Competing at the Dubai Young Lynx

For those unaware, Dubai Lynx is one of the biggest creative advertising festival across the Middle East and North Africa. The conference and forum consists of speakers from across the world discussing trends in advertising, creative, technology and media across 4 days. The event concludes with an awards show honouring the best in various categories – including  Radio, Print, Outdoor, Digital, Mobile and more.

A small component of the festival is the Young Lynx Integrated Competition. As part of the competition, teams of up to three participants (below the age of 30) compete to prepare and present an integrated communication and media plan. Teams are given roughly 30 hours to prepare the plan in line with a brief – this year it was the Angel Appeal, and its support vessel, the Flying Angel

We (Clique Media) participated in the competition this year with a team comprising of myself, Soham Bhagnari (@sohamb), and Kunal Chandak (@chandak_kunal). It was a really good learning opportunity for all of us as we were required to modify our thinking process drastically; we went from just media planning (which is currently a large portion of our role) to integrated communication planning. We went from strategy to conceptualization and finally execution.

Although we were extremely happy with our idea – that spanned across print (newspaper & magazine), ambient, SMS, Mobile Web and social, the judges seemed to think otherwise. Of course we were a little biased :)

Nevertheless, we saw some stellar work from all the participants and congratulations to the winning teams of Aegis Media, Wunderman and Team Y&R. We’re coming for you next year.

Image Courtesy: Farrukh Naeem


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Hanging out with Google in the UAE

Google MENA held their first real life hangout with bloggers in the UAE at The Pavilion Dowtown Dubai and I was one of the selected (read: lucky) few to be invited. Joining us from the Google team was Ari Kesisoglu (MD Google MENA), Maha Abouelenein (Comms head for Google MENA) and Hind Rasheed (Comms Manager for Google MENA).

Both Joe Akkawi (@JoeAkkawi) and Ion Gonzaga (@ionGonzaga) have covered the event quite exhaustively on their blogs (and I highly encourage you to check it out) so I’m not going to be doing that again. I will however talk about my impressions of the event.  The entire event was very Google-esque, right from the choice of the venue to the setup of it. Not only was it done in an informal setting, the Google team (and especially Ari) were extremely welcoming and encouraging of our feedback, and were extremely gracious in receiving it – both the good and the bad. In fact, at one point @IbaMasood and I went into a semi rant of sorts against Gmail’s search operators and Ari was listening intently. I’m not sure if/when improvements may be made, but at the very least it served as catharsis. I can imagine the other attendees may have had similar conversations with the team.

The event served as a great way to meet fellow bloggers who I have only met virtually until now as well as a catalyst for discussions about issues affecting us – not necessarily with Google products. The Google team here must be lauded for effectively putting together a great event without turning into a sales pitch as Iba may have feared. Ha.

I only managed to get a few pictures of the event which can be found on my Google+ page (had to be done). I must say I’m already looking forward to the next one.

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The victory in the trial is nothing but an illusive extension of the nearly dead business model the companies are following.

Matt Mason, author of the book The Pirate’s Dilemma, writes in a blogpost at Torrentfreak of how everyone is a loser in the Pirate Bay Trial, the biggest of course being the common man in the middle. The real pirates will continue pirating regardless of this decision, the entertainment industry taking this as a win will continue with their out of date practises and ideas; the average user in the middle loses out on the innovation the entertainment industry should be (forced to) offer in all elements of the product, price, promotion and its distribution.

It isn’t as if any of the downloaders will, after the verdict, start purchasing music instantly; in fact piracy and file sharing will continue regardless, albeit in a less flamboyant manner. Instead of wasting their time and effort taking down websites like these the industry needs to address the question of why is music / movie piracy so widespread and what can be done to tackle it ? Even though it isn’t let’s assume the answer is Piracy is widespread because it’s become that easy and accessible that people will not pay for music. If that is the case the entertainment industry should look at ways to build a business model around it. Matt has explained in his books how pirates over the years have changed the world and fuelled innovation; after all it was Napster who got the digital music distribution ball rolling and now iTunes is the biggest music retailer.

Once again the point isn’t that the content creators shouldn’t be paid, in fact they fully deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. But these content creators and the companies need to understand, what Matt puts as, new market realities, where consumer preferences are different from what they were less than a decade ago. The business model hasn’t changed nearly as quickly as consumer preference, which still continues to evolve.  In that light, the victory in the trial is nothing but an illusive extension of the nearly dead business model the companies are following.

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Would you like a digital copy to go with that?

I was reading Matt Mason’s book titled The Pirate’s Dilemma which, broadly speaking, narrates how pirates have changed our world in more than one way by their own altruistic ways (we’ll come back to that later). A while after I remembered reading a quote by Machiavelli in the book but couldn’t find a reference to it in the index. That’s when I realised how useful it would be to be able to search through a book much like the way we search through a virtual document everyday with our Ctrl + F. This got me thinking and I thought it would be quite easy to do that if I had the electronic version of the book.

I decided to search for a pirated version of the book (oh the irony) as soon as I was done with the chapter. When it came to it, I decided to look at the author’s website wondering if did actually practise as he preached and offered a digital copy of the download. And surely enough he did. The way Matt set it up was any website visitor is able to click on the link and download the book. In doing so the user is presented with an option to enter an amount he would like to pay the publisher. I of course selected zero because I had already paid for the book.

Later it got me thinking that what did in a way impress me (the digital download on the author’s website) should in fact become what Herzberg describes as Hygiene Factor, in the non business sense of course. Each purchase of a hardcopy of the book should be accompanied with a digital version of the book so the buyer is able to consumer the product wherever, however and whenever he chooses to. For those concerned with the issue of file sharing and distribution let me point you to Music Industry who has already, for most part of it, abandoned DRM and is still doing fine. The fact of the matter is those who wish who pirate, will pirate. I was going to have no qualms or difficulties in obtaining a pdf ebook version from one of many websites. But the fact that Matt and his publishers made it available to me was nice and got me thinking, why aren’t we given a digital copy with our purchases.

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Beating Procrastination, Getting Things Done…

I often find myself struggling to get things done. I know what to do and I’ll even make a mental schedule of when and how to do it. It’s just the ‘doing’ part which gets postponed till eternity. But the solution to this is so simple and trivial; it makes you feel stupid for not having noticed it earlier. I had a number of tasks set out for me which were due for a few days, and would not be done for another few days had I continued in the same manner. And then I learnt the best way to make oneself do something is to write it down. Yes it really was that simple. Try it out if you don’t believe me. Write down the tasks on a white board or a large piece of paper and put it up somewhere clearly visible. If you’ve written the tasks on a whiteboard, don’t’ erase them once you’re done; instead just strike them out so you can see what you have achieved. I speak as I’ve proudly completed 2 of the 5 tasks I set out for myself in half a day today; normally I would’ve probably waited another 2-3 days before finally giving in.

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