Emily Tan
Jun 11, 2014

Cannes preview: Asia’s best in the Lions’ den

With the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity just around the corner, we look at the top contenders.

Cannes preview: Asia’s best in the Lions’ den

There are three things Asia-Pacific has always done well with at Cannes: craft, technology and emotion. But until recently, creative from the region hasn’t always tied all three together successfully.

Last year’s runaway success at the festival, however, where the region took home a quarter of the event’s trophies, hopefully shows that Asia has finally come into its own and that it wasn’t all thanks to McCann Melbourne’s ‘Dumb ways to die’.

Ahead of the awards, we asked eight of the region’s leading creatives to select the work from the past year that they believe will do well at Cannes. They include:

  • Ted Lim: CCO, Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia
  • Graham Fink: CCO, Ogilvy China
  • David Guerrero: Chairman and CCO, BBDO Guerrero
  • Wain Choi: Global VP and ECD, Cheil Worldwide
  • Graham Kelly: Regional ECD, Isobar Asia-Pacific
  • Steve Coll: ECD, Havas Worldwide Sydney
  • Josy Paul: Chairman, BBDO India
  • Tay Guan Hin: ECD,  JWT Southeast Asia

Surprisingly, not many of the selections this year were from Australia, and this year seems to be Japan’s year to shine with nearly all creatives pointing to Honda’s ‘The sound of Senna’ as their top pick. Southeast Asia is also expected to do well, with choices from Singapore, The Philippines and Malaysia on the list. 

Pampers ‘ZZZ Radio’, Ace Saatchi & Saatchi Philippines

Pampers wanted to communicate to Filipino mothers that its diapers would let their babies sleep right through the night. To demonstrate this, the brand and its agency decided to use white noise, which studies have found put babies to sleep. White noise machines are too expensive for many Filipino mums, but most own radio sets, so Pampers found a station that no one owned and only broadcast white noise, and branded it: 99.1FM, Pampers ZZZ Radio.

Our View: Cheeky, cheap and clever. Radio ads are seldom useful but this one must have a host of grateful, well-rested parents thinking fondly of Pampers.

“The simplest ideas are always the smartest. By inventing a new media channel that’s beneficial, Pampers created a meaningful relationship with parents. This example proves that when you discover relevant data, the creative solution comes naturally. Wish I had done this.”
Tay Guan Hin, JWT

“Clever use of white noise. Should get some attention in radio and media, although some will compare it to the ‘Go outside’ mosquito repellent work that won the Cannes Lion Radio Grand Prix in 2012.”
Ted Lim, Dentsu Aegis

Honda ‘The sound of Senna’, Dentsu Tokyo

In 1989, Ayrton Senna set the world’s fastest lap during qualifying for the Japanese F1 Grand Prix. His drive was immortalised thanks to data recorded and collected via a telemetry system — technology Honda introduced to F1. It was discovered on a sheet of paper, buried in Honda’s R&D warehouse. In ‘The sound of Senna’, Honda, Dentsu and Rhizomatiks relive the legendary lap using that data and a sound and light installation set in the original Suzuka circuit.

Our view: It’s not often that an idea drenched in technology, dry data and history carries over this well. The installation was eerily beautiful and gave F1 fans a chance to experience that moment of glory. It also subtly but inescapably underlines Honda’s heritage in advanced technology.

“A technological tour de force that recreates the race around the Japanese Grand Prix circuit. Much admired in the region and internationally. Should do well because of the care and attention to detail of the execution.”
David Guerrero, BBDO

“Ear-splitting, mind-blowing use of big data that the target audience totally gets. Your everyday automobile ad this certainly isn’t. An Innovation and Titanium Lion wouldn’t be too much to ask for.”
Ted Lim, Dentsu Aegis

“I’m no petrolhead, but I loved this campaign. By recreating a world-record F1 lap, it manages to stir the emotions, which we still don’t see much of in most digital work. And it even makes Honda’s engine telemetry system seem sexy. Quite an achievement.”
Graham Kelly, Isobar

