Evelina Lye
Jun 28, 2016

Cannes 2016: When will Asia start dominating award shows?

SapientNitro's Evelina Lye feels it’s just a “matter of time” before Asia starts dominating award shows.

Cannes 2016: When will Asia start dominating award shows?

At the time of writing, Asia (including all 11 Southeast Asian countries, China, India and South Vietnam) has picked up 290 Cannes Lions of the 1093 awards already announced. Sadly this means Asia accounts for just 25 per cent of the creative industry’s “recognised great work”, even more concerning is that the majority of the awards were of bronze level.

It’s not much of an improvement on last year and considering the potential campaign audience size (roughly 4.3 billion people), the budgets should be there to support truly innovative creative work.

So we polled anyone and everyone we’ve bumped into at Cannes Lions 2016 to ask: When will Asia start dominating award shows?

We received a wide and varied range of responses, from “it will take three years” to “never!”.

Overwhelmingly the people we polled believed that it was “a matter of time” but it could take up to a decade for Asia to start building more trophy cabinets. The optimists included Rik Strubel, Global VP for AXE at Unilever who said:

“I already see that Asian campaigns are doing very well. I saw the Glass Lion being won by a Unilever campaign which supports the transgender community so there’s nothing that holds Asia back from being at the front of the whole pack.”

Most were fairly ambitious for Asia. Pavani Yalla, associate creative director of Second Story in Atlanta, who represents the majority of the responses we collected.

“I think Asia will dominate these award shows in five to ten years. You’re seeing a lot of presence already at the shows, and lots of [Asian] work being submitted. Tech and creativity coming together is a great trend which could well be led out of Asia.”

Others felt that Cannes was just not set-up to assess media in markets like India and China which are fundamentally different. The very construct has to be reimagined in the context of a more global world for India and China to dominate.

Interestingly, Raymond Chin, ECD of SapientNitro China, says “Never, unless all the judges are Chinese.”

Many feel that Asia needs greater representation on the judging panels and that some categories need to be added or opened up for Asia to truly show its talent. Technology and innovation were considered to be the most likely areas this part of the world could start to dominate in.

The greatest opportunity for Asia to garner formal recognition for its own unique creativity is to look to homegrown award ceremonies. Spikes Asia and India’s Kyoorius Awards are getting more and more global recognition.

“There are some clear cultural and aesthetic differences in creative sensibilities that are a barrier, and they have nothing to do with whether the work is better or worse. It’s just different.  What I get excited about is the extension of the awards like Spikes and Kyoorius, these award shows are becoming much more important. When Western-centric agencies covet the awards coming out of Asia we’ll be able to draw a better comparison of quality,” says Gaston Legorburu, chief creative strategist at Publicis Sapient.

So, what are your thoughts?

Evelina Lye is head of marketing at SapientNitro Asia Pacific



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