The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Divine Intervention Planning …
March 24, 2010, 6:28 am
Filed under: Comment

I am not a religious person – and yet, when I passed a Church in Singapore, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this:

I’ll get to the point as to why in a second … however I believe this is a brilliant example of grade-A planning, something that would put most agency planners to shame.

OK, so when you are a religion, you’re not frightened of making big statements … however in the scheme of things, this isn’t too pragmatic, infact its positively gentle compared to some of the thunder and brimstone stuff they could of used.

The reason I like it is because – post rationalised by me – it comes from a deep insight about Singaporeans and their view/attitude to life.

It would be very easy to assume the only things Singaporeans really care about are shopping, status and food.

And you know what … for many that would be a pretty fair assessment.

But here’s the thing, rather than the church putting out a banner featuring a quote that goes along the lines of:

“And Jesus said if you follow the path of the Lord, you will be rewarded with an abundance of riches” *

… they realised that in this fast paced, high pressured, social judging, material acquiring land, the thing many people want even more than high priced goods or just plain ol’ cash … is peace.

That’s right, peace.

A place of quiet and calm.

A place where the pressures of the World are kept behind the door.

A place where their mind can be filled with positive thoughts rather than the worry of keeping up with expectation and ambition.

A place where the body, mind and soul can find equilibrium again … where it can rejuvenate … where they can feel human again.

And the really clever bit – again post rationalised by me – is that for some Singaporeans, their mentality is that only the uber-rich could ever be in a situation where they choose to literally turn their back on the busy and demanding World … so not only does it position the Church as a place where you can get an antidote [or at least a temporary antidote] to the high-speed rat race … but it’s also relevant to the money-hungry culture because they’ll read it as saying by following God, you can get to a point where you have such a collection of riches, you’ll be able to ‘buy’ personal peace and tranquillity.

In short, by NOT using a statement that blatantly links with the Singaporean acquisition mentality, they’ve not only found a way to differentiate themselves from the cataclysmic noises being screamed out by every brand/company on the island … but they’ve come out with something that resonates deeply with anyone who feels they are running a thousand miles an hour just to stand still … which is why as a non-religious man, this ‘ad’ really got to me, however sadly for the Church, rather than rely on God to help me find a place on inner-peace, I’ve got my mild-life crisis to get me there instead.

Still, for coming up with a statement that reflected a deeper insight that simply “SINGAPOREANS WANT IT ALL” [which let’s face it, is not exactly the sort of claim a religious organisation should be putting out, even though I would bet 90% of planners would claim that’s exactly the direction they should be taking] they get a donation to the Church roof repair fund and 3 hail Mary’s.


* This ‘quote’ is completely made up, however I am assuming there’s something like that somewhere in the bible given it contains the most ambiguous/contrary/paradoxical content this side of a Piers Morgan book

49 Comments so far
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Is rest a new brand of cocoa?

Comment by John

how the fuck did this suddenly appear before my comments? i was first when i last looked then youre here. thats fucked up intervention but youre being a religious smartarse too so you get let off.

Comment by andy@cynic

Campbell’s technology moves in mysterious ways.

Comment by John

Interesting that it says yourselves rather than yourself. Why is it speaking to the collective rather than the individual?

Comment by John

wait for campbell to have a reason doddsy. told sam the same thing yesterday and when the lazy blog bastard wakes up youll see. its the one thing hes consistent at. that and buying shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Maybe when the bible was written, the population of the World were like most of Singapore and simply followed orders and put all visions of individulism on the backburner.

That or the ‘editors’ were crap at translation.

Comment by Rob

you know why underneath it all i like you campbell?

because youre an equal opportunity bastard.

agencies, research, brands, singapore government policies, men, women, children and now religion, your opinionated bastardness knows no bounds.

i even like this post but that could be because you made the most blasphemous comment in manfuckingkind by comparing the bible to that pompous little fuckwit piers morgan. expect a phonecall from satan offering you an executive position within the organisation even though you vowed youd never work for wpp again.

Comment by andy@cynic

hang on, if the “ad” didnt make you go in and devote your life to the beardy one (not branson or noel edmonds, the other one) does that mean it was ineffective and shit planning? i think it is because you said yesterday singabore was a follow the fucking rules society so it would of been better if they said “come in here or your black fucking amex will be cut”.

answer that and stay fashionable campbell. planning is shit easy.

dont cry, i still like the post but still only for the bible/piers link.

Comment by andy@cynic

Excellent point Andy … your future as a planner at Ogilvy is assured.


Comment by Rob

Is it not grade A creative, condensing 600 planner words into 13 meaningfull human ones 🙂

Comment by Niko

It would be great if brands were more like religions because they rarely stand for something for fear of alienating potential future sales. If you think Singapore is a fear driven society, marketing is ten times worse.

