Staff Reporters
Sep 27, 2019

Spikes Asia 2019 live coverage

Our liveblog coverage of Spikes Asia 2019 heads into day three. See all the insights gathered by our editors from the festival floor, plus the latest shortlists for tonight's awards.

Spikes Asia 2019 live coverage

Coverage of Spikes Asia 2019 from our team at Suntec in Singapore. Presented liveblog style (with the newest content at the top). You can also explore all our Spikes Asia coverage here, and follow us on Twitter for updates.

DAY THREE: Friday 27 September

6.00pm - Campaign editors' day-three wrapup

3.45pm - Creating for the Woke Generation

R/GA’s APAC managing directon Tuomas Peltoniemi and Shiseido’s chief creative officer argued that the woke generation (Gen Z) have different expectations of brands and businesses than the generations before them.

They were promised technology would improve their daily lives and the wider world, but now feel let down by massive data breaches, fake news, online radicalisation and disorders from tech addiction as anxiety rises, Peltoniemi said.

The new value exchange for brands, they say, is to move from advertising to purpose, primarily through purpose-led experiences where inspiration comes 24/7, where reality is hacked and privacy is protected.

They then showed several Shiseido initiatives where technology is being invested to make beauty innovations protect people and give them personal experiences.  Case in point, their Yokohama innovation center where people can enter anti-aging booths and interact with loved ones at different points in time.


2.15pm - Breaking the Seemingly Unbreakable Glass Ceiling

In this session, Merlee Cruz-Jayme shared her own personal challenges in slamming into glass ceilings her entire career, including a couple of the “many, many, many times” she experienced sexual harassment.

What the chairmom and chief creative officer of Dentsu Jayme Syfu found was there are many different forms of glass ceilings, from stereotyping, to harassment to gender bias to ‘mom issues’. Each one required a different proactive response, from switching roles to fighting back to building a case to mixing work and family worlds.

But what she found was that ‘the most tempered glass’ was insecurity. “You must keep  pushing past the inner voice telling you you’re not capable,” Cruz-Jayme said.

Her five pieces parting advice:

  1. You don’t have to be manly to survive a man’s world.
  2. Be ambitious
  3. Use your gut.
  4. Stay in front.  (or you’ll be left behind).
  5. Embrace your femininity, emotions and  sisterhood.

2.15pm - What is 'storyteching' and why is it important?

One of the most engaging session at Spikes this year was Ravid Kuperberg's where he spoke about combining storytelling and tech without compromising creativity. An example he quoted from Ford was particularly interesting. Watch the video here

12.00pm - Why are brand experiences so powerful?

As more marketers invest in experiences, Richard Bradley, chief creative officer, APAC, at Project Worldwide, says that this is largely because audiences relate to emotional benefits more than do to functional benefits.

“Creative work that evokes intense emotions are more likely to be shared – whether it’s sadness, joy, knowledge,” he says.

“But it’s not like a 30-second TVC. With experiences, there are so many moving parts: content journey, communications, media, business objectives, concept, multiple audiences. The physical build of some of these is crazy – [and brands] need value.”

A few tips to successful brand campaigns are: participation and a sense of community, which is the ability for an experience to be interactive and invite two-way communication; personalisation, which is the ways an experience can deliver on an individual’s preferences and create serendipity; amplification, which is the clever use of media to extend reach; and measurables, which is using analytics to track the effectiveness of a campaign.  

11.45am - Digital placemaking as a form of brand experience

Digital placemaking is an emerging media form that presents brands with an opportunity to create visually spectacular, interactive, data-led experiences.                                                      

The benefits of experiences over traditional forms of advertising has formed a key theme at Spikes Asia this year, and is the undercurrent of digital placemaking.

But what is digital placemaking?

“A digital layer superimposed over our physical environment that creates a new reality,” explained Vandal creative director Emile Rademeyer in his session. “Digital placemaking is about the human experience, how it makes us feel. Isn’t that what advertising is all about?”

Stay tuned for a video explaining its benefit to brands.

