Singapore Sports Council Pitch

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If I’ve achieved anything at all over the last 20 years in Singapore, it’s a certain notoriety for being a dab hand at winning government pitches.

The life blood of most local ad agencies (and not a few international ones too), the challenge is always to come up with a concept and slogan that resonates with everyone – but doesn’t lapse into the usual lowest common denominator stuff.

Obviously this is easier to say than do – but I’ve had a fair amount of success ‘doing’.

Low Crime Doesn’t Mean No Crime is the slogan I’ll always be associated with. But I’ve also come up with plenty of other successful ideas for Clean & Green Week, Senior Citizens Week, Quitting Smoking, the Courtesy Campaign (yeah, I know it didn’t work) and many others.

This pitch for the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is a good case in point. The challenge was to come up with a concept and slogan that would inspire Singaporeans to take up a brand new sport.

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But the fact is, most people are dubious about taking up a brand new sport because, well basically, they don’t want to make a fool of themselves.

(I know how it feels. I still have painful memories of been the very last to be selected for team sports back in secondary school.)

Our idea was simple. There are activities we do every day, without even thinking about it, that translate very easily into sporting activities.

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The well groomed office lady who manages to sprint for the bus in the rain – while wearing precarious high heeled shoes. The busy executive – obviously late for work – who runs up the escalator. The coffee shop uncle who tosses empty drink cans across the room and into the bin with unerring accuracy.

All of these people are demonstrating abilities and skills that could easily be applied to sports like running, track and field and bowling.

And so we developed a series of ads that showcased examples like these.

And our slogan, BE A SPORT, captured perfectly the essence of our communication.

I personally think the work we produced was spot on.

And I’m sure the client would have too – if only our account service had managed to submit it on time…

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A typical property pitch – The Panorama

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Open the Straits Times on any Saturday you choose and you’ll be greeted with page after page of property ads.

They pretty much all look the same – a large image of the building with a suspiciously verdant and un-Singapore-like background, a location map that is anything but accurate and a star burst indication that this project is now 60% sold.

Apart from the differences in architecture – which usually aren’t really that different – all these ads are pretty much interchangeable. Swap the logo and the perspective and you’re good to go.

So, obviously these kinds of ads are easy to do, right?

Wrong.

Sure, the final ad might look pretty straightforward but the path you take to get there is long and usually very winding.

Every successful property pitch requires you to come up with a very strong idea. A positioning for the condominium that somehow makes it stand out from all the other projects that are in reality just like it.

Naming the damn thing can be an exercise in increasingly desperate futility. Virtually every name you can think of (and certainly all the good ones) has already been used. And the last thing you should do is tie the name too closely to your creative concept because if the client doesn’t like the name, your concept is screwed too. Then of course there is the “Taxi Driver Test” as in: will your typical taxi driver be able to understand the name? (To be honest, this is one test just about every condominium fails.)

If by some miracle you mange to tick all these boxes, you might actually win the pitch.

Congratulations.

Now watch as the client and their marketing agent change everything.

This proposal for a condominium located on the very edge of the city is a good example of what I do to try and win a property pitch. Although we were unsuccessful in winning this assignment, to my mind we achieved something quite special with our proposal.

The name we came up with – The Panorama – was very strong and reflective of the magnificent views the development offered.

The positioning very cleverly redefined the meaning of a location close to the city as one that actually gave you the most precious gift of all: more time.

The resulting creative executions depicted here in all their lorem ipsum glory were stylish and elegant yet still depicted a luxury lifestyle combined with a strong emotional message.

Even the slogan – A New Dimension in Luxury – was pretty clever (time is a dimension – geddit?), catchy and yet accurate.

I’m particularly happy with the way the mock TV commercial we created for the pitch turned out. Stitched together from many different video sources, backed by a superb read from a true VO professional (thanks David!), I think this would have made an awesome commercial if it had ever been produced.

I was very proud of this work. Alas the client decided they needed something more straightforward so this campaign never saw the light of day.

But that’s advertising.