Tony Bradbourne
Jun 22, 2016

Cannes 2016: What mighty Asia can learn from small New Zealand

Jury member Tony Bradbourne comments on the Direct Lions.

Tony Bradbourne
Tony Bradbourne

This year's Cannes Lion Direct judging had everything—heated debate, laughter, sunshine, very long hours and rosé. But you know what it was missing? Great work from Asia.

New Zealand on the other hand, with a population of 4 billion or so (much less than Asia), had a stellar year winning multiple Golds and just missing out on the Grand Prix.

So how can this be the case? There is something fundamentally wrong here. The numbers just don’t stack up.

Was the work from New Zealand 'easy award wins'—for charity or for small unknown clients who are more willing to buy edgier work? No, the strongest pieces were for Burger King with McWhopper that got huge attention, and for Heineken/DB Breweries where they turned the byproduct of making beer into petrol and sold it in 60 gas stations. Both were large, ambitious ideas for big clients.

Is there anything that other Asian agencies and clients can learn from these examples from a small country?

More Cannes 2016 coverage

I think the key is being highly ambitious for success. The beer market in New Zealand is very crowded and competitive, so Heineken/DB Breweries knew that doing a ‘good' campaign was not going to be enough. For market-beating success, everyone's goal, from the client down, has to be a ‘great' campaign.

This will mean a client demanding that at the briefing, then buying into the work when it’s presented—even when it makes them nervous. And in that there has to be trust and respect.

Overall, I think what really impressed the Direct judges this year were ideas that were brilliantly simple: 'Baby Stroller Test Drive’, ’Straight Outta’, ‘Extreme billboard’. Or ideas that were very ambitious and clever: ‘#Optoutside’, ‘McWhopper’ and ‘Brewtroleum’.

In the end the clear winner was a combination of the two. ‘The Swedish number’ (by INGO Stockholm) was a very simple idea of calling a random Swedish person to ask them anything. A great way to connect people to the country and to prove their belief in an open and free-speaking society, which was ambitious and clever and gathered over 9 billion media impressions. A great and pure example of ‘direct’.

We believe that ambitious and clever New Zealand marketing thinking could have a huge impact in the region. And hopefully we can add to what should be an impressive medal count for Asia in the coming years at Cannes. I think Asia (and I know that is a ridiculously broad term) could and should have a massive presence and impact in Direct at Cannes each and every year. There is so much talent in the region, so many smart and ambitious clients, brands and such economic might. 

Tony Bradbourne is creative director and partner at Special Group

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