The incredible resurrection of Sumardy “Coffin” Ma

You would have thought that Sumardy Ma, the self-professed pioneer of word-of-mouth marketing, had buried his career with his coffin antic back in June 6, when he sent coffins to several media houses and individuals as a publicity stunt to promote a book he was publishing.

Critics then decried it as bad taste and misguided creativity. The Police started investigating Sumardy Ma and brought him in for questioning. No one seems to know the outcome of these questionings.

Then, barely a month after than, Sumardy began his resurrection with pure chutzpah by “rebranding” himself as Coffin Ma on his Facebook page.

Now comes the shocking news that would awaken the dead. He is to be the key speaker in a workshop entitled “Boosting your Market with Word-of-Mouth”.

You have to ask the question of how MIx, a putatively reputable magazine on markting communications, makes its decisions. Does it seriously consider Sumardy an expert after that incredible boo boo, or has it sold out to Mammon at all costs and calculated, cynically, that curiosity over Sumardy would draw in the crowd and bring in the mollahs?





Chutzpah Marketing

Remember the self-styled master of Word-of-Mouth marketing Sumardy Ma who got buried in a welter of brickbats and was the subject of Police questioning after he sent meter-long coffins to media houses and individuals in Jakarta back on June 6?

Lesser marketers would have hunkered down and wait for time to lay on a patina of amnesia before crawling out of the trenches but not Sumardy, who has refashioned himself as Sumardy Coffin in his Facebook page.

Unrepentant, even defiant, of the incident that would have devastated his career. What is one to make of this marketer?

via @shillach



Spiritual Museum 3.0: Stroke of genius or marketing spin?

Herman Kartajaya has managed to position himself as a marketing guru to Indonesia and an international audience, although Unspun, probably because of low intellectual capacity has never really understood what he’s on about. Now, swimming into the blue ocean of a 3.0 world while the rest of us are stuck in 2.0 Hermawan aims to curate corporeal marketing.

Stroke of marketing genius or chutzpah-meets-snake-oil-salesmanship?


Spiritual Museum 3.0 Now Present in Ubud

Ubud is really a beautiful destination for tourists. Moreover, the destination showing intense nuance of Balinese culture has now been enriched with a museum of Spiritual Marketing 3.0.

“Existence of this museum will certainly make Ubud more interesting and unique. Likewise, Ubud will also be better known due to the Museum of Marketing 3.0 initiated by Hermawan Kartajaya, a top marketing expert of this country,” said senior figure of Ubud Royal Palace doubling as the Regent of Gianyar Cok Oka Ardhana Sukawati on the sidelines of the inauguration of the museum on Friday (May 27).

Cok Ace as he familiarly greeted said the construction of the museum was solely intended to strengthen Ubud as a tourist destination. The book entitled Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to Human Spirit written by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan was recently published by John Wiley & Sons in May 2010. The book described how the marketing moved beyond the mind and hearts of consumers and got into the human soul.

Hermawan accompanied by senior figure of Ubud Royal Palace, stated that marketing often had a bad connotation in relation to product promotion activities having the ultimate goal to generate profits. To improve the image, the book has contained comprehensive description on spiritual marketing and sympathetic business. The iconic title ‘3.0’ indicated that marketing activities should move beyond the era of rational (1.0) and emotional (2.0) into the era of spiritual marketing (3.0).

Read more at Bali Travel News

MIXed blessings

This too shall pass, is the refrain that comes to mind when Unspun first heard that his workplace, Maverick, has won Mix Magazine’s PR Agency of the Year 2011 Award. The award ceremony will take place at Nikko Hotel this Thursday (June 23).

In addition three of Maverick’s clients, in which we played a supporting role in their PR efforts, also won awards. They are: AXIS (Silver award) for its Menang Bareng Campaign under the Marketing PR category;  the US Embassy in Jakarta (Silver Award) for berbagi Indonesia, a campaign to welcome President Obama; and, perhaps ironically, the embattled Mandala Airlines (Gold Award) for its Issues Management as it sought to restructure the airline.

The latest edition of MIX magazine

Being recognized is a pleasant, event flattering experience, but Unspun’s attitude to awards has always had a flaw: Unspun tends to look gift horses in the mouth, such as here.

Did we and our clients deserve to win all those awards? Most probably yes. But did we win it through a stringent and robust process of selection with stringent criteria that cuts to the heart of what PR consultancies offer? Not really.

