Lesson Learned

‪”Engagement in a conference should be measured by remaining ‪battery percentage of  the participants’ ‪mobile phones at the end of the day.”

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Eid Greeting

Eid Mubarak

Got creative and thought of an Eid al-Adha greeting concept. We celebrate this occasion by sacrificing four-legged herbivore mammals in the name of the Almighty. Hope the visual befits the message…

PS. I hope you all can spot the design fault. If not, you should get in the line….

A Fruity Idea

Another tea time idea sees the light of day…
A tool conceptualized and developed for people of the country who pride themselves as a paradise of fruits.

Fruits of Bangladesh

It allows you to browse by seasons (Bengali calendar)

Fruit Calendar
Fruit Calendar

Or by regions (Bangladesh map)

Fruit Map
Fruit Map

And to the best of my knowledge (you bet), there has been no such initiative in Bangladesh before (except of course Banglapedia). Endorsed and funded by my dear(est) client Tang (a brand owned by Mondelez), this was a pet project of mine which the client bought into.

So type in fruitsofbangladesh and keep exploring!!! Feedbacks are welcome with open arms.

Chronicles of My Wedding Card

After three decades of “single” serendipity, it was time.
Time of my life is an expression some have used, just as much as letting life catch up with you at the end.
The reader can be a judge of my state of mind!

A wedding is an equation that is not complete without an invitation. I mean we all make a mess of our lives going over the wedding ring, dress of the bride or venue of the event. But the experience of being at someone’s wedding begins with the invitation. With a wedding card first impression is always the last impression, and there is little margin for error in it.

Not that we don’t realize it, but it seems we are never thinking out of the box about it. At least not enough to me. And nothing in comparison to the expenses made in other experiential parts of a wedding.

Having a love/hate career in the creative industry has helped forming a circle of crazy loonies who fancied anything that wasn’t ordinary, and I was in no way different. I was inspired to come up with something  interactive and innovative that’ll give a lot of intrinsic pride.

There were multiple hurdles to conquer though. Just the way life is not a bed of roses, so isn’t the pursuit of making a wedding card that was different (creative or not is an individual call).

Firstly I had to convince my loving parents.

Both of them have displayed tremendous support and allegiance to most of the major decisions in my life. I must admit (unashamedly) its only because of them I turned out to be so different from them in so many ways. The freedom of thought I practiced and the they way they understood my sentiments, led me to a path where both of them would dread to tread. Being the eldest offspring, its customary to have their hopes of a dream wedding resting with mine. There was no chance for a disagreement!

Next was the orientation to design.

Adman of some repute or typography fan of some sort, whichever angle you took; I had a better than average understanding of design. Be it my long-lost fascination for structural design (Dieter Rams to Johny Ive) or just sheer admiration of architects (Oscar Niemeyer, Geoffrey Bawa or our very own Fazlur Khan), I have been an ardent fan of the grid. Lately this flower has bloomed faster than ever, thanks to a few new-found friends and reading about ripcord ideas.

Colors for example, carry such varied meanings across the spheres of influence. While the shades of grey (black & white) are common in the West, its kaleidoscope here. Red, green and golden are staple with purple, pink and blue inducing contemporary fusion.

On the flip side we all want something that carries a never-seen-before novelty, yet never ready to compromise on their much-hyped traditions (ones that change faster than themselves). When tradition comes knocking on your door, innovation goes peeing on the floor.

The biggest of all hurdles was unfortunately, myself. The luxury of spending the greater part of my day in the company of creative geniuses and the cursed circumstances it embodies, makes it’s an extremely difficult job to convince yourself of what is best. And if you thought selling ideas for a living made you an expert salesman, try replicating that success with your parents. Save the pain and take the bitter pill!

With all this gyan and masala in the pan, the battle was between a people’s design vs. a fanboy’s dream.

Thanks to my departing friend, AA Russell (he is everything but “AA” sized) I could strike a balance in approach and ended up with this.

Mummy's choice
Mummy’s choice

+

My Choice
My Choice

=

The Jacket and Envelope
The Jacket and The Envelope
The Card(s) and Jacket
The Card(s) and The Jacket
The Equation
The Equation
The Equation explained...
The Equation explained…

Guerrilla Attack

Guerilla Artist (গেরিলা) is not quite the nickname you get yourself on facebook unless there’s very good reason for it. I mean there are a good one billion facebook users and god knows how many of them are fake. Since the usual spammers have questionable intent, this ambiguous friend request  had me scratching my head.

But the perennial intrigue of what’s that? was again in play. Thankfully I didn’t just accept the friend request blindly. I had randomly come across these wall paintings or murals (চিকা in Bangla) in and around North Gulshan having a guerrilla signature. Many considered them rich kids dirty play, to others it made no sense. But it stuck in my mind and as soon I saw those murals in this mystery profile, I was excited to finally meet their creator, the SPAMMER with a reason.

