BatesAsia’s power beneath their clients’ wings

While a number of top marketing companies showed how they outshone their competitors with winning performances in the marketplace that turned into awards at the recently concluded Brand Excellence 2007, this year’s list of winners underscored the performance of an Agency that worked in partnership with three of the top winners in building brands. That Agency, which outshone its own competitors by far, was BatesAsia Strategic Alliance.

BatesAsia worked with its long-standing client Holcim Lanka in a campaign to change consumer perceptions and habits and gain acceptance and adoption for Holcim Pedereru which made it the Gold winner in the Turnaround Brand of the Year category. Holcim also won the Bronze in the Innovative Brand of the Year category for introducing the concept of applications-based cements and working to change market habits. Commenting on the close working relationship with the Agency, Holcim Lanka’s Marketing Manager Indika Jayaweera said: “Commitment, strategic thinking, passion and the unmatched attitude of the Bates team has immensely contributed to the success of the Holcim brand over the last couple of years. I’m proud to have them on my team”.

BatesAsia worked with their client Ceylon Biscuits in the launch and growth of several innovative products under the Ritzbury brand to appeal to different segments. Following this flanking strategy came the eventual launch of Ritzbury slabs to capture the mainstream market also with a very innovative approach. Ritzbury won the Gold for the Innovative Brand of the Year. The Agency also came up with an creative campaign based on a product insight for one of Ritzbury’s new products, Poppit, which captured the imagination of consumers to make it an unstoppable brand, and helped it to win the Silver in the Best New Entrant category. Ritzbury Brand Manager Nilupul de Silva had this to say about the Agency: “Bates Asia’s innovative communication ideas and inputs have helped Ritzbury to win the hearts and minds of the Sri Lankan consumer and rapidly ascend towards the pinnacle of the chocolate market.”

Another brand that BatesAsia helped to build to significant proportions was Bank of Ceylon’s Ran Surakum pawning service. Again, insights into consumer behaviour played a large part in fashioning a campaign that spoke to the consumer in a reassuring and caring manner that in turn helped in the success of the brand. Dr. Asoka Jinadasa, Corporate Communications Consultant to the Bank spoke of the Agency’s approach saying: “We wanted to reach and engage a well defined target group using an innovative communication strategy, and the expertise of BatesAsia helped us to achieve our goal with a very high level of effectiveness.”

BatesAsia’s CEO Nimal Gunewardena, who was also felicitated at the ceremony for his contribution to guiding the Awards over the last five years, said: “It is much more satisfying to be partner to our clients in building winning brands than to win purely creative awards that may not relate at all to brand performance.”
It was fitting that one of the entertainment acts at the awards show featured the Bates Blues Band performing an original composition about brands which rang:
“It is the power that lives beneath your wings - It lets you fly away to do the darndest things”.
BatesAsia also counts the night’s top award winner Hemas Marketing among its clients.


Microsoft Navalova Labs training program extended to Colombo

The Navalova project by Microsoft has been expanded to cover Colombo schools after funding nearly forty rural schools as part of efforts to touch 1 million people by 2009 through MS education and training initiatives

The Navalova project is a key initiative under the non-commercial memorandum of understanding signed with the government in 2005, uniting Microsoft and the Ministry of Education in a bid to bridge the digital divide both within the country and between the developed and developing world, by jointly improving the ICT literacy of Sri Lankan school students and teachers.

The initiatives under the said non commercial MoU including the Navalova project, are funded by the Microsoft “Partners in Learning” (PiL) program, a global initiative operating in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 space, under the umbrella program Unlimited Potential, which envisions to transform the way the world learns, fostering knowledge and improving the way they work. The Partners in Learning Initiative stems from the premise that in every child, there is the potential to be great. Partners in Learning attempts to help children realize their potential by increasing technology skills in teachers and improving educational outcomes for students and as a result has trained over 7,000 educators in Sri Lanka to date.

Microsoft Sri Lanka targets to reach at least one million people directly or indirectly through its training and education efforts (of which Navalova initiative is one) by 2009.

The Navalova project focuses on training school teachers in the use of IT, in a bid to encourage the use of IT in the classroom. The objective of the project is to incorporate ICT as an effective tool in education – thereby building the capacity of students to utilize IT effectively and be more competitive when they enter the workforce. With this broad objective, the Navalova project undertakes to provide all teachers of the schools chosen, training in the general use of ICT in the class room, and specialized training to IT teachers and instructors on advanced use of IT such as programming.

Jinashri Samarakoon, Education Programme Manager of Microsoft said, “Microsoft’s shares the government’s vision for education - to modernize the way our children learn to give them ICT skills, which is essential in the new economy. To do this we need to encourage the use of IT as an effective tool in the classroom. We believe that by introducing IT, teachers will be able to make their lessons more interactive and interesting. By making such enhancements to the way children learn we would enable them to become IT competent. Such initiatives help bridge the digital divide, ensuring that Sri Lankan students are empowered to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. We began with the rural schools to increase the IT penetration in those areas. Extending the initiative to schools in Colombo is also important as these schools have the largest student population. Therefore, by training the teachers in these schools we reach a large number of students. The enthusiasm displayed by the Principals of these schools was very encouraging.”


