11 mins read:
WE WON 1 GOLD and 2 BRONZE Awards. In short, that's how dressing "a few good men" changed my marketing world. We went from nothing to something in less than a year.
The long story is, this tiny but significant moment took a village to create. As cliche as that sounds, it is in fact, very true. Tate Ghazi should really be standing next to me in these photos, my main partner in crime in this award-winning campaign. You’ll see why it took a village. Keep reading…
Or listen to the audio via SoundCloud here.
HOW DID I GET HERE?
More than 2 years ago, I switched gears from being an employee to become an entrepreneur. A decision many said I was crazy to make. A decision which was supposed to be an interim solution and a temporary gig has now organically evolved into something much more substantial, even more than I could have imagined back when I first started. But before making the move, I spoke to about 18 people – peers, ex-colleagues, ex-bosses, mentors and people that I look up to. About 80% said don’t do it, and the other 20% said to go for it.
They said, don’t do it because Consultants don’t have accountability.
They said, there will be bad clients that will not pay.
They said, I will be alone and lonely and will not achieve great things like how I’d be in a
They said, I can’t do it all.
They said, I was too young to be a Consultant because it was a career change normally undertaken by older marketers.
Finally, this has got to be my favourite, they said, I am a woman and will not be taken seriously.
And you know what? They were wrong on ALL OF IT except for one, and that was bad clients that will not pay. That actually happened at the beginning of my business venture. I didn't get paid for almost 3 months for work already done until I took drastic actions, and got paid in full.
You see, if I had not fought back against the tide, silenced the noise around me, and actually succumbed to doubts, fears and negativities that were thrown at me, I would not be standing here today and would not have achieved these special moments. I know some of you may say, what's the big deal with winning awards. Well, it is a HUGE deal for me. Not so much about being in the limelight but the sacrifices that came with it. What you see in these photos are only a glimpse of someone smiling on stage, dressed to the nines, holding a piece of shiny metal, looking happy. But what you don't see are the moments of blood, sweat, sleepless nights, anxious days, tears of pain and joy, pure test of perseverance, relentless pursuit and endless hustles that led her there.
DRESSING THE MAN
Once in awhile you get a client's brief that is truly a diamond in the rough - you can immediately feel the potential of the project. The brief usually comes in a very basic, standard format with the aim to achieve certain business targets - as you can imagine, it's usually plain vanilla. It takes a bit of time to peel the layers to get to the heart of it - the essence of the campaign. And that was exactly what we did for Wardrobe. We dug deep, we challenged the norm a little bit, and we pushed some boundaries. Then, the campaign "Dressing The Man" was born.
We didn't want to go on the usual celebrity route to tell the brand story, we could to be honest, but instead we wanted real Men with real stories that has made a big impact on society. Men who take a lot of pride, patience and determination in creating and building something from the bottom up, then took their time to shape and mold it over and over again, until they get it right and finally achieve something as close to perfection as they can. These are the same qualities that Wardrobe stands for when crafting that perfect suit, therefore, it was important that we carried that essence throughout the campaign.
So, who fit the bill? We narrowed down to Entrepreneurs or Leaders in the Start-up World. Now, you might say, entrepreneurs are always in jeans, tees and hoodies, and therefore, it's the wrong target and futile approach. Perhaps if you look at the frequency of the choice of apparel, it may be, however, let's think about when they do actually wear suits and tie, structured shirts or dressy pants, it is usually for a very important moment or moments in their lives that could greatly impact their businesses. We believe, as scarce as these "suits-wearing" moments may be for them, they usually take a lot of pride in dressing up, when the time calls for it. This is where Wardrobe comes in - to be there for those special occasions, that could make or break someone's business, career or even livelihood - to be there for these Men to create the best impressions, when it matters.
Pitching the idea. I remembered it was 2.30 a.m. on one fine (very) early morning in November 2016, when I sent out the proposals to "A Few Good Men" - to five of them to be exact. By 8.30 a.m. on the same morning we received our first YES! - it was crazy awesome! We were so ecstatic and thrilled by the positive start of this campaign and the momentum it was gaining. Soon, all five of them were on board.
Filming days. You see, these five Men that had signed on for the campaign are globetrotting Entrepreneurs with extremely busy, crazy schedules. So, getting their time to film different scenes in different locations to deliver the brand story and the campaign objectives, within budget, within timeline was truly a huge challenge if not borderline insane. But we had SO.MUCH.FUN. We rolled with the punches, we got really creative with production days, timing and overall execution. And we pulled it off.
