Alvin Ng
Jun 22, 2016

Cannes 2016: The problem with Malaysian work is not lack of craft

Jury member Alvin Ng on the Outdoor Lions.

Alvin Ng
Alvin Ng

It was indeed a true honour for me to be a part of the Cannes Advertising Festival 2016 Outdoor Jury. The judging took more than 45 hours, about 55 cups of coffee and a couple of Coronas to reach its conclusion, but it was well worth it. We ended up with an amazing Grand Prix called 'Brewtroleum' by Colenso BBDO Auckland for DB Export Beer. It’s an absolute mind-blaster of an idea.

Here’s a little trick question for everyone, is New Zealand considered part of Asia or Europe? Maybe it is part of Asia when it comes to the World Cup qualifiers and part of Europe when it comes to Cannes. Anyway, I’ll leave New Zealand and Australia out of my Asian analysis of Cannes.

Right now, Asia is like Portugal in the Euro Cup. We are depending too much on a few star players. I must say, I had mixed feelings about how Asia performed at Cannes. On one hand, we walked away with quite a decent amount of Lions, thanks mainly to Japan and Thailand. Arigatogozaimashita!, Japan and Kop Khun Kap!, Thailand.

More Cannes 2016 coverage

Many Asian countries had no work shortlisted or even submitted in Outdoor. This could be a reflection of the economic and political instability gripping many Southeast Asian countries, which has fractured the earning capacity of many ad agencies and rendered them incapable of covering the cost of the very expensive Cannes entry fees. There may be many other reasons. But one thing is for sure: We desperately need to get out of this slump.

For my home country Malaysia, we had a big zero shortlist in the Outdoor category. My take on why we did so badly? Our work was just not fresh enough. And that’s the real problem. Even if we had all 18 judges from Malaysia, the results would have been the same. You just can’t award work that’s not breaking new boundaries. It’s not our craft that’s lacking, it’s the ideas. We have to up our game. Our closest neighbour, Singapore had a respectable showing, so hats off to them. And their entire country is not as big as most of our states!

Alvin Ng is creative director of FCB Kuala Lumpur

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