Gunjan Prasad
Jun 15, 2015

Indonesia ready for Cannes challenge

Cultural reticence to standing out has traditionally kept Indonesia agencies from excelling in awards shows. Will this year's Cannes be a turning point?

Indonesia ready for Cannes challenge

It is that time of the year once again when agencies around the world are jostling to get their best work noticed and already eyeing the glory that is to be had at Cannes later this month. There is some flutter of activity and a degree of excitement even in Indonesia, a market that has traditionally shied away from anything that requires standing out to get noticed. Are these baby steps towards a dramatic shift in the mindsets of agencies and their clients towards global award shows?

“Where in Bali is Indonesia?” is a quote that Ed Thesiger, CEO of Group M Indonesia believe is apt when describing the perception about ‘brand Indonesia’ on a global advertising stage. “It still falls under the radar, and one of the reasons is that the advertising and media business in this country has also been woefully under-represented historically at both APAC and global awards.”

This for a market whose size is estimated to be US $2.4 billion and is expected to clock 12.3 per cent growth over 2014.

Indonesia is a collectivist society, which is taught from early on not to be too outspoken and to not stand out of the crowd. “We are humble to an extent of sometimes being under-confident,” explained DD "Lulut" Asmoro, CEO of JWT Indonesia. “To create and then showcase work that is path-breaking and sets us apart from the world is a complete antithesis of our cultural upbringing.”

Things, however, seem to be changing. Judging by the huge increase in the number of entries submitted during the last edition of the local advertising awards, Citra Pariwara, aspirations of winning an award is definitely strong and growing. This can be attributed to the subtle cultural change that is being seen in the country today among the young generation. There is a visible shift from just “we” to the “me in we”.

This is just as well since it is also the year when the nation’s largest advertiser has taken an aggressive stance towards winning awards, as it sees the positive impact shows like Cannes can bring to the country and thus to business. In her interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific recently, Unilever’s media director, Adeline-Ausy Setiawan candidly stated that not much had been done so far by marketers and thus, their agencies in creating and packaging work that could compete internationally. “A special task force is needed…. We have already rolled the dice,” she said.

Buoyed by her enthusiasm, both Mindshare and Lowe have entered their work on Unilever’s brands such as Axe, Lifebuoy, Pond’s, Bango and Pureit across categories this year (see details below).

“Success breeds success, and until you have won something, it tends not to be too high on the agenda,” added Thesiger. “Last year, Mindshare Indonesia made history by becoming the first agency, across any discipline, from Indonesia to win an APAC agency of the year title at the MMAs.  The uplift as a result of that win was immense; not just within Mindshare but across the industry.”

Roy Sagala, ECD, Havas WW Indonesia, recalls feeling “ecstatic” on winning a Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively at Spikes, Cannes and London International Awards in 2010 for the campaign “Mudflow”—an ambient to commemorate the Lapindo disaster. “We have a large pool of creative talent in Indonesia, but lack of conviction in their own potential and fear of failure prevents them from putting their hand up. Entering award shows and winning there will inject just the confidence Indonesia needs.”

Winning at award shows is an art that requires discipline, process, time, and most importantly financial and management support. “Not every agency has the privilege to commit or for that matter have any inclinations towards it,"  says Joseph Tan, CEO, Lowe Indonesia. "There will always be agencies that place importance on commercial success over creative accolades.”

However, with Unilever taking the lead, it should not take too long to make the other big spenders see the correlation between creativity and effectiveness. “Sooner or later the clients will have to understand the role of out-of-the-box thinking in cutting the clutter and engaging more effectively with their consumers,” added Lulut. “Creatives are used to clients who say they want path-breaking ideas but then shoot down anything that is out of the ordinary. We need them taking more risks.”

While Indonesia is yet to find a single creative voice, or its own 'Heaven & Hell' campaign that put China on the award map, most of the top honchos believe that Indonesia is on the right track. “JWT was the first agency to bring home a lion, and that was just eight years ago,” said Lulut. “Give us some more time and flexibility and we will be right up there with other Asian stalwarts.”

Cannes 2015 contenders from Indonesia


Lifebuoy weather adaptive ads
Client: Unilever
Agency: Mindshare
Category: Innovation: Data creativity

Most Indonesians believe they get sick when weather changes. While there is no scientific basis for it, most moms feel this is one of the reasons why their children get sick. Lifebuoy, the brand that helps moms stay one step ahead of sickness, wanted to find a way to inform moms of these weather changes. “Since mom’s mobile phone was always with her, we knew it was the best place to keep her informed real-time. Best part is, we could leverage on the phone’s location/GPS data by linking it to the weather in her vicinity,” said Crisela Cervantes, partner digital, Mindshare Indonesia. Lifebuoy created three weather parameters – sunny, cloudy and rainy that pulled information real-time from and showed three different creatives depending on the reported weather. Each creative also highlighted a specific Lifebuoy variant. The campaign resonated well with the audience with Lifebuoy’s brand attributes increasing as suitable for family from 73 to 81 and protects effectively from germs from 77 to 86.


Bloodbook: A small act that can save lives
Client: Indonesian Red Cross
Agency: Leo Burnett
Categories: Cyber: Social; Direct: Digital + Social;  Media: Digital + Social

Indonesia is faced with a lack of blood in its blood banks, a troubling but fixable issue that often compounds the treatment of medical emergencies. When blood is urgently needed, many patients are forced to search for appropriate blood donors on their own. The observation is that people often don’t know their own blood type, and although they know lots of information about their friends on social media, they don’t know who in their social network shares their blood type. Moreover, as the search becomes their own and gets spread from one to another without control, often people question the credibility of this request. Working with Palang Merah, the Indonesian Red Cross, Leo Burnett Indonesia created “Bloodbook,” a Facebook application that lets you register your blood type and search amongst your friends for people with matching blood types, should you need an urgent donation. “The Bloodbook app makes the process of finding and requesting blood donors simple and easy, and has the potential to save lives. This app was launched through social media channels, and quickly signed up influential celebrities and even Indonesia’s vice president,” said Brian Charles Capel, group executive creative director, Leo Burnett.

This app transforms a potentially harrowing search for a matching blood donor into a few quick and easy clicks of your mouse. 

Nikon One Smart Photo Selector
Client: Nikon
Agency: JWT
Category: Radio

JWT has created a series of radio spots to introduce Nikon’s ‘Smart Photo Selector Mode’ feature as the only one in pocket camera category that can help you get the best photo with only one click. “The feature captures a burst of ‘not-to-be-missed special moments’ in one click and using an algorithm automatically selects the best one for you,” said Lulut. “I think it is a strong campaign as it uses an audio medium to describe a visual proposition.”


Related Articles

Just Published

2 hours ago

UK Chancellor launches crackdown on 'misleading' ...

Cryptocurrency will be held to the same advertising standards as stocks, shares and insurance, government decrees.

10 hours ago

Lynn Lewis elevated to global CMO of Mediabrands as ...

DeMiero joins from Publicis agency Hawkeye.

11 hours ago

AnalogFolk Group launches global behavioural ...

MindWorks will apply behavioural economics to marketing strategy.

11 hours ago

Edelman barometer sees trust in all media fall, ...

Trust in all news sources has fallen over the past decade, apart from media owned by businesses themselves, according to the latest global Trust Barometer from PR agency Edelman.