Scott Kronick
Jun 23, 2016

Cannes 2016: Humour in public relations in Asia is painfully absent

Jury member Scott Kronick discusses his experience judging the PR Lions.

Cannes 2016: Humour in public relations in Asia is painfully absent

Simple. Surprising. Effective. These are ingredients to a winning case in Cannes, along with superior storytelling through videos and support. If you want to win, this is the recipe, and a well-crafted story is a must.  

After 60 hours of deliberation, viewing hundreds of videos—sometimes two and three times—the PR Jury at Cannes concluded, awarding 84 Lions to marketers around the world. I sat in the jury room with 21 peers running agencies from around the world and reflected on what a great job we have. The opportunity to debate hallmarks of great work with the best minds in the business was fantastic.  

Scandinavia served as a region with very strong creativity, while there was a worrying lack of entries from pan-Africa in the PR category. Brazil was another country where strong creativity is brewing.  Perhaps there is a lesson in creativity emanating from political chaos?

The Grand Prix in the PR category came from Sweden. It was called 'The Organic Effect' and involved a beautifully crafted campaign for Coops, an organic supermarket, that highlighted the risks of not eating organic foods, using science as proof in a simple, emotive way. 

So how did Asia-Pacific fare? 

Entries from Asia Pacific in this year’s Cannes were dominated by Australia, Japan, China, India and New Zealand, with fewer entries from Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.    

Standouts from Asia included Australia’s ANZ Bank entries, stemming from the bank’s support for the LGBT community and its position on gender equality. Retailer David Jones from Australia also had a few strong contenders.

China’s SK-II Marriage Makeover campaign for 'leftover' women performed well, as did Lifebuoy’s red packets campaign promoting hand washing in rural China.   

Asian NGO entries fared well with wonderfully packaged submissions from WWF and WildAid. The WildAid campaign called #JOINTHEHERD featured prominently and focused on protecting ivory from illegal poachers.

Japan and India had several interesting entries. These cases took much discussion given the need for cultural context.

Japan had many submissions built on strong local insights. Nissin Food’s entry recognising its instant noodles needed 10-minutes to cook versus five minutes, and the execution it used to recognise this favoured well. There was also an interesting campaign from Nissan Motors entitled 'Knock Knock Cats', which received a lot of attention. This campaign reinforced Nissan’s corporate citizenship around the issue saving of cats that hide in car engines in Japan during the winter time. 

In India, 'Beauty Tips by Reshma', a case featuring an acid-attack victim in India talking about beauty, with the aim of rallying the nation to end the sale of acid in India, was very well received, as was 'Daughters of Mother India', a documentary raising awareness among police of the rape crisis across India.

I had two personal favourites after the six days of judging: 'The Organic Effect' and 'The Second Scoreboard'. 

The latter was an absolutely brilliant campaign from Costa Rica that was built off of an insight related to the incidence of domestic violence that takes place during football matches in Costa Rica. Commentators and athletes all urged the viewing population to bring the cases of domestic violence to zero by displaying a second scoreboard where the objective was to bring this to zero.

While there were many strong cases from Asia, I felt we are still at a distance from the West in creative expression in public relations, or perhaps in the packaging of our ideas into strong cases.  

It seems we could also use more humour in public relations in Asia, as this was painfully absent throughout the week. And that is no laughing matter. 

Scott Kronick is president and CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Asia Pacific. He was a jury member for the PR Lions, which went through 2,225 entries in PR and still retained a sense of humour.

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