Friday, 5 December 2008

Global Brand Forum Malaysia 2008

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Global Brand Forum in the Palace of the Golden Horses which was held from 4-5 December 2008. The turnout for the Forum was about 800++pax and POGH was overrun with the who's who in the industry, be it the local celebrity such as Afdlin Shauki, Hans Isaac, Kavita Kaur, or entreprenuers such as Dato' Farah Khan and Datuk K (BTW,where's Siti?), various universiti lecturers, PR & advertising people and even some royalties. The registration for the forum was RM4,800 per pax but of course our organization was "charitable" enough to sponsor, hence the free passes for me and other colleagues.

The Forum was about branding, and my colleague told me that the first day speakers were very good turnout with Jim Stengel (formerly from Procter & Gamble), Datuk Tony Fernandes (Air Asia) and Stewart Butterfield (man who invented Flickr). However, the second day session proved to be quite dissappointing as everbody was expecting Ivanka Trump to show up to give some perspective on branding from Trump POV, but she did not turn up physically, but rather thru hologram projection and video recording. But the host extraordinaire, Riz Khan from Al-Jazeera managed the session quite well, despite some hiccups on the video part. Ivanka's presentation lasted only about 15 minutes, and there were some Q&A from Riz Khan, obviously planned qs which Ivanka obediently answered. The audience did not have the opportunity to ask Ivanka questions. To make up for Ivanka's absence, the organizers invited Malika Sherawat who was in town for the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival to fill in the gap.

Sadly, she was not in the audience at that time and Riz Khan decided to open the floor for qs on the GBF itself. BIG mistake.....audiences "tembak" the organizer with questions why Ivanka was not present and why they were not notified beforehand. Obviously, Ivanka was a crowd puller for the Forum and those who have paid almost RM5,000 for the registration felt that they were cheated. If the organizers have notified early, they could've avoided the outcry. because organizer did mentioned that they'd known about it quite at the last minute , only about 3 days before. Another attendee also commented that the audience who attended thie forum was from high ranking and please do not insult their intelligence by hiding Ivanka's absence till the last minute and Malika not being there on time. Again, Riz Khan managed to smooth things out by saying that organizers took note of the comments and be sure that they will inform Ivanka as well. To be fair, the organizers did quite well with the other speakers who were present, including Oliver Stone, that famous film director who directed films such as JFK, Any Given Sunday and latest "W", based on George W. Bush.

A good thing that Oliver Stone did came, if not, it would've been another outcry from the audience. Oliver Stone did mentioned some things on branding, in which he remarked that Branding is comfort, people would go for brands that they recognize and bring them comfort. But that was all about branding that he spoke about. He did say in his opening line that he didn't know why he was being invited as he didn't know about brands,, his films are not brands like Lucaas Film, or Spielberg or even HBO, but not him, he is the anti-brand. He was suppose to talk about Hollywood: Branding thru films but mostly, he rambled about the Vietnam war - which he received a purple heart for and which he made 3 movies about it - Platoon, Born on the 4th of July and Heaven & Earth. He was labeled as a political provocateur, and he mainly talked about American politics during the session. I think he would be more suitable if someone invited him to talk about American politics, rather than branding. However, he did striked to me as a humble person, highly intelligent and very cynical, and somewhat funny. It was kind of awesome to see the famous director himself and I think this is the point why people were willing to pay high money or travelled overseas to attend a conference, where they can hear first hand info from the experts. Hologram projection and video doesn't do justice as opposed to physical appearance on stage.

Malika Sherawat is a Bollywood actress, for those of you who are not familiar with her. IMO, she is not as famous as Aishwarya Rai and to me, her only memorable role was that of a peasant girl dancing with Shah Rukh Khan on top of the train to the tune of "Chaiyya Chaiyya" in the movie Dil Se. However, she is known for being rebellious and outspoken and unconventional in her choice of role i.e kissing scene in films which defy the Indian society morality. She also starred alongside Jackie Chan in a Hong Kong movie and now some other projects in Hollywood. under director Jennifer Lynch. She is well known as a sex symbol and some say that she is a bimbo, but she did spoke quite well and her English was not tainted so much with Indian accent. There was an attendee who commented that Malika was not in the same league with Oliver Stone (sitting together in a panel discussion with Farah Khan and Samar Khan - an Indian film maker) and there were some words uttered to insult her. But Riz Khan was firm and said that it was not polite to insult the guests onstage and Malika retorted back and said of course she is not in the same league with Oliver Stone, she's only 4 years in the film industry and still new and learning, whereas Stone is a prolific director and have won awards for his films.

The last session was with Martin Lindstrom, a well known branding expert. However, I did saw his presentation when I attended ICCA Congress in Pattaya in 2007, so I skip it to go back earlier about 4.30pm before the weekend jam starts:) Based on the sessions that I attended, it did not feel like a branding forum, more like Oprah's interview session. I'd understand if some people felt that it was not worth their money, but maybe others see it as a good opportunity to gain info and network with the high profile attendees. Either way, Media Prima has done a good job, and I think it was apt for Datuk Farid to take up the challenge to host the GBF as TV3 has quite a good branding.


fantaghiro said...


mallika sherawat was NOT the girl dancing with shah rukh in dil se..that was Malaika me on this one!! :-)

Beautiful Life said...

Fantaghiro: La...yer ker...ok I apologize, I got their identites mixed up! Thanks for clarifying! Eh U already back in office?

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