Nov 30

How brands can engage consumers with interactive experiences

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more people staying indoors and spending time online. As the competition for consumers’ attention intensifies online, it’s now increasingly challenging for brands to engage effectively with consumers and stay ahead of the competition. To overcome this challenge, brands should employ digital innovations in marketing campaigns, which can encourage two-way conversations.

What can brands do?

One of the ways brands can do this is by incorporating immersive experiences or gaming elements into the campaign strategy. By adding the element of interactivity into digital campaigns, brands will be able to capture audiences’ attention and offer experiences that resonate with them.

In fact, 79% of marketers agree that interactivity can enhance brand messaging retention.1

Redefining the customer journey through interactive experiences

Here are some ways we have used interactive web experiences in our campaigns:

Shiseido: #MyUltimuneStrength

Japanese skincare brand Shiseido has an Ultimune product range that fights signs of ageing by strengthening skin barriers from within. To celebrate the launch of its new Ultimune Eye Concentrate, we leveraged on this ‘strength’ unique selling proposition (USP) to produce an interactive video, allowing viewers to discover their inner strength through the story of a blind first date. Taking a cue from Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,’ the video allowed users to decide how the story played out. The choices reflected the strength the participants excelled in and they received Shiseido products catered to these strengths.

This campaign successfully attracted over 7K unique visitors, with more than half of the users watching the entire interactive video. It also recorded a 3-minute, 27-second average session duration – surpassing the average benchmark by 50%.2

Key Takeaway:
When you can get users to interact with your content, they process information that is being shared better, spend more time on your site, and engage with your brand. By using interactive video, we transformed Shiseido’s consumers from passive viewers into active audiences, while allowing them to learn about the product and its USP in a more memorable way – leading to deeper brand affinity.

Try It Out

Nutox: Wheel of Radiance CNY Campaign

Chinese New Year (CNY) is not complete without ang pows and the game of chance. To help skincare brand Nutox stay top of mind during the busy festive season, we combined these insights with digital innovation to create the ‘Wheel of Radiance’ campaign. Hosted on a dedicated microsite, users could create custom digital ang pows with personalised greetings and share them with their loved ones. Users could also spin the digitised wheel for a chance at winning Nutox prizes.

We succeeded in engaging Nutox customers during one of the busiest festive seasons as over 6K customised ang pows were created in just 3 weeks. Moreover, 77% of them had shared their custom packets with their family and friends.

Key Takeaway:
Incorporating audience insights and interactivity in digital campaigns can help brands deliver a more dynamic and personalised experience. This may also change the way users engage with a particular brand and encourage deeper connections.

Spin The Wheel

Kingdom Digital: What The Fatt CNY AR Initiative

Augmented Reality (AR) has been trending around the world – thanks to the popularity of mobile apps such as PokemonGo and the surge of AR filters on social networks. However, these are often app-based and getting users to download an app can be challenging. Realising that convenience is a key factor today, we created an interactive web-based AR game as part of our agency’s CNY initiative to overcome this challenge.

This webAR game, titled ‘What The Fatt’, allowed users to hunt for signature Malaysian Chinese ethnic dishes directly from the convenience of their mobile browsers. This made the game easily accessible without needing to download a mobile app, which contributed to higher interactions.

Key Takeaway:
One of the things brands should do to be more customer-focused is maximising the convenience offered to consumers – especially right now. With interactive experiences such as webAR, brands can create seamless customer experiences and engage them in an innovative manner. When an interactive campaign is hassle-free, it can also encourage users to share it, allowing brands to reach a wider audience segment without relying solely on paid channels.

Experience The Hunt

Check out more of our interactive campaigns here.

As pandemic restrictions continue to be implemented across the globe, consumers are turning to the digital world for a sense of normalcy and to remain connected. For brands to stay relevant, interactive web experiences could be an innovative way to replicate some form of the consumer connection virtually. This would contribute to strong brand loyalty that keeps customers coming back, even after the crisis has passed.

Looking to inject interactivity into your digital campaigns? Get in touch with us.

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Oct 26

Crafting an effective content marketing strategy

Consumers today are constantly bombarded with a variety of content which has lowered their attention span. One of the biggest challenges in digital marketing is captivating audiences with the right content. The content posted by brands, especially on social media, has the power to transform them into a household name and turn followers into fans.

84% of marketers have even successfully used content marketing to generate stronger brand awareness.1

This is why having a content marketing strategy is essential. A well-executed strategy considers the target audiences’ behaviour and appeals to them at different stages of the buying process. But, creating a content strategy isn’t easy. It takes research, insights, and time to develop one that delivers results.

To better understand content marketing strategies, here are some best practices and insights from our content team.

Key considerations for building an effective strategy

Brands must remember that there isn’t one cookie-cutter content marketing strategy that will guarantee success – the strategy differs depending on the industry and audience.

