Back in Kuala Lumpur, daily life was actually rather good.
In a lot of ways, I personally had it easy.
Going to the eateries across the road, going past condo security, hitting up the local bar or convenience store always yielded the same results: friendly smiles, excellent service and sometimes a discount.
Why? Well, because basically, I was different.
I stood out.
Not just because I’m white, mind you.
But when you’re a big, bald, bespectacled, benevolent white dude, you get noticed.
I was going against what I was surrounded by.
As they say in advertising circles, I was zagging when everyone else was zigging.
I think it was two or three days after I moved into the Pelangi Condominium that security would wave me past the gate with a smile without having to go through the mandatory ID check.
I began to be greeted by each of the Malay-Indian blokes at the mamak restaurant across the road and it wasn’t long before they started bringing me my usual without question.
I even had one or two pints on the house at the local bar on some occasions.
But why the special treatment? I hear you not actually asking.
I have a theory.
People love it when they remember something. It’s like a trick you got your brain to perform. Most of the time when you recognise something, it makes you happy.
Watch closely someone who you might meet for the second time and they recognise you. There’s always that slight smirk as they mentally connect the pieces and stand back to admire the cerebral jigsaw they completed.
Same with conversations about particular places or things. People like to join in because it’s a place they know or something they’re familiar with.
You can notice the tiny celebration going on behind their eyes that they’ve seen something they recognise and welcome it.
I mean, that’s the truth about people isn’t it? We stick to what we know.
And what’s easy to remember?
That which is distinguished from what we normally see; what stands out; what zags.
In work and in life it’s an important question to ask.
‘Is what I’m doing distinguishable?’
‘Will I get that celebratory smirk when I’m recognised?’
It spans from an art piece you’re planning, to a business model, to the outfit you’ll wear to a fancy party.
Coca Cola in Turkey ran a nostalgia campaign with the bottle design. They remodelled them to look just like the first Coke bottles. I managed to get one while I was there. A brilliant piece of brand memorabilia.
Everyone loves that feeling of days gone by. That feeling comes to me whenever I have one of those Youtube sessions when I look up ads I remember from the Nineties. Does that mean I was born to love advertising? Or is it because I’m so fanatical about it that it dominates my childhood memories also?
It’s funny. These ads are the only ads I’ve ever looked at without judging their creativity. They are forever awesome because they will always represent so much more than an iced fruity treat or peanut flavoured spread.
So as my last post written in New Zealand, I give you The Good Times of New Zealand Ads.
PLEASE NOTE: To fully appreciate the following, have an extensive knowledge of NZ ads from the late Eighties to the late Nineties. Otherwise, international people may like to indulge in some old kiwi ads, as long as they don’t judge, for they are precious.