote Prabowo using logical arguments? For your information, at that time, Jokowi’s voter also worked for Cameo Production, and they still did it because they thought it would be fun and they saw the video as their professional effort.

But my research doesn’t concern on their independency. I want to dig further how their video could be viral in such a short time.

My research shows that in order to create viral as an impact, the content itself should be entertaining and come from reliable sources. The declining of trust from society to advertising shows that people start to ignore advertising message and appreciate recommendation from their friends, family, etc. This is called the word-of-mouth effect. Well, this logic was seamlessly used by Cameo Production in Cameo Fun Campaign. Cameo Production had broken the internet several times with their prior projects. So, they are not really a novice in this field. They already have their loyal audience.

They don’t have significant strategy during Cameo Fun Campaign to promote their videos. They make the video and throw it on YouTube. So if we talk about viral marketing strategy, this thing can’t be implied because they don’t have any. Content plays the critical part.

Cameo fun Campaign, take a look at the fun part. Fun is translated into a big theme for the whole campaign. Cameo Production generate “fun” into “parody” as their technique to deliver every message in the video. Parody is all about recreating something that has been done before, with a new perspective. Political parody is not an original concept, but political parody is somehow not accessible for society in general. So, how can they make someone so ignorant to politic can enjoy a political parody?

Being fun is already mastered by Cameo Production thanks to their nature as a YouTube Star. Cameo Production doesn’t try to validate and dig too deep about every “black campaign” issues on social media for the parody material. They choose the superficial issues, easy to get, easy to digest. They leave it be so people can still relate the issue into their daily life. It’s working. Every video from Cameo Fun Campaign satirise popular issues from both candidates without any judgement or sense of condescension. Audience can relate easily the topics because it will appear on the first page on their browser, and will laugh about it.

With the indigenous talent from the director to write the script, and gifted talents, Cameo Production make every single of their video is worth to watch. You may notice the talents in their video are constantly similar. Well, because their team is actually consist of several people only. The benefit is, the team bonds very easily like a family, so it will be easier for the director to lead them.

Cameo Fun Campaign proves that content still plays an important part if your video want to go viral. Because expert also says that being viral is not about strategic effort, sometimes it can go beyond our control. But since we can control the content we want to produce, so maximise in it and the audience will consume it. Even traditional media will pick up the content for their material, and voila, another impressions.

Can we learn something from Cameo Fun Campaign for next election?

The growth of new media and creative agencies in digital world increase every year. Presidential election on 2014 was the evidence that social media could be easily used as a powerful tool as a political campaign, even though the gist of the campaign is still “traditional” and not appealing to netizen, especially youth. But for the next election, I think we can learn from Cameo Fun Campaign. A good and creative content can be used for political campaign that appeals for netizen.

Luck

Luck is a strong word. It represents a possibility to change one own’s action. I have to concede that luck plays an important part in my life. After three consecutive years of failing in BG Award for Citra Pariwara Advertising Festival, finally luck acknowledged my effort and joined at my side. Last week, I finally succeeded in obtaining the finalist title for the BG award with the help from my colleague, Sekar Bestari. Together, we went to Jakarta and got to know another finalists.

Well, again, luck has it’s own term and condition when it decides to help people. I was encountered with other finalists and their stories. My three-years-effort seems nothing compared to other’s first blood in order to become finalist. But that’s not the point, luck has it’s own reason and we can’t fathom it.

BG Award is the famous advertising award for students in Indonesia. It offers the excitement to bring advertising and society together, thus creating an opportunity to let students actually help people by solving social problems through a creative campaign. It sounds interesting and challenging. This premise has made me strong enough to try and try and try despite my failing attempts in prior years.

Luck decided to be more generous than before. My team obtained the Gold for BG Award. It is an unforeseeable occurrence and I never think I will get the chance to actually gain the first position in this competition. But something strange was happening. Imagine when you were dying so hard to get something that you wanted, but after you got it, the excitement had gone in an instant. Well in this case, the excitement hasn’t completely gone. But it really opens my eyes to actually think, is advertising is the only path for me to pursue?

Three months of internship in advertising agency make me realise that the goal of advertising is to sell product. In the end, the product will create revenue for the company. Meanwhile, the excitement of “social advertising” in BG Award, for example, is the real hook for me to keep trying and fasten my love to advertising despite the arduous effort. And that night, I was instantly scared that I might never find the joy in producing a creative campaign anymore.

But stop the bullshit. I’m still thankful with the current situation and just leave everything to God. Why God? Because Luck is already over with me. After I received the award and went home, I gracefully hit pillar located in the middle of the street near Bintaro. I crushed my car, but thank God (see?) I didn’t have any injury. So what is the summary in this post?

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Lean your self to God, not Luck.