“Gama Navodhaya” Scheme by Aitken Spence Cargo

Aitken Spence Cargo will continue to support Dedunupitiya Maha Vidyalaya, in Mawanella, as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

This is an extension of the company’s scheme of Re-awakening the Village - “Gama Navodhaya” through village development projects. Aitken Spence Cargo had selected Dedunupitiya Maha Vidyalaya, being a school situated in one of the Food Insecurity Areas as identified by the World Food Program.

Aitken Spence Cargo, a leader in the freight forwarding industry, plans to carry out career guidance and mentoring programmes to students in the school’s G.C.E. Ordinary Level and Advanced Level classes. These will be conducted by the company along with Group Human Resource Division in keeping with current training needs and trends. Aitken Spence Cargo hopes this exercise will help the students to reach greater heights.

This is a continuation of the company’s project carried out in 2006 for the improvement of Dedunupitiya Maha Vidyalaya, where Aitken Spence Cargo staff participated in a ‘Shramadana’ campaign at the school. The school building was colour washed, with a new name board being installed. A boundary fence was constructed, and a computer was donated to the staff of the school. A pipeline was installed as well, to provide fresh water for the students and staff.

Mr. Rohantha Peiris, Managing Director Aitken Spence Cargo, thanked the school authorities for providing an opportunity where the company could reciprocate its success by supporting an identified area in our society.
Mr. Peiris stated, “As a socially responsible company, we are committed to the welfare of society. The Dedunupitiya School project is only one such project of Aitken Spence Cargo Group directed towards CSR.We are pleased with the progress and thankful to the Principal, staff and students who are effectively working with us to expand the school activities. We are happy to assist the school in whatever way we can, to develop in their league. In coming years we will endeavour to identify other needs and continue to support them.”

Mr. Mohan Perera-Director/GM, expressed appreciation to the school authorities for opening the door to the company to achieve the first step in its CSR objective of uplifting a less developed village. Mr. I G Wijeratne, Principal of Dedunupitiya M.V., acclaimed the company’s commitment and contribution, whilst mentioning that Aitken Spence Cargo is commonly referred to by the staff and students as “Our Company”. He stated that the company has enabled the school to be a preferred educational institution in the area.


ODEL expands to Kohuwela

ODEL, Sri Lanka’s premier lifestyle brand, added another door recently, with the opening of its outlet in Kohuwela. This addition to the lineup of ODEL’s existing chain of stores takes the brand’s range of stylish collections to the suburbs of Colombo, at the same time widening the brand’s customer base. The new store once again highlights the rapid expansion of this retail chain from a one-store operation, to become Sri Lanka’s most successful brand of clothing stores.
Following ODEL’s continuing plans for growth by entering and developing new consumer markets in the country, the brand’s move to Kohuwela signifies a new era for the retail giant as it moves into emerging markets.

As a suburb that has shown stages of swift development over the past couple of years, Kohuwela is now seen to be a major residential and commercial district on the outskirts of Colombo city, as well as a highly matured retail sector. The launch of this new outlet outside of Colombo once again demonstrates ODEL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms. Otara Gunewardene’s insights into consumer needs, and her ability to identify and tap into emerging retail markets around the country.

Speaking at the launch of the new store, Ms. Gunewardene said that “the Kohuwela customer base and the location of the outlet was in keeping with the Odel identity and as such was a suitable area to expand to. The limited time people have with their busy lifestyle plus traffic is sometimes a deterrent for customers from this area to visit our other outlets. We have now made it easier for them to access the Odel offer.

The Kohuwela outlet forms the newest entity in the existing chain of stores by this iconic fashion brand, which also has a presence in Alexandra Place, Majestic City, and the Bandaranaiyake International Airport. The brands largest expansion at Alexandra place adjoining the current department store which will be one of the best retail spaces in the region is set to start next year.


Student-Centred Learning’ improves school education

International Teacher Trainer from CIE addresses head teachers and principals

‘Student-Centred Learning’ was the focus of an address by a speaker from the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) at a conference in Colombo recently. The approach, favoured by CIE, can make learning more effective and focused. Explaining the concept at a seminar for head teachers and principals in the city, Keely Laycock, a senior teacher trainer from Cambridge said, “Student-centred learning encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning, by giving them experiences to learn from and by encouraging them to actively participate in a lesson rather than being passive observers. “
She added, “The teacher plans for the differing needs, previous experiences and learning styles of students. Instead of sitting in rows having information presented to them via lectures, books and PowerPoint presentations, they work in groups finding things out for themselves“. Keely Laycock’s presentation helped to define real student-centred learning and to explain why it is of such importance and benefit to teachers and learners.
Discussing the relevance of the new concept in modern learning, William Bickerdike, CIE Regional Manager, South Asia, said: “It is possible with large groups to encourage the development of the characteristics required in quality life-long learning motivation, self-evaluation, peer-assessment and time management. But to achieve this, educators need to look less at the teacher and more at the student”.
CIE’s representative in Sri Lanka, Mrs. Nirmali Hettiarachchi, welcomed delegates, saying that the workshop was further evidence of CIE’s commitment to the professional development of teachers on the island.











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