“Being a fan of F1 and Ayrton Senna. It’s easy to fall in love with this creative coming out of Dentsu. Through this piece of work, we can all relive that moment. This work is fresh, relevant to the brand and amazingly executed. One of my picks to do well at Cannes this year.”
Wain Choi, Cheil

“A damn cool idea. It uses a lot of technology to bring about a lot of emotion.
Even if you’re not a racing fan, it’s impossible not to be moved by this. Created with a lot of love, care and attention to detail. Senna would have been proud.”
Graham Fink, Ogilvy

Bell-Net Obstetrics ‘Mother Book’, Dentsu Nagoya

Kishokai Medical Corporation’s Bell-Net Obstetrics wanted to give its new mothers an experience that would add to the joys of motherhood. So it teamed up with Dentsu to create a meticulously and lovingly crafted book. Each of its 40 pages represents a new week in pregnancy and each turn of the page shows the slow growth of the belly. Illustrations and text tell mothers what stage of development the baby has reached every week with space for moms to add their own notes

Our View: Emotion and craftsmanship at its best designed to help immortalise one of the most important times in a woman’s life. The book’s beauty will ensure that it is treasured for a lifetime.

“This is one of those precious books you’d place on the coffee table to impress your guests and at the same time wish they won’t lay their dirty little fingers on it. Truly a labour of love. How could this not win for print craft and design?”
Ted Lim, Dentsu Aegis

“An unbelievably painstaking and exact visualisation of a pregnancy. In book form. An extraordinary labour of love (no pun intended) and should certainly make an appearance in the design category.”
David Guerrero, BBDO

“I adore this simple yet beautifully crafted B&W book educating expecting mothers to discover the growth of their babies. The magic happens when a 3D pregnant body grows in size, yet fits perfectly with the deepening page on the left. A unique experience captured in traditional media.”
Tay Guan Hin, JWT

Guinness ‘Draught in a bottle’, BBDO Singapore

The series of four posters convey the idea that, although bottled, the brew inside tastes the same as that served in a pint glass at the bar. According to the agency, traditional lithography printing was used to “allude to the coming together of the old with the new”, and the choice of metallic gold was “contemporary”.

Our view: Deceptively simple, it’s not often that print work from Asia steps away from meticulous craftwork. Its clean graphic lines help it stand out, while its abstractness holds your attention for a second or two longer.

“Simple, eye-catching illustration work that stands out from the usual stupor of alcohol advertising. Refreshing stuff. Should raise a few hands in press and poster.”
Ted Lim, Dentsu Aegis

“Simple and elegant posters from our Singapore office. They capture the promise of the brand and the product in one quick take.”
David Guerrero, BBDO

Allianz ‘Be OK’, Mercer Bell Sydney

There’s one of those annoying pre-roll ads before the video you want to watch. While you’re waiting for the ‘skip ad’ button to light up, this poor bloke’s backed his shiny car into a shelf of paint. Oh dear. He comes running out, distressed and you move to hit the ‘skip ad’ button, but above it there’s one that says ‘Be OK’. Curious, you click that and the video reverses so the accident never happened.

Our View: Fun and engaging, with a witty approach to the attention users pay to the ‘skip ad’ button. Also demonstrates, however unrealistically, the benefits of insurance.

“Plenty of brands have tried to get clever with variations on the YouTube ‘skip ad’ button. But almost all the work I’ve seen has been gimmicky and not really relevant to the brand. That’s why this work stands out. It’s relevant, not just to the category but the brand itself: ‘Be OK’ is Allianz’s campaign line for all their creative.”
Graham Kelly, Isobar

Google Search ‘Reunion’, Ogilvy Mumbai

Baldev Mehra, an elderly Hindu man living in Delhi, India once had a friend, Yusuf, who lives in Lahore, Pakistan. Since the Partition of India in 1947, Baldev has never seen Yusuf, but he still thinks of him and misses him. Using the details of her grandfather’s story, Suman locates Yusuf’s sweet shop in Lahore via Google. She connects with his grandson, and they plan a surprise visit from Yusuf on Baldev’s birthday.

