Plainsunset @ the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards

Since I was 4 years old, I had always wanted to be a musician. I played the keyboard and piano for 14 years but the music dream didn’t really come true. Ended up doing arts and design and somewhere over the years, started doing something else, completely different. So, here’s where I am now. No complaints though. I love what I do now.

Last evening, I was at Zouk and for the first time, heard the local indie/po punk band – Plainsunset played. When Jonathan and my very cool colleague Ray (who also plays in another local band, Kate of Kale) first told me about Plainsunset some weeks ago, I had never heard of them. I was actually surprised that Jon has their albums. I heard their songs from his iTunes collection and thought they were quite good and last night, hearing them live was pretty awesome!

Ok. I didn’t really go to Zouk for the bands.

It was more for work. And that’s where the other group of local young talents are found. At the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards (YMDA) part.

I am trying not to pull anything from the press release into this post. You can find out more yourself, if you are one of those developers who are exploring to develop cool applications for mobile.

Briefly, the competition is about encouraging young developers from tertiary institutes to innovate and create mobile-optimised applications using Yahoo!’s latest mobile development platform – Yahoo! Blueprint based on real business briefs from 4 corporate sponsors, including DBS Bank, Kellogg Asia, Malaysia Airlines and travel portal UEEEU.com.

The party last night was to award 4 winning teams and one Best in Show.

DBS bank widget won the Best in Show

What impressed me most was the quality of submissions from the young developers who created what we called mobile widgets . Check out some of the screenshots of the winning mobile widgets.

IZ Reloded’s who joined us at the party had done some video interviews and shared some pictures of the event.

Looking at the local bands and the young developers, I have to say, we have some really talented people in this city.

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Blog Action Day – Stand Up, Take Action

A few topics came to mind as I reflect on this year’s Blog Action Day topic – Poverty. I had wanted to write a post personal experience and I thought of writing something relevant to this blog and my job – looking at how mobile phones could help with poverty in some emerging markets. (And some day, I might just post on that two topics).

But i figured, for now, I should highlight some initiatives/ organisations out there, supporting and fighting to end poverty and the opportunities for each of us to reach out and support/ do our part.

For a start, let’s look at what my own country, Singapore is doing? To support the Stand up 2008, a global initiative by the UN Millenium campaign in collaboration with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Singaporeans are organising a series of activities to “Stand Up, Take Action” together from 17 – 19 October. Check them out!

Thanks to my colleagues (Ray and Gavin) who brought Worldvision to our attention, Jon and I had recently decided to sponsor a child with the help of the organisation. It is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tacking the cause of poverty and injustice. We are extremely excited and very blessed to be in a position where we can afford to give and bless. I will probably share more once we finalise details.

Again, thanks to Jeremy, my colleague who knew of my obsession with books – brought to my attention the Room to Read organisation. They are doing things that are very close to my heart. The organisation partners with local communities throughout developing world to provide quality educational opportunities for children in the countries, striving to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.

And there are many other initiatives, organisations and resources out there. Mashable.com has put together a good list.

Annual Blog Action Day – Proverty

It’s that time of the year again – the Blog Action Day this year is looking to discuss the topic of proverty. For folks new to the Blog Action Day, it is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. On 15 October this month, all registered bloggers will post a post, video, podcast etc on the topic of “proverty”. Find out more by clicking on the banner on the right hand column of this blog or click here.

Last year, I posted on saving the environment

Using the power of the blogging community globally, discussing one single topic and raise different issues and perspectives on that topic – that is powerful! As of today, there are already 7643 bloggers registered, pledging to write a post on 15 October.

For those who are keen to join in, register your blog here and put up the cool banners on your blog to help spread the word.

Does celebrity still sell? Part 1

A few months back, I attended a conference in the Philippines and one of the speakers presented on the power of word of mouth marketing. I am a big fan of that but the speaker went on to share how he believed that “celebrity endorsement does not work!”.

This is a question a lot of marketers ask. There are also many thoughts around this question.

In a New York Times article, the journalist wrote about “How nothing sells like celebrity

Using celebrities for promotion is hardly new. Film stars in the 1940s posed for cigarette companies, and Bob Hope pitched American Express in the late 1950s. Joe Namath slipped into Hanes pantyhose in the 1970s, and Bill Cosby jiggled for Jell-O for three decades. Sports icons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods elevated the practice, often scoring more in endorsement and licensing dollars than from their actual sports earnings.

The speaker at the event showed a bus ad of Rain (a popular korean singer) endorsing a hair product and he went on to ask the audience, “how many of you believe that Rain actually use this product?” It is a valid question. I am not sure if I believed Rain does.

I asked my girlfriends (who are in marcomm and PR) what they think over coffee, and as usual, we all have very different views. The thoughts ranged from “depending on who the celebrity is” to “depending on whether the celebrity and the product are ‘believable’. My ex-colleague believes in celebrity slimming campaigns if she can see the before and after results. And interestingly enough, my best friend, Yen who is currently doing her Master degree in Marketing Communications also thinks that celebrity slimming endorsement works for her.

Jonathan, my other half thinks that celebrity endorsement works only for certain brands, mostly for awareness building, for example Maria Sharapova endorsing the the Canon Powershot cameras caught his attention.

GeekSugar.com posted the top 10 celebrity gadget endorsements that works and created awareness but not necessary resulted in purchase.

For me, while I agree with the speaker at the conference about the lack of credibility of Rain using the cheap hair care product he endorses, I disagree that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. I think it does. It depends on the objectives. Objectives of the campaign, the image and message the brand or product needs to communicate and what exactly does the celebrity has to do

My good friend, Walter Lim blogged about similar topic some while back – on VISA’s celebrity ad for the Olympic. Walter’s post was looking at effective ads and the celebrity they used. The ad was effective for VISA because it is a good ad or was it because it has Jackie Chan’s endorsement? Maybe both.

For me? It is about association. If i can associate a brand with the celebrity, it works for me. Kiera Knightley as the face for Chanel caught my attention and i could associate the product, brand and the celebrity together.

I am going to leave other thoughts to next post. Anyone believes celebrity endorsement is completely a waste of marketing/ PR dollars?