There are a 682 pieces of work in the Spikes Asia 2021 shortlists, whittled down from 3,223 entries. That's a lot of work to review, so Campaign's editorial team has done the hard yards to pick out some standout campaigns we believe will take home metal in this year's awards.
Each day our editors will review different categories from the 24 total categories in this year's Spikes Asia Awards, not including the Grand Prix and special awards.
We'll select just one piece of work from each of the main categories—but with various subcategories by no means is this an exhaustive list. Really, it's just a bit of a fun, and a chance for our uber-trendy editors to exercise their vocabulary and show off their best creative poses.
Without further ado, today's selection of contenders, in alphabetical order:
'Avatar robot cafe' by ADK Creative One
Brand: ORY Laboratory
What it's about: This was a proof-of-concept project about giving people who are isolated due to disabilities a chance to interact with others and take part in the economy. The client company, Ory Laboratory makes a robot that can be controlled remotely. ADK raised more than $850,000 from nine companies and a crowdfunding effort to fund the project, then recruited and trained 30 people on how to control the robots. These remote staffers, via the robots, took orders and conversed with visitors in a cafe that was open for a couple of weeks in Tokyo in late 2019. The partners have also held subsequent events.
"Neither the idea here nor the basic technologies in play are new, but the act of putting technology elements together and making them work with real people in the real world is also an innovative—and necessary—process. In this case, the project team had to adapt the input technology for people with a variety of impairments, develop an interface so they could submit orders within the cafe, and work out how to make the interaction with customers more natural and rewarding. In the end, it's one of the most compelling demonstrations yet of the potential these technologies have to drive inclusion. Powerful political figures visited the cafe, which also generated a massive amount of awareness-raising media coverage. And according to ADK, five of the original 30 participants even found jobs as a direct result of their participation. A final reason I think this will win is that it already resulted in a D&AD Future Impact pencil for ADK's Yoshihiro Kozuka."
'Donation Dollar' by Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne
Brand: The Royal Australian Mint
Category: Industry Craft
What it's about: This legal-tender one-dollar coin from The Royal Australian Mint was created to inspire collective generosity, by asking the coin holder to donate should they come across a coin. More than 25 million coins were minted and released into circulation, one for every Australian. The 'Donation Dollar' features a green centre that is designed to wear down over time to show how often it has been passed on.
Nominated by: Minnie Wang, senior reporter
"In the award entry, Saatchi & Saatchi describes the Donation Dollar as a piece of outdoor advertising in itself, resulting in over 25 million individual 'billboards' in the hands of every Australian. Many outdoor campaigns and advertisements may fade in our memories over the years, but one dollar in circulation and the notion behind the coin may never fade away. It shows the craft of the industry, and deserves to be recognised and remembered with an award."
'Project Free Period' by DDB Mudra
Brand: Stayfree (Johnson & Johnson)
Category: Creative Strategy
What it's about: Menstruation is still stigmatised in many scenarios in India with women frequently ostracised during their monthly periods and banned from temples or even their kitchens in some cases. Add to this the physical discomfort of these days and it’s no wonder most women hate their monthly periods. While J&J’s Stayfree has long attempted to normalise periods in its communication, the brand had yet to turn menstruation into a positive. So it found women who actually looked forward to their periods—sex workers, who could use three days off to spend more time at home with family or catching up with chores—and partnered with an NGO to turn period days into opportunities to learn new skills.
Nominated by: Robert Sawatzky, editorial director
"This is all about bravery. Destigmatising periods is a noble cause, but selecting the most ostracised members of society, India’s sex workers to champion the cause and become de facto Stayfree’s brand ambassadors is quite another. On a strategic level the campaign does the seemingly impossible, associating positivity with menstruation and on a brand purpose-level sets a higher bar for inclusivity. Most impressive are the tangible results in improving people’s lives, with new skills like embroidery, candle-making, soap making and waxing being taught on 15,000 days in the programme’s first year and 100,000 days the next. An incredible initiative. Period."
'The 8-Bit Journo' by Dentsu Webchutney
Category: Brand Experience & Activation
What it's about: In 2019, the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir were revoked of their special status, and a communications blackout—including mobile connection and internet—was imposed. Youth in the region were disconnected from the news, so VICE Media worked with Dentsu Webchutney to launch a teletext news portal via SMS where each story was redesigned into pixel art, converted into 8-bit news articles and dispatched via SMS to hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris.
Nominated by: Surekha Ragavan, experiential and PR editor & editor of PRWeek Asia
"Because of an extraordinarily good shortlist for this category, it was difficult to pick just one outstanding campaign. But this one stuck out for using outdated tech and reframing it in a new context, as well as managing to ‘bend’ the law for a good cause. The ideation and execution deserve top marks, as does the fact that 1.2 million Kashmiris managed to stay up to date with current affairs despite being in the dark. Coming a close second in this category is a brilliant guerrilla marketing effort by Ogilvy that showcased the horrifying indifference around marital rape in India."
'Umami Land' by MediaMonks
Category: Digital Craft
What it's about: A virtual stroll around a washoku-themed-theme park teaches about the different types of Japanese food while shining a spotlight on local establishments that serve them. Using interactive WebGL, Google and Mediamonks have created a colourful and informative walkabout to help expand people’s knowledge of the diverse types of Japanese food—beyond popular dishes like ramen or sushi—while at the same time increasing the use of Google Search and encouraging people to seek out and support local takeaway restaurants.
Nominated by: Rahul Sachitanand, associate editor
"We’re all dreaming of that moment when we can travel again, and this theme park is a great appetiser as we wait for the world to open up. Walking across Main Rice Street, Sizzle Yokocho, Long Valley and Sweet Kingdom, I’m salivating at the Japanese food on show and dreaming of being there in person too. Oh, it also has a cool mix of 2D and 3D objects, soft earthy colours, fluid shapes and windy textures to build out this story. What’s more, this concept was built initially to attract inbound visitors in Japan, but smartly pivoted after Covid struck to make the experience virtual."
'Uni-form' by Ogilvy Taipei
What it's about: In 2019, students at Banqiao Senior High School in Taipei decided to challenge gender restrictions of school uniforms by creating a day where they could wear uniforms normally meant for the 'opposite' sex. The move sparked uproar among conservatives, but in solidarity with the students, Condé Nast's Vogue Magazine joined forces with Ogilvy Taipei and acclaimed fashion designer Angus Chiang to transform the concept from a one-off event into campus fashion. And so the first-ever gender-neutral uniform was born. The uniform fashion line was unveiled during Taipei Fashion Week and supported by a presence in Vogue’s online shop and an official Instagram account.
Nominated by: Jessica Goodfellow, deputy editor and technology lead
"More than reimagining the look of a school uniform, this campaign sought to change the meaning of a uniform from something that stifles expression to one that embraces 'unisex' and 'unique'. It sparked an important conversation on gender restriction in schools and the role of clothing as a form of expression in Taiwan and beyond, as news of the campaign travelled. The campaign even gained the attention of the Ministry of Education and the president, was featured in school textbooks, and generated millions in earned media value. It did this all with zero media budget, proving that a campaign that truly seeks to change the world for the better amplifies itself."