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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Trend Setters vs. Trend Leaders

Someone asked me why we didn't see more trend setters here in Vietnam and because I never really thought about it, I started looking about for that person who shattered boundaries or introduced new styles and was responsible for changing culture here. And what struck me was that the people who are doing that are simply adopting culture from other places rather than inventing their own. I thought that this is simply the safest way of moving forward while limiting risk.

TBWA's philosophy is "Disruption". Let's understand what the conventions are and break them in order to make a more direct connection between people and an idea. I'm not offering any big surprise when I say that the idea does better in the West than it does here in the East. In Jean-Marie Dru's (our Chairman) first book, he discusses why the idea does so well, particularly in America. The idea of being first, being different, being a pioneer is a core part of the American Dream and the American spirit. We had Rock & Roll, Punk Rock, the revolution... The West embraces counter culture and being anti-establishment. They embrace innovation and standing out.
It's all so opposite to the philosophy and cultures of Asia... but is it? I'm beginning to realize that what we have here are "trend leaders" and not trend setters. It's a subtle, but significant shift. It's about bringing people along and creating social momentum rather than changing expectations dramatically. And in a global age with information coming from every arena, there are going to be few new ideas no matter where you are looking for them. What will be more valuable is the people who recognize a great idea and are adept at disseminating that information to the rest of the population quickly.
Now my mission is to find these Vietnamese trend leaders...


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