We caught up with Tuomas Peltoniemi, president, Asia, of digital and innovation at TBWA\Digital Arts Network and president of the Innovation jury at this year's Spikes Asia. Find details of Peltoniemi's speaker events at Spikes at the bottom of the page.
What are you most looking forward to about judging your category at Spikes?
The format of the Innovation category sets it up for being one of the most exciting. The situation is unique in that the short-listed teams fly in to Singapore to present live to the jury, giving both sides the opportunity to probe deeper; the pitch teams share their passion and defend their work, while the judges dig further into various elements such as executional details and business strategy.
Also, because of the nature of this category, the jury members come from a range of diverse backgrounds; each member brings a different perspective, making for a more lively discussion and debate around the work.
What will you be hoping to see in winning entries?
I’m a big believer in using innovation to solve problems at scale. I’m hoping to see entries which not only use innovation, but have demonstrated how big the problem is they are solving, and the thought process they have undertaken to solve the problem at scale. This helps the jury members to really understand and deliberate each entry within its unique circumstances.
What recent trends are you seeing in ad campaigns in this category in general?
Innovation used to always be about technology. While technology still plays a big role in this category, we’re seeing more and more ideas that go beyond that. Ideas that combine existing technologies to solve a problem. Ideas that use creativity to solve a problem in a way that nobody else has thought of. And innovation on products themselves. It’s a great trend to witness, as I’ve always believed that creativity can provide an unfair advantage in solving marketing or business problems.
Tell me about a specific campaign that's really resonated with you recently – what tactics are they using to reach consumers in new ways?
I won’t talk about this year’s Spikes entries, as I don’t want to give anything away. Instead, I’ll speak about a project which won a Cannes Innovation Lion two years ago.
The project from Saltwater Brewery, is called Edible Six Pack Rings. This is such a great innovation story. A real problem was tackled; the six pack rings made out of plastic end up in oceans and are extremely harmful for marine life. Saltwater Brewery figured out a way to manufacture biodegradable and edible six pack rings from the by-product of brewing beer.
Launching this initiative created incredible reach for the company, but they had also thought of a way to scale manufacturing and provide this product for other breweries. As evidence of the success of this project, the product is sold today to breweries around the world. A fantastic example of innovation solving real world problems at scale.
Any trends you really think need to stop?
For the purposes of Spikes Innovation, I’d like to see “innovation for innovation’s sake” stop.
New innovative thinking plays a key role in solving problems, but it’s also easy to pick out the gimmicks, or a one-off. Sustainable innovation to solve real problems, or innovation that supports campaign objectives in a natural way will be what the jury members will be looking for.
How do you see the state of creativity in Asia in general?
There are fantastic creative thinkers in Asia. This year, Asian creativity was massively unrepresented at Cannes, and I think this is going to change. When you look at countries like the Philippines and Thailand, there are great, innovative projects being developed, which are celebrated around the world. A great example from Thailand is the “Touchable Ink” [by JWT Bangkok], which picked up an Innovation Lion at Cannes.
What do you like about the way people think creatively here?
I love the ambition, drive and passion. Asia is exceptionally diverse, distinct and dynamic. As a region it’s experimental; technology drives change so quickly we skip media and because of this, each market is very unique in creative thought.
This is reflected at award shows, with some markets demonstrating a high level of digital innovation, design and social prowess, while others opt for more traditional approaches.
What future innovations are you excited about that will enhance creative thinking?
The obvious innovation for the creative industry will be to find new ways of using Artificial Intelligence. The repeatable tasks that can be automated, should be, which will allow creative thinkers to focus on what humans do best; using creativity to solve problems. What Adobe is doing with Adobe Sensei for the Creative Cloud is very interesting; they’re automating, scaling, and making the production of creative variations faster.
Peltoniemi will be speaking at Spikes Asia at 10:30 on both Thursday 27 September ('Making Fun: New Brand Creativity in the Esports Arena') and Friday 28 September ('Culture + Speed = Innovation'), on the Inspiration Stage. See www.spikes.asia for complete festival information.