While Mix is to be commended for taking the effort to write about and recognizing good work done in the PR industry, it has still some way to go to show that it fully understands the PR industry and what constitutes excellence in this profession.

Yet for all its foibles Mix’s PR Awards is a good start though and whether we like it or not, its the only show in town. So it deserves all the support the PR industry can give it.

It is perhaps for this reason that the informal grouping of PR professions who have organized ourselves as the Indonesian PR Practitioners Group are thinking of working with the magazine to come up with an even more rigorous selection process next year that would help boost the status of the profession.

Some of the ideas Unspun’s heard expressed include shifting the emphasis for the PR Agency of the Year Award from media relations  to a balance between strategic capability and arms-and-legs work; tightening the format of submissions so that all entrants have to comply or be penalized; clearer definitions and articulation of categories.

Others have suggested that the magazine perhaps start a directory of PR consultancies (another issue: should we call ourselves agencies or consultancies?) and only those who have registered and been vetted as PR firms, instead of Event Organizers or marketing/activation agencies, are allowed to vie for the awards; and greater transparency of how spokespersons and PR officers are judged for the awards.

One suggestion also involves getting the magazine to use Indonesian or, if it must use English, to use it properly; and to help the magazine’s journalists understand in-depth PR concepts, practice areas and issues.

These are some of the suggestions. Perhaps there are more constructive suggestions out there that the IPPG can bring to MIX when we meet them after the awards?







Holming in on the Southeast Asia Consultancy of the Year award

Back in March Unspun did the maverick thing and Looked the Gift Horse in the Mouth by questioning how the august Holmes Report comes up with its shortlist of finalists for Southeast Asian Consultancies of the year. What triggered Unspun’s curiousity was the lineup of finalists that pitted Unspun’s workplace, Maverick with the likes of Apco Worldwide, Fortune PR, Impact Asia and Indo-Pacific Edelman.

Unspun was so curious about the selection criteria that he even wrote to the Holmes Report, asking to be informed on the selection criteria. The folks at Holmes Report never did answer but went ahead with making their decision anyway and they have chosen…APCO Worldwide!

The basis of this decision, from their write up here:

South-East Asia Consultancy of the Year: APCO Worldwide

APCO established its first Asian operation, in China, a little over a decade ago, and expanded into in South-East Asia almost immediately. An acquisition in China cam with the added bonus of an office in Vietnam, the firm followed with the addition of an office in Indonesia, adding a base in Singapore in 2006 and Thailand in 2007.

But the addition of APCO Malaysia, which opened in 2009 and is now home to a team of 30 leading a massive communications operation supporting the government, that really caught the eye, and last year the firm signaled that it was taking the region extremely seriously with the appointment of Garry Walsh (former MD of the firm’s Brussels office and global lead on the Microsoft account) as managing director, South-East Asia, based in Singapore.

The regional operation has capabilities in public affairs (working for Diageo on a campaign to eliminate the luxury sales tax on alcoholic beverages in Indonesia), corporate positioning, economic development, crisis communication, financial communication, and top tier media relations.

But wait, apart from all the hype hasn’t APCO’s appointment by the Government of Malaysia been terminated?  If so, what are they being recognized for? Venturing into a campaign that they could not win? What did they achieve, PR-wise when they were still in retainer?

The problem with the Malaysian Government job is a classic problem for all consultants. When the executive or management of an organization is so deep in the muck of a crisis they have this tendency to call in all sorts of consultants to solve the problem, when the real problem lies with their own management and handling of the situation. In such a situation perhaps APCO should either never have taken up the job or resigned from it when it became evident that they could not make a difference and this could impact their reputation.

Bravo to the unsung lion in Lion Air

It is not for no reason that Roy Suryo, the man with incredibly bad taste in neckwear, vies with Tifatul Sembiring for the title of Most Derided Public Figure Who Take Themselves Too Seriously.


Roy has been consistent though, in the sense that no matter what the obstacles and how untenable the situation he’s in, he remains undaunted in his faith that he can talk through anything.

Here again Roy the Boy shows his mettle. It’s all very suspicious. Roy apparently did not know what time his flight was; Lion Air letting him into an earlier flight without checking his ticket…how can anyone really explain such strangeness.

There is a silver lining in all this though. Someone should give the Lion Air pilot a medal for having the gumption and the guts to show his disgust at government officials and refusing to take off so long as Roy was hogging other people’s seats. Bravo to him.

