Did APCO deliver the goods to Najib et al? Here’s how to find out

Unspun learned about the article below in Malaysian Insider from Opah. Its a nice piece of business for APCO and while the Opposition in Malaysia were right to query about the amount paid, they are asking the wrong questions.

Any successful public relations effort ultimately changes one or more of three things: awareness, attitude and behavior.

If the target audience here is the US political system then, if they are successful, they would have changed the level of awareness that the US political elite has of Malaysia, the attitude they have toward one or another aspect of the country and their behavior (say, from voting against to voting for).

If the Opposition understands this then the  correct question to ask is what are the KPIs, the Key Performance Indicators, agreed between the Malaysian Government and APCO and how did they do against these parameters? Being American they must have polled this thing to death. What do the polls say?

And if the Opposition is smart about it they should hire their own pollster in Washington to provide an independent assessment of whether the US$24.2 million is well spent. That is the only way to pin the Government down on their justification to hire APCO, anything less than a marshaling of facts and figures to back their allegations would mean that the Opposition has lost the game. They would have fallen into the trap of rhetoric vs rhetoric, and in such a verbal pissing contest, someone who’s been trained in the arts of the bump and run (also known as bridging) and other techniques will surely, if not win the day, will at least emerge unscathed.

Government paid APCO RM76m

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — The government paid US$24.2 million (RM76.8 million) to APCO Worldwide, the international public relations consultancy linked by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders to Israel, for its services from last July until June this year.

The amount was revealed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, in a written reply to a question in Parliament from PKR MP, Chua Tian Chang.

Chua disclosed this today to reporters, and pointed out that the amount far exceeded the RM28 million mentioned by Nazri previously.

The minister’s written reply provided a breakdown of the fee paid by the government to APCO, starting from July 15, 2009 until June 4, 2010.

“I want the minister to explain the expenses concerning APCO Worldwide. The payment was just for APCO’s services, not even for the 1 Malaysia concept,” Chua told reporters today in Parliament.

“How did Nazri end up with RM28 million, when the total amount was US$24,207,158 which is in US dollars. Change it to Malaysian ringgit and you get RM76,820,653,” said Chua.

When met by the Malaysian Insider, Nazri explained that he was uncertain during the time whether the figure was in the correct currency.

“It was what was told to me. I was not sure whether it was dollars or ringgit. Tengku Sharifuddin (Tengku Ahmad) informed me at the time,” said Nazri.

Nazri also said that when Chua had raised the question in Parliament, he had mentioned that he lacked the information then but would answer in depth at a later point.

via Government paid APCO RM76m.

Sieg Heil Tifatul Sembiring!

Unspun missed this piece of news but Nizam over at Multibrand caught it and good job he did.

Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, who was interesting for the first month or two as a minister plugged into the social networks, has once again tripped over himself in his attempt to appear smarter than he is. The man is beginning to become very irritating instead and Unspun’s thinking of unfollowing @tifsembiring on Twitter and on Facebook. There is only so much recycled quotes you can consume from one person before starting to see them as false prophets.

Quoting Hitler was probably another unthinking act on Tifatul’s part to sound smart when he ain’t really so. Wonder what the acerbic, occasional Twit porn purveyor and Tifatul critique @treespotter has to say about this.

Tifatul Sembiring & Adolf Hitler

Last Thursday, Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring caused a controversy on Twitter when he quoted German NAZI leader Adolf Hitler’s words : ” the union between two children, when both of  them complete each other, this is magic “.

The Jakarta Post reported that Human rights activist Fadjroel Rahman has reacted by saying that it is not appropriate for a Cabinet Minister of a democratic country to quote the words of a person who was responsible for the genocide of at least 6 million Jewish people during the Second World War.

I hope that the posting of above quote does not imply that Tifatul Sembiring, former Chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party which is part of the coalition government,  idolize Adolf Hitler..

via MULTIBRAND: Tifatul Sembiring & Adolf Hitler.

Here we go with Pesta Blogger 2010

The blogging community has begun gearing up for Pesta Blogger 2010 that wil probably be held around October.

Yesterday, Pesta Blogger 2009 chairperson Iman Brotoseno (@imanbr )sent out a message to Tweeps (with the hashtag #chairmanPB2010) asking who they thought should be the chairperson for Pesta Blogger 2010. There were lots of responses and nominations of which @bennychandra and @rara79 seem to crop up quite often.

Iman followed this with a posting in Pesta Blogger asking for more nominations. And Hanny Kusumawati, who’s been playing a central role in the organizing of Pesta Blogger for the past three years, shared her personal ideas on how Pesta Blogger 2010 can be even more inclusive than previous years (extract below).

So if you have any ideas of who the next chairperson should be, or how to make Pesta Blogger 2010 a better experience, please go to Pestablogger.com and make yourself heard.

