Nikita Mishra
Jun 11, 2024

Cannes Contenders: TBWA's handpicked lion-hearted crusaders

In the hunt for the grand prize, TBWA's Peter Khoury reveals his list of APAC campaigns poised for roaring success in the French Riviera next week.

Pete Khoury, TBWA Asia’s CCO
Pete Khoury, TBWA Asia’s CCO

The countdown to Cannes Lions beckons, and so do the dreams of many hopefuls. Amongst them is a bevy of talent deserving of recognition from Asia-Pacific. With less than a week to go before the most prestigious and influential awards show in the advertising calendar, the Campaign Asia team is busy picking the brains of leading creatives in the region to predict top-tier pieces of work that will, or should, walk away with glory at the Festival of Creativity.

Today, TBWA Asia’s chief creative officer, Peter Khoury, is sticking his neck out to predict game-changing creativity from the region. Khoury shares his picks and insights into why these campaigns stand out.

Take a read at his picks.

Campaign: 'Sam-ma-korn'
Brand: Sammakorn 
Cannes category: Film, Film Craft, Specifically performance 

Thai housing developer Sammakorn has an issue with its company name. It is so commonly confused with Sanpakorn, the country's revenue department. So much so that people repeatedly contact the business with queries about their tax filings. Rather than take a serious, bureaucratic approach to setting the record straight, Sammakorn opted for a campaign dripping with self-deprecation to remind viewers the company sells houses and certainly does not collect taxes.

Says Khoury, "The film told you and showed you everything you needed to know and you just couldn’t look away. Thai humour has been kind of MIA on the international award circuit lately. I get it, the world was going through some heavy stuff, so serious themes were getting all the spotlight. But now, I think we're all craving some good laughs again, just pure entertainment. Cannes started to show signs of humor making a comeback last year, and I reckon it's only gonna get stronger this year. Sam-ma-korn hit the sweet spot at just the right time."

Campaign: 'UnplasticIndia'
Brand: Times of India
Cannes Category:  Print, Craft , Poster

“UnplasticIndia” leverages the power of simplicity with its poignant posters. In an age dominated by high-tech campaigns, these traditional posters stand out by conveying a strong message with brutal simplicity. The imagery of hands opening plastic bottles that simultaneously depict the suffocation and twisting of marine creatures’ necks is both striking and memorable.

"A powerful poster. It’s as classic, traditional and old school as you can get these days. But when done right, a simple poster can outshine even the flashiest high-tech gadgets or Integrated campaigns. Posters have always been about that raw, brutal simplicity. These ones hit hard with their simple yet powerful message: the opening of plastic bottles with human hands by twisting open the bottlenecks but illustrate how the very act mercilessly kills marine creatures by suffocating them and twisting their necks. One glance and you get it. And when you're winding down at home, it's probably the one thing that will stick with you, even amidst all the noise of the day.”

Campaign: 'Vi Human Network Testing Network'
Brand: Vi India
Cannes Category: Innovative Use of Influencer

The “Vi Human Network Testing Network” campaign cleverly blends analogue and digital to reach underserved areas. By collaborating with the 135-year-old Dabbawalas network, Vi tested its network coverage throughout Mumbai. This innovative use of existing infrastructure allowed Vi to identify and improve weak spots in its network, demonstrating that sometimes the best solutions come from leveraging what already exists.

"The blend of analogue and digital can really change the game for people in hard-to-reach places. Vi, teamed up with the 135-year-old human-based Dabbawalas network to put their coverage and network quality through the wringer in every corner of Mumbai. By embracing an existing infrastructure and using it in a fresh way, it helped Vi pinpoint exactly where they needed to step up their game. Sometimes, the answer isn’t a shiny new thing but rather something that has been there all along.”

TBWA's own pick: 

Campaign: 'No Smiles'
Brand: McDonald’s
Cannes category: Entertainment, Branded Content, Film Craft, Influencer Marketing, Radio 

The campaign, created by TBWA Hakuhodo, is a bold departure from the norm. It tackles a serious issue with an unconventional twist. It disrupted the traditional Japanese business culture of Omotenashi, which is synonymous with McDonald’s, by featuring an influencer known for never smiling. The approach resonated with younger consumers and it breaks away from rigid norms by showing a deep understanding of the target audience.

"So, a serious issue calls for a serious fix, right? Well, this campaign threw that playbook out the window. It took on a big slice of traditional Japanese business cultureOmotenashi (basically, following strict rules of Japanese-style hospitality, which had become synonymous with McDonald’s). Instead of sticking to the norm, they disrupted the entire workforce category by bringing in an influencer known for never cracking a smile. McDonald’s scored major points for being real and understanding where their younger potential employees were at. It was bold, it was distinctive, crafted to perfection, and the results? They speak for themselves,” opines Khoury. 

Campaign Asia

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