Staff Reporters
Sep 28, 2018

Seen and heard at Spikes Asia 2018

A Spikes Asia 2018 reporters notebook.

Seen and heard at Spikes Asia 2018

Our editors are covering Spikes Asia 2018 at Suntec in Singapore. Check out our full coverage page for videos, coverage of conference sessions, info on the shortlists and awards, and more. On this page, our editors will be jotting down quick tidbits they pick up as they scurry about the festival. Also please follow us on Twitter and Instagram. This page will be presented in liveblog format (newer posts at the top).

The patterns behind award-winning ads
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 3 at 17:00

“Why didn’t I think of that?” is one of the most common refrains of creatives at the big festivals like Spikes and Cannes celebrating award-winning work. 

Yonathan Dominitz, founder of Israeli creative thinking consultancy Mindscapes, knows the answer. “Functional fixedness” he says, is the wiring in our brain that associates things only with their known functions.  The secret to creativity then, is to break out and form new associations between products, services, their variables and consumers.

81% of Cannes Grand Prix and Gold Lion winners follow known patterns he says, and he shared two tools with the audience at Spikes Asia to spot them.

Watch for a future story on what these are in Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Less is not more
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 3 at 15:00

"There is a hunger for more. This is not a world that wants less.”
—Claudia Cristovao, head of Google Brand Studio countering the belief that we only have attention spans for short content

A matter of trust
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 3 at 13:40

After a 20-year career in advertising Sudeep Gohill “left his jeans and sneakers behind” and joined a consultancy.

KPMG’s head of brand strategy who is presiding over the Spikes Asia effectiveness jury used his Inspiration stage address to look at ‘trust.’  More specifically, how consumer trust has evolved over time from simple transactions between friends to today’s digital economy where consumers arrange through apps for strangers to drive them places and deliver prepaid good to their doors.

His conclusion? We now need trust more than ever: born out of rigour, grown from experience and based on relationships.

The product is not the centre of advertising any more
Posted by Rick Boost on Day 3 at 13:34

Emile Rademeyer, Creative Director at VANDAL gave a talk weighing in heavily on the emotional potential of augmented reality. Providing a tour through the history of the ad industry's tech advancements, Rademeyer landed on the idea that new advances allow brands to sell an experience rather than the product.

He stated, "We have our physical senses and our physical being, and our digital senses and our digital being."

Providing several examples of great work using AR, Rademeyer showed how a relatively affordable investment of time and money into the medium could yield incredible results by tapping into one's senses and what he phrased as the "human experience".

He stated, "No matter the brand, if you get people engaging with the human experience, you can get them talking about it."

Creativity can be brave without being foolish
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 3 at 10:55

L-R: Miller, Jagannathan, Chatterjee, Martin.

I had the pleasure of moderating today's first event, a panel discussion featuring three brand marketers with long experience and strong insights into their missions. A smallselect audience of early arrivers wise and highly discerning delegates heard Sumeli Chatterjee, vice president of brand at Times of India, and Maithreyi Jagannathan, associate marketing director for health care in IMEA at Procter & Gamble, talk about taking their brands into somewhat risky cultural territory in recent campaigns. You can read all about Jagannathan's work here, and Chatterjee's here. Both women stressed the importance of contingency planning and explained how they minimized risk by tailoring the work carefully, keeping the media spend low, or both. Todd Martin, digital and media marketing director for APAC and Japan with HP, asserted that creativity is not mutually exclusive with highly targeted media or the use of machine-learning in the creative process.  

Underestimate eSports at your brand peril
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 2 at 17:50

Had a great conversation on the Inspiration Stage this morning about how brands can get involved in eSports.

World Electronic Sports Games grand finalist Sabrina Ang from Singapore’s all-women’s Counterstrike: Global Offensive team talked about getting over gender stereotypes in gaming and how it’s not always easy for women to do so.

Riot Games’ Chris Tran, fresh off their global Mastercard sponsorship for League of Legends shared the benefits brands are getting from eSports’ data and demographics, while TBWA’s Tuomas Peltoniemi explained the different options for brands looking to get involved.

"I will be shot by any creatives in the room"
Posted by Rick Boost on Day 2 at 17:27

Tim Miles' presentation was a wake-up call for brands that treat music as an afterthought. The Vice President of Synchronisation at Warner Music Group explained how streaming has utterly transformed how audiences consume audio content.

Pointing out that the explosion of streaming platforms has made it is increasingly regular for artists to hit Number 1 outside of their native territories and languages, Miles adamantly stated: "What we do has no borders any more."

Miles' went on to discuss the reasons for brands to pay attention and take advantage of regional content and introducing artists to brands from across the world. He also stated that (though it might gain him the ire of any creatives present) with an effective enough piece of music, more ads should be constructed around songs, rather than the reverse.