10.30 Let’s Keep it Real

In a world full of data and research, creatives should not allow themselves to be completely distracted by all the external noise and inputs, says Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO India.  Just as important, he argues, is the need to dig deep, to tap one’s own inner feelings and experiences, which more often than not will be relatable and human to everyone else.  

To make this source of inspiration more palatable to strategists, Paul packaged them up in terms more relatable to the industry lingo of today.

One’s inner feelings, he called ‘emotional data.’  To Paul, the promise of AI lies in the ‘Artist Inside’ who can move from ‘insight’ toward ‘incite’- starting movement that others can relate to and participate in.

Along the way, Paul shared his own story about how he incited a ‘monument of sound’ based on his gut emotions to mark the anniversary of the Taj hotel terrorist bombing in Mumbai because the traditional print ad he was asked to write simply was not inspiring.

Along the way he shared advertising examples of real emotionally inspired work, including Ariel’s ‘Share the Load’, Visa’s ‘Saree School’ and Mumbai Mirror’s ‘I Am Mumbai’ campaign. 

Here more from Josy Paul, in his own words in this video below:


9:30am - Final shortlists released

The following shortlists are now available:


9am - The power of Grab's position in 25% of SEA pockets

Ken Mandel (center), regional head of GrabAds and brand insights for Grab, discussed some of the ways the company is working to boost its everyday usefulness for consumers and provide opportunities for brands both big and small.

The Kitchen by GrabFood concept is a data-driven initiative that’s being rolled out across all Grab’s markets, Mandel said. Based on its data, the company can spot areas that happen to be underserved when it comes to particular types of food or drink. It then invites small vendors to open up shop in those areas. “Data allows us to create demand for them, and even to suggest menu items for them,” Mandel said. Grab arranges kitchen space through partnerships with food-court operators who already have licensed space. The small vendors get to expand to a new area without a big investment and with a high-potential market built in. Grab gets more order volume through its service and can also create opportunities for large brands, such as Heineken, to insert themselves into the experience.

Grab has also become in essence a large source of market-research data for brands. Mandel cited a recent discussion with an FMCG brand, where Grab was able to show the company that the reality of which drinks people liked most, and what temperature they most preferred to drink them, was quite different from the company’s expectations.

In a candid moment, Mandel admitted Grab is working hard to inoculate itself against potential backlash against large tech concerns. The company released a compelling video along these lines a few days ago, which dramatizes some of the positives described in an earlier social impact report.

In addition, a just-launched partnership with Microsoft aims to improve digital literacy for 3 million Southeast Asians by 2025 and an upcoming health service will enable people in remote areas to consult with city-based doctors.

The Brand Breakfast panel discussion also included Norio Ichikawa of TikTok and was moderated by Chris Reitermann, Co-CEO of Ogilvy APAC.


7:45am - A chat about chatbots with Facebook's APAC creative strategy lead

Just posted this video shot yesterday: What makes conversational commerce an effective medium, and what key obstacles still exist for making conversational commerce a reality? We talked with May Seow, APAC creative strategy lead at Facebook Creative Shop.


DAY TWO: Thursday 26 September

6.00pm - Campaign's editors' day-two wrapup


4.30pm - Could this diagram be the key to the industry's survival?

It could be according to Isobar's global chief creative, Ronald Ng, who closed out day two on the main stage, telling a full house audience that it's time to jettison the idea of 360-degree marketing. Instead of bombarding the consumer with messages, the interaction must become a two-way one between brands and consumers (see diagram)—an always-on affair in which "the brand is the experience and the experience is the brand". Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but Ng delivered it with charm and self-deprication, and added in some impressive case videos including the agency's work on KFC's 'pocket store' project in China.


2:30pm - Don't let purpose ruin the industry

By the way, someone around here has been making this argument for quite some time.

Full story on this session available here.

1.15pm - Lifting creative ROI using neuroscience 

The role of science in studying consumer behavior is not a new thing. But Nielsen neuroscientist Satoshi Tsujimoto’s role is allows him to advise clients about improving effectiveness in ads – without compromising creativity.

