Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Truly Multimedia

Inspired by DannyFoo’s recent blog entry, I offer the following opinion on what ails the advertising/design industry in Malaysia. Take the saying "Style over Substance".

I believe, our headache is that when clients think of design, they only think about style. Our market as it is lacks the support we need for us to properly work. We exist in the down stream. Often it is after a campaign had been along ago drafted and approved, that we then get to bid for a part in its execution. But by that time, most campaigns are doomed by 2 things, wishful thinking and/or poor planning.

For instance, a ‘Chinaman’ SMI company wants a website. The company is making a modest profit and the owner says "Lets make a website". Why does he want a website? More often then not, it's so that he can say that he look good to his potential business partners and clients eyes, projecting that his company in with the times and on the side brag to his golf buddies and fellow business men that he has a website, rather then to actually have a web presence that is productive. Hence the wishful thinking, because nobody but him is about to be fooled by an unmaintained site created by a novice.

So the businessman sets out answering a few advertisements and looks for quotes. Knowing nothing about websites other then the fact that it’s ‘the in thing’, his instincts take over. He gets a call from a guy, “For rm688, we will make you a website with 6 HTML pages with 8 banners and 8 links in each page”. Wah! All the buzz words he recognises from watching MSNBC between PGA TV commercials.

Then he gets another call, this time someone asking him all sorts of “silly” questions like the nature, background and specifications of the project he wants a quotation for, to which he’ll be thinking “What are you talking about? All I want is a cheap and nice website.”

We all know what comes next. He’ll call the first guy back, token bargain him down to rm650, and one year from when the deal is inked, his domain registration will lapse and his hosting services will get suspended with nobody noticing; nobody but the occasional frustrated customer who can’t find his site.

So there is my point. The reason our market is going to the dogs is because nobody appreciates the fact that our field is not just ‘artsy fartsy’, but a serious profession, where the right or wrong decision can help or help ruin a business. Then we compound the problem by the fact we need eat today and cave in to the demands of a wayward market, instead of standing up and doing the necessary to secure our future.

So my answer to the dilemma Danny raised is this:

Take a cue from the computer industry. The manufacturing sector is so oversaturated with companies from China, Taiwan and Korea who can over produce and under cut the big boys until the industry giants go bankrupt.

So unlike Goliath companies like Gateway, Packard Bell, etc who fought the ruthless 'David's and their low quality products to their own demise, IBM bought PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and thrived at the business of telling its customers what IT infrastructure they need to do business, rather then just sell them hardware.

So I believe we must do the same. I think the future for professional designers in Malaysia lies in advising our clients what combination in the broad spectrum of media is best suited to let them do business, be it built, printed, broadcasted or live, rather than fighting it out with every Ali, Ah Chong and Samy with a computer and FrontPage Express.


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