Andrew Hook
Jul 1, 2016

Cannes 2016: Bravery is lacking from Asia's agencies

Radio juror Andrew Hook tells us how Asia can move up the value chain creatively to make more of an impact.

Cannes 2016: Bravery is lacking from Asia's agencies

It was a big year at Cannes this year … isn't it always? 

But while the cabanas, beach parties, and glasses of rosé seem to grow bigger every festival, thankfully this year the ideas were getting bigger as well.

There was some serious work on parade, especially in the heavyweight categories like Direct and Promo. Most years, you expect to see one or two standout ideas that take most of the limelight. This year, there were so many it was hard to keep track.

From the Swedish Number, to Opt Outside, to McWhopper or The Next Rembrandt, there were some breathtaking ideas on display. It was humbling to see the scale and impact of these campaigns, as well as the level of innovation and risk-taking involved. Bravery was very much the order of the day.

While there was a dominance of American and European work, Asia did make its presence felt with a few key highlights, like Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign, or Make Love Not Scars, which both made a big impact. Of course, it would be great to see more Asian work hitting this level. But the only way is through bravery – more of it, on more clients, across more categories.

There was also a clear theme of brands trying to address real world issues, while embedding their products into the solution – like the superb LandCruiser Emergency Network from out of Australia. A kind of middle ground between pure CSR and pure selling. This could be a starting point for brands in Asia looking to move up the value chain creatively. 

Perhaps more humble in stature, and some would say a little unloved, is the Radio category, which I had the opportunity to judge this year. While the entries don’t have the scale of their bigger cousins, there was still plenty of bravery on display. And once again, it was a mandatory ingredient for any spot to get near metal. Despite what some might tell you, it’s definitely not easy to win in radio.

There were a few standout pieces that took the lion’s share of the awards. The fantastic KFC campaign – our Grand Prix winner – was a crowd favourite from the moment we heard it. An example of great craft and performance, it hit all the right notes, and proved once again that South Africa are the kings of radio. Close behind it was the Dove campaign, which showed rare restraint and poise in the writing, and stood out from the pack for its thoughtful simplicity.

Each of these required their own kind of bravery to pull off, and it was heartening to see two campaigns for mainstream consumer brands making it to the top. In contrast, the public sector and charity segments were surprisingly flat this year.

While there were other great campaigns in the field, with some 1,400 entries being considered, it took something special to get into the shortlist and beyond.

Cannes might get bigger every year. But it certainly doesn’t get any easier. 

Andrew Hook is group executive creative director for Havas Singapore. 

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