Awards submission. "Dressing The Man" almost wasn't submitted for the awards as I was consumed in preparing for multiple awards submissions for another brand, and had missed the deadline, altogether. I was completely crushed as I didn't have the bandwidth anymore at the time. However, miraculously, the submission deadline was extended and with a final big push, it was successfully submitted. And the results that came afterwards, was overwhelming, humbling and completely unexpected. All of which we are utterly and deeply grateful for.
How it has changed my marketing world? One, I got to work with amazing people, especially the five entrepreneurs. Two, I learned that you can move mountains even with a small lean team and a lean budget. Three, I learned to approach challenges with a positive attitude and that everything will work itself out. Four, that humility and accountability always goes a long way. And finally the fifth, it has taught me to believe that the impossible is possible, that with enough courage, you can make anything happen.
Winning these awards does not mean it was a perfect campaign. As with most marketing campaigns out there, we did not hit all the KPIs that we had set out to achieve but for the ones that we did, we exceeded and smashed it out of the ballpark!
GRATITUDE BEYOND WORDS
The truth is, it has been an arduous but a rewarding and fulfilling journey. One filled with life lessons, sharp u-turns, winding paths, bumps and potholes on the road, all of which were extremely humbling, enlightening and uplifting. And I can't thank the people enough who has made a huge impact on this humble journey of mine.
My deepest gratitude goes out to these wonderful people. And if I’ve missed out on anyone, it’s not intentional but do know I value you and what you have done for me.
First, thank you to my two lovely daughters, Manisa and Marliya who had given up time with their Mama because she was busy pounding away at her laptop working hours and hours on end at times to create great work, traveling and being away from them for work, missing out on some important occasions because of work. This win is for the both of you.
Thank you to everyone who believed in me even before I actually started this adventure, who were there at the beginning, who are still here now, who put up with my constant persistent bugging while I was building it, who dared to go on this crazy adventure with me despite the odds and who cheered me on when I needed it the most. Special thanks to Roberto Cumaraswamy, Jonathan Roberts, Loke Weng Leong, Cassie Lee, Tate Ghazi, my Sisters and my wonderful Family. Thank you to my agency partners for sticking by me when I had millions of Ringgits in marketing budget to spend, when I was leading regional teams with regional portfolios to suddenly becoming a small start-up consultant with a tiny bootstrap budget. Thank you so much for your friendship and for your loyalty. These wins are because of all of you.
Thank you to the ones that have said to NO to me. Your doubts and rejections, have not dampened my spirit one bit, instead it fuelled my fire even more. And these wins in Singapore last July and now in Malaysia is a testament that no matter how big or small you are or your company is now, you can still create positive impact and make a difference.
Thank you to the judges and jury for taking the time to evaluate the entries. I’ve been on the jury panel before and I know it’s a tedious and time-consuming process. So, thank you for the recognition.
Thank you to the Awards Committee for the commitment to recognizing excellent work in the region, year after year. Keep up the great work!
A big thank you to my client Lim Fang Heng from Wardrobe for believing in me and my team to shape and share your brand story for the "'Dressing The Man" campaign.
And finally, to these Few Good Men who were the Stars of the campaign...
Thank you to Patrick Grove for the trust you had in me when I approached you about the campaign, you didn't even hesitate to say yes. As you know, it means a lot to me. So, thank you so much Patrick.
Thank you to Azran Osman-Rani for being the first to believe in me when I first started out and still does show amazing support until today. Thank you so much Azran.
And of course, to these amazing guys that I had an opportunity to work with for this award-winning campaign, Joel Neoh, Lee Ching Wei and Khailee Ng – you guys are awesome! Thank you so very much for coming along for the ride.
A CHANGED WORLD
More than two years ago, I started this adventure alone. Today, I share this journey with these amazing Consultants on the M Consulting Asia panel. We've grown so much individually, took some risks, failed and succeeded in some; pivoted our approach towards our work until it finally works; tested and changed our methods to finally arrive at this juncture of our lives. Now, we are joining forces to become stronger, and to go further together.
Welcome to Azleen Abdul Rahim once again and to Benjamin Tok who joins the panel starting from November 2017.
From left to right: Mawarni Adam, Tate Ghazi, Azleen Abdul Rahim and Benjamin Tok.
I'll sign off by sharing what someone had asked me recently, which was, what’s my secret sauce to award-winning campaigns? I simply said, “HEART…and a whole lot of it”.
Here’s to many more great work, amazing collaborations and rewarding adventures!
More about the Award-Winning campaign, click here.