Wilf Sweetland
Oct 3, 2018

Judging Entertainment at Spikes — and why so many campaigns missed the mark

The global CEO of Sweetshop shares behind-the-scenes insights from his position on the Entertainment Jury at Spikes Asia 2018.

A still from GreyNJ United's Grand Prix-winning 'Friendshit' campaign
A still from GreyNJ United's Grand Prix-winning 'Friendshit' campaign

Wilf Sweetland, global CEO of the production agency Sweetshop, was a member of the Entertainment jury at Spikes Asia 2018. The jury awarded a Grand Prix to 'Friendshit', a campaign by GreyNJ United for Thailand's Kasikorn Bank. 

I’m honoured to have been invited to be part of the Spikes Asia Jury for Entertainment – it’s always reinvigorating to be able to spend hours watching creative advertising. The ability to step away from our day jobs for a moment gives us the opportunity to reconnect with what was often the strong calling for us to this industry – creativity. I love it.

The Asia Pacific region offers up such diverse cultures that you can’t help but be amazed when exposed to the advertising – and sitting in a jury room is a privilege as you’re watching the best of it.

Pre-judging took place in the lead up to festival. This is the process of voting for shortlist status or not, and for me it generated more questions than it answered. You see, people interpret category definitions differently, and when combined with cultural nuances there can be different interpretations.

Enter the Jury. A diverse range of highly accomplished individuals from markedly different arenas – I was looking forward to discussing the work with them knowing that their interpretation was needed across particular elements.

Wilf Sweetland of Sweetshop

When talking about the process behind the closed doors of the Jury room, the phrase ‘robust discussion’ is possibly the most used descriptor. But there’s a reason for this. Everyone is passionate about their interpretation, their viewpoint and how the work affects them. Our Jury was certainly no different. With a lot of the work we debated the authenticity of the connection between the brand, the product and the ‘entertainment’.

The pieces that were popular were far and away those that had a meaningful purpose for the brand within the work. Not a higher purpose, nor simply associating themselves with a worthy cause, but true relevance. There were some really, really good examples of this and these were often unanimously decided upon.

Yet there were a lot that were not. Quite a few brands missed the mark when attempting to really be part of the entertainment. The phrase ‘tacked on at the end’ came up often – an instance where we hypothesised that the agency or client had found something entertaining that was already in the zeitgeist and repurposed it for their brand. These pieces often did not receive as many votes as those that had very cleverly created an intrinsic connection, one that could not be separated from the brand (nor could it have necessarily been for any other brand).

My advice? Make it meaningful. Create work that will resonate with the consumer. Incorporate themes and storylines that have relevance, rather than a nice story that has a logo at the end. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of the work was beautiful storytelling and very entertaining, but this is not the Cannes Film Festival, nor were we the Film Craft Jury. Many times we debated a piece that generated a direct emotional connection with each of us, but failed to engage us with the brand, or failed to get us to associate the brand with the entertainment in a meaningful way.

It is so humbling to be able to take the time and immerse yourself in work with the only prerogative of being entertained. It’s a privilege when the work is regionally of such an excellent standard.

Being a member of a Jury is really one of the best jobs in our industry. Thank you to Spikes Asia for allowing me to be invigorated, engaged and above all, meaningfully entertained.

Recap Campaign's coverage of all Spikes Asia content including all award results here

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