Stay classy – taking the higher road in brand & reputation building

stayclassyapple

When news reports of Samsung Note 7 devices exploding started landing, some competitor brands had a field day trying to troll Samsung.

This is, of course, nothing new in the highly competitive mobile devices industry. In fact, Samsung has been guilty of doing the same to its idol competitor.

Now, what did Apple do or say to Samsung?

Nothing.

That’s right – zip, zilch, zero… nada.

Apple said nothing; instead, it maintained the high road and didn’t kick its competitor while they were down (or attempt to take revenge for the many trolling incidences in the past). After all, the issue was a serious one – explosions are no small things and any injury to a consumer is one too many. What if a device had exploded in the hands of a child?

Then, I read today that an Apple iPhone 7 has “exploded”.

While investigations into the incident are ongoing, the news cycle has, well, exploded. Reading through the coverage, however, there isn’t much cynicism directed towards Apple (although, there’s plenty to go around in mobile devices sector especially in regards to one brand copying another).

Can you imagine how the news cycle and public backlash might be like if Apple had trolled Samsung during the exploding Note 7 fiasco, though?

Remember: Stay classy.

You never know when karma might come back to bite you in the ass.

Starting My Trip With Uber

StartingTripAtUber

Several months ago, I received an unexpected phone call. It was from recruiter inviting me to consider a role at Uber. While I wasn’t looking for new opportunities at the time, I was certainly intrigued. Three weeks later, I was told that Uber had made their choice: I was their new Head of Communications for Singapore and Malaysia.

It came somewhat surprisingly (and also ironically – I wasn’t exactly thrilled at their rebranding; so maybe this is an opportunity to “be the change you want to see”). Nonetheless, it is definitely a very compelling opportunity! I am thrilled to work with one of the most influential brands in the world today. Uber is literally changing the way we live. Since its inception in 2009, just 7 years ago, the company has changed the way people move*; it has hyper-connected locations; and it is revolutionizing business strategy (I mean, how many times have we wondered about which business would be “Uber-ed” next? “Uber-ed” is now part of the business lexicon!).

On one of my coolest Uber rides to date: Sha showed up in a bright red VW Golf GTI wearing driving gloves!

On one of my coolest Uber rides to date: Sha showed up in a bright red VW Golf GTI wearing driving gloves!

In this role, I will lead communications for both Singapore and Malaysia – focusing on brand building and storytelling for Uber to media and third parties. This means looking for compelling ways to show and tell how Uber is transforming the way people get around; giving folks an option for independent, flexible work; as well as cutting urban congestion by getting more butts into fewer cars. I’ll be driving campaigns and making a positive case for reform through creative and strategic storytelling across multiple platforms – traditional and digital, earned and owned.

On a personal front, this has also necessitated a move for my family and I to Singapore. So, bear with me if I’m a little uncommunicative during this transition period. Obviously, this is going to be more than a “just go to the new office on Monday morning for work”.

Well, here we go. Wish us luck!

(*Ahem* – Shameless plug ahead: Want to find experience more about what I’m talking about? Score your first ride free: enter “uberleighwong” when you sign up as a new Uber user.)

Thank You For The Amazing Adventures, Shell!

LeighAtShell

I can’t believe how quickly today arrived – my final day at Shell Malaysia.

What an amazing ride it’s been! When I joined, I was a newbie to the industry – nonetheless, I was warmly welcomed into being a part of Shell’s legacy. As a team, we faced challenges and capitalized opportunities together during such remarkable times for the industry. I have learned so much and – more importantly – gained many of wonderful, amazing folks as friends.

I will most certainly miss the team of smart, passionate and gracious people I work with. Shell has a lot of great things going for it – especially its people – and I can’t wait to hear what awesome things they’ll will all be achieving after this. Perhaps we will have a chance to work together again sometime in the future.

Take care and all the very best to every one of you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
For Good, Wicked

LeighShellFarewell

Obsolescence Makes VCR Manufacturers Press Stop

The news that the world’s last manufacturer of Videocassette Recorders (“VCR”) will manufacture its last VCR has gone around the world. 40 years after the first VHS video cassette recorder was manufactured, Japanese consumer electronics company Funai Electric – the last known company making the devices – is ceasing production of its VCR products. The company cited declining sales and difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts as reasons to cease production. At its peak, the company sold 15 million VCRs per year, which has since dwindled down to 750,000 units in 2015 (Frankly, still an astonishing number! Who knew that three-quarters of a million people still bought brand new VCRs?!).

The news caught my attention for a couple of reasons.

Recorded Nostalgia

First of all, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. When I was growing up, we had limited screen time (television, not tablet). My mother would record our TV shows during the week and we’d watch them during the weekend; after homework and revision, of course. Or that time when my friends discussed the first time they saw what was on the tapes dad had hidden away. 😉

I also remembered the “accessories” industry that sprouted around the VCR and VHS tapes. Who didn’t have some sort of VHS tape rewinder placed near their TV stand?

Remember these?!

Fast Forward To The End

Secondly, I was impacted by the fact that obsolescence has claimed yet another victim. Very specifically, it reminded me about the following clip from the movie, Other People’s Money, starring Danny Devito.

The bit when “Larry the Liquidator”, talked about obsolescence with the example of “the last company around […] that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw” is especially powerful for me.

This company is dead.

I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me.

It was dead when I got here. […]

You know why?

Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence.

We’re dead, all right. We’re just not broke.

And do you know the surest way to go broke?

Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.

You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw.

I turn to this scene time and time again whenever I think about my career or the brands I am working with (see: “Brands Will Last Forever… Right?” and “A truly innovative agenda and prepping for jobs that do not yet exist“).

Sometimes, it’s not just about product excellence or an endearing (even enduring) brand. Or, if you think about it from a career perspective – it’s not about your productivity or your personality.

It’s about whether you can successfully adapt to defend your place in this world.

Or, as General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff puts it: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

News sources:

Can Video Games Be A Spiritual Experience? Short Film “Player Two” Answers

When I came across this video on social media, it hit me right in my geeky gamer feels!

This short film, called “Player Two“, was ostensibly based on a true story.

In response to a YouTube video titled “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience?”, one commenter shared the story of how he had lost his father at a young age and reconnected with his ghost via a shared video game.

Here’s the video:

As a marketer and corporate communicator, I cannot help but note that this inadvertently serves as a great ad to the Microsoft Xbox. It’s a powerful, emotional story that does a great job humanizing the brand, video gaming, as well as the technology. Not a bad achievement in just under 2 minutes!

Now, Adweek has published an interview with John Wikstrom – the filmmaker behind “Player Two”. It’s interesting to note that Microsoft – the owner of Xbox – had nothing to do with the video.

Read the full Adweek story here: Here’s the Story Behind the Moving Xbox Video That Microsoft Had No Hand in Creating.