When developing a content marketing strategy, our first step is to understand the brand’s story, objective, as well as its target audiences’ problem. With a comprehensive grasp on these, we can then conceptualise a solution and convey the message in the most creative way.

In short, these are the 5 questions to consider when building a strategy:

  1. What is your brand’s unique proposition?
  2. What are your campaign’s objectives?
  3. What do you know about your audience?
  4. How is your competitors’ performance?
  5. Which platforms/touchpoints do you intend to connect with your audience?

Maximising inspiration for compelling content

Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the things we do or the things our friends/family say. Inspiration can also be derived from other brands, competitors, and even internet trends. With a strategic mindset, we will be able to convert these into compelling content.

Based on our experience, the biggest source of inspiration comes from the target audience. By putting ourselves in their shoes and looking from their perspective, we’ll be able to understand what appeals to them best.

A good tip is to always be on the lookout for great content ideas even when idly scrolling through social media. This helps us get a better understanding of what makes a thumb-stopping content.

Determining the ideal content format

For content to be effective, choosing the right topic is not the only vital element. We will also need to decide on the right format which gives the content the best chance of being consumed and shared.

Picking the ideal format is largely dependent on these 3 elements:

  • The goal of the content
  • The intended message
  • The best platform to reach the target audience

Here are some great content-led campaigns:

e.l.f.: #eyeslipsface TikTok Challenge

This is dubbed the most-viral campaign ever on TikTok with nearly 5 million user-generated videos. The challenge involved a custom music track and specially curated dance moves. It successfully captivated audiences and built awareness on a key brand pillar: e.l.f. is for every eye, lip, and face.

100% Pure New Zealand: Good Morning World

Tourism New Zealand’s campaign involved its natives taking advantage of being the first to see the sun each day by sending welcome messages to the world. These messages were shared via social channels for 365 days and were effective in showcasing New Zealanders’ warmth as well as the land’s picturesque view.

KFC Malaysia: KFC You Soon

As dine-in reopens following the lift of the Movement Control Order (MCO), KFC launched a campaign featuring a humorous video of a lonely KFC store, pining for the return of its customers. The campaign also included a dedicated love-sick music playlist to serenade customers back to its stores.

Content marketing is an effective tool to stimulate interest in your products and services. When done right, the results can be truly transformational for your brand.

Need help creating a compelling content marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today.

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Sep 30

Creativity is the bridge between brand and consumers

Creativity in advertising has taken a back seat as most marketers/brands today are more focused on data and media targeting.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that creativity is still the ultimate benchmark for successful advertising as it is quality creatives that attract the average consumers’ eye.

A recent study by Nielsen even revealed that creatives were responsible for 47% of a campaign’s sales – ahead of other key metrics: reach, targeting, recency, and context.1

We caught up with our creative team to get their insights on what creativity means to them and how their creative process generally occurs.

Creativity is the key to strong branding

Our creative team unanimously agreed that creativity is the bridge between consumers and the brand. Although the speed of media consumption in this digital era is increasing rapidly, the attention span of users is decreasing.

By applying creativity well in your ad creatives, you will be able to produce engaging and thumb-stopping content which can entice consumers to know more about your brand. A good, creative ad can help nurture strong brand awareness and encourage virality, which can improve sales.

But, what makes an ad creative?

Being creative in the ad world isn’t simply about being visually appealing. A creative ad should give users a fresh take on the brand and sell its unique proposition.

Think of ads as your introduction to your consumers – how do you want someone to remember you and how do you intend to maintain a good relationship with them? An ad that successfully attracts your audience, conveys your message well, and remains memorable is the definition of a truly creative ad.

Creative strategy must be supported with research

The key step to any creative ideation strategy is to fully understand the client’s brief by identifying the objective and the challenge. Following that, research is the next essential element. Look into the brand’s background and target audiences’ behaviour to develop an effective creative strategy.

From this, the process of looking for inspiration and idea generation begins. As creative ideas can spark in any second during a brainstorming session, all ideas should be welcomed – no matter how bold or wild. These ideas can then be refined and transformed into a strong creative strategy.

Get inspired by great creatives

If you’re ever in a creative rut, here are some examples of great campaigns supported by compelling creatives:

The iGery – Gery Malaysia

When the iPhone 11 was released, its unique camera design was trending. We jumped on the trend by creatively adapting one of Gery’s best-selling biscuits into the iPhone 11’s design which made it viral.

Lovin’ It – McDonald’s Thailand

This creatively suggestive ad concept prompted people to take a second look. At first glance, it may look like a pair of lovers leaning in for a kiss. But, look closer and you’ll realise that it’s actually a McDonald’s burger.

Game of Straws – Pepsi Belgium

Pepsi joined the ‘Game of Thrones’ hype to celebrate the release of the new season with its own creative take on the popular series – successfully capturing the attention of GOT fans everywhere.

