Wednesday, December 01, 2004

To hub or not to hub

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, December 2004 issue

Google Desktop Search is an absolutely lovely tool. I just installed it and have been going through old stuff I’d forgotten I even had ever since.

One Golden Oldie I came across is an article in Export Today, October 2000 issue. It was called ‘Hot Spots’, by which were meant Asian cities that could qualify as ‘Top Direct Marketing hubs’. At the time, the Government of Singapore had just pronounced as one of its strategic goals the development of the Direct Marketing industry into a regional hub.

According to this article, four years ago Singapore rated high as a candidate for the top spot among Asian DM hubs, along with Hong Kong and, I’m not making this up, Sydney. It makes inspiring reading, as it rates Singapore’s chances to make the top spot high due to ‘airmail services [that] are reliable and competitive, all the mail actually gets posted, which doesn’t always happen in Asia’ and the fact that ‘list owners are willing to supply their lists [to places where intellectual property is treated with respect].’ Not to mention ‘a large number of professional direct marketing companies, direct media agencies, mail personalization production houses, telephone marketing organizations and a reputable mail delivery structure,’ of course.

Funny that. What happened in all these four years? There’s still a sizable industry here. Sydney is simply too far away and Hong Kong is still busy redefining itself after losing its position as Gateway to China. Speaking of which: China itself is growing like nothing else before but still nobody trusts any Chinese supplier with their data files. For those who need simple words: plenty of people over here and plenty of opportunities over there. Get it? Why is everybody sitting on their hands?

The directional signs are not good either. Direct Marketing agencies in Singapore still operate on shoestring budgets. TNT, a major force in the industry, just moved its Asiapac headquarters from Singapore to Shanghai. And then there’s Singapore Post. Postal operators are always key players in every DM market across the globe.

Ah, yes, SingPost. The other day I attended the World Mail & Express Conference (Asia edition) in Hong Kong. It’s a major conference where all of the postal operators and big DM players go to discuss developments in the region. All of them? Well, Hong Kong Post was one of the main sponsors. So was DHL, which belongs to Deutsche Post. Philpost was there. China Post provided a speaker. But where was Singapore?

Exactly nowhere. Which, I hate to say, seems to be reflecting a general malaise in all matters Singapore DM. The Government is heavily into promoting the IDEAS melting pot including a teaspoon of DM but seems to forget that there’s already an event that can make a true claim to regional fame: DMAsia, held since 1996. DMAsia is also the most heavily underpromoted regional event I’ve ever seen. With an evolving DMChina, I wonder if it will survive without some serious support for very long.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Singapore’s opportunities for the future lie in making its service industries relevant to the region. In markets like Malaysia and Taiwan, retaining customers has become more important than finding new ones. And for those that like took look a little bit farther out: a recent Nielsen study showing diminished returns for mass media advertising in China’s overheated automotive market proves that there are giant opportunities ahead in Direct Marketing.

The Export Today article could’ve been written today. Let’s hope the next four years bring more initiative and less lethargy.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Men In Black

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, November 2004 issue

Last month I used this space to express a strong opinion about the best use to apply the volume of expertise in advertising that Singapore has to offer. Under the title ‘Go North, Young Man!’ I pointed towards the place where all that knowledge would find its best use, i.e. China. Does this mean that I’d like to see the place evacuated, leaving only the women and children behind (metaphorically speaking)? Not at all. In fact, all the signs are there that Singapore has a great opportunity to extend its advertising reach to the region, and beyond.

Case in question: Amsterdam. The Dutch capital is at this very moment rapidly turning into the Advertising Capital of the Western World. Yes, you read this right. Not London, not New York: Amsterdam. One international agency after another opens its doors in order to use the place as a development hub for international brands, themes and campaigns. What causes this? Several factors.

First of all, Amsterdam offers an enormously creative environment. The city itself has character like no other, and a significant part of its inhabitants look like they just came in from another planet. In fact, rumour has it that Men In Black III will be shot here.

Second factor is the famous level of tolerance of Dutch society. Creative people, advertising’s main commodity, tend to be free spirits. They also like to express themselves outside the office, showing individualistic behaviour (except the fact that they all dress in black, of course).

Regulars of New York and London know that these things apply there as well. In fact, MIB I and II were shot in the Big Apple. But there’s a third factor in play.

