Staff Reporters
May 30, 2022

Cannes Contenders: Sweetshop picks top five APAC campaigns

Jennifer Crabb of Sweetshop Asia picks APAC campaigns that have a chance of scoring a Cannes Lions this year.

Jennifer Crabb, Sweetshop
Jennifer Crabb, Sweetshop

In our Cannes Contenders series, creatives in the region pick standout APAC campaigns projected to score an award. Jennifer Crabb, senior bidding producer for Sweetshop Asia, picks five campaigns with notable production quality. 

Campaign: NIAN ‘Shot on iPhone’
Brand: Apple
Category: Cinematography

A super impressive piece of work showcasing the potential of imaginative, craft-conscious filmmaking using the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Directed by Lulu Wang, ‘Nian’ is a whimsical retelling of a Chinese New Year folklore tale with a cute performance from the little girl and a sweetly nostalgic tone. The crew found fun ways to make the most of their tiny portable camera, from submerging it in water to filming from inside Nian’s mouth. I love this as there was no sense of it being a gimmick or a compromise, and I forgot I was watching something which had been shot on a phone almost immediately. Filmmaking craft is on display in every frame and Anna Franquesa Solana’s cinematography is even more notable an achievement considering no special adaptors or cinema lenses were used.

Campaign: ‘Larry’
Brand: Rollin
Category: Production Design/Art Direction

This is such a funny and original concept that demonstrates great cut-through compared to other campaigns in this market. Larry is a delightfully funky yellow ball rolling his way through the neighbourhood rapping early-90s banger ‘The Humpty Dance’—what’s not to love?  I would watch a spinoff series featuring Larry, sign me up. For me, apart from the awesome art direction and production execution, the music and sound design were the icing on the cake, especially the genius touch of Larry’s singing going muffled for a couple seconds on every roll.  For the sheer boldness of the creative and memorability-factor in a saturated market, this one wins the day for me.

Campaign: ‘Helping you Help Them’
Brand: Google
Category: Direction

This film tells the story of a touching journey as a 'new Australian’ father strives to help his daughter assimilate to the local culture by joining a girls’ Australian Football League (AFL) club. I distinctly remember seeing this ad on TV when it first went to air, and rewinding it so I could rewatch it. You don’t often see a creative like this on Australian television—combining very relevant themes of girls’ sport and a proud recent immigrant embracing the culture of his adopted country. It stood out to me as being both modern and heartfelt. Strong central performances from dad and daughter and authentic world-building from the director make this a standout for me.

Campaign: ‘Find Your Own Way’
Brand: Pocari Sweat
Category: Production Design/Art Direction

I really liked this one because of its Alice in Wonderland and magic realism vibes. There’s great in-camera and CGI skills on display including invisible line work and seamless transitions to deliver a great one-shot feel. Where the temptation is so often to make everything CGI, this spot leaned into a refreshing in-camera execution as well. The set was built 85-metres-long and a team of art department were off-camera undulating the floor by hand as the girl ran past. Despite being only 60-seconds long, the video is packed with emotion, beauty and technical craft. Forging your own path in life is hard, but it can be fun if you have a friend running beside you. 

Campaign: ‘Master Ji’
Brand: Byju’s
Category: Direction

This is a real tribute to every teacher who kept the wheels of education turning during the pandemic. Master Ji’s world changes overnight as lockdowns hit India, schools go online, and he struggles to keep up with a new world of digital learning. Fearful of the technology he feels humiliated and disheartened, before he finally comes to understand the impact he has had on his past students and his spirit is reborn. The nuanced central performance made Master Ji feel very real and mirrored the seismic shift we all experienced to some degree when we entered a pandemic-changed world two years ago. Very cinematic and heartfelt.






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