Tech may help give campaigns an edge, but creativity is still imperative. Brands must remember that the priority of advertising has never really changed – it has always been about ideas and the human element. The goal here is to maximise your creatives to be impactful in the eyes of consumers. It’s for this reason that we encourage brands to break the mould when it comes to creativity in advertising.

If you’re looking to improve your creative strategy, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us.

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Sep 22

[Masters of Marketing] Achieve personalisation at scale for your brand

In this digital age and new norm, it’s no longer a question of whether to go digital or not. Let’s face it – almost everything is digitally connected today.

Consumer behaviour has certainly evolved. They are now constantly surrounded by extreme personalisation from Netflix to Spotify. In fact, 72% of consumers have even revealed that they only engage with marketing messages tailored to their interests.

Brands are aware that personalisation is important today, but many brands aren’t incorporating it into their marketing strategy due to certain challenges.

Steven Yap, Head of Digital & Operations, Kingdom Digital, shares how to achieve personalisation at scale for your brand.

Over the years of working with various brands, the common challenges and misunderstandings that usually arises are:

  • Lack of expertise – brands are unsure where to start
  • Insufficient time – personalisation requires a lot of resources to execute & can be time consuming
  • Tech challenges – for efficient personalisation, tech integration is often needed & may involve high implementation cost

Based on our experience, here are 3 key points that have helped us in executing personalisation at scale for our clients:

Identify the right audience

  • Segmenting high-value consumers that relate to your products or services.
  • Finding the micro-moments in consumer’s buying journey where they are looking to fulfil their needs or wants.
  • Looking into consumers’ pain points to tackle them with relevant messaging and visuals.

The creative automation approach

  • To effectively reach different audience groups through personalisation, brands require multiple variations of creative assets. Don’t forget that Malaysia has 3 main languages & audiences may resonate with ads that speak to them in the language they are most familiar with.
  • If brands are depending on traditional methods, this means they will require more resources to deliver multiple versions of an ad – this can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • In our experience, we employed our very own creative automation tool, Digital Creative Automation (DCA), which drastically reduced the creative production time for our clients while saving up to 80% in required resources and the overall campaign cost.
  • This helped our clients maximise their efficiency as well as their ad effectiveness across different audience segments – even without making any changes to existing platforms or integrating advance technology, which can be costly.

Test, learn & repeat

  • There is no perfect plan or sure win campaign.
  • At the beginning, we started with some small campaigns.
  • We continuously tested and recorded learnings to better understand what works best for our clients’ consumers – as a result, we were able to gradually go bigger in terms of scaling personalised creatives.
  • Keeping an accessible record of all the testing and learnings also helped us in better optimisation and understanding consumers’ needs and wants.

In short, brands can overcome the common personalisation challenges by:

  1. Identifying the right audience via segmentation
  2. Employing creative automation approach
  3. And finally, testing, learning & repeating the process for better optimisation

To begin personalisation at scale, the important thing is to start small – by testing smaller campaigns. With time, you’ll be able to master personalisation and scale bigger.

So, take a small step & kickstart your personalisation journey with creative automation today.

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Aug 27

Top 3 challenges to personalisation at scale & how to overcome them

We live in a content-saturated world today – an average person reportedly sees over 5,000 ads per day.1 As brands are constantly vying for consumers’ attention at every swipe and scroll, consumers’ expectation for ads with relevant messages and compelling creatives continue to increase. This leads to consumers easily tuning out ads that they find irrelevant.

While brands understand the power of personalisation, when it comes to execution most brands find it challenging to translate a single idea into a variety of creatives and content that resonate with different audiences. Here are the top 3 challenges brands typically face:

1. Diversifying creatives can be time-consuming

A study by Adobe revealed that time is the top barrier for marketers in personalising content and creatives.2 It also disclosed that it takes an average of 12 days to get a single piece of content to market.2 For brands with varied services and offerings, sticking with traditional ad production processes may result in needlessly spending time on repetitive adaptation tasks. The creative team will also have less time to focus on the strategic and design aspect for quality ads.

2. Lack of resources/workforce to produce at scale

A high volume of creative iterations is crucial for effective personalisation. As budgets and timelines aren’t usually agile, brands may lack the dedicated resources needed to generate multiple ad variations. They may incur higher overhead costs if they decide on either expanding their workforce or investing in more resources to cope with the demand. Alternatively, if brands decide to continue serving generic ads at scale, they may experience higher cost-per-acquisition rates due to ad fatigue.

3. Slow technology adoption

Brands should embrace technology to help them achieve personalisation at scale. However, technology adoption is still slow among most brands. This is mainly because some brands lack awareness that such technology exists while others are uncertain on how to incorporate it into their traditional and manual creative process. Aside that, adopting new technology is costly and integration can be difficult – these may hinder some brands from committing to it as well.