We never had a chance to interact one-to-one, not even on facebook. But I kept a close watch on this underground artist, probably the first of his kind in town. How he used facebook to promote his creations under the Guerilla Artist alias or I Heart Bangladesh cause, was really praiseworthy. Ever since the আমরা Bangladesh movement by the now-defunct Project Bangladesh (and its magnificent wristbands that I still wear), I have longed to find a local movement of such sort and failed miserably. One small initiative that caught my attention was Amar Desh Amar Potaka, but it still was well short of becoming a youth movement. Guerilla however, is showing more promise and intelligence than others…

Given the fact he (I assume its a “He”, since a “She” can’t possibly be drawing graffiti at midnight) is an anonymous artist with good photography sense, his medium of communication has been more effective and permanent in nature than others. The wall murals, the message, the facebook page and most importantly the Guerilla mark has really helped in making him a voice of of the unheard.

The Guerilla care-package

And today as I open the envelope full of goodies sent forth by him, I hope more will follow his suit and let their creative expressions go free. At least I wish I could do more to make use of my humble capabilities.

Remembering those unforgettable words by General Patton, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” all I have to say is Good luck, গেরিলা!!

The Ramadan Block

I had just finished writing a blog about Ramadan choir, before it vanished into thin air

Now I have lost the energy to roll out another. But the message in it was like no other

What am I writing now is unknown to me, perhaps the reader can just let me be

I know it sucks, but reality always hurts

PS. “Writing is 90% procrastination…” according some guy named Paul Rudnick, so excuse my dig at it.

Rohim Chacha Calling

What started out as a US Army recruitment poster for the two World Wars, ended up being “the most famous poster in the world.” Yes, I am talking about none else but the venerable Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam
Uncle Sam

The poster went on to stamp an identity which personified the US Government whole-heartedly. The obvious nature of dictating terms, the relentless pursuit of self-serving objectives and the frequent yet unnecessary agression in world politics… all can be drawn up from this one-the-face visual.

When they want it, they would leave no stone unturned to get it! They are, and will be America!!!

But as always, the beginning of my stories are hardly in relation to the body. Its sole purpose of existence is to get you to the body :p

With the growing number of GPA-5 achievers and declining number of Science students, the dynamics of the talent pool in Bangladesh is changing fast. The traditional employment behemoths are facing the heat and their efforts to recover lost ground is quite apparent.

Take the military service for example. In a country like ours, throughout history (after Pakistani occupation) a career in the military has always been perceived an excellent choice. From giving their daughters hand in in marriage to buying their used cars, army men are just respected, trusted and admired unquestionably. I’ve experienced it first-hand. After all my dad served in the Army :p

Money turned out to be the root of this evil, too. As exposure to capitalism and materialism increased, students leaned more towards a business degree than the traditionally respected science. Back in Class 9, a friend of mine (after being disallowed in the science section) had said, “Study science and become and engineer, only to come and work for the company I run/own”. It didn’t matter back then, but fifteen years down the line… I thank the Almighty, my parents and myself for taking the timely decision to switch over to business studies in grad school. I did try to follow my father’s footsteps into the armed forces, but thankfully that wasn’t to be.

Traditionally a military career drew interest from the middle-class of Bangladesh. The social status, the modest pay, the countless facilities and overall a stable life was all they sought. And a career with the armed forces, more than made up for it. Although rising inflation and exposure to a better lifestyle was covered for by UN Missions/Appointments; by the mid 90’s the mindset was in a downward spiral nonetheless. From an esteemed employer, Bangladesh Armed Forces had become the destination for the less-privileged talents.

As the number of applicants kept falling, there was the obvious dip in quality of officers the academies were producing. Garbage going in, wasn’t producing anything but garbage itself.

The brand Bangladesh Army was going down…

Fortunately some “Smart Alec” General came up with the idea of mass communication aka. brand building (another child of capitalism). An order is an order, and in the military the best thing people do is echoing the words “Yes, Sir. Alright Sir”.

Their idea of attracting the Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Commando and Rambo fans into the army came to life with the “Join Bangladesh Army” campaign. The first of its kind. A brilliant work by the amazing Amitabh Reza and his crew at Half Stop Down.

The Army went on to complete the full circle with the launch of its own flashy website.

I guess, Army wasn’t the only force feeling the heat as the Navy soon followed suit in launching their version of the brand awareness campaign. “Join Bangladesh Navy” was directed and produced by Gazi Shubhro and his team at Red Dot.

Theirs too had a website to ensure proper web presence. As I browsed along for more on Bangladesh Armed Forces, I cam across a rather interesting one. Interesting because of the recent history of the force. The site belonged to Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB).