Our view: Genuinely heart-warming with chuckle-worthy moments, this beautiful short film touches on the pain of loss in the separation of Pakistan and India and friendships that lasts across time and religion, while working Google into the story in a way that doesn’t feel the slightest bit forced.

“It’s the same old story, but brilliantly told. It’s less about the film and more about a world you wish was true. To see a national wound healing before your eyes. Google’s attempt to find a solution through Google ‘search’ is a simple but powerful idea of how brands can contribute to larger social issues.” 
Josy Paul, BBDO

KFC ‘Phone stack’, BBDO Proximity Malaysia

While most campaigns that advocate putting your phone away use shame, fear (that you’ll fall into a hole) or humour, few reward as well as the Phone Stack. After downloading an app, KFC diners link and stack their phones. The longer the stack went undisturbed, the more KFC would reward them with vouchers for free food.

Our View: Rather than coming across as nagging or sanctimonious this initiative is pure fun. We applaud behavioural change through gamification and one of the few innovative uses of the
QR code.

“There have been other campaigns that encourage people to put away their phones and just talk with their friends: this one’s my favourite. What I like about it is how it capitalised on something that people were already doing. ‘Phone stack’ challenges have been going for a while now. The agency used mobile technology to give this a fresh twist. And in the process came up with an app that rewards people for socialising with friends. Smart.”
Graham Kelly, Isobar

New Zealand Transport Agency ‘Mistakes’, Clemenger BBDO Wellington

In Mistakes, two drivers realise a second too late that they are about to crash. The film freezes and they discuss sadly the errors they had made leading up to the inevitable moment. Then the video resumes and the tragic accident takes place.

Our view: Through the magic of cinematography, the ad perfectly captures that split-second moment when you realise that something terrible is about to happen and you know why. That instant of sad clarity when you wish you’d done things differently and your spine goes cold is what this ad hopes to save you from.

“This is searing stuff — the emotional anatomy of a horrible accident. You watch in horror. You can’t shrug it off.”
Josy Paul, BBDO

“One of the strongest pieces I’ve seen this year. It would be an out-and-out travesty if the powerful ‘Mistakes’ speeding ad, via Finch Productions, doesn’t pick up a Gold in Film.”
Steve Coll, Havas

Kirin Ichiban ‘Photogenic beer’, Hakuhodo Japan

Did you know that all of a beer’s photographic value lies in its soft white foamy head? We didn’t either, but Kirin and Hakuhodo figured this out and, to take things a step further, froze the foam, giving each pint a fluffy frosty cap. With such a photogenic beer, Japanese youth took selfies with it — lots and lots of selfies.

Our view: It’s a crafty idea that totally turns the concept of beer advertising on its head. Rather than focus on flavour or the social setting, the advertisers decided to make their beer photo-friendly. When targeting today’s selfie-crazed generation, this makes total sense.

“This is like those old Boddingtons posters brought to reality. Beer foam that looks like a soft-serve ice cream cap. An innovation with one of the most traditional products in the world. That actually serves a purpose: keeping the drink cold for up to 30 minutes. Should go down well with thirsty jurors.”
David Guerrero, BBDO

Shenyang Centre of Psychology Research, ‘Words as weapons’, Ogilvy China

Chinese parents are often pretty tough on their children, not because they don’t love them, but because of high expectations. They also may be unaware of the damage their words can do. To communicate this, Ogilvy China took the words of abuse and cast the Chinese characters in heavy nickel-plated steel that could be rearranged into guns, knives and an axe.

Our view: Although the subject is tragic the execution is beautiful and powerful. The physical weight and presence of the words turned into deadly weapons drives home the point in a tangible manner.

“Here’s one from us that we’re very proud of. The level of craft is extraordinary and the final pieces were showcased in an exhibition as well as digital posters.”
Graham Fink, Ogilvy


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