Some of the suggestions Tsujimoto and his team have offered clients include making good ads greater by observing second-to-second outputs and matching those to emotional activity in the brain. Another tip was to make ads shorter, as well as using language to create marginal but noticeable differences. 


1:15pm - Stop treating music as an afterthought

Just posted this video shot yesterday, in which David Guerrero of BBDO Guerrero and Nick Wood of Syn Music discuss opportunities to engage with musical artists to co-create in ways that respect the artists and still help the brand.


1pm - Clients don't have a clue

Just posted this short video from yesterday, in which Hiroaki Wada, senior account director at TBWA Hakuhodo, says in no uncertain terms that clients need to recognise they are hopelessly lost when it comes to reaching Gen-Z consumers.

12.30 Advertising, Single Malts & Blackjack

Ogilvy’s Sonal Dobral took to the inspiration stage in ripped jeans and black T-shirt to talk about his love of Blackjack and single malts like a veritable bad boy of adland.

But the chief creative for South & Southeast Asia quickly scrapped the idea that he was promoting drinking and gambling, saying he was there to teach people to pull lessons from their passions.

Blackjack, Dobral says, taught him to know everything, to study the statistical combinations of every strategy and know the terrain you’re in. Detailed ground work is what made campaigns like Savlon chalk sticks that doubled as soap for Indian school kids successful.

It also taught him to never lose control.  When losing, it’s easy to make another desperation bet, making one poor choice after another. Client rejection can lead to anger and bad relationships if not dealt with in the right way. Some campaigns, like AAMI insurance’s Smart Plates campaign in Australia took 20 months to develop with plenty of bumps and roadblocks along the way

But never play it safe either.  There are times when you have a better hand in Blackjack and decide to hold when you really need to double down.  A good idea for a campaign might be good enough for a client, but really you need to push to make it great.

“Could have, but didn’t are our biggest failures. Don’t go there.”

Meanwhile, the single malts teach obsession with craft and work getting better with age.  Even in this short-term world, Dobral says, give work the patience and detail it requires and watch long-term client relationships grow with trust and respect.

Full story here.

We also caught up with Dobral for a video interview:


12:30pm - Julie Bramham of Diageo on making creative more representative

Just posted this video shot yesterday, on how Diageo is using data to fix gender imbalance in creative work.

12pm - Universal Music Group flaunts its data skills, but artists feel overwhelmed by stats

Universal Music Group took to the stage with Singaporean singer-songwriter Charlie Lim, who signed with UMG in 2016, to demonstrate how it uses data to build profiles on its artists, to “more authentically” matchmake them with brands.

“The work we do with artists is based on science,” said UMG’s senior regional director of new business, SEA and Korea, Janice Jose. “Gone are the days where artist selection is very subjective, we have to find a way to match what the artist stands for and what the brand stands for. That is the only way you can create entertaining and authentic content.”

Jose presented the profile that UMG had built on Lim, which included his personal characteristics (dreamer, idealistic, innovative) and the profile of his fans (dedicated influencers and engaged spenders).

“We do this mapping for artists and also the brands we work with. This has been very effective for us...It allows us to formulate a better strategy when it comes to campaigns and activating an artist with a brand,” Jose said.

Lim didn’t seem too impressed with the results: “It is pretty good,” he said. “I”m not very wise though, apparently.”

When asked how statistics on social media affect him as an artist, Lim added: “It is horrible as a creator that you are constantly being judged by these statistics and analytics. There is so much instant feedback nowadays especially with social media, it is informative but at the same time it can be too much information, and sometimes metrics and the way things are quantified might not tell the whole picture. As an artist you need to know where to stick to your guns. You don’t need to follow trends and the rest of the crowd.”

11am - Why many transformation projects are 'flawed', and how agencies can prevent becoming 'obsolete'

Wunderman Thompson APAC chief strategy and transformation officer Justin Peyton kicked off today’s proceedings with a punchy presentation detailing why 70% of transformation programs fail, according to McKinsey research, and what agencies can do to secure their future.