This came from Brian Elliott, partner and co-founder of Strawberry Frog, one of the hottest ad tickets in Amsterdam these days. International agencies increasingly prefer Amsterdam because it doesn’t suffer from the continuous pressure and cultural dominance of Anglo-American advertising. If you’re in London or New York, there’s no getting away from your home market, a market so huge that it eclipses your view of all others. International advertising, according to Brian, can only thrive in a culture that by necessity is used to looking outside of its own borders, a place where confinement is no option.

Think of that for a while. Because in a few years’ time, this is exactly what will happen in Asia. Right now, China’s advertising market is still in adaptation mode. The part of it that’s anywhere near sophisticated is dominated by foreign brands. In this phase, these are mainly in the business of adapting themes and concepts created elsewhere, to the peculiarities of China’s market and culture.

Within the foreseeable future, this will change. China is simply too important, too big to stay in the adaptation phase. Soon, agencies in China will find themselves encompassed by a huge, dominant home market that stands in the way of developing truly international concepts, just as US branches currently find themselves trapped in American advertising.

Hong Kong poses a short-term alternative in becoming the Amsterdam of the East, but not a long-term one. It’s too near, too dependent on the mainland. But Singapore can do it. It combines distance and lack of dominance with first class knowledge of all the cultures involved. The only thing it needs is a bit more loosening up. Could Singapore be a place where Sony (an Asian company, after all) will shoot MIB IV in, say, five years’ time?

It sure seems a nice target. And things look promising. We seem definitely to be moving in that direction. But will the agency world follow?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Go North, Young Man!

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, October 2004 issue

Anyone who’s spent some serious time in China lately can echo that this is a place where things are happening. Buildings sprout from building pits like mushrooms in Autumn; luxury brand retail outlets pop up along busy shopping streets like there’s no tomorrow; brand advertising spreads like wildfire, engulfing TV stations with commercials, print media with ads and cities with billboards. There seems to be no limit to the amount of marketing effort that China can absorb.

Or does it? A couple of things point in the opposite direction.

A first clue would be a quick look around at Formula One’s grand debut in China. Here’s a real Grand Prix F1 race, held at a brand new, state-of-the-art circuit, called one of the best on the F1 calendar by insiders like Bernie Ecclestone and Eddie Jordan. It has no less than 160,000 seats and it was sold out for the occasion. Apart from that, the usual 1 billion-plus global TV audience was watching from a somewhat greater distance. That’s a hot advertising seller, right?

Wrong, at least as far as the local market was concerned. For virtually none of the trackside advertising was sold, judging by the empty boards all around the circuit during the race. I still remember the colour of the unused space: dark green. That’s generally a bad sign. The only billboards in use were those of the main worldwide sponsors of F1, brought in by Bernie’s boys.

Another clue was a recent, much-published survey from AC Nielsen, who surveyed brand awareness among Chinese consumers with respect to car brands in the light of the half a billion US Dollars annually spent on car advertising in China. Mass advertising is still growing sharply, in shrill contrast with car sales which are levelling off. This spells ‘CHANGE STRATEGY PLEASE’ in capital letters. China marketing ahoy! Anybody behind the steering wheel over there?

I have a theory about this. For years marketing in China has amounted to prize-shooting at increasing numbers of brand new consumers, hundreds of millions of people who suddenly find themselves in possession of some discretionary spending money. They want to buy brands, any brands. And these starters are not much bothered with, and much less educated in, the finesses of brand personalities.

But as markets start to mature, this changes. Now China badly needs people with expertise in the more scientific bits, people who can connect a brand’s heritage to local culture; people who can make clear to their potential consumers what their brand stands for; who can work on establishing relationships with their target groups; and who can build trust and loyalty with those who already bought theirr products.

Wake up people! There’s a giant market out there that needs Mandarin speakers who have spent enough time trying to move around on a square millimetre, producing whole commercials based on two words (think ‘Fashion Squad!’, or even worse: Nokia’s more recent TVC that tries to explain ‘Mobile Entertainment’ by having a bunch of evil-looking clowns chasing you around – doesn’t anybody read Stephen King anymore?).

I’m talking about experienced people; advertising people, but also direct marketers. Don’t worry about Singapore; a new generation is already waiting to take over, and Singapore is an excellent training ground. If you doubt about the training ground part, take a look at the average budget and you’ll agree.