Drive creative relevance with creative automation

Creative automation is a promising way for brands to tackle these challenges in achieving personalisation at scale. By automating the creative process, brands can produce large volumes of assets and cut the time-to-market in half. This helps brands save time and cost, which in turn, offers better ad experiences for consumers as the content matches their needs.

Get started with DCA

Our Digital Creative Automation (DCA) service helps in streamlining the creative process to produce quality and relevant creatives within a short time. With DCA, there will be no technology integration needed as the creative process remains the same. However, the adaptation process is sped up to produce higher volume of creative assets in various formats such as static images, interactive HTML5 banners, and even video animations. This drastically reduces the creative production time while allowing for adequate testing.

How DCA scaled creatives for a top Southeast Asian brand

A top Southeast Asian brand, with multiple product offerings, was keen on targeting a large pool of consumers across 6 nations. This meant that the brand needed digital ads in different languages with varied messaging and creatives to appeal to different audience sets.
With DCA, we helped the brand:

  • Produce 7,000 units of localised creative assets in 2 weeks, which normally takes 2 months
  • Achieve 80% reduction in required resources
  • Save 80% in overall campaign cost

Looking to scale your digital ad campaign? We’d be happy to help you get started with DCA. Get in touch with us today.

This article is the second of our 2-part series on personalised marketing. Read part 1 where we outline the top 3 reasons why personalisation matters.

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3 reasons why personalisation matters in today’s world Insight
Aug 13

3 reasons why personalisation matters in today’s world

Digital advertising has been experiencing rapid growth over the years. Consumers are now constantly being bombarded by a variety of ads, particularly when scrolling through their social media newsfeeds. As the stay-home order was issued due to COVID-19, digital advertising exponentially spiked. This has led to more people naturally tuning out ads that aren’t personally relevant to them.

Consumers today are supporting brands that are listening to them and are attentive to their specific needs. This is why personalisation is important – especially as we embrace our new normal. In a time of uncertainty, consumers find comfort in personalised communication and value the convenience it brings.

For an edge over competitors, brands should invest in personalisation efforts to improve customer experiences and foster better relationships. If you’re still not convinced, here are top 3 reasons why you should incorporate personalisation into your digital marketing campaigns.

Consumers expect it

From Netflix to Spotify, consumers are frequently surrounded by extreme personalisation and are now expecting it as a vital part of their online experience. 72% of today’s consumers have even revealed that they only engage with marketing messages tailored to their interests.1

Brands must meet these expectations if they intent on keeping consumers engaged and returning for more. A good example are fashion and beauty brands who follow consumers’ consumption patterns and showcase relevant products throughout different stages of the conversion funnel.

Build brand loyalty & influence preference

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, delivering personalised messages or offers are viable steps towards fostering brand loyalty. Some retail brands are already leading the way by serving data-driven dynamic ads to resonate with different sets of audiences.

Personalisation also helps influence brand preference among consumers.

In fact, 99% of marketers say personalisation advances the consumer-brand relationship.2

This means perfecting your personalisation strategies may increase your market share, with more consumers preferring your brand over competitors.

Increase your conversion rates

Research shows that 70% of consumers feel that understanding how they use products/services is important to winning their business.3 By tailoring content and creatives to different target audiences according to their online behaviours, your message will be much more persuasive. This enables more meaningful interaction with consumers and leads them through the process of conversion.

Maximise performance with creative automation

However, personalisation takes time and dedicated resources for effective results. As this may not be feasible for most brands, creative automation is the way forward. Creative automation helps brands to simplify the creative process, making it easier and quicker to produce high volume of ad variations. This reduces human error and allows brands to conduct A/B testing to maximise campaign performance.

Ease your way into the automated world with our Digital Creative Automation (DCA) service. DCA allows brands to produce hundreds of digital ad variations within a short time period. This enables brands to run frequent, cost-efficient, and personalised digital ad campaigns for improved media performance.

With DCA, we have helped a top brand in Southeast Asia reduce 90% of their creative adaptation cost while saving 3 weeks of production time – allowing them to go to market earlier than expected.

Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help your brand achieve personalisation at scale through creative automation.

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Jun 15

Why brand storytelling is the must-have marketing strategy

Today, we live in a fast-paced and digitally-driven society. Merely a click of a button connects consumers instantaneously to their preferred brands and services. However, it’s undeniable that this shift in brand-consumer connection has drastically affected the human aspect of consumer interaction and led to the rise of people longing for authenticity.

Brands can no longer remain faceless – to survive in today’s world, brands need to not only connect with their consumers but tug at their heartstrings and interact with them on a deeper level than ever before. This is where brand storytelling comes into play.

Brand storytelling is a cohesive narrative that weaves facts and emotions focusing on brand values to build authentic connections with consumers. Studies have even shown that 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story when consumed.1

But, how exactly can brands dive into the world of storytelling in this content-heavy era?

