Thursday, March 27, 2008

Singapore's best kept fast food secret

The Pearly Gates of Fast Food Heaven

Waffletown and i have quite a bit of history together. I basically grew up eating Waffletown as a kid, when mom would buy back fried chicken, mashed potatoes and the awesome waffles with ice-cream home for lunch. maybe i was a pretty spoiled kid. lesse, i'd probably need to have been in primary school if i were to count back the number of years its been since i've eaten their food.

probably about fourteen years.

imagine my excitement when my friends decided we'd actually have dinner there before one of our poker sessions.

Placing an order

Stepping into Waffletown is really a slice of nostalgia. the outlet at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre has since moved to Balmoral Plaza, and it's the only existing outlet left in Singapore. i think most of the crew is still the original staff, and amidst all the fast food outlets in Singapore modernising themselves, Waffletown preserves a lot of that 80's charm


the ambiance is suitably the way it's always been, and it really is a taste of things to come. i was excited to hear how my friends were going re-live a fragment of their past

it may not look like much, but these burgers make no qualms about not being gourmet, and just good plain'ol junk food for the soul

I can has cheezburger?

don't you wish you were the one sinking your teeth into this?

First Taste

i opted for the three piece fried chicken meal.

Fried Chicken

this was absolute joy. it tasted more local than KFC, and probably reminiscent of the fried chicken you find at western food stalls in hawker centres. but it was so oily, crispy and it just added to the whole flavour of a real 80's diner. the coleslaw and mashed potatoes were just the way i remembered them as well.

and that's the thing that's so amazing about Waffletown, after 14 years, the food tastes EXACTLY the same! it all dawned onto me as i plunged into my first bite of the waffle ala mode blueberry with vanilla ice cream.

Waffle Ala Mode w/ Blueberry

the same blueberry sauce, the same waffle batter, and the same non-gourmet ice cream that they've been using for years! consistent good food, despite the changing world around us, Waffletown is in a stasis lock, and a welcome haven for those who remember it.

i've got nothing against gourmet ice cream like Haggan Daaz, Ben & Jerrys, Island Creamery and the multitude of other similar chains, but there's a certain confidence about an establishment that doesn't see a need to compete with other market forces, and change their look, style or food.

it's just the way it's been, and just the way we like it -)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

and so the story goes, the band plays on...

this easter long weekend has been a rather strange one of late. in a sense, everything went as it should, everything was great and for most part, i'm happy, glad that i was a part of something.

but still, the saturday was a very surreal one.. i felt a bit distanced from the things that were always around me. family, friends, activities.. it was a feeling of displacement that i couldn't really put a finger on. music seemed to have lost its lustre on me for a period, which is strange, even being around family and friends.

it wasn't a thought that suddenly hit me on the head, but more a nagging sensation that everything was going to end one day, that there didn't seem to be a point in pursuing all the things i had already pursued.

was it sense of totality and finality? or was it one of being unaccomplished?

like i said, i can't put a finger on it, and i do apologise if this has nothing to do with what i think professionally about certain things. but i do think that this is the essence of writing online, to share what's really on our hearts and minds, the things that make us human.

maybe i'm just afraid that i''ll become a machine, and nobody wins against the machine.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't bother paying bloggers to put up banner ads

advertising in the past decade or so seems to have lots its edge to disrupt us in our daily lives and take notice. it's not that the creativity isn't there, but i think we just know an advertisement when we see one. it just doesn't disrupt our lives anymore, and when it does, it tends to irk us instead of make us curious.

this is where i think advertising should evolve. it should evolve from just buying media space on people's blogs, magazines, tv and radio spots.

advertising should perhaps learn to involve people, let them experience the brand or product, not just through a microsite, but things like the coke and pepsi test that we still remember to this day, and very possibly still prefer coke.

how i'm not too certain, but i'll leave it to our award winning creative directors to come up with something new.

and this is where i see blog advertisers like nuffnang, adverlets and what not failing to actually give consumers something new. the web just ends up being cluttered with more banner ads that no one really clicks on. does it really help their client base of brands?

i know nuffnang (through my conversations with ming) that they involve their bloggers in a lot of social activities. i like the idea of this, and this is where the brands really get to interact with their consumers, and where i think nuffnang has helped extend a positive brand experience to the brands' ambassadors.

one campaign that has caught my attention is LG's involvement of bloggers at their press conference for the KS20. it's nothing new in blogger engagement, but i just think this is the future, you want bloggers to cover your event, because your consumers are reading blogs as well. there's no running away from it.

so it's just a simple gesture of inviting bloggers to your next media event. just make sure it's something the bloggers want to be invited to. -)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Politik-mon: Hillary + Barack Vs McCain

Hillarious clip of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain in a Pokemon-politik face off!

Barack uses HOPE!
McCain is confused!

joy, i heart american politik.