After the Pilkhana Carnage and public knowledge of their heinous acts during the mutiny, I wonder what can they do to earn back the trust of fellow countrymen; let alone being the place you send your kid to get enlisted.

Perhaps a deshi version of Uncle Sam can be the solution.

Perhaps a platform we can all connect to…

Perhaps our very own Rohim Chacha!

I will vouch and ideate for one for sure.

Who else?

A Tale of Two Videos

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

If the above statement held true for all my colleagues at Ogilvy, I surely wouldn’t be writing this post 🙂 Working in advertising comes with “a different touch”, best described by the Hindi term “thoda haatke”. We work absurdly long hours for not the most promising end of month paycheck, we showoff with brands that actually gets our salaries and at the end, we are eternally dissatisfied with others (esp. competitors)!!!

In the league of such eccentric people, I am no angel either. If anything, my eccentricity and complacency gets the better of me in most cases for good or bad. Just the way a rather sane me tried to jump on board the Cannes Canoe (taking part in the Cannes Lions) almost a similar opportunity came knocking on the door for my creative buddies, but for a bigger audience at work.

This year being the 100th birth anniversary of “Father of Modern Advertising”, David Ogilvy… the company he founded is planning to hold special centennial celebrations in his honor. And what better place to honor a legend than at the legendary Cannes Lions Festival itself. To promote the pride in being with Ogilvy, competitions were across different disciplines to excite and entice Ogilvians around the world for an all-expense-paid trip to Cannes Lions 2011. Previously I had mentioned how I was lucky to be considered for a ticket to Cannes through the “Young Suit of the Year” competition. Although I made it to the Top 10, I missed the final cut (Top 5) by a whisker!!! The other competition launched was the more open to all “Create or Else“; where the creative types were invited to share ideas and work that inspires in a video. The video had to be an all original content (concept, music, photography, filming etc.), between 2 to 4 minutes long and had to be a team of two. The ten most viewed video owners will be reviewed and one lucky team gets to take part in Cannes Lions. The following were the submissions from my beloved Bangladesh:

First up was the all “art” combination of Razib and Sakib. The fine arts duo capitalized on the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden as they published, B+S (oBama and oSama). Unfortunately the video was removed from youtube for having sensitive content.

The copy department soon followed suit as Mehedi teamed up with our in-house animator Nafis to create Bring back the green

With the rumor mill of a few more upcoming still buzzing, and I assure you of putting them up as well. For now, enjoy the works of the fabulous four and spread the word around!!! Who knows, may be one day your time will come as well…

New drama unfolds, as the B+S (osama and obama) has been removed from YouTube as per direction of the competition committee citing political sensitivity and company policy. However there is good news in the form of a third entrant. Here comes Positive or Negative? by Imran and Russell…A

Surprise, surprise… Razib and Sakib strike back after the untimely end of their first video with a rather artsy and eccentric submission, AWARD!!!

The Shadow Chronicles

Being an established self-serving advocate, it was quite unbelievable that I would miss the chance to go up on stage and collect the silverware for my campaign “Mentos Monday” at the Adfest Dhaka 2011. But as ironic as it may be, it happened… and somehow, I really have no regrets about it 🙂 After all, winning is all that matters and my missed chance was soon made up for as I stood on stage collecting the second silverware for the night that we (Ogilvy Bangladesh) had won.

Winning feels great… everyone gets to take pride in it, dialogs start about it, criticism goes up by a notch… ah well, it’s all just part of the package at the end!!!Beating the mighty Prothom Alo to take the best print ad award (news and publications category) was quite an achievement for Daily Sun. Being only a few months old, the English daily is hardly a match for the no.1 newspaper in Bangladesh for over a decade. And even when it comes to communication, Prothom Alo has been leading the way with some of the great campaigns that we’ve been exposed to in past few years. However, it wasn’t to be the same this time around… the Daily Sun Victory Day (16th December) print ad dethroned its predominant competitor to take away the silverware!!!

The idea SIMPLE: Establish how the “pen” is mightier than the “sword” (or in this case the rifle) and salute the freedom fighters on Victory Day.172872_10150091562958171_593538170_6376839_1766377_oAs deserving or crappy as it may seem… no sooner had the award been announced that an anti-alliance was formed. As I closely watched people from the creative industry bombard this piece of communication as a “copycat” of a noted campaign from a global brand; I simply couldn’t resist digging deep and actually unearthing the practice of using such shadows in advertising around the world.
The campaign from which the one above had apparently taken inspiration (or copied) from belonged to Lego, the colorful interlocking plastic bricks that we all loved back in childhood.mattus_lego_copyThis campaign was all about highlighting the greatest strength we posses as children, “creative imagination”. When a child’s vivid imagination takes over, even the simplest of Lego structures could stand for the unlikeliest of objects (in this case a ship, a dinosaur, a tank and a plane).