‘Go West, Young Man!’ was the famous motto with which NY Times founder Howard Greeley set off the great exploration of the uncharted American West. Today it’s ‘Go North, Young Man!’ for those whose minds have matured but whose advertising hearts are still young. You can always come back afterwards. See you in Shanghai!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Lost in mobile space

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, September 2004 issue

I’m a great Nokia fan. I really am. But I’m becoming worried, increasingly worried.

A couple of years ago, big Nokias were called sixty or seventy-something; the little ones were eighty-somethings. The last of that product line was the chique little 8910. It was also the last systematic model number I saw on a Nokia. This may sound rather anal, but I think it’s often a bad sign when people are screwing up their model numbers.

I used to be an extremely loyal Nokia user. In fact, the 6110, the first really great handphone I ever owned, was the main reason why I became such a fan. Boy, did I love that phone: its breakthrough menu system, its utter dependability and brilliant design! After that it was enough to blindly point out the next higher Nokia number whenever you walked into a handphone shop: 6210, 6310, 7110. I bought them all, and loved them. Even the clunky 7110 was a natural; people called it ‘the microwave oven’ but it was one of the greatest phones that ever hit mobile space.

Life was good. There was logic in the numbers, and Nokia’s reign was supreme. But then the empire started to fall apart.

Let me get this straight, I don’t think that Nokia’s downslide was caused by bad model numbers. Neither do I think that new competitors like Samsung or Siemens were decisive factors. It’s just a symptom. In fact, the first clue about something really rotten in the Kingdom of Finland was a really bad idea called Vertu.

Vertu’s launch marks the moment when Nokia’s marketers got busy with other things than introducing really great phones. Instead, some head office genius came up with the brainwave that mobile phones were becoming something like personal jewellery. A lifestyle accessory, sort of.

The first clue that this is a totally derailed idea is the dazzling speed with which mobile phone technology develops. And not only technology: form follows function, so designs evolve with the same breathtaking pace. The poor rich soul who buys one of these misconceptions gets stuck with a bejewelled precious metal straitjacket that he can throw away after six months. Why? Because that’s when the 64k colourscreen version hits the market! Another six months later it’s WiFi or an on-board megapixel camera – and it goes on and on. Jewellery? Are you kidding?

Sometimes I walk past the Vertu shop on Orchard Road and I hope it will quickly go away. But alas, I don’t think its premature demise will bring Nokia back to the straight and narrow highway. Because now there’s the Fashion Squad commercial.

Have you seen it? It’s a great production job, featuring silver-clad Trekkies that ride in on white steeds after a Nokia camera phone has reported someone wearing white socks at a posh party. The poor bugger is whisked away by the Trekkies to some Guantanamo for design terrorists or so, the story doesn’t say. But the idea is that style challenged paupers should feel safe when they buy a Nokia 7610 and wear black – including the socks.

I’m not making this up. I wonder what went wrong. Was it a bad shrimp in the Creative Director’s dinner the previous night? Maybe Nokia lost track but at least Bates should have known better?

Anyway, this is what happens when a great company like Nokia gets sidetracked. Nokia should keep on doing what it does best: think about the profound changes that mobile phones have on people’s lifestyles, instead of the other way around – and focus on making great mobile communications devices.

Fashion Squad! Arghhh!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Straight Times

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, August 2004 issue

The other day, I woke up early. I took a shower, squirting shower gel from a plain grey bottle. Went to the kitchen and made breakfast, pouring milk from an equally plain bottle over cereals from an unmarked grey carton. Over breakfast, I read a newspaper with only news articles in it, no ads. I pay triple but in return for that, the Straits Times has promised not to bother me with unsolicited information any more. Until I opt in, that is. It makes a little bit for boring reading, lacking somewhat in colourfulness but I find I can concentrate really well on the news. And it’s a lot thinner.

But I think I won’t keep this up very long. Life has become a bit grey, not unlike the scenes a Fritz Lang movie, or in Apple’s famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial. What’s even worse, I’m getting behind the times these days. My friends walk around with snazzy handphone models I’ve never heard of, doing things I didn’t even know handphones could do. The other day I missed a conference I’d really have liked to attend, had I known it was there. So before long, I’ll probably opt in and let all these unsolicited commercial messages back into my life.