Digital solutions don't always solve your traditional problems

one of my main gripes is, people expecting a digital influence strategy to be the miracle pill to all your business woes.

the audience exists online right? so why not just reach out to them there? yeah, the proof is in the pudding, but i'm sure every marketer and advertiser has also seen the charts that indicate, the money simply isn't going into digital. markets in Singapore are still holding on very tightly into investing their marketing dollars into traditional media, a paradigm that is slowly losing its audience to a fragmented media landscape.(but constantly evolving, more on that next time)

so anyway, say you do intend to put your money where your mouth is, and invest into digital strategies. you've made the right first step, but digital isn't just a digital carbon copy of traditional strategies. if i may mention seth godin's analogy of the meatball sundae.

traditional marketing, advertising and PR is your meatball. it tastes great, it works well, it's been established that these are the best practices to approaching each discipline. However, using an un-thought digital strategy is like putting whipped cream, cherries, hot fudge and a waffle to your meatball. the toppings taste great, but they really don't make the product any more palatable.

what you want, is a digital strategy that works more like meatball sauce, or spagetti to go with your meatballs, or change your practices, products, organisational structures to become more like a vanilla ice-cream. that's when instead of just getting a single meatball or a single scoop of ice-cream, you get a much richer and fulfilling brand.

so that's all fine and dandy, yeah, great analogy Seth, but what next? (i havent read that far into his book yet, but i'm going to hazard my opinions and guess here.)

in my line of work, i can reach out to bloggers, i can talk on forums, i can get stuff onto facebook, i can do a lot of things that gets the word out to people who are influential and where certain niche audiences exist. but sometimes, we still have a certain old mass media mentality. we want EVERYTHING. and we end up cluttering the web, adding noise to signal, telling stories to people who don't want to hear it.

i suggest, targeting specifically the key influencers for any project, and be open and transparent with them. the advent of this digital age, is that we should no longer need to read between the lines of press releases, or the hidden agendas of media publications.

the blogger is unique, in the sense that, he/she is doing it for himself, whatever their motivations are. but its so deeply personal that hidden agendas can easily become the public scrutiny.

so hence this changes for PR, direct communication. listening to what people are actually saying after you tell them a problem. are we really listening to what people really want to say? i've always believed that by asking the right questions, you'll get the right answer. don't just ask generic things, ask what's really pressing in today's fragmented media. people are calling out for more transparency, more realism, more entertainment, more interactivity. and we've shortchanged them more than we have listened to them

in terms of advertising, was talking to a few creative people in my agency, we all know banner ads are dead. if your marketing dollars are simply going into banner ads, fire your media agency, they obviously are holding on to old-world vestiges.

we talked about interactive microsites, mini games, in-game advertising (think WOW, racing sims, sport sims, metauniverses) but above and beyond, Digital solutions don't always solve your traditional problems. the general evolution of advertising will somehow find its way to be more targeted, so that when you see an ad, it makes perfect sense to you, it doesn't piss you off. it's more like a personal assistant or friend that recommends you something you might have forgotten, or not known about. i guess it's sort of like having a girlfriend who buys you gifts, and if she understands you, she'll get stuff you like. (not she likes)

this evolution can come from the traditional sense, it doesn't always have to be digital. because the problem is not always about where the audience is, but how the audience is perceiving the media around them. HENCE, marketing, advertising and PR all have to meet this mindset change.

people are changing, mass media is probably going to give way to mass micro media. content providers have to deal with smaller audiences, but really serve their audiences, and prove that the audience they're reaching really pertains to what media buyers should be putting their money into. hence.. the conglomerate might be dying it, specialised units is the way of the future. it's easy really, as the market fragments, shouldnt our strategies as well?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Public relations for Public relations

what's the first thing you think of when you think of the public relations practitioner? that he/she is a lying, sniveling rat that fluffs every piece of news and doctors the spin making the media untrustworthy?

i dare say that this is only a fraction of the actual practitioners in the world today, and is only a stereotype borne by popular culture. and yet, the voices of those of us who practice the art and science of public relations is rarely heard, save for those of us who bother to read what's out there. and if you're reading the brilliant thoughts of some of our peers, you'll think twice about labeling PR people.

traditionally, public relations existed best when it was not seen, just like a film editor, you don't see the hundred thousand cuts in a montage of film. it's the art of putting things together coherently so it makes sense.

without public relations, most news would not be reported on (yes, we feed stories to journalists, not just to barrage the news with information about our clients, but there is a lack of journalists, and i'd like to think that a good press release helps a journalist. unfortunately, this can be quite rare.)

i'm not going to paint a pretty picture of the game, if you want to see the distillation of news as a manipulative gesture, i cannot convince you otherwise, but just imagine without the media, most information would be unfiltered, and how could you tell fact from fiction?

the ideal is that journalists report the unbiased truth, and the PR practitioner presents the unbiased truth. it's not being done per se, but PR practitioners have ethics too.. and more than ever, we'll need to be accountable and transparent to the public

all because of the new age of media, social media.

journalists aren't just the ones asking questions, the public is. and journalists aren't just the only ones publishing now, the public is, and the PR practitioner and their clients are. in this increased age where any amateur writer can post their thoughts to the worldwide web, it becomes more of a media literacy skill to decide what's fact and what's fiction.

my desire, is to see people contributing to the web being accountable to their publics. if its not meant for public eyes, lock it up. or don't publish it, write it in a journal somewhere. fiction for entertainment's purpose is of course a marvel, but lying to unscrupulous gain, that's what social media has finally caused media people (journalists, content producers, PR practitioners) to be accountable to the very thing we learnt in our textbooks, the public.

but sometimes i have not so much faith in the publics. i go to youtube, and see violent flame wars, name-calling, cowards hiding behind the mask of anonymity just to say something in self-defence.. people being so close-minded while claiming to be open-minded. just believing everything the first 10 results of google and wikipedia. it is the age of instant information, and less and less ensuring of credible sources.

maybe one day we'll catch up, and instant knowledge will give way to instant wisdom. but that's a long time coming i reckon, for now.. i hope we can educate one another to give and take a little in the online space. our avatars are ourselves as gods on the cyberspace. nobody disagrees with our point of view, and nobody knows what to believe in anymore, except what we say of ourselves, and our peers, and our interests.

so before shooting the PR practitioner off as someone who lies and manipulates, just remember, you are doing your own PR, and quite possibly not even aware of it, making you that much more dangerous.