Edmund Lou

Pictured: Edmund Lou, Head of Strategy,
Kingdom Digital

We caught up with our Head of Strategy, Edmund Lou, to discuss the essence of brand storytelling and all that it entails.

Could you define what brand storytelling means to you?

To me, brand storytelling is where brands harness their deep-rooted truths or beliefs as guidelines in creating content or actions that inspire and help people. Connecting to consumers in this manner is something all brands should aspire to achieve.
Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.

Why is a good brand narrative important?

There is simply no denying that the human brain is wired to respond to well-crafted stories. Neuroscience proves that good storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention and help them retain the information long term.

In fact, stories are said to be 22 times more memorable than facts and figures alone.2

By using proper narratives that link what the brand represents with the shared values created with consumers, brands will be able to evoke trust and help consumers understand the brand deeper. This means, people will be more receptive to the brand and its loyalists’ numbers may increase as well. On top of that, a good brand narrative may also encourage people to talk about the brand which can increase brand affinity in the long run.

What are some elements of brand storytelling that every brand should incorporate?

It goes back to the brand’s truth. Brands must dive deeper into their mission and vision to study how well they understand their consumers and what can be done to improve it. Brands need to ask themselves: “What is the single-minded proposition that your story tells?” “Are we inspiring or are we providing a solution?”

How can brands build a true connection with consumers without coming across as superficial?

It’s important that brands don’t try too hard to push their branding and values unto consumers. It’s a fine line between authenticity and superficiality. Finding the common ground is vital and this should be pursued authentically.

Brands should evaluate how well do they understand people’s sentiments as well as ensuring that they observe shifts in culture and consumer behaviours to effectively navigate this conundrum. For example, while CSR efforts are good, it may come across as superficial especially when it is a one-off activity. To avoid this negative impression, brands need to tie their intention back to their brand values and what they stand for.

What are some tips you would give brands to help them beat the digital clutter?

To put it bluntly, there will be no clutter if the brand understands its consumers well. Bear in mind that brand storytelling is far more than simply a well-produced film. It could even be a social media challenge or a simple always-on display and social content.

The important thing here is to be consistent: stick by it, own it, and preach it.

Brands can look at other brilliant storytelling examples for inspirations; for instance, SK-II’s #ChangeDestiny campaign films ‘Marriage Market Takeover’, ‘The Expiry Date’, and ‘Timelines’. The brand told the story of the taboos in Chinese culture and took a stand for the people who were victims of it.

Another good example is Newcastle Brown Ale. As a British beer brand sold in America, they needed to be a little like ‘em Americans, especially during the Super Bowl fever. They spoke and acted like them but they maintained their British brute throughout their communications.

Do you think brands need to adopt a different storytelling approach during/post-pandemic? Or, it doesn’t matter as the principles will still be the same?

Yes, the principles remain the same despite the circumstances. In my opinion, brands can tell stories and instigate actions surrounding the pandemic if they can effectively find the link back to their brand truth. But, brands should also move away from the idea of merely doing it for PR’s sake as this can have adverse effects on the public’s perception of your brand.

Brand storytelling has evolved over the years and it is much more than just a trend in marketing strategy. It’s evident that brand storytelling is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it is now a ‘need to have’ and what may maximise your brand’s visibility, impact, and profitability to ensure long-term growth. Just like your favourite movies, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will resonate with you, remember you, and ultimately, care about you.

Still confused by the concept of brand storytelling? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to offer tailor-made guidance to take your brand storytelling to the next level.

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Staying Top of Mind: The Why & How Insight
May 19

How to stay top of mind in the new normal?

As the effects of the pandemic dawned upon us, brands were forced to be agile and execute a total rethink of their marketing and communication efforts to engage with their audience. During this time, we have seen companies leaning unto the strength of their brands and continuing to highlight their relevance. This is vital in sustaining long-term growth, as 62% of consumers are loyal to brands that they trust.1

Brands can develop trust by maintaining consistent communication, playing a role in contributing to the society as well as helping people navigate through tough times. Gearing towards what could possibly be the end of the isolation period, here are some tried and tested strategies that will remain applicable as we transition into our new normal.

1. Go Virtual
Staying indoors over a period of time can get boring for just about anyone. For most folks, being cooped up in their homes has inspired them to make their living spaces more comfortable while others have picked up new skills. This has also resulted in Malaysians shifting their spending habits to online platforms to meet their current needs, leading to a massive surge in e-commerce businesses during this challenging time.

This trend is expected to continue even after the lockdown is completely lifted as people get accustomed to the convenience of online shopping. This means consumers may easily switch choices if their preferred brand isn’t available online. For brands without strong e-commerce/online presence, this proved to be the pinnacle time to make that transition to digital in order to stay connected with consumers.