This type of situation is what The Straits Times are now advocating, even in their main editorials. Showering people with commercial messages until they opt out is, and I quote, ‘as close as it can get to an intent to confuse and mislead, when applied to commerce.’ For anybody but the ST themselves, that is. I admit to making up the bit about reading a half empty newspaper at breakfast. You can’t opt into having to confront sixteen ads for every news article when you want to keep up with the world’s events. In fact, you can’t even opt out.

Of course this example isn’t representative for the opt-in vs. opt-out bickering that has become an integral part of the Great Spam Debate. But it does show how commercial messages have become an integral part of our lives. And how we depend on them for keeping up with the Joneses, often to a greater extent than we realize.

True, it’s getting busy out there. After decades of only TV, radio and print we now also have Internet, email, phones in two flavours, instant messaging and text messaging, and God knows what else. On an average day, about 3000 commercial items reach our eyes and ears. Every new medium brings a new avalanche, commercial or otherwise. Quite often, the first pay the way for the latter, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.

The answer to all of this is of course permission. But you can’t let everything depend on explicit permission. Nobody keeps lists of who they want to listen to. Besides, there are messages we like to receive at any time, unsolicited if need be; and there are the more intrusive ones. When a yes or no has monetary consequences, for instance, or when a message is particularly sensitive, we the receivers should be the ones in control about when we address them, not the senders.

But rather than contributing to finding solutions, people like The Straight Times’ editors seem to prefer the extremist view. Nothing is allowed until people opt in. Except newspaper ads, of course. This view is not in the interest of consumer. Now let’s find someone to tell the consumer watchdog.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Singapore Bores

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, July 2004 issue

Don’t you sometimes experience that sinking feeling when you open, say, the Straits Times? I do. It’s not about the journalism. It’s about the ads. Almost every day of the week, you are confronted with an endless stream of advertising drool – safe, standard, compromising commercial messages that half-heartedly try to convince you to buy some product without offending the Marketing Manager in charge.

The worst ones are the mobile phone ads. Mobile phones are fun! Or aren’t they? Well, not if you open the newspaper. I call them cemetery ads. The newest handphone models, lined up like gravestones, complete with epitaphs. I’ve seen financial reports that offer more fun than this.

And I’m not the only one. The other day I ran into one of the VPs of Marketing for a big multinational headquartered in Singapore. I asked him what was the one thing that he missed in the Singapore marketing scene. He didn’t need to think for a moment: creativity.

But then take a look at this year’s Cannes Lions, and the picture becomes radically different. When this was written, no winners were announced yet, but I had a look at the few shortlists that were available. After all, if you have the gumption to send in your campaign and then make it to the shortlist, there must be something to it, isn’t it? The numbers speak volumes about our roaring, oops sorry, unique city.

Cannes is traditionally Europe-dominated so to be fair, we’ll only consider entries from our own region. Guess who dominates that list? Of the 150 or so Asian entries that made it to the shortlists at the time of press (Media, Direct, Press and Outdoor Lions), 60 came from Singapore! In comparison, Thailand, that hotbed of creativity in advertising, manages only a meagre 14. Advertising giant India comes in a distant second at 27. The scoreboard rather looks like the current rankings in Formula (yawn) One, with one player sporting a dominant score. So were did all these campaigns go?

Clearly, Singapore has an image problem here. Once a year it is the Michael Schumacher of Asian advertising. But during the season, to stay with the analogy, my mind’s eye sees Kimi Raikkonen, arguably the one F1 driver that’s in clear need of a personality bypass.

My feeling is that this is part of a wider problem. Let’s face it; Singapore has a hard time shedding its boring image. This is not helped by recent tourism advertising. ‘Singapore Roars’ was a nice campaign but a bit too much over the top to convince innocent bystanders. It was also pitifully short-lived, which stands in the way of durable image-building. So what’s the alternative the Singapore Tourism Board came up with? Uniquely Singapore! Sounds to me like Long Live Lameness.

Problem is, Singapore’s current image has come about over a long period of time. So you don’t just shed it on a rainy afternoon. What you need is time. Singapore needs a long series of eye catchers. And a bit more consistency in good advertising. Especially for itself. And perhaps a personality bypass.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Foie Gras

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, June 2004 issue

The other day I walked into my regular pub. I had a beer or two, said hi to a few people and signalled to pay. ‘Yessir,’ the bartender said. ‘That’ll be $105.’ ‘What?!’ I said. ‘For two beers? Are you kidding?’