This is a great post, I doubt the person responsible for the sign put so much thought/post rationalisation into it as you have, but it’s a good example of deeper and more meaningful planning, though only you could find a way to link a church sign to it, LOL.

To answer John’s question, I think the collective approach to the copy versus something more individual is due to Singaporean grammar (singlish) than a purposeful decision. Or it could be the Asian group dynamic that Rob always goes on about. 🙂

Comment by Pete

Are you saying the bible was written by Singaporean’s then Pete?

Comment by Rob

finally youre learning niko. creatives are the jesus of adland because were always performing fucking miracles on planning adversity.

why dont you ignore by fucking comments pete. its not like i hold your future happiness in my hand.

Comment by andy@cynic

I didn’t comment about your comment because my brain is still trying to digest your brilliance.

Comment by Pete

youre only human pete.

and a big fucking know which side your breads buttered creep.

love pol andy pot

Comment by andy@cynic

So my plan has worked. LOL.

Comment by Pete

youre a planner. of course it fucking didnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

Offering up an unmet and unvoiced need rather than promising to satisfy an unfulfillable desire- that a pretty handy building block.

Vicars are sure to be better than planners with these directions:

The Vatican has called for priests to cater to congregations’ dwindling attention spans by limiting their sermons to no more than eight minutes.

Comment by Katie Chatfield

I know who did this Rob. Funnily enough, he was an art director. I remember him telling me that they wanted this church to a be a place of sanctuary. In other words,to return to what church’s had always been: places to escape from the material world into that of the spirit and contemplation. It didn’t convert me either but I notice it every time I walk past there and it always strikes me as very apt for Singapore.

Comment by martin

Excellent …

Still find it brilliant that someone at the church decided this was the best strat given most agencies/brands/churches would approach the challenge by trying to communicate based on what people do, rather than understand why people do it and what they are trying to hide/run from.

Comment by Rob

As I said, I notice it every time I walk past there. Rather than tell people what peace is they want them to come in to experience it for themselves. A brilliant non-denominational strategy. A sort of spiritual ‘try me’ offer with no conditions, asterisks or small type. And emotionally, quite compelliing.

Comment by martin

Katie has just articulated what I believe makes a great planner; an individual who has the ability to identify unmet and unvoiced needs that have significant commercial value.

You should get Baz to put that in his Apple book as well as a link to this excellent post.

Comment by Lee Hill

Identify or invent?

Comment by John

It should never be lying.
Trying maybe, but never, ever lying.

Comment by George

good fucking point doddsy.

some insights sound like they came from david fucking blaine than a planner.

Comment by andy@cynic

is it all not just kinda lying? identifying or inventing..

what if..questions, how come/why (not) questions are often the basis of progress…

having some proces of thought or implementation is great (so i’ve been told) but untill you go out and do it to either success or failure it is still dry fucking, identified or invented, insight or restating the obvious.

Comment by niko

Great point Katie and Lee … however I don’t know if we can ever have a standard approach to what planning should be because whilst there are many situations when an ability to articulate unmet/unvoiced needs is vital and powerful … there are also circumstances where the human motivation will come from simply articulating the met and voiced needs of the masses in a truly resonating way [ie: stripping back all the marketing/branding bullshit] which I’ve always called “unplanning” [] … though I realise I may be saying this because I don’t know how to do the good stuff, ha!

PS: Hello Martin.

Comment by Rob

You need lots of building blocks…clarity, curiosity, humility, brevity, bravery, empathy, resonance, playfulness, leadership…and more.

Interpretive dance is useful too.

None of these come off the shelf.

Comment by Katie Chatfield

They do if you work for JWT or McCann’s.


Comment by Rob

So will Miami adschool start offering religious studies as part of their planning program?

Comment by DH

Not a bad idea Dave … though they’d maybe attract more students if they opened up in Utah.

Comment by Rob

Andy is a despot. Excellent.
Like the post too, did some stuff on luxury and the rich that got thieved by Chiat Day. It got my then boss a job there, was the theme for a ‘Disruption Day’ (you don’t want to know what that is) and what did I didn’t even get a free trip to LA out of it.
Like I said, great post, but it’s opened old wounds.
(by the way, the work was on the stages of luxury, for individuals and states – and how only the super rich can afford total freedom)

Comment by northern

Youre referring to Andy in that last line aren’t you?

Comment by John

You should see Moses Powerpoint charts on the ten commandments.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ve seen someone who thinks he’s Moses* present his 10 commandments …

That was a load of fiction too.


* Actually he thinks he’s God but that loses the relevance to your comment.

Comment by Rob

Is that the person I dissed on your behalf back in 2007?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

you should see the fuckers press shot. his ego is writing cheques his reality cant cash in a million fucking years. fletch has been threatened with a slow agonising death if he doesnt show him for the wanker he is during q&a but ive bet george he wont turn up because his head will be stuck up the glitteratis ass begging for fucking acceptance.

