Taking the Putra Brand Awards to the next level

TheStar Mon, Feb 08, 2021 09:50am - 2 months ago

Long-time organising chairman of PBA and Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) senior adviser Datuk Johnny Mun, (pic) who is also a veteran in the advertising arena, shares his views, among others, on what makes PBA tick, its plans going forward and the initiatives to beef up the money-can’t-buy award to a higher level.

THE Putra Brand Awards (PBA), which is into its 11th year, has been gaining momentum over the years.

It has provided a platform for brands to excel and stamp their mark on the Malaysian branding space.

Come rain or shine, and even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the consumer choice awards has gained strong recognition among marketers and consumers alike.

Long-time organising chairman of PBA and Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) senior adviser Datuk Johnny Mun, who is also a veteran in the advertising arena, shares his views, among others, on what makes PBA tick, its plans going forward and the initiatives to beef up the money-can’t-buy award to a higher level.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

How did the idea of having the Putra Brand Awards come about? How was it initiated?The initiation of PBA came about when we at the 4As thought it would be most apt to help marketers have a measure of their brands affinity with the consumers.

After all, the 4As is an association of professional brand builders and the introduction of such a brand success measurement will add to validate the strategies and efforts invested into achieving top-of-mind brand recollection among our consumers.

The mother idea of PBA was an award to measure Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands (MMVB).

The original intent was to measure net worth/value of companies/brands in Malaysia.

PBA was born to succeed MMVB as the earlier version was seen to be rather limiting in its scope and that PBA would measure brands in recall and affinity values rather than purely monetary performance.

In essence, PBA became the new currency in brand success measurement.

Since its inception, how has it evolved over the years?Since its inception, PBA has seen evolution on a few fronts.

In the early years of its inception, participation/attendees of the gala awards presentation were mainly advertising practitioners –ad agencies with a token representation of marketers.

Over the next few years as PBA grew in stature and prominence, the trend reversed.

Marketers dominated attendance as it’s an event deemed as a measurement of success for their brand portfolios.

For the awards itself, from the original gold, silver and bronze awards, 4As has also introduced other prestigious accolades like the PBA Brand Icon.

Here, winners of the top award in each category for four years in succession are awarded.

There was also the introduction of the Platinum Awards to go one better than gold.

The most significant addition to PBA has to be the PBA Hall Of Fame.

To be inducted into the PBA Hall Of Fame, brands will need to be the winning brand in their category for 10 years in a row!

This explains why there are only a handful of inductees and the prestige of this immortalisation.

What makes such an award stand out?What differentiates the PBA from any other awards in Malaysia if not the region are two basic things.

First, it’s a money-cannot-buy award and second, it’s called “The People’s Choice Awards”.

The winners are voted by consumers via robust research of over 6,000 strong respondents conducted by an international research firm (IPSOS).

Provisional results are also presented to an esteemed board of governors for deliberation and endorsement before being declared winners.

This stringent process is to ensure fairplay and transparency. The whole process from results to endorsement by the board takes three months!

Are there plans moving forward to include more special awards?Going forward we may need to review and expand/extend the awards to other areas.

Studies are being done to look into these possibilities.

Any other areas which are being looked at to further beef up the People’s Choice Awards?One of the key objectives of PBA is to help build local hero brands.

It’s our hope that together we will be able to attain regional and international acceptance.

Are there plans to increase the award’s exposure at the regional level before going global? The 4As have gone on road shows with PBA to meet our counterparts in the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

We will be aggressively pursuing the possibility of franchising PBA across the region – first to our Asean neighbours, then to the rest of Asia.

Were there any hurdles faced in the launching of PBA 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic?As the research has always been done online there was not too much of an issue amidst the pandemic.

It’s rather disappointing that we are not able to have the gala presentation evening to personally congratulate winners and celebrate as one big branding fraternity.

Will there be plans to tie up with more partners in the future for the award show?The PBA awards already has an array of distinguished partners.

They range from research to media and industry partners.

How has the award show helped in raising the bar in the branding arena?The PBA has indeed helped marketers raise their value.

They are after all voted by the people. Your consumers voting for your brand as their favourite certainly would be the best accolade any marketer can hope for.

This certainly spells affinity and loyalty – two of the most sought-after values for brands.

Success, however, has its caveat. It means that marketers will work even harder to retain the trust their customers have in them and not rest on their laurels just because they have been successful this time around.

Taking the lead may be the easy part, remaining on top though is the acid test.

Any challenges you foresee in the branding space? At the same time, what are the growth drivers that will boost a company’s brand? Marketers need to realise the importance in sustained investments in their brand building.

They must not be mistaken to think that an occasional success can be achieved through firing occasional salvoes and pockets of activities here and there.

Brands are like plants. They need nurturing, which is more than just watering them as and when you remember to.

A big potential for companies to endear themselves to the consumer is in the area of corporate social responsibility or CSR.

An often underrated area of a marketer’s plans, a well-thought-out programme will go a long way in building trust and loyalty.

What are your thoughts on the outlook of the branding industry this year? This year should be a year of recovery, albeit a slow one.

Consumers have in a way grown to accept the new norms in their lives.

As travel abroad may still be prohibited, there is going to be an abundance of disposable income locally.

Marketers must realise this opportunity and maximise their resources in realising the potential.

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