A return of only two Grand Prix compared to six in 2009 appears, on the face of it, to suggest a poor return for Asia-based agencies.
But while 2010 certainly lacked the big stand-out works from the region to rival 2009's 'Best job in the world' from CumminsNitro or JWT's work for The Times of India from the year before, this tells only one small part of the Cannes story. In fact, in terms of solid - and organic - creative growth, it could be argued that there is much that the region can be positive about.
On a country level, China picked up only its second-ever gold Lion, this time in the Design category, courtesy of DDB Shanghai. Similarly, Indonesia, one of the markets agencies have been the most excited about over the past 12 months, picked up its debut gold, thanks to Y&R Jakarta's outdoor campaign for LG. In Taiwan, Ogilvy & Mather came back with the island's first metal, a bronze in the Direct category. Hong Kong, meanwhile, built on its resurgence in 2009, with an Outdoor gold for Grey and a Direct gold for Leo Burnett. In fact, with a total of seven Lions across five categories this year, Leo Burnett says theirs was the best haul yet by an agency from Hong Kong.
One of the most impressive, and hopefully significant, trends, however, was the performance of Asia-Pacific-based independents, and not just from Japan. Leading the way was Special Group of New Zealand, which triumphed with a Grand Prix in the Direct category. India's TapRoot - whose co-founder Agnello Dias won a Grand Prix for India in 2008 while at JWT - took home gold in the Press category. Even more outstanding was the showing for small creative shop Senseteam, based out of Shenzhen, China, which won a Design silver.
So, while Cannes 2010 may be lacking the big headlines it attracted in previous years, the region should not be too downcast. Asia is still, in some respects, a work-in-progress, and those Lions that are now on their way back to offices across the region bode well for its future development. And, as a possible indicator of future potential, we should also mark the achievements of Jin Hyung Kim and Song La Lee from Korea's Cheil Worldwide, who won gold in the Film Young Lions. Likewise, two representatives from Bayan Telecommunications in the Philippines won silver in the Young Marketers competition. Both wins suggest talent in the region is still something that will be competing on a global level in years to come.
This article was originally published in the 1 July 2010 issue of Media.