Rather than approaching transformation projects from a tech-first point of view, the “right model” puts people at the centre, Peyton said.

“What you want is virality within your business, that means putting people with that vision at the heart of that change,” he said.

He further called for agencies to move from briefs to problems, from stories to experiences, from short-term thinking to big picture, and from promise to growth — or risk “becoming obsolete”.

“Otherwise the risk is we move to a world where we only talk about technology, personalisation that isn't personalisation but gets to the lowest common denominator, we end up with less differentiated work and as an industry we become obsolete,” he said. “The challenge for us is to look at all this transformation as an opportunity, how does creativity guide this.”


10:30am - 9 questions: Kate Burns of Brave Bison

Just posted this video shot yesterday: Brave Bison CEO Kate Burns strolls around Spikes while getting grilled on our burning questions about creativity and the industry.


10am - More shortlists

Good morning from Suntec as Spikes Asia day two kicks off. The shortlists for Film Craft and the Entertainment Spikes are now available. The rest will be available tomorrow morning. We've got a full day over coverage coming up, including some videos from yesterday soon to be posted, and we're looking forward to the Tangrams awards tonight at 6 pm. Here's the Tangrams shortlist, ICYMI.

8.30am - The IPG Women's Leadership Network Breakfast

This year IPG brought its renowed Women's Breakfast to Singapore as a satellite event during Spikes, just as it does each year at Cannes.  IPG Chairman & CEO Michael Roth kicked-off and closed the event, saying it only made him want to double-down on their diversity and inclusivity initiatives for the sake of not just their employees or the business, but to influence the way women are viewed in society.

Comedian Sharul Channa brought down the house with a raunchy eye-opening morning wake up, followed by two sets of panels that included the likes of McCann Worldgroup China CCO Sheena Jeng, Octagon APAC ECD Lizi Hamer discussing gender-neutrality in creativity and a brand panel with HSBC regional executive Geraldine Yip, Nestle Purina Petcare regional marketing head Katy Laciy and L'Oreal Singapore CMO Viksita Menon.

But it was Indian documentary producer Vibha Bakshi who stole the show with a gripping inspirational on-stage interview about the making of her latest film 'Son Rise' fighting patriarchy and the problems of male overpopulation in Haryana. Amazing event. 


DAY ONE: Wednesday 25 September

6.00pm - Campaign's editors' day-one wrapup

Spikes Asia itself created this highlight video wrapping up Day one.

3:45pm - ‘No more jingles’

BBDO Guerrero creative director David Guerrero and film composer and CEO of Syn Music Nick Wood took attendees through a musical journey, demonstrating the unparalleled way that music can tap into the zeitgeist, to urge brands to consider music earlier on in campaign creation.

“Where advertising sometimes struggles to find an honest and authentic way to deal with music, artists themselves naturally sing about brands as part of their everyday experience...these brands will just merge into culture,” said Guerrero.

“There seems to be a way in which we can engage more authentically — between bands and brands — and not resort to old school jingles.”

“No more jingles!” echoed Wood.

“This is a great time to collaborate with artists,” Wood added. “The traditional business model of the music industry has been upended by digital disruption. Now As Lou Reed put it, ‘we like advertisers, at least they pay us’.”

3.00 pm Sustained attention

In the the first of a pair of forward-looking brand clients Iris is showcasing at Spikes, vertical farm Sustenir Ben Swan explained how he grows 22 hectares worth of produce in an indoor plot the size of an Olympic swimming pool.

But as Iris MD Sorcha John explained, the key to marketing such a purposeful brand is not to ‘guilt and shame’ but show consumers how better choices they make can create a real impact towards sustainability even when policymakers are failing them.

Takeaway: ‘move fast and break things’ is a thing of the past.  Consumers don’t want progress at the expense of our future.

