03 Jun 2020

Advertising agencies ‘adopt’ smaller businesses and come to their marketing aid

To have survived and sustained during the circuit breaker and COVID-19 situation is no easy feat. Over the past two months, there have been numerous lists circulating around layoffs, downsizing and shutdowns. However, there are some businesses lending a hand to those in need through collaborations, of which almost all are free of charge. One such example will be independent creative agency GOVT's newly launched social platform called "Adoptising SG". Through this initiative, GOVT describes itself as not an ad agency. Instead of hunting for clients, Adoptising_SG is an initiative that aims to provide advertising creative services to local small and home businesses who are adapting during this challenging climate. According to GOVT, through the initiative, the team aims to aid 20 small businesses who are in need in the next few months by featuring their products and services. The team will also work to create ads best catered to the business that the local businesses can use, all done without any charges. The Adoptising_SG initiative was launched on Instagram and Facebook on Thursday, and saw many business owners reaching out to the platform expressing their interest to have their small businesses adopted. This started as a passion project by GOVT Singapore's managing director Alvina Seah, who said it was all born from a conversation about the state of small businesses in Singapore now. "Everyone is helping in ways that they can, and we just figured why not take the initiative to help people by doing what we do best," she added. According to Seah, this project does not impact the agency's existing work with clients. She told Marketing that usual work for existing clients is still ongoing, and the leadership team spend the bulk of their time ensuring those things go on as smoothly as they can, and ensure staff stay optimistic and motivated in these challenging times. The first business adopted is a fitness trainer and nutrition coach, Joshua Tay (@joshua_tay_pe). In the coming days, Adoptising_SG also aims to release various "ads" on its platform to attract local businesses in need of its services. Similarly, micro independent agency network Beatnk and TJT Creative Lab have launched a Partners in Pandemic initiative to offer solutions ranging from branding, creative communications, public relations and business and marketing strategies to businesses. As a network of independent agencies, Beatnk has a pool of talent that aims to help businesses address a variety of business problems and challenges that they may face due to this pandemic. As such, the initiative by Beatnk and TJT Creative Labs will assist as a creative communications and strategy aid for businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Designed to help SMEs, local businesses, non-profit organisations/NGOs and governments within SEA, the talents look to provide expertise for free to businesses related to to retail, travel and tourism, waste management, fintech and others. Already on the roster for this project is Beatnk for Singapore and Malaysia, TJT Creative Lab (Thailand/Indonesia/Vietnam), Kulturpop (Malaysia), McGagh Communications (Singapore), Exhibit Lab (Malaysia), ACMF Consultants (SEA), Hot Pictures (Malaysia), REBL (Singapore and Malaysia), Komaci (Malaysia), Roshambo (Malaysia), Square Flair (US), Somnuk Production (Thailand) and Squareteam (Indonesia). Separately, digital agency We! Interactive too jumped at an opportunity to offer Singapore SMEs pay-as-you-wish social and digital marketing assistance, and to build up their eCommerce offering. In light of the recent pandemic, the Singapore government has offered assistance to SMEs during this challenging times through initiatives, such as an expanded SMEs Go Digital programme and an enhanced enterprise finance scheme-SME working capital loan. However, We! said it understands that it takes more than just listing products on online marketplaces for eCommerce to take off. In fact, advertising and marketing efforts are crucial for them to attract and direct people to the online stores, the agency said. Meanwhile, freelance photographer Jeryl Tan has offered his expertise in food photography to F&B businesses. In a Facebook post, Tan said he will provide a free, one-time-off, basic food photography / styling service to restaurants / café / hawker stores offering takeaways or delivery options amid circuit breaker. According to CNA, Tan noticed a 70% drop in projects and jobs during the circuit breaker situation, and has been working on small product shoots to sustain. He also explained that hawkers were moving into social media pages to gain more business, but these owners are not digitally savvy and needed help. Since his Facebook post went live, Tan has garnered 45 interested F&B owners.

21 Apr 2020

Send in the clowns: How to do great work by ‘vibing’ with a new generation of misfits