In general, Mile's aimed his talk at denting the longtime myths of how brands should perceive and work with the music industry. It's a new day for collaboration without deals made at Cannes "on the back of napkins and fag packets."

Circus Act
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 2 at 16:40

Absolute tour de force by Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) managing director René Chen on embracing the innovation circus of branding in China. A must-see session for any brand trying to understand consumer culture in mainland China. Watch out for full story to come...

Obsession with creativity
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 2 at 15:30

Hakuhodo’s “Mixed Tape” session on the In Focus stage saw four creatives build their presentation on-the-fly. The theme was how to “let creativity flow” bringing out lessons from their two-year quest to create their iconic Obsession with Smoothness campaign for Double A paper with indie band OK Go.  The work involved many trips to Japan, thousands of sheets of paper and ultimately a doubling of the budget.

“Luckily the client understood that creativity was important,” said Spa-Hakuhodo client service director Jeed Thantip, who says Double A was convinced to continue by watching over and over again how smoothly their papers were printed in the video takes.

It took no less than a “team chemical reaction” to produce the work, noted Hakuhodo’s APAC co-chief creative officer Kentaro Kimura.

Toilet paper isn’t a community
Posted by Faaez Samadi on Day 2 at 15:15

Facebook is constantly extolling the virtue of communities, and more specifically its role in building them (what a surprise). But global creative director Andrew Keller also made a pretty salient point: don’t try to square the circle here.

“Not every brand is a community,” he said. “For a long time, we felt like ‘my brand needs to be a community’. ‘There needs to be a community around my toilet paper’. There doesn’t.”

What those more, let’s say functional, brands should focus on, Keller advised, is “astounding a community, finding a way to serve it”. So you’re not a community builder, but you’re part of it through finding a creative and useful way to serve it.

Keller also said community doesn’t always have to be purposeful. “You can get into this space and think you’re only talking about purpose-driven marketing. Which is powerful, for sure. But the notion of bringing people together can be funny, it can be entertaining, it can be all these things.”

Beware brand bypass
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 2 at 14:25

L-R: Phil Townend and Elena Cochero

"Home is the new store", according to Unruly's Phil Townend (APAC chief commercial officer) and Elena Cochero (London-based futurist). The duo held an audience in the Futures Hub at rapt attention describing the company's work building a model connected home in London. The house is meant as a test bed for connected technologies, but it might be something of a haunted house for brands who come there to hold workshops and leave frightened about the scary spectre of "brand bypass". That's the concept of being cut out of the purchase loop by self-replenishing machines, such as dishwashers that order their own detergent from Amazon.

And that's not all. Townend and Cochero also expounded on how voice assistants, image search and AR, in many forms inside and outside the home, will disrupt traditional marketing and communications. Even if interactive mirrors and ordering products you see on a billboard seem like science fiction, brands have to be thinking about the challenges they present now—and working with partners to surmount them.  

Clients get the agencies they deserve
Posted by Faaez Samadi on Day 2 at 12.00

The seemingly never-ending agency-client relationship debate more often than not focuses on what agencies need to do the fix it. But as Kim Walker, founder and chairman of Aprais Worldwide said (and literally performed on stage) it takes two to tango.

“As a client gets better, agencies get better, but the opposite is true. As a client gets worse, an agency gets worse. So it’s critical for a client to get their shit right.”

Walker also explained that back in the day, he led the HSBC Hong Kong account for an agency, and the way they used to evaluate the relationship was “the Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on a Friday, and get hammered over many bottles of good red wine.”

“We’d talk a bit about changing things here and there, but that’s how it used to be done. It was so rough,” he said.

The point is well taken, but for many account directors and the like today, I reckon the good old days sound, well, quite good.

Effective creativity isn't about making up stories
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 2 at 11:24

"We couldn't make up these stories even if we tried. We simply opened our eyes to the world around us."
—Ajay Vikram (left), CCO of Publicis Singapore, speaking this morning in a session with his client (Maithreyi Jagannathan, associate marketing director of health care for IMEA at Procter & Gamble) about Vicks' tear-inducing 'Touch of care' campaign. Full story to come later today.

Short-term seduction
Posted by Faaez Samadi on Day 2 at 10:05

(L-R): Aline Santos, Lisa Ronson, Freddie Covington & Faaez Samadi

What’s the thing that most annoys Aline Santos about agencies? Well, the Unilever marketer was kind enough to tell us. “It’s when they get seduced by the short-term,” she said at the Spikes Asia brands panel this morning. “Don’t do this. It’s very, very bad business.”