Bermimpi Soal Pesta Blogger

Pesta Blogger, ya…

Hmm, acara yang satu itu memang akan selalu punya kenangan spesial buat saya. Bukan hanya karena acara itu menjadi awal pertemuan saya dengan kekasih (cih, curcol!), tapi karena memang selama tiga tahun terakhir saya ikut membantu para Chairman mengurusi hal-hal di balik layar Pesta Blogger itu sendiri (misalnya menyeterika kemeja Chairman):

Selain itu, perusahaan tempat saya bekerja juga membantu mengorganisasi acara ini.

Tidak bisa dipungkiri, saya memang merasa dekat dengan ajang itu. Dan gara-gara percakapan seputar Pesta Blogger di Twitter hari ini, saya hanya ingin numpang bermimpi. Mimpi tentang Pesta Blogger, yang juga sudah sempat saya bagi sedikit dengan @anakcerdas

Sebetulnya, ide awal Pesta Blogger sendiri adalah untuk menjadi semacam ajang tahunan bagi para blogger di Indonesia untuk bertemu muka secara langsung, bertukar informasi, membangun diskusi, serta memperluas jaringan.

Dalam perjalanannya, saya tahu bahwa memang tidak mudah mengakomodasi keinginan begitu banyak orang dengan ketertarikan yang beragam. Dan untuk ini saya salut pada para Chairman dan anggota Panitia yang selalu berusaha memuaskan kawan-kawan blogger dan berusaha mengakomodasi permintaan mereka dalam batas-batas yang dimungkinkan.

via Bermimpi Soal Pesta Blogger « Squeezing Marshmallow.

Indonesia’s fastest growing blogs

Fashion blogs have become the most popular category of blogs in Indonesia. Talking Points examines this phenomenon and the reasons behind the rise of the Indonesian blogs.

The Rise of Fashionista 2.0

When blogging started to develop in Indonesia in the early 2000s, many people were skeptical. Some wondered if it was only a passing trend, others fretted about telling it all over the internet. In spite of all these concerns the number of Indonesian bloggers has tripled from those early days to around 6,340,000 today, according to blogger.com. Add this figure to WordPress and Multiply databases, and the number comes easily up to about 10 million.

There has been a shift on what’s popular among blogs though. In the early years the most popular blogs were IT-based blogs. Then came public affairs and socio-politics, together with personal journals about daily life.

In 2009, however, blogs dedicated to hobbies and lifestyles, particularly fashion, started to take off. Today the chart toppers, at least in Indonesia Matters – the only blog ranking list in Indonesia so far – are fashion bloggers Diana Rikasari (http://dianarikasari.blogspot.com), Evita Nuh (http://jellyjellybeans.blogspot.com/), Dotie ‘Eclectic Du Jour’ or Michelle (http://glistersandblisters.blogspot.com/).

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Does Indonesia Suck as a tourist destination?

@anakcerdas just alerted me to this blog posting in Travel Blog with the terse and succinct message: “Memalukan yah” (Shameful, isn’t it?).

Yes, it is indeed shameful if even half of what the blogger, Mike Foster, says is true. As someone who’s adopted Jakarta and Indonesia as my home I feel duty bound to defend Jakarta and Indonesia. As have a few Indonesians who have seen the Twitter message.

I tend to agree with @crivenica and @heradiani in their Tweets that the Mike Foster does come across as an uptight tourist. Indonesia, after all, is a Third World country, only that the phrase has become unfashionable, being substituted by the more politically correct “Emerging Country” label. Foster comes across as uptight because in a city of more than 14 million people all he could see was the frightening and negative aspects of the city. He was unable for some reason, to peer beyond the negatives to see something, anything positive. perhaps his friend Andy is a really crummy tourist guide but one suspects that Foster is one who would rather whine than accept the fact that he is in a Third World country, accept the filth, contradictions, traffic congestion and contrasts as facts of life and get over it to enjoy his stay here.

Foster also makes the terrible mistake of equating Jakarta with Indonesia, which is unfortunate. Indonesia is so much, much more and different than Jakarta and if he were to go to Flores or a dozen other choice sites in Indonesia he would know what heartwrenching beauty Indonesia has in store for those who venture beyond the Big Durian.

Having said that, however, a lot of Foster’s complaints about Jakarta is legit. Us old Jakarta hands realize that Foster’s complaints are only some of the myriad aspects of the city that makes Jakarta Jakarta. Bu to a fresh pair of eyes, especially if they aren’t the adventurous types (and how many tourists are really adventurous?) Jakarta can come across as dirty, chaotic, unsafe and congested.

If Jakarta wants to attract the tourists, both to the city and to Indonesia, the authorities will have to acknowledge that the traffic, cleanliness and safety (or at least the perception of safety from a tourist’s viewpoint) are problems that need to be addressed. Like many other Twitterers, Unspun was inclined to use the argument of “but other countries are worse than Jakarta” but its a temptation best not given to as it i a false argument. So what if other countries are dirtier and worse off than us, we do not have control over what they do or do not do. We have control over, how our countries (adopted or native) functions and that’s what we should take responsibility for and try to change.


I just visited Indonesia some time ago, to visit my friend from the university. He’s an Indonesian, so during my vacation I decided to go to Indonesia for a vacation and visit him.