The Boomers and Gen X may have brought advertising its glorious, Scotch-fuelled Mad Men days, but haven’t you heard… the Millennials and Gen Z are taking over. While they’re at it, they’re also asking for fulfilling lives and ping pong tables. Unfortunately, at GOVT Singapore, since we haven’t figured out how to build the DeLorean, we’ve had to embrace them (and pay these troublemakers, too). So, over the years, we’ve tried to click with them a little more. Here’s what we found. 1. They like lists In our day, we were paid to work as hard as we could towards a vague pot of gold. But with this bunch, treating their goals like a Buzzfeed listicle works better. So, we’re always clear about the step-by-step process in which they can grow and thrive with us. 2. They need a 'purpose' And being ‘the best independent agency in town’ doesn’t cut it. They’re hungry to know what we stand for, why we exist. Beyond a salary, they need a reason to get up every morning. And they need to be reminded of this constantly too. 3. They also need their own purpose within yours In the past, agencies had a few Generals. Everyone else would just follow. But now, Gen Z types are more entrepreneurial, and therefore keen to lead their own skirmishes. So we’re happy to send them on their own little experimental adventures. 4. They're a demanding bunch Flexible hours, the aforementioned ping pong table, more benefits… they don’t seem to be shy about asking for stuff. On the one hand, some may say they’re entitled. But on the other, it shows they don’t shy away from having a POV. And that’s what advertising is about anyway. 5. Very short attention/retention spans The days of long careers in one place are over. The agency is merely a stepping stone to another gig. Which makes keeping people a constant challenge. But instead of lamenting, we throw them challenges worth staying for and keep them sufficiently stimulated. Also, see point two. 6. Alcohol isn't enough An open bar still has its pull, but it’s not quite what it was. They’d rather that we keep our promises, help them experience new things, maintain a culture of having each other’s backs and regular one-on-one chats. Apparently, these are more ‘fleek’ than a beer tap (which we have anyway). 7. You gotta know what they know, but you'll never really know what they know You can’t just walk the talk. You have to TikTok too. They can show us more about popular culture than we’ll ever keep up with. But being open to these cultural nuances also helps us guide our people to use it in our work, and never just for the sake of it. 8. They're the present/future of advertising Whether we like it or not. But we do like them, for many reasons. Our favourite one reminds us of a quote from an obscure ad made at the height of advertising’s golden age: “They have no respect for the status quo.” We can totally vibe with that. Words by Tim Chan, co-founder and director, GOVT Singapore* *Technically, he’s a millennial, too, even though he barely made the cut.

29 Nov 2019


It was also the first time the iconic Singaporean beer and STB ventured out of Singapore together since inking a two-year marketing partnership in June 2019. The Heineken Asia-Pacific Export team worked with GOVT Singapore to conceptualize and produce TIGER ROAR: YUKI EDITION. The event drew a total of over 38,000 visitors across 4 days. The event was a celebration of food, art, fashion and music from Singapore and Japan. It presented a rare opportunity for 10 Tiger RAW artists from both nations to showcase their unconventional talents and uncage their unexpected possibilities. Launched in Korea in November 2018, Tiger Roar is a global platform for undiscovered talent to connect, collaborate, and get inspired. By signing up and submitting their work, these talents will be able to connect with like-minded people, showcase their craft to a wider audience, and submit their work to participate in Tiger Beer’s upcoming initiatives happening around the world. One of the highlights was an exclusive menu specially created by Tiger Beer’s global chef Aaron Wong, in collaboration with Japanese Chef Sakura Akimoto. The menu served up 7 mouth-wateringdishes, each showcasing the amalgamation of distinctive flavours from both countries, such as Samsui Chicken skewers, Japanese Curry Puff, Orh Jian (Fried Oyster Egg) with Miso Paste, Bak Kut Teh Ramen and more. Other interesting collaborations included the pairing of Japanese unorthodox watercolourist, Yoshitaka Nishigaki with Singaporean Polymath artist, Messymsxi. The two teamed up to create The Little Red Dot artwork that symbolised the similarities and differences of both countries, with the artwork further extended to Japan exclusive limited edition Tiger Beer bottles. The duo also further collaborated with Amos Ananda Yeo, a Singaporean fashion designer who was most recently awarded Most Influential International Designer at the China International Fashion Week, to create the limited edition Little Red Dot apparel that includes tees and bomber jackets – for sale exclusively at the event. There was also a unique music and art cross-over, where Ikebana artist Ryota Hagiwara joined forces with Japanese musician, KEIZOmachine! to produce an energetic performance that combined traditional Japanese floristry with hip-hop beats. Visitors were also treated to the incredible voices and music of Japanese electronic artist Sapphire Slows, Singapore’s indie-electronic duo, .gif, and homegrown Spotify sensation Linying. TIGER ROAR: YUKI EDITION further introduced Japan to a new way of drinking Tiger draft beer with the BLADE machine – a revolutionary new counter-top system made for small spaces. It draws from 8-litre PET kegs, using an air compressor to offer better-quality draft beers. Johnny Tan, Japan market lead for Heineken Asia-Pacific Export said: “TIGER ROAR: YUKI EDITION is the epitome of what Tiger Roar represents; There is a tiger in all of us, and we just need the right platform to uncage it. A huge thank you to Singapore Tourism Board and the Global Tiger Brand Team for their belief, support and partnership spirit. A huge congratulations to the entire Japan working team and all the Raw talents for a very successful event.”