Funky creative is great, but not when it’s just designed to drive short-term sales. The bad news for agencies? Santos' fellow panellists, Freddie Covington of Visa and Lisa Ronson of Tourism Australia, couldn’t agree more. “You have to invest in the brand, otherwise those short-term returns will be good for one or two years, and then fall off a cliff,” said Ronson.

Creativity is about making something useful,” said Covington. “It shouldn’t just be doing good creative for creative’s sake.”

Agencies, you’ve been thoroughly warned. Three times. 

Authenticity reigns supreme
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 1 at 17:20

Fresh off announcing the launch of The Annex in Asia, Havas took to the Spikes Inspiration stage to talk about street culture’s brand lessons. Here's some of what was heard:

“If you stay authentic, if you stay real about the brand itself you can communicate and actually relate to the community you create for.”
Sam Lo, street artist & creative director, Projet XIV 

“For brands the takeaway here is ‘do you need separate brand building and brand love versus trying to drive sales. I think a lot of times when we receive briefs from clients the key thing they will always say is I want to drive sales. Yes, but… maybe you can wait a little longer for it and create love which in this case drove crazy demand for the product. I think it’s something worth thinking about.”
Valerie Madon, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia on lessons from Supreme's demand success

“I think Kanye West is the epitome of how street culture is influencing everything.”
Le Messie, Chief of Annex Asia, on Kanye West making some of his products more accessible

“I think there’s such a thing as bad press. I think when your core audience falls off you need to reevaluate. You need to step forward and be responsible and own that.”
Brandon Breaux, The Annex (Chicago) on Kanye West’s outrageous statements that appear to help his brand sales

Storytelling is boring, let’s talk participation
Posted by Faaez Samadi on Day 1 at 16:20

Many people are pretty bored of talking about storytelling, and Jeff Miller, global head of creative strategy at Snap, is one of them. “Storytelling is a cliché now. We’re not just about storytelling, we’re about participation.”

Being part of an experience – in Miller’s case through using Snapchat, unsurprisingly – is a far more powerful tool for engagement and building brand equity, he said. You’re not just passively having it wash over you, you’re helping create it.

Sounds great, but only, Miller said, if you adhere to some simple but critical caveats, in that your participatory experience “feels natural, is additive to the user experience, and isn’t intrusive”. Brands chasing millennials and Gen Z (which by this point is, you know, all of them) take heed.

Poor Don Draper
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 1 at 14:40

"This industry has an awful lot of hubris about it," according to Will Pyne, CCO at Brave Bison, during a presentation about working with influencers. "We've been very, very good at trying to define exactly what creativity is." Now is the time, he urged, for the industry to get over itself and be open to the democratisation of creativity that the internet has enabled. After all, he added, the audiences marketers are trying to reach do not care about traditional definitions of what is or is not creativity.

The audacity of 'Dundee'
Posted by Faaez Samadi on Day 1 at 12.20

All tourism advertising is all “pretty much the same, and pretty shit really,” according to Lisa Ronson, Tourism Australia CMO. Read all about how that realisation led to the audacious notion of creating a fake movie and showing its final twist during the Super Bowl.

Why are these Spikes delegates blindfolded?
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 1 at 12:05 

Braving the stage
Posted by Robert Sawatzky on Day 1 at 11:40 

Wendy Clark, DDB's global CEO kicked-off the first session on the Spikes Inspiration Stage to talk about the three B’s that have served her career, her agency and brand clients well.  They are:

Bravery – as evidenced by Stayfree’s #ProjectFreePeriod initiative for women in India’s sex trade conceptualised by DDB Mudra.  The brand braved the stigma around prostitution to help train sex workers on their period days, their only days free from work.
“We cannot afford to accept the status quo,” said Clark.

Being underestimated – no one expected McDonald’s to flip it’s iconic golden arches into a W in recognition of International Women’s Day. “Use being underestimated as fuel.  In those moments it’s game on!” said Clark, who is helping McDonald’s celebrate its Spikes Asia 2018 advertiser of the year award.

Belief – like Adam & Eve/DDB client Marmite, which doubled-down on the idea that those who loved its product would really love it despite others who hated it in their Marmite Gene Project campaign that allowed haters to bash the product and lovers to laud it.

Likewise Clark says creative work goes further when everyone is fully invested. “When a group of people have a singular focus, no one has a corner on smarts”

Watch out for Campaign's full video interview with Wendy Clark, coming soon.

Welcome to Spikes Asia 2018!
Posted by Matthew Miller on Day 1 at 9:35

The festival 'grounds' are looking good, and the the first shortlists are out. Our team of editors from Campaign Asia-Pacific and Campaign India is checking over the action-packed schedule and filming an eagerly awaited (by some) Spikes walkabout video as we speak. 



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