Brands such as Nissan and Sime Darby Property, whose businesses are predominantly offline, reinvented the shopping experience by digitising their showrooms and galleries. Aside from merely demonstrating their agility, this also brought convenience for consumers as it allows them to shop right from the comfort of their own home.

2. Pivot with a Purpose
The pandemic has affected people in many different ways across the nation. Brands should take into consideration the challenges people are currently facing and address these needs by connecting with consumers authentically while shifting their bottom lines to second place for the time being.


One notable example is Tohtonku, where a selection of its brands designed a series of livestream events to help Malaysians overcome the lockdown blues and make the most out of the stay-at-home period.

As hair salons are closed nationwide, Ubermen presented personalised hair grooming sessions to help men look groomed, even when stuck indoors. Meanwhile, Nanowhite collaborated with influencers to set up lifestyle talks to help people make the lockdown period meaningful and acquire new skills. At the same time, Nutox launched a series of self-healing sessions to help frontliners ease their mental stress to ensure good emotional wellbeing throughout the difficult time.

3. Always be Visible
This is not the ideal time for brands to go dark; out of sight is, evidently, out of mind. By being visible when most competitors are not and communicating messages building on brand equity, brands will be able to increase saliency.

While day-to-day business operations are affected, brands can provide alternative ways to reinforce and create positive memories as well as associations in the mind of the consumers in a tactful manner.

For example, artists who are unable to perform live shows are conducting virtual musicals or concerts out of goodwill and to raise funds for charity. Meanwhile, Disney is taking viewers on virtual rollercoaster rides with a serving of fun facts along the way. These entertaining, meaningful content kept these acts and brands top of mind while engaging viewers at home.

4. Adapt and Innovate
During these socially distant times, brands should be fast, flexible, and resourceful when it comes to adapting to the changing landscape and new reality. It’s important that brands stay ahead of the curve by doing something different and making adaptations to remain relevant.

As people spent more time at home, the rate of content consumption is at an all-time high. However, with limitations around production capabilities during the isolation period, brands need to look at other creative methods to produce meaningful videos.

Cant view this video? Click here to view.

To illustrate, Grab flexed its creative muscles through its Ramadan campaign which was shot entirely remote whereas BOH turned to animation style videos for its recipe videos.

Alternatively, staying top-of-mind for brands can be as simple as exploring the many features of social media platforms. A good example is Rinnai who engaged with its audience by asking followers to vote for their favourite combinations for a dish by using the poll function on Instagram Stories.

Covid-19 has certainly pushed brands to think on their feet and keep up with the fast pace of change in consumers’ behaviours. Some of these changes may continue on and even shape businesses for many years into the future. Hence, this is a crucial time to communicate and demonstrate brand values meaningfully in order to remain top of mind and strengthen long-term growth.

It’s not too late for brands to start taking action today – get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to help elevate your brand’s digital presence.

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Ramadan Raya 2020 Insight
Apr 28

4 tips to be front & centre this Ramadan-Raya

The Ramadan-Raya season has always been a time that brings families together within the Muslim community with an increased focus on positive social values. As Malaysia activated efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and people adjusting to the new normal, the way Ramadan is observed and Raya is celebrated this year will be impacted. Even once the MCO is lifted, the intrinsic apprehension of coming together and socialising may still continue.

With the possible extension of MCO looming, the usual behavioural shifts observed during this time will now have an additional element – isolation. Friends and family won’t be able to gather and celebrate together.

Despite the changes, never has it been more important for brands to be empathetic and authentic. It’s now more vital than ever for brands to find ways of expressing the spirit of Ramadan-Raya by encouraging social distancing and incorporating the newfound lifestyle we are currently in. As we progress into the season, it’s not too late to refine and polish your marketing campaign to meet consumers’ changing needs during this period.

So, What Can Brands Do?

1. Give back and support others in need remotely
In Islam, giving back is one of the core principles of the religion and Ramadan has always been the season of doing more almsgiving.  If you are in a position to support communities in need, it’s encouraged to find ways how you can lessen the load during this trying time. Brands can explore various efforts such as pay-it-forward meals and digital fundraisers to support these communities for the betterment of the nation.

We also can’t ignore the fact that frontliners too, consist of the Muslim segment; and they would be observing Ramadan while serving the country. Brands can consider launching initiatives to promote mental well-being among the frontliners or even kick-start community campaigns focusing on showing appreciation and gratitude to this segment.

2. Take on a more meaningful role in retaining some essence of the season
Every year, brands experience a delicate balance with their Ramadan-Raya marketing. It’s always a challenge for brands to be present without undermining the religious sanctity of the festival. This year, the challenge is even more so – it’s absolutely vital for brands to carefully navigate this season to avoid appearing cynical or opportunistic.

The drastic lifestyle change curated by the pandemic will become more apparent as celebrants transition to full-on Ramadan-Raya mode. Muslims won’t be able to practice some traditions amongst the love and comfort of family members. This is the time for brands to play a role in keeping the Ramadan-Raya traditions going.