‘Oh no, Sir. Ten bucks for the beers, it being happy hour and all. And $95 for this month’s subscription.’ ‘What subscription? I have no idea what you’re talking about!’ ‘Oh, but with all due respect Sir, then you didn’t pay attention. It’s the Happy Hour Special subscription, as many deluxe beer nuts as you want every time you’re coming in for Happy Hour. A fortnight ago we asked all our customers to raise their hand if they didn’t want it and I don’t recall you being one of them.’ ‘But maybe I wasn’t there! Or maybe I was there and I didn’t pay attention!’ ‘Well, that’s basically your problem, sir. But we did ask.’

I looked at the bowl of nuts next to my empty beer glass. ‘Are these your “deluxe beer nuts”?’ I asked. ‘Because if they are, they’re the same ones you’ve been throwing at me for months!’ ‘That’s correct, Sir. Courtesy of the house, we started out with giving them away for free, to get our clientele used to them. Only started charging this month, Sir. And I do notice you’ve been eating them, Sir.’

‘Of course I did,’ I shouted, getting quite annoyed now. ‘How the Hell could I’ve known that you’d start charging me a hundred bucks a month for some stupid nuts!’ ‘Oh but you could’ve, Sir. Just look at the underside of your beer mat.’

I turned over my dripping beer mat. There, in very small print, was a notice that said I owed the bar $95 per month unless I opted out before the first of the previous month. It specified quite clear that in case of opt-out I would not be entitled to any more nuts.

Far-fetched? No. This novel method, which I call the Foie Gras approach after the way they feed the poor geese whose liver it is, is increasingly being stuffed down the throats of Singaporean consumers. Last year it was Pacific Internet, starting to charge for an unsolicited spamfilter, after applying that filter automatically to everyone’s mailbox for the few months before. Spamfilters are useful, no doubt. But maybe I want to take a conscious decision before buying one. Or maybe I’d already bought one elsewhere. But why making it my problem to prevent unnecessary payments?

More recently M1 and SingTel did both exactly the same with a missed-call service for roaming subscribers. This was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back for Case. Last March they slapped SingTel on the wrist, denouncing the practice. Didn’t work, though. Now Starhub has caught on to the trick, telling me that I’m going to pay for some new Disney Channel. Don’t want to pay? Then send a letter or place a phone call and tell us not to do it. But wouldn’t a link on the website be easier? Oh yes, way too easy! And free, too! So no website, we want you to call or phone. Or else pay.

This practice has to stop. I’m not a goose, and I don’t want to be stuffed. Not with beer nuts, spamfilters, or Disney Channels. Wonder when someone will start to sue these guys under the Fair Trading Act..

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Singapore Girl Lite

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, May 2004 issue

Budget airlines are popping up all over the place, like mushrooms in autumn. For good reason, as in rapid succession both US and European markets have shown. The public has proven to be ready for cheap, no-frills mass air transport and there’s no reason why Asian audiences should be different. Entrepreneurs in the region have recognized this. New companies are jumping to the opportunity and adapting the concept to the Asian market.

And of course Singapore can’t stay behind. There’s good reason for that, too. Much of Singapore’s success is attributable to having a busy air transport hub and an excellent airline that uses that hub as the central node of their network. That hub is Changi of course, and the excellent airline Singapore Air. And true to the way things go on this fair island, the latter has now been assigned the mission of entering the new market, to use its organizational strength and marketing savvy to come up with a new winner in a new segment.

So far, so good, and Tiger Air is born. Thing is, Singapore Airlines became a winner by avoiding the trodden path. It set course in a new direction, where no man had gone before. To branding, and beyond.

Case in question: the Singapore Girl. SIA made marketing history by turning the cold, hard rationality of airline branding around: they went for softness and emotion, and chose the Girl to carry their brand. In fact, the Girl became the brand. And Singapore Air became a winner. The Singapore Girl became the stuff of marketing cases in business schools across the globe, and ended up being copied by many others in the hot air propulsion industry.

