Awesome Cubano

Awesome Cubano

I’ve had this craving for an authentic Cuban sandwich ever since watching Chef and I finally had time to drop by Grumpiez Green Pepper tonight for an authentic Cubano!

And I wasn’t disappointed. Seriously seriously dope sandwich for RM30/USD9.10 (it’s MASSIVE and I could only eat half)

Grumpiez – best Mexican food in Penang!

Grumpiez Green Pepper
27, Jalan Sungai Kelian
11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang

Instagram: @badboyben

HAPA Knows What’s Good.

HAPA Knows What's Good.

Congratulations to my client Cuvée Penang for winning the Hospitality Asia Pacific Awards bronze prize for Best Club.

When Cuvée approached my company at the beginning of last year to take over all their marketing and branding for them, I knew it would be a lot of hard work, since the way I brand clubs and conceptualize strategies for entertainment outlets is very different to what 99% of clubs in Penang do.

I take a more international approach to things, and don’t localize the direction too much. One benefit of doing this is that people OUTSIDE of Penang can relate more to what you are doing and the result is an enhanced (and probably more sophisticated) brand image for the establishment regionally.

One of the toughest things to do for Cuvée was to select good musical acts and pair them with intelligent event concepts that would leave a lasting impression amongst clubbers/consumers.

The club was getting hit up by a million different promoters trying to sell cheap acts to them every day and I had to sift through mountains of rubbish to find performers who I felt would contribute positively to the overall brand image of Cuvée. There were many times when I was questioned as to why I didn’t approve this act or why I rejected that one.

Even when clients/suppliers wanted to hold events at Cuvée, I had to monitor every stage of the process to ensure that quality was maintained and the events were in sync with my brand vision for the club.


Luckily, with 15 years of experience in the entertainment industry, I had access to a fantastic roster of great DJs and we managed to bring down quality acts every single time. We even brought down an official Ministry of Sound DJ to Cuvée, and we broadcast his weekly radio show live from the club which was a first!

Another crucial part to the image of the club was to upgrade the quality of all the designs of promotional material.

I wasn’t satisfied with their existing designer, so my company took on design responsibilities for a couple of months while we hunted for a new one for the client.

The immediate reaction amongst people was that everything looked more sophisticated and classier (which is what I was trying to go for). Even after new designers were hired, I was still responsible for the design direction of all communications material in order to maintain the look and feel of everything.

For those of you who don’t believe in investing a lot into the design process, think again, because people really do notice the difference.


In addition to these things, I also devised branding platforms specific to certain suppliers that allowed Cuvée to solicit a record-breaking amount of sponsorship for them and their sister outlets.

Just the incredibly successful Forever Young Privilege Card project alone brought in more than RM100,000 worth of sponsorship for the parent company in just 6 months.

When the Forever Young card was launched, we had queues of people clamoring to sign up for it at one of Cuvée’s sister outlets – Mois, which was pretty much dead and devoid of people at the time.

To everyone’s shock/disblief/amazement we even managed to help Mois COMPLETELY DESTROY national sales records for both Asahi beer and Absolut vodka on two separate occasions.

(Little known fact about these 2 events – I changed the design of all the agency-supplied advertising material as I felt they weren’t informative or attractive enough for the general public … sorry to the 4As agency hehe)


But by far the MOST exhaustive part of this massive marketing task was to inject some personality into the place. This was a challenge because the club didn’t have a proper PR person, and ones that they tried to hire were ridiculously ineffective (some even did more damage than good to the place).

So I had to party.

A lot.

With all my friends. And and all of their friends too.

To make sure that everything was documented properly, I enlisted the help of my good buddy Leon Low to handle photography duties since there was a certain way I wanted the events shot and being a close friend of mine Leon knew exactly what I wanted.

Over the course of a year, we were able to craft an incredible image of the place and Cuvée’s reputation spread far & wide. I know this because I was getting msgs from friends all around the region saying they were making plans to come to Penang and party with me at Cuvée.

And party we did.


The main point of this post is to let people know that a lot of work goes in the marketing and promotion of a club (if you want to do it properly) … at many points over the past year, many people thought that all I did was party and not much else.

But what you don’t see are the messages that start coming in from the manager at 9am and the ones that come from the owners at 3am.

Not many people know just how much time and effort I had to inject into the place over the past year in order for Cuvée to reach the level that I desired – actually a lot of the people working inside the company didn’t even know exactly what I was doing since I dealt directly with the top management and owners.

Hopefully now that I’ve shown them how to do it, their in-house team will be able to continue to deliver exciting entertainment experiences to consumers and win another award this year.

Good luck.