Comment by andy@cynic

doubt it mortimer, this guy was in the sewer in 07.

Comment by andy@cynic

Who is your ex-boss and did you like him/her?

Let me know, we have ‘friends’ there … friends who can make lives miserable or happy – but mainly miserable, ha!

I soooooooooooooooooo want to know what a disruption day is. Actually I should rephrase that … I know what a disruption day is, but I want you to tell everyone about it in mindblowingly painful detail.

Didn’t mean to open old wounds … would love to see/read what you did … and whilst I promise to nick it, I’ll also promise not to go to Chiat if that is of any comfort.

PS: The ‘only the rich can afford total luxury’ is one of the reasons certain Asian cultures don’t care what they do or how they do it as long as the byproduct of their actions result in cash. This is particulary prevelant in Singapore which is why creative industries are viewed so negatively compared to banking etc.

It’s actually a major issue – not unique to Asia, but maybe more pronounced due to a bunch of other reasons – hence the reason I think the ‘ad’ is so powerful and well thought out.

PPS: NOT being sent to LA was a good thing.

Comment by Rob

Nah, he’s alright, and now President of Disruption UK, didn’t stay that long.
A Disruption day is basically a worshop with a silly name. It used to be for either brand ideas or communications ideas, but the Disruption agency hasn’t a clue.
It involves a bunch of people, 5% of whom are intelligent, having ideas. There is lots of stimulus that some poor bastard (planner, junior planner if you’re lucky) has put together thanks to some serious overtime, rather than doing some quality thinking.
There isn’t that much good stuff generated because you have to follow a process where you look for the conventions in the marker, consumers lives etc, and then break them.
If you’re lucky, you find a gap in people’s lives you could fill, but it gets in the way of delving into the culture around the brand and the consumer culture, even worse, it stops you going outside and actually meeting the people you’re forming clever ideas for.
So any Disruption planner with half a brain designs the stim etc to ‘guide’ delegates to the answer (s) he’s already worked hard to get and then post rationalises the outputs of the day to fit some proper thinking.
But you still get some clangers – ‘we need to own the emotional high ground’= We’re for Dogs, for example.

As for the luxury stuff, I forget to download it when I left, but bascically there’s five stages of luxury – you move from stage 1 through to 5 the the longer you’v been rich. Stage 1 is ostentatious displays of wealth and buying obvious brands you read about it Hello. This stands for country (think Russian bling) or individual.
The higher stages see you become more discerning and owning, doing stuff less people have heard of – and differentiating youself through experience rather than aquisitions.
The real theme is freedom, lower stages of luxury actually mean you worry about money and how you’re doing MORE than less well off people. But the real super rich, or the ones that live in cultures that have had luxury for a long time don’t worry about anything and live in an alternative universe they can do what they want and everything becomes self actualisation.
As far as the UK is concerned, there’s that odd trait where lower classes and upper classes both drive messy, shabby cars.
Or the way lower and upper teenager’s dress codes are unrestrained because neither cares what the neighbours think.

Comment by northern

lower teenagers don’t care what the neighbours think? Doesn’t the counterfeit clothes trade dispel that idea?

Comment by John

Excellent post by the way Robert.
Northern: should you ever manage to regain your luxury paper, would it be possible to obtain a copy?

Comment by George

Apologies Northern, I should state it would be for personal interest reasons only.

Comment by George

thats what he always says.

Comment by andy@cynic

‘course, but I doubt I will (and what personal interests)

Comment by northern

he wants to know how he should act with all the fucking millions hes been syphoning off for the past 7 years. fucking glad you were a twat and forgot to steal your own fucking property, couldnt stand one of my parasites having a better life than me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wouldn’t advocate lying either George which was why I made the comment. But it is widely suggested/accepted that customers often don’t know what their needs are until they’re presented with something that fills them.

Comment by John

Please don’t bring that argument up again John …

People might not know specifically what they want, but by asking the right questions and understanding their needs and wants – you can come up with a pretty good idea of what is needed to satisfy their fundamental needs and then the rest is about prettying it up.

[That last bit is a joke aimed at my wife, she knows why]

As I said at PSFK, Henry Ford said people would have said they wanted a ‘faster horse’ but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the elements they were saying they sought [ie: get from A-to-B in a faster, safer way] which is why the car worked because it fundamentally answered people’s needs/wants, even if it wasn’t on 4 legs.

I HATE when people say people don’t know what they want … the problem is more that companies are only listening to what they want to hear – corporate selective listening.

Comment by Rob

[…] Welcome to my own planning awards scheme. I am calling it the The People’s Planning Awards. In many ways it’s no different than the IPAs, APGs, Chiats and Effies of this world. Except for two things. It does not depend on a jury of industry heavyweights and it celebrates ideas of humble origins but world class calibre. Anything goes – from innovative pricig models, to tweets and street signs. […]

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