05 Nov 2019

Changi Airport’s ground handler makes foray into B2C market, promotes travel app

Changi Airport's ground handler SATS has launched a multi-channel campaign for its travel app, Ready to Travel. Making a foray into the B2C landscape, SATS first launched the app two years ago and aims to promote its new collaborative itinerary planning feature. The company has partnered with GOVT Singapore, after a pitch called earlier this year. As part of the campaign, the agency has rolled out a series of social videos called "The Next Timers". The first video called "Inspiration" follows a group of friends?who discuss a potential holiday destination but put it off after one says there is nothing much to do there. At that moment, a bystander jumps in to interrupt the friends and introduce "Ready to Travel" which has ideas and recommendations for those planning a trip. Meanwhile, the second spot captures a different scenario with the same group of friends. This time, the friends plan a trip to get away from work woes but realise that creating an itinerary is time-consuming in their busy lives. The same bystander overhears the conversation and encourages the friends to use the Ready to Travel app to jointly select activities and add to the itinerary list within the app. In both videos, a friend constantly says "next time" to brush off the holiday trip. According to SATS, the app looks to play a role in turning "next time" into "right now". The videos will be featured on social, as well as outdoor?with cinema placements. The media was handled by Havas Media Singapore. Keith Loke, head of marketing, Ready To Travel, Consumer Services, SATS, said the travel app is garnering positive response with the recent brand launch and social engagement efforts.According to Loke, Ready to Travel is in line with SATS' vision to connect Asia travellers, particularly the millennial?and free-independent travellers in the region. "It has been a valuable partnership with GOVT where the agency team has brought positive energy, understanding of the emerging traveller market and eCommerce industry insights. We are excited?for what's to come in 2020," he added. SATS looks to continue an aggressive push of the app in 2020, with more engagements in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Min Mei Foong, senior account director at GOVT said the agency is looking forward to helping the brand expand into the B2C segment, "which possesses great growth potential especially in today's digital travel economy.

30 Sep 2019

GOVT hires former BBDO Shanghai MD Alvina Seah to lead SG operations

Former BBDO Shanghai managing director Alvina Seah (pictured) has joined independent creative agency GOVT as managing director. Based in Singapore, Seah succeeds former GOVT CEO Jeremy Heng who left the agency in June. Her remit will be to lead the agency’s cultural, strategic and financial health, as well as the agency’s key accounts. Seah will report to Leon Lai, co-founder and group CEO of ALT Worldwide, the parent company of GOVT. The agency was established has grown from a three-man start up to that of a 60-man strong agency in Singapore and well-known across Southeast Asia. GOVT Singapore counts the likes of OCBC Bank, Julie’s, Tiger Beer and Netflix amongst its roster of clients. According to Lai, Seah represents the new breed of agency leaders in the world today and in the past two months with the agency, has shown real gravitas and commanded respect by not being afraid to roll her sleeves up and get to the work. “You don’t rise to be managing director in nine years in a network agency in a highly competitive market such as China by being lousy in your job. The partners are incredibly excited to be working with Seah to lead GOVT to the next phase of growth,” he said. Seah was previously based in Shanghai, China for her role with BBDO. She has been with the Omnicom-owned ad agency since 2010, starting as an account director and scaling her way to the MD role. During her nine-year stint with the agency, Seah has handled global brands such as Pepsico, Visa, P&G, McDonald’s and many others. She moved to BBDO’s boutique arm EnergyBBDO in 2016 as general manager for two years. Prior to joining BBDO, Seah was within the parent network’s creative shop TBWA\Group Singapore. She served for over four years as an account manager. Before that, she had a brief stint with BBDO’s Proximity Singapore. “In this era, the one constant that the marketing and creative landscape will face, is change. To be part of an agency such as GOVT who sees the need for this agility to change makes it an exciting place to contribute to the energy and vigour of the industry,” Seah said.

23 Sep 2019


This year, Tiger disrupts conventional celebrations by paying homage to the day before, 8 August, to honour the journey of hard work and determination that brought us to our day of success. From National Day to Graduation Day and Opening Day, everyone celebrates the actual day of our achievements. Yet, it’s actually the days and days before our success that really mattered. This much-awaited Big Day is amassed by long hours and late nights of sheer dedication and determination. Drawing on this shared experience, Tiger released a tribute video today on 8 August that champions and celebrates every moment of that journey to bring home the message that “it is what we do today that we will celebrate tomorrow”. Titled ‘The Day Before’, the short film draws a parallel between Singapore’s transformation and Singaporeans’ journey to success. Released intentionally the day before National Day, Tiger looks to relive the struggle-to-success moments of homegrown talents from all walks of life and how it reflects our journey as one people and one nation. Featuring Paul and Wayne Liew from Michelin-Plated Keng Eng Kee Seafood, founder of design retailer Naiise Dennis Tay, Hokkien opera singer Lee Ah Lek, pop-rock band TKB, and fashion designer Amos Ananda Yeo, the film focuses on their memories, experiences and occasions to celebrate the Singapore spirit. “Born and brewed in Singapore, it is in Tiger’s DNA to champion local talents and celebrate what it means to be Singaporeans. By highlighting the momentous journey of each unique homegrown talent, we want to jolt Singaporeans into realising the significance of National Day by remembering the journey that brought us to our big day. Whether as a local brand or a nation, we are where we are today because we pushed against the limits to unlock possibilities and uncage potential. It is this journey and the unwavering spirits of Singaporeans that got us here today and will drive us forward tomorrow,” said Faye Wee, Marketing Director of Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore. Conceptualised by GOVT & THE LAB and produced in collaboration with The Momentum, the video airs on TV, cinema, digital and social media channels on 8 August. In the lead-up to the release of the campaign film on 8 August, Tiger also shared short teaser cuts and images created by AKA Asia across Facebook and Instagram that cast a spotlight on each talent’s journey.