Last year, cooking recipes on YouTube and searches for recipes increased before and during Ramadan, and continued to spike all the way to Raya.1 With the MCO in place, we are seeing a surge in this trend as people have been cooking more and search trend for keywords like ‘recipes’ and ‘how to cook’ have recorded a significant increase.2,3  Hence, this trend will continue to be relevant throughout the upcoming festive season.

As any form of Ramadan bazaar is not allowed to take place this year, brands can take this opportunity to share more cooking tips or recipes to create bazaar favourites and traditional Raya dishes from their own kitchen. Alternatively, brands can also organise cook-along livestream sessions on digital platforms.

3. Recreate the notion of togetherness
As this is a season of joy, festivities and togetherness, people would be feeling the effects of being unable to celebrate together. You can use this window to come up with ideas on how to facilitate togetherness; in this time when folks will, most likely, feel very apart.

Think along the lines of Netflix Parties – a relevant way of executing this is via setting up a virtual iftar (breaking fast) session where the local community can participate right from home.

Brands can also provide a break from all the hard-hitting news currently populating our media scene. This can be done by sharing positive/heartwarming stories as well as entertaining and self-enriching content in a bid to spread positivity.

4. Get your e-commerce business well-prepared & be where it matters
The Ramadan-Raya period is typically one of the biggest festive shopping seasons of the year here in Malaysia. Google reports that spending during Ramadan-Raya peaks at RM 18 billion annually.4 Meanwhile, a study conducted by Criteo showed that Southeast Asian countries saw a surge in sales 10 days into Ramadan and lasted through the 10 days prior to Raya in 2019.5

This year, however, the Ramadan-Raya season occurs right in the midst of Covid-19. This means people will be relying on technology and digital platforms even more to meet their needs and get ready for the festivities.

Even though there are still a lot of uncertainties on the Ramadan-Raya season, it is important for brands to beef up your e-commerce presence and ensure strong delivery capabilities so that consumers’ demands are met effectively while providing a smooth online shopping experience.

Although this pandemic is altering life as we know it, especially during this Ramadan-Raya season, it has reminded us of the true essence of the holy month: helping people.

The same theory applies to brands. Use this period to re-examine your brand’s purpose through actions that will produce a meaningful Ramadan-Raya relevant to your audience. Be sincere and use the digital sphere to its full advantage to keep the spirit of Ramadan-Raya alive.

Stuck on ideas? Get in touch with our team at and we’ll be happy to help you navigate effectively through this season.

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Apr 13

Ad dollars, client work and other changes in Malaysia’s adland amidst COVID-19

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is not stopping anytime soon. As of 12 April, Malaysia had 184 new cases, bringing the total number of cases to 4,530. Meanwhile on 10 April, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin extended the Movement Control Order by another two weeks to 28 April. The advertising industry has no doubt been impacted during this period, with clients either holding back spending or are required to quickly rethink their strategies to suit the current landscape.

A+M speaks to leaders in the agency space on how the advertising scene has changed during COVID-19 and whether they have seen a dip in ad spend.

Yeow Mei Ling, managing director, Southeast Asia, Archetype

We find that many of our clients are really busy and truly appreciate the support and perspectives that their agency partner can provide. So, while spend has definitely been affected, we are reassured by the stance that communications is important no matter what – it’s about what is being said, how we can support and how we continue to connect Having a very diverse client base has helped us take learnings and quickly move from our regular work to more strategic outreach that is tuned to the more sensitive and confined environment that we work in today. By being creative, agile and proactive, we are able to partner with our clients to quickly shift communications focus and platforms to drive new opportunities.

Peter de Krester, CEO, GO Communications

For many of us in the marketing world, COVID-19 has created an unexpected paradigm shift in the way we manage the impact and expectancies of key stakeholders. While many are treading with caution and observation, one humbly believes the time for powerful storytelling has never been more essential in engaging with consumers.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen both agencies and brands pivot their campaigns toward predicament and audience behaviour.

The game may have changed but the players remain the same! With backs against the wall and a fresh approach to communications, it is pleasing to see innovative solutions being implemented to fruition, which may have not otherwise been thought of. It’s an intriguing time for those within the PR industry. At its embryonic core, the PR business has forever centred on the power of a good story – that won’t change anytime soon!

This may be a period where professionals can use this opportunity to truly harvest their creativity and deep-dive into well-defined story angles further accommodating our friends from the media fraternity.

Although highlighted as a time of isolation, there couldn’t be a greater need for PR professionals to be engaged! Engaged with their colleagues, clients and the media; engaged in formulating new strategies and ideas; engaged in the evolving media landscape and what editors and publishers might be looking for; or at the very least, engaged in each other’s wellbeing while championing solidarity in an unprecedented time for us all.