Considering how half a glass of water can stand for both optimism (if seen as half full) and pessimism (half empty) in one single visual representation; its hard to believe that a creative mind would associate the campaigns above to be of the same kind (let alone, dubbing the local to be a “copycat” of the global).

In fact, the use the shadows to mirror the subtext of the image are a common practice that’s been going on for ages. It’s easy to label a local creative as a knockoff of the global award-winning work, but when you see the following, do the same neurons tickle your brains?
powerbarshadow johnlewiswoman johnlewischild hoard-2 ariel_bright_white 2200269748_6a68073569_o wwftigerEven movies haven’t shied away from ripping the benefits of this shadow-play either…
star-wars-shadow-adIt’s really unfortunate, that we as a nation are obsessed with defaming the achievements of others (and I’m sure multiple occasions are popping up in your head, too). It would be really great to have something as original and authentic as the Holy Qur’an, but that’s hardly ever the case. Because the brains behind such creative work take inspirations from their daily lives; it seems, at times their expressions of different ideas take not so different shapes at the end…

It’s always easier to say something is “copied” rather than trying to interpret what the thought behind is, just like the way it is to condemn than to compliment!!!

For more, please visit http://abduzeedo.com/remarkable-uses-shadow-advertising

Metal Maze

Go Nuts was the conference, March 14, 2009 was the date…
In the very first convention of O&M Bangladesh taking place at the picturesque Nazimgarh Resorts, I happened to be a part of the “Winning a metal” work group during the day-long sessions. Metal, as it is commonly defined in the creative/advertising industry is nothing but what commoners call Awards. I guess to keep the creativity buzzing all around, we always refer to landing an advertising award as “winning a metal” (aside from the very obvious chemical compound of the trophy). Little did I know of the part I would be playing in winning an actual metal for the first time in O&M Bangladesh’s history.

Recalling back to that very day, I had a profound disinterest in attending sessions on a fun-filled convention that had started on the right note… but with no luck on that, here I was formulating strategies to bring home the glory. Many ad legends said over time and again, advertising is not science… but trust me when I say it, it’s nothing much less either. Sitting on the drawing board, it was ever so easy to imagine myself standing in the podium of the much-coveted Cannes center-stage and making a “thank you” speech (I only wish…). But as it stood back then, an agency of 60 years heritage and 2 years of local operation, Ogilvy in Bangladesh neither had the firepower (right minded clients) nor the flamboyance (a project where creative prowess could be showcased) to win a coveted metal.

Ogilvy Bangladesh Convention 2009: Go Nuts

Commward 2010 is the festival, August 7, 2010 is the date…As I and the group-mates went up the stage to suggest our “strategy to greatness”, there was only one word humming in my mind “effectiveness”. It’s ever so easy to think up something genuinely creative now and then, but its exactly the opposite when it comes to implement it. And considering the Bangladesh market, getting a client convinced on a “jaara hatke” idea is perhaps as tough as having no load-shedding all day. Thus, the solution was rather straight forward, go for results i.e. effectiveness. It is much harder to get an “idea to work as magic” for the client, but equally more appreciated and was within our limited grasp. With a venue-full of comrades staring on, I completed my “pros and cons” speech on how we could make it to the headlines with the help of “effective creativity” (as if none ever said so before).

Luckily, Ogilvy hasn’t been to its 2nd convention yet and the promises made at Go Nuts haven’t been left unfulfilled either. Exactly 17 months on, Air Action by Mentos Launch campaign had managed to be  nominated for the “Most Effective Launch/Relaunch Campaign”. But still, as luck would have, a venerable competition lied infront from the likes of Grey/Grameenphone (V100 handset launch), Grey/Akij Foods (Speed energy drink launch) and Adcomm/Unilever (Wheel Power White launch), all of which were market leaders in their own playgrounds. Excitement and hopes dipped a bit, but the belief was indomitable… I could smell a sweet victory, one way or the other. And once again, probably for the hundredth time in life my instincts didn’t fail me since for its Air Action by Mentos Launch Campaign, Ogilvy & Mather Bangladesh won the prestigious Most Effective Launch/Relaunch Campaign category. With a 200% growth in market share and a 60% increase in the segment size – courtesy of this innovative yet simple campaign, Air Action by Mentos is today the no. 1 mind candy in Bangladesh.

The Men with their Metal
The KILLER case

It feels great to have high expectations, and it feels better in achieving it. But once you get there, there is no coming back!!! All I look forward to now is the habit of winning… more and more, better and better metals to have the periodic table full…