Right now, SIA faces a similar crucial choice. Contrary to current lore, it has decided to set up a low budget affiliate. In doing this, they take a risk where others failed miserably: BA with Buzz, KLM with Go, the list goes on. None of the big guys could face up to the rigorous low-cost structure of dedicated budget cutters like RyanAir and EasyJet.

SIA knows this, and thinks it can avoid the mistakes the Europeans made. OK. But what aggravates me to no end is that this is where all the risk-taking seems to stop. Singapore Airlines has become a global brand, recognized everywhere and envied by marketers worldwide for the lushness of its imagery. So what do they call the newborn? Tiger Air! TIGER AIR!

By doing this, SIA are leaving unused the single greatest advantage they have in the world of air travel. And don’t come to me with the usual: “we can’t risk our precious brand.” Nag, nag, nag. Of course there’s a risk – no pain, no gain. But many have proven that you can descend into lower-priced segments from a premium position without sacrificing your brand. BMW are now making small, cheap cars and using their brand equity to sell them. Luxury brands like Armani with its Emporio line are descending from their high thrones into nether-priced regions, maintaining image and gaining wider brand recognition to boot.

SIA are throwing away a fantastic opportunity to rewrite marketing history again, by creating a brand extension into a new segment. Call it Singapore Girl Lite or whatever, that’s for an agency to work out. Take a long, hard look at what makes the SIA brand one of the hottest properties in the industry, and how it can be used to achieve leadership in the new and promising budget airline market. Just do it.

Tiger Air, bah!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Unlucky draws

AdAsia Magazine, Singapore, April 2004 issue

Lucky draws seem to be the promotion du jour in marketing land, these days. You can’t go anywhere without stumbling over the option to fill in your name and win the big prize. Condo? Mercedes? Or the more mundane variant, a $250 voucher? It can all be yours, lucky consumer, if you buy our product. Oh yes, the product, you’d almost forget, that’s the reason the draw is being held in the first place. Which name shall we write on the credit card?

Lucky draws, or sweepstakes as the Americans call them, have been in use for decades. They are not only used to give marketing campaigns a bit more vim. Marketers all over the place are discovering the importance of knowing something about their consumers. Who they are, where they live, why they buy your product, the works. But good information is often hard to come by. Lucky draws are rapidly becoming a popular way to generate names and contact details of consumers.

They’re also the worst. Lucky draws are the spam of sales promotions. There are more similarities than you might think. Let's draw some parallels.

Spam is untargeted mail. Lucky draws are untargeted promotions. They don’t appeal to a specific group of consumers, so it’s an easy way out if you’re not too sure about your target group. You just target everyone and presto, you might even hit the right guy! Yeah, right.

As a result, consumers can’t distinguish one lucky draw from another. Many respond because it appeals to their gambling instincts and nothing else. Often they forget all about the product itself. And when you follow up with a mailing or telemarketing call, they have no idea how you got their name. In other words, it’s one of the things that give Direct Marketing a wholly undeserved bad name.

Like spam, lucky draws are cheap. That’s why they’re both so persistent. Buy one prize and a stack of participation forms and you’re set – just rake in the names. But like spam, results of lucky draws can backfire on the quality of your marketing proposition. Spam gives you a bad name; lucky draws give you bad information. If you ask people to give some answers, the only reliable information you will get is their address. After all, they’re out to win the prize so they want to be reached.

But they’ve nothing to gain in answering anything else. In fact, people often start wondering about why asking any other questions is necessary in the first place. They get suspicious and uncooperative. They will fill in anything. Legendary is the example of the website that used a lucky draw to get its visitors to leave both email and postal addresses. They did gather an email list, but the majority of the contestants said they lived in Afghanistan – it was the first country on the drop-down menu…

And finally, lucky draws, like spam, are on their way to become a major irritant. Granted, spam is way ahead in that game. But draws are getting there. We’ve already seen letters in the Straits Times by people who claim to be flooded by telemarketing calls after taking part in one. Even if unjustified, it’s a bad sign that people are starting to blame lucky draws for inconvenient or wrongful use of their personal data.

Fortunately, this is where most similarities end. Spamming is a major plague and in an increasing number of countries even against the law. Lucky draws are just a sign of desperation, a last resort for those who could think of nothing else. Hopefully, both clients and agencies will accept the challenge and come up with better ideas.