Lui Xiao Yee, head of client servicing, Kingdom Digital

We noticed that there has been a surge in searches for self-enrichment content – content that would normally not go viral, for example, “Dalgona coffee”. There are also queries for content that is only applicable during these times such as “What to do during lockdown?” and “How to workout at home?” as Malaysians continue to stay at home. As such, brands need to adjust and adapt their content accordingly.

Other than the usual platforms, we also discovered that content creators are playing an important role in this situation as we are seeing more user-generated content such as TikTok videos, Instagram live posts, and viral memes from them. They can be an effective medium that advertisers can leverage on to reach out to their audiences.

Overall, we are seeing about 10% to 20% dip in clients’ ad spend.

We totally understand the clients’ decision to revise the ad budget and spending. It is only logical, given the uncertainties that are all around us. We are, however, committed to creating quality content for our clients regardless of the budget. Hence, we continue to find creative yet cost-efficient ways to help our clients sustain brand awareness and create engagement during this period.

Abhishek Bhattacharjee, chief digital officer, Invictus Blue

At a platform level, obviously digital has shot up tremendously, and within a span of few weeks there have emerged accelerated ways of engaging on digital platforms which were never explored before. That is a good thing. It has forced us to think and to adapt. It also has pushed clients and agencies alike to dive deeper into digital advertising opportunities which, in the long run will impact positively.

At a macro level, it has made us think harder, tell a story better and engage more meaningfully. We would not term it as a dip yet because it is really too soon to set that as a verdict.

Yes, budgets are being re-evaluated, stances are being re-evaluated and rightfully so.

So it is more like enhanced care being taken towards every word spoken, given the tough times we all face. In terms of budgets we might see a dip since last year, but probably it is better to be sure of every word we speak as a brand before any marketing dollars are spent.

Saurabh Chandrashekhar, GM, MediaCom

COVID-19 has done to advertising and marketing budgets in a few weeks, what has been taking years and years – adopt digital as a strategic pillar and not just a touchpoint to reach people. Spends are now moving to digital and creativity is thriving – brands are partnering with each other. For example, ITC Foods is partnering with Domino’s to deliver food in India, Shell offered haircuts in China at its fuel stations and there are several cases happening right here in Malaysia. We’re also seeing greater collaboration emerging in the ecosystem and we hope that continues to be the case.

For Ramadan in particular, it is an important consumption period and we do not expect that to change, given the importance of this period in Malaysia.

Hence, spends will follow the demand and we don’t see adverse impacts on the spends this festive season.

Nizwani Shahar, chief executive, Ogilvy Malaysia

Martech is a great enabler of communications as we strive to make sure every ringgit spent moves the business needle. We are driving strong content to commerce initiatives necessitated by a stronger need for social commerce due to the jump in social media usage. ESports is also seeing an increased spike in consumption which is a great opportunity for brands given the lack of sporting events in the near future. Brands need to find ways to navigate these changing ecosystems and we are proud to partner our clients to help them stay the course.

We have seen some [ad spend] flux and it is to be expected during these times.

But we continue to be supportive of and adaptive to our clients changing business needs throughout.

Syed Nasir, business chief, The Clan

We are living in strange times, and our industry is not spared either. It is imperative that we remain vigilant and embrace the new norm; social distancing with our colleagues, building and executing campaigns in the comfort of our homes, brainstorming and presenting our campaign ideas over video conferencing whilst finding innovative ways to navigate through this clutter of the unknown. Furthermore, consumer behaviour insights are changing daily but if we do not test or act on it, there is a huge possibility we too will stumble.

Our clients in the non-essential sectors are feeling the pinch and have witnessed a dip in sales over past month.

With no clear indication on the status of the festive season, they have clawed back on their spending, which traditionally are their best performing period.

Parames Dorai, group chief business officer, FOREFRONT

Businesses have either had to kickstart or accelerate their digital transformation, to shift towards eCommerce to sustain their businesses or to focus on promoting brand awareness on digital platforms. Virtual events such as webinars and training courses are more common now, as brands try to connect and interact with their audience through these digital experiences. Brands that were hesitant to adopt social tools such as Instagram Live, podcasts, and TikTok are also readily embracing them to expand their reach.

Staying connected to their customers and employees during this pandemic is crucial for businesses.

These advertising changes they have made are likely to go beyond this crisis and carry over to becoming the new norm.

It is important to note that the cost to advertise is now lower for most industries, due to the lowered cost per click on digital channels such as Facebook, which is typical during the post-New Year period. Currently, these platforms are where clients are investing time and effort to reach their consumers currently. So while there has been an expected decrease in ad spend during this period, clients are also funnelling their ad spend towards where it matters digitally and heightening their focus on organic engagement.

A+M’s Content 360 conference is going virtual, and will bring together industry leaders to discuss challenges and share insights on future content marketing trends, as well as successful strategies to help tackle the complex marketing landscape. Sign up here!

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