2:15 pm Relaxed Roth explains IPG's resurgence

IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth held forth in a conversation with Campaign Asia-Pacific brand director Atifa Silk, talking through why he took the job and how he led IPG's remarkable turnaround of the last few years. Roth argued assertively that diversity and inclusion have been a big part of making the company one that both clients and talent want to work with. He also said the diversity efforts of the industry as a whole have been "pathetic". Full story here.


12.00 - The better the story, the stronger the value

The gist of a session hosted by BBDO Colenso chief creative Levi Slavin and brand partner Ally Young from local mobile provider Skinny was that things (and products) gain value when good stories are attached to them.  

As anecdotal proof, Slavin historically referenced Sir Walter Raleigh’s petitioning of Queen Elizabeth to allow him to keep the muddied cloak she stepped on, since it now was much more valuable.  Then there was Banksy’s artwork which shredded itself at auction and through damage became instantly iconic.  Then, in more modern times, clothing and equipment-maker Best Made, was able to build a ridiculously high valuation not through advertising its products but because of the way it developed them.

Skinny’s Young then proceeded to run through their advertising, much of it on a shoestring, but gained greater value through their inventiveness. Cases in point included New Zealand’s largest outdoor ad formed by roping a massive 40-meter skin to the side of a building, casting people with celebrity names instead of expensive celebrities and turning local convenience stores into ‘Skinny’ stores with a whole lot of red paint.


11.30am - The value of Chinese women 

As China sees a dramatic rise of middle class, Chinese women don't want to be left behind. "Chinese women have always been an economic force. 91% of urban women in China work full-time. This is representative because of the urban population significant in China," says Linna Zhao, head of insights at Wavemaker China. 

"I always see the label 'pragmatist' attached to Chinese women. But what I’ve seen more recently are labels like 'pursuer'. Even though Chinese women might not embrace feminism, they value their own creations and developments."


11.30am - How Heineken reaches convenience-focused Chinese consumers

Heineken, which in China is owned by China Resources Beer, and agency Publicis China took the stage to show how they partnered with local platforms including Taobao and WeChat to reach consumers with an AR campaign.


10.30am - How Diageo is normalising gender equality in advertising

Julie Bramham, chief marketing officer, Diageo India, kicked off the festival programme as the first guest speaker on the Inspiration Stage. She ran through the ways in which Diageo is reviewing its gender portrayals in advertising, aiming for more progressive work. 

In India, Diageo together with Kantar deemed roughly 40% of ads as progressive, but 60% of the ads were regressive or needed improvement.

“As advertisers we have the power to normalise gender equality and use our marketing spend as a cause for good.” Bramham said.

She said Diageo went back and reviewed 100 ads globally and developed a framework for its 2000 marketers and agencies globally. Ads are now developed with a new framework around three areas:

  • Representation (who is being portrayed)
  • Perspective (whose point of view is being considered)
  • Characterisation (are real people involved with similar complexities)

Sharing work from India and abroad with brands like McDowells, Bailey’s, Guiness and Johnnie Walker, Bramham candidly pointed out where they could have done better and how the framework was making a difference.

Read Campaign India's full story here.

10.20am  Morning, Joe

Festival director Joe Pullos opens the festival to a full house at the Inspiration Stage.


9.50am  - Beer o'clock already?

Not quite, but aside from the awards of course, there will be few judgements during the day as Tiger Beer will be freely available through the day from 10:30am onwards. The Tiger Bar (above) of course, will be the place to meet up for drinks and network.

The tiger artwork in the back may not look like much now, but it will be a progressive art installation that will take shape throughout the festival thanks to street artists brought in by Tiger.


9.30am - Spikes Asia is on and looking great!

The doors are open!  And the early crowd seems impressed with the changes.  A new digital wall (below) displays the work along with the usual outdoor and print posters and ipad viewing stations.  Lots of bright colour, more food stations and bigger, better stages.  Can't wait to get this going!

Digital display wall


9am - First batch of shortlists released

We're up early to cover Spikes Asia 2019, and so is the awards team, which has just released a batch of shortlists for the awards, which take place Friday night. See today's shortlists below, and also read our breakdown of the new categories and entry numbers. 


Campaign Asia

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