I must say that Indonesia is not a country worth visiting … sorry about this, Andy if you read my posting. For starter, Jakarta is very dirty, you’ll see trash and litter everywhere you go. I just can’t imagine a capital city with this poor level of cleanliness. I was fortunate to have Andy my friend to show me around Jakarta, in which rarely tourists are shown to. Areas that you may see quite clean and sophisticated are only in the downtown area. I only remembered the streets named Sudirman, Thamrin and Kuningan that are quite representative for a capital city. Any other areas you go, you’ll feel like that you’re in some third-world country with poor people and trash everywhere (I think Indonesia is still considered a third-world?)

I was lucky I have a friend in Jakarta, otherwise I wouldn’t dare goind around in public transportation. I was told to be careful when selecting cabs. I remembered there is only one company considered safe, called Blue Bird or something, with their cars painted in blue. I was told not to take just any cab since it wouldn’t be safe. I was told there are so many crimes occured involving taxi drivers. I certainly didn’t want to take the public busses. Wait until you see them yourselves, and I bet you wouldn’t want to ride in one either. The busses are so dirty, so packed with people and the vehicles themselves look as if they’re very poorly taken care of. I couldn’t even find a decent information of which bus should I take if I would want to go somewhere, and what is the fare. Those busses have someone (or sometimes two) called “conductor” hanging around in the door, collecting money from passengers. I was terrified to see them hanging like that in the door while the bus were driving quite fast. Well, yes they have now a network of public busses called TransJakarta if I’m not mistaken, but the network was not vast enough to cover the whole city.

Not to mention the streets from hell. The traffic in Jakarta beats the hell out of any traffic I’ve ever seen in the world.

Traffic jams everywhere. People driving with only one or two inches away from each other. The worse of all is the motorcycles. I even said to my friend that they are like motorcycles from hell. They squeezed their way to very small gaps between cars, sometimes even hit our rearview mirrors. They constantly cut your way, so my friend always to be extra careful with them and sometime he even had to hit the brake brutely to avoid collisions. What an experience … I must say. I sometimes jumped from my seat when suddenly a motorcycle speeding through our side of the cars with just few inches away, in a traffic jam, with their loud noises …. a hell indeed. Andy even told me that be very careful not to hit a motorcycle, since even that you’re not the one causing the collision, the car driver would be the one blamed and they could go rough on you asking for money. I said “what the hell …. what kind of people are they … we’re not living in the dark ages are we?” … and Andy could just shrugged with bitter smile.

Another important thing … be careful of the food. I got stomachache for 3 days because Andy took me to this food stall that he said very delicious. Well the food was alright … but I got diarrhea the next day. Well, if you go to this food stall, you wouldn’t be surprised why I got the diarrhea. It was a very small food stall, on a pedestrian. Just next to the pedestrian was this open sewer, and guess what … people threw away trash into that sewer. Not to mention flies everywhere and I could have sworn a saw a cockroach running around. My advice is to stick to the food from restaurants, clean restaurants. It’s a bit expensive, but at least your stomach would be safe.

I’ll continue with my experience in Indonesia …. more surprises coming from this unbelievable country … which I don’t intend to visit again, at least not in several years until they could improve to be a more civilized country.

Twitter trending topic Panasonic Gobel another sign of Indonesia’s cutting edg in new media?

The article below from TechCrunch is yet another testimony of how active Indonesians are in new media. Apparently Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest source of Tweets – after the US, Japan and Brazil.

Unspun doesn’t have the stats, but there seems to be lots of anecdotal evidence that , what’s happening in the social network and new media scene in Indonesia is much, much more active than in other markets, and there’s a chance that some of the work being done in Indonesia where new media is concerned is pretty cutting edge, or at least second to none. If true then marketers and corporations operating here have no business ignoring the new media. What do others think?

Why The Hell Was Panasonic Gobel Trending on Twitter? Blame Indonesia

by Evelyn Rusli on Mar 26, 2010

Your first question is probably what the hell is a “Gobel” and will it rival Foursquare?  Not quite. It’s Panasonic’s subsidiary in Indonesia and it was also a top trending topic on Twitter this morning, along with RCTI and Putra Nababan. All three are Indonesian (RCTI is an Indonesian television station and Putra Nababan is a popular TV host on RCTI) and all are connected to the apparently very popular 13th annual Panasonic Gobel Awards (celebrates TV and broadcasting achievements)— essentially Indonesia’s version of the Emmys. At last count, the number of tweets on “Panasonic Gobel” exceeded 4,500, according to Google. So why do we care?

Well if you’re a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur or a corporation you should care a lot. Because it illustrates the incredible power of the Indonesian internet consumer, or rather their consumer in general. Indonesia is undergoing a period of growth (it grew 4.5% last year during the global financial crisis) but has largely flown under the radar— despite housing more than 230 million people and being the fourth most populated country in the world. Of course, Indonesia is still struggling with high unemployment and poverty but like China and India it has a growing middle class that is spending more time on the internet, especially on social media sites like Twitter. To put this power in perspective: For a few hours this morning, Panasonic’s name was on the homepage of every Twitter user that logged on.

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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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