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AD WATCH: A George P. Johnson general manager’s most/least favourite ads

AD WATCH features marketing industry figures providing their opinions on what they think is some of the most inspiring and disappointing work they’ve seen. As long as it’s not their own!

On this edition:

Joe Wong

General manager, integrated marketing services

George P. Johnson


HOT: GOJEK – ‘CERDIKIAWAN’

Gojek is the Indonesian-born Uber for Asia. The ride-hailing tech company has very quickly expanded its footprint across Southeast Asia and re-introduced itself as a “super app”.

Last month, a piece of Gojek rebranding work caught my attention. The campaign – “Cerdikiawan” – cleverly illustrated how anyone can rise above simple everyday challenges by being resourceful and tapping into their own spark of brilliance, no matter how odd they may look at first glance. A great bit of advertising drama.

The brand used a #PastiAdaJalan campaign hashtag (translated as “there is always a way”) to hold everything together.

To demonstrate the idea, Gojek worked with Rich Brian, a famous Indonesian rapper, to stage a social media stunt. He tweeted how much he missed Indonesian food in New York and Gojek replied to that tweet, following it up by actually delivering food from home halfway around the world. This garnered lots of positivity in Indonesia, and press coverage around Asia.

This campaign was a brilliant piece of insight-led work. The team behind it not only showcased amazing creativity, it made great connections with the audience and a lot of Indonesian pride. Check out the rap song, produced by a fan. Everyone behind it deserves a pat on the back.


NOT: ‘D&G LOVES CHINA’

Launched in preparation for last year’s highly anticipated “D&G Loves China” fashion event in China, Dolce & Gabbana’s pre-event campaign kicked up an anger storm. The fashion powerhouse was heavily criticised for what netizens in China saw as a racist piece of advertising. In the ad, a Chinese woman is taught how to use chopsticks to enjoy Italian food via a male voice-over.

The brand’s lack of understanding or respect for Chinese consumers erupted into an uncontrollable uproar online. I will not dive into the sequence of events that made it worse.

It is unbelievable how such a campaign was approved in the first place. Why didn’t its Chinese team step in before it was aired? Is this a problem of a globally controlled creative development?

Contrary to my HOT choice, which I believe forms a great foundation for Gojek to build upon, this blunder caused a multimillion-dollar fashion event to be cancelled, got D&G delisted with key distribution partners in China (including Farfetch, Yoox Net-A-Porter, and Lane Crawford) and made its A-list celebrity endorsers cut ties with the brand.

Bad advertising can have a negative and lasting impact on a business.


This article was produced for the September issue of Marketing Magazine Hong Kong. For more features and other magazine-exclusive content from this and upcoming issues, you can subscribe to receive your free monthly print copy here or you can read the digital version in its entirety here.