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.

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Speaking at IACT on The Future Of Marketing & Communications

Speaking at IACT 20151202

The great bunch of students I had the pleasure of hanging out with. 2 Dec 2015.

I was invited to give this presentation to a student class at IACT College, which was founded by the advertising industry to become Malaysia’s premier college specialising in creative communication.

I enjoyed my time with the students as well as the insightful questions they asked.

I spoke on “The Future of Marketing & Communications”, exploring the disruptions impacting marketing and communications today as well as what capabilities practitioners need to develop for the future. In a world where the scarcest resources are attention and engagement, marketers and communicators need to:

  1. Have a conversation – Marketing and communications today is essentially a dialogue with the marketplace. We need to design organisations and capabilities that set us on a virtuous circle where we sense/listen, integrate, and communicate again and again to remain relevant and engaged with our audiences.
  2. Embrace and co-create with your community – From the conversations we have with the marketplace, we are able to take in input and perspectives that result in truly engaging initiatives that already have buy-in from our audiences and customers.
  3. Tell authentic stories – In a world saturated with banal noise, authentic storytelling helps cut through the clutter; engaging both the heart and the mind.
  4. Integrate across media – Marketing and communication channels can no longer operate in silos. The sum of parts are often stronger than the individual parts.
  5. Build your own media platforms – As the media and channel landscape becomes even more fragmented, a brand’s own media platforms often become an authoritative source of information.

My slides are available here:

I also shared some case study/examples from both Microsoft and Shell. The videos I refer to in my slides are as follows:

Shell – Destination Home

  • Link to video on Youku
  • More context to this campaign available here and here

Shell #MakeTheFuture – Morro de Mineira Project

Microsoft – Decode Jay-z with Bing

Speaking at Comms Malaysia 2015 on The Future of Communications

CommsMalaysia_2015-40Photo credit: Advertising + Marketing

I was very honored to be invited to join a great panel of speakers at the recent Comms Malaysia 2015 event, organized by Advertising + Marketing, a publication of Lighthouse Independent Media.

Comms Malaysia Speakers

I spoke on the topic, “Looking to what’s next: The Future Of Communications.” In my presentation, I made the case that the marketing and communications landscape is being completely disrupted by many forces, including: the globalized & hyper-connected world we live in today; Big Data and the Internet of Everything; Social media; an ever-changing and ever-fragmenting media landscape; ubiquitous connectivity, and changing interfaces.

Drawing on case studies and examples from both Microsoft and Shell, I then outlined four capabilies marketers and communicators could build on to prepare themselves for the future of communications:

  1. Embracing & co-creating with your community
  2. Telling authentic stories
  3. Integrating across media
  4. Building on our owned media platforms

Here are the slides from my presentation. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to engaging with you on it.

There were two videos embedded in my presentation, which can be viewed via YouTube here:

  • #makethefuture Morro da Mineira Project:

  • Microsoft Bing – Decode Jay-Z Case Study:

Double Win At The Malaysia PR Awards 2013, Second Year In A Row!

MPRA2013

I’m very delighted that, for the second consecutive year, my team and I have been honored and recognized with a double win at the Malaysia PR Awards (MPRA), held by the PR Consultants Association (PRCA) of Malaysia. The MPRA is the Malaysia PR industry’s highest recognition for consultancies, campaigns and individuals behind cutting-edge communications programs and campaigns in the PR arena.

Image credit: Chip Magazine

The first award was in the Product Brand Development category, which recognized the work we did for the Microsoft Surface range of devices. The entry of Microsoft’s Surface range of devices into the Malaysian market was one of the most highly anticipated consumer tech events of the year. The launch of Surface was an eagerly awaited event among local fans and the tech community in Malaysia. However, we certainly faced our own unique challenges with the Surface campaign. For example, at the launch of Surface RT in Malaysia in April 2013, the Surface Pro had already debuted in other markets worldwide. With consumers and media anticipating the “bigger and better” Surface Pro to arrive locally before long, we needed to build a campaign that brought forth the strengths of each model without diminishing the unique capabilities of the other; while maintaining the position that Surface are the most productive tablets on the planet. This challenge was replicated for the launch of Surface 2 in March 2014, where Surface Pro 2 – the successor to Surface Pro – was already announced to the world in September 2013.