Roy Suryo Maintains Innocence in Plane Seat Incident
March 28, 2011

Democratic Party legislator Roy Suryo tried to explain his side on Saturday after being escorted off a Lion Air flight bound for Yogyakarta that morning that he had caused to be delayed through a seat mix-up.

“I felt that I was being framed and played,” Roy told a news conference in Jakarta. “No matter. I will accept the blame, although I didn’t make any mistakes.”

Roy said he wanted to give his side of the story after the incident quickly became a hot topic on Twitter.

A Twitter user identified as Ernest said he and a friend had boarded a 6:15 a.m. Lion Air flight to Yogyakarta only to find their seats occupied by the lawmaker and his wife. “When it was checked, it turned out that Roy Suryo’s tickets were for the 7:45 flight, not 6:15, but he refused to leave the plane, dropping the name of Lion Air’s director,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Ernest said he and his friend decided to just leave the plane, but other passengers came to their support. After a 15-minute delay, the pilot, identified only as Capt. Vino, reportedly came out to ask what the problem was.

After receiving an explanation from a flight attendant, Ernest continued, the pilot walked back into the cockpit, grabbed his bag and left the plane, cursing government officials as he went and refusing to take off if Ernest and his friend were not on the plane.

Shortly after, a group of airport officials boarded the plane and asked Roy to disembark.

Read More

Unspun’s shameless KKN promotion

Aksara is throwing a book party tonight for Felicia Nugroho, who recently published her biography of her father, the late colorful and enterprising Sukyatno Nugroho. The title of the book is Prinsip Di Sini Senang Di Sana Senang and recounts the life of Sukyatno from his childhood in Pekalongan to various daunting challenges and failures before he founded Es Teler 77, one of Indonesia’s earliest local fast food franchises  that is also one of the largest today.

Tonight Felicia will lead a discussion on her book and the lessons on entrepreneurship her father bequeathed. There will also be entertainment from Adhitia Sofyan. Hope you have time to pop down there.

Disclosure: Why is this a shameless KKN promotion? Well, Unspun hapens to be married to this talented and wonderful woman. That doesn’t make her Mrs Unspun though, rather it makes Unspun Mr Felicia🙂 )

How to keep it real as marketers zoom in on Twitterville?

Now that marketers have wised up to the fact that Twitter is a viable channel for them to reach their markets, the space is beginning to be filled by noise of competitions and a race to have as many hashtags as possible mentioning their brand, product and campaign.

How can clients, consultants and social media users themselves keep the social media experience real for themselves and others? Hanny discusses the issues in Talking Points below.

clipped from

You might have noticed the signs in Indonesia’s Twitterverse.

Of late, Tweeps seem to be getting more easily annoyed with Twitter campaigns/ competitions that require contestants to flood their timeline with RT and #hashtags. They are also becoming more critical in spotting ”advertweetments”–poorly disguised advertisements tweeted by influential Twitter users/rainmakers.

The result is that social media users–including me–have become more skeptical toward brands/companies/Tweeps who are now racing full speed to establish their presences in social media.

The problem, however, is that through such practices they end up annoying their audiences; because they are serving up exactly the same things that people go into social media to avoid — annoying and intrusive marketing, usually in the form of advertisements and endorsements, in traditional media.

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Mammon and the New Media in Indonesia

In Talking Points Unspun’s alter ego makes the observation that Indonesian has entered into an interesting phase where marketers have suddenly woken up to the potential of New Media. They are enlisting the help of Digital Influencers but are they all going about it in a way that would benefit the brands, their customers and, most of all, the Digital Influencers themselves?

Are digital influencers selling out to Mammon?

March 25th, 2010 | No Comments »

Posted in Brands & Marketing, English, Ideas, PR & Communications, Social Media, Trends |

I checked my Facebook account today and found that I had some invites from several prominent online presences (read: Twitterers and bloggers who are quite well known and therefore potentially influential).

Many of them are good friends or at least acquaintances with established Net identities/personas. So it was a bit surprising to see what they were inviting me to join. The invites were actually for products or brands that were irrelevant to what they themselves usually blogged or Twitted about.

It was as if I woke up to read in the papers that a sports editor in an influential newspaper had written a review on the Cobra Starship concert for the newspaper’s music column.

Something wasn’t right.

The reasonable inference from this spate of invites is that the Indonesian marketing communications community has come to the conclusion that new media–Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social network platforms–matters. And that they need to get in there to secure their share of voice.

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