Image credit: SC Cyberworld

The second award was in the Technology Award category, which honored the work we did in our year-long campaign on Transforming Education in Malaysia. This particular award is especially dear to me because of the great impact we landed for the business as well as for the great stories we landed in telling about how many great teachers and students are leveraging technology for the betterment of the country. In fact, I was recognized with a global award at the Microsoft Worldwide Summit earlier this year for this campaign!

I’m certainly very proud of the team! My heartfelt appreciation goes to our team at Priority Communications – without whom I definitely could not have won these awards!  We’ve continued the great momentum from enjoying a double-win last year and I’m looking forward to the great work that we will do in the future as well.

I also want to thank my friends in the media: *SO MANY* of you have been very kind and supportive, always being open to our story pitches and engaging with me regularly. I’m blessed to count many of you as friends today!

Onwards and upwards!

Winning Gold At The Microsoft Worldwide Communications Summit 2014!

Thrilling news – I recently got back from Seattle, Washington from the company’s Worldwide Communications Summit 2014 with a Gold Newshound Award – my second one in a row! I am truly touched and flattered by this recognition, which builds on the momentum of having won a Gold Newshound Award the previous year as well as being a multiple-award winner at last year’s Malaysia PR Awards.

Me&MyNewsHoundJust me and my hound dog!

Every year, the global community of Communications professionals at Microsoft gather from around the world for our annual Worldwide Communications Summit. This year’s summit was held in Seattle, Washington. This year, we were also joined by the highly-talented team of consumer/devices Communications experts from Nokia (now known as Microsoft Devices), which provided a great opportunity for us to welcome them to the Microsoft family.

At the Summit, we also take the opportunity to showcase and celebrate best-practices, via our annual Microsoft Newshound Awards (held at the very lovely Chiluly Garden and Glass in Seattle), which recognize excellence in Communications from our global community of passionate and committed PR & Communications professionals. Each Newshound Award category recognizes three winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

LeighNewsHoundWin2014_editedWith Microsoft’s top Communications Leadership (L-R): Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications, Microsoft Corp.; Yunsun Wee, Director, Worldwide Field Communications, Microsoft Corp.; and Doug Dawson, Vice President of Media Relations for Nokia (now Microsoft Devices).  

My award recognized a year-long effort throughout the fiscal year where we competed aggressively in the education sector. I partnered with my leadership team, along with our education, legal and area headquarters communication teams, in a year-long campaign that communicated our local value-proposition in Education. The campaign showcased Microsoft’s long history of contribution to education in Malaysia, as well as independent research, 3rd-party op-ed pieces, executive media engagements.

Here’s what was said about the work that I did:

This is a best practice of good programmatic execution with business impact. The team did an excellent job with this year-long integrated PR campaign that includes activities that supports and aligns to the National Plan.  Congratulations on delivering a strategic, matrixed campaign that began with the end in mind – showcasing Microsoft as a trusted advisor and partner to Government, and a thought leader for educators and students.

Me And The APAC TeamWith friends and colleagues from across Asia!

Needless to say I couldn’t have done this alone. I’d like to specifically call out and thank:

  • My team from Priority Communications: Elaine, Ashley, Kenny, Calvin, Atiqah and Sylvia for all their hardwork and partnership throughout the year.
  • My media friends: There are *SO MANY* of you have been very kind and supportive, always being open to our story pitches and engaging with me regularly. I’m blessed to count many of you as friends today.
  • My colleagues in Microsoft Malaysia: Much of what has been achieved is a result of intense partnership and collaboration – building upon each other’s initiatives and achievements towards a larger goal of success in this area!
  • My colleagues in the Microsoft Asia Communications team: Especially Andy, Verdayne, Jesse and Darryn. Your support and partnership throughout the year has also been invaluable, leveraging upon the greater network of expertise and investment for us to drive truly impactful initiatives to competitively position us in the education space.
  • My family: Without their support, I would not be free to do great things at work.

A huge congratulations also to the rest of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Newshound winners from Asia! In fact, the Asia Pacific region won the most Gold Newshound awards of any worldwide area (tied with our Central & Eastern Europe area. This is a tremendously creative, professional, committed team – and I’m proud to be a part of it. Go team Asia!

DSC_0514_editedThe Asia Communications Team, with our four Gold Newshound Winners – two from the area headquarters, another one from Australia… and me.