Matthew Miller
Sep 29, 2017

Tangrams jurors: Need for localisation is not a debate

A panel discussion with marketers from Lego, Diageo and AIA delved into the ingredients of effectiveness.

L-R: Silk, Kumaravelu, Khullar, Agarwal
L-R: Silk, Kumaravelu, Khullar, Agarwal

A panel discussion on Thursday afternoon at Spikes Asia 2017 picked the brains of three marketers who served as jurors for the Tangrams Effectiveness Awards, which were bestowed in a ceremony the previous evening.

The participants:

  • Kaveri Khullar, global marketing head for advocacy, content and partnerships for Johnnie Walker (Diageo)
  • Keerthi Kumaravelu, regional manager of marketing effectiveness, insights and strategy for Southeast Asia and Emerging Asia at Lego Group
  • Prashant Agarwal, director of EDGE (group innovation) at AIA Group
  • Moderator: Atifa Silk, brand director of Campaign Asia-Pacific.

What made the greatest work great?

Business impact: "For me, it always starts with business impact, because creative that doesn't get you business impact doesn't do its job," said Agarwal. 

Sustainability: Not in the environmental sense, but in terms of creating a lasting impact, which according to Khullar had a lot to do with which brands had the courage to flip their category expectations. "It's not just about being whimsical and creating a great ad or winning an award," she said. "it's about what it's going to deliver, and more importantly, how sustainable it is. What is the duration of effect?"

Being rooted in local insights: Global toolkits have their role for creating consistency and equity, but local context gets lost if all a brand does is leverage global work, said Kumaravelu. "We saw that local campaigns are much more powerful," she added. Khullar agreed, saying there is no more debate about the importance of being local. "That has been said for a long time, but now we are starting to really see it as a paradigm shift," she said. "If you are not cross-cultural, you are absolutely going to be left behind in the game."

The panelists also shared their reactions to several specific pieces of Tangram-winning work.

'Backyard Burger King' (Colenso BBDO)

Agarwal said this work stood out because it countered a low level of belief in an element that represents a large part of the company's brand equity, and because the design of the box itself was so clever. "Everything about this was so slick," he said. "They made the customers do all the work."

Khullar agreed: "Instead of telling them 'we are the best', they let the consumers answer the question themselves."

Nike 'Da da ding'  (Wieden+Kennedy)

Nike is one of the first brands that pops to mind as a brand that does local very well, Khullar said. This work, and the brand's introduction of a performance hijab, both send the message that 'of course we're cross-cultural and global', she added.

Ariel, 'Share the load' (BBDO India)

"There is a heavy relevance, because Ariel has a right to play, and there is a strong connection," Khullar said. "The role of the product gives it that right. And it's not just a one-off, it's a platform, and they continue to build on it." In addition, the work is not merely triggering or provocative, but incites a specific action.

'Reword' for Headspace by Leo Burnett Melbourne

"All the work that made it to shortlist, such as Snickers 'Hungerithm', used technology really well," said Kumaravelu. "This one stood out as far as doing good."

'The Boys' for Bonds (Clemenger BBDO)

Agarwal said this work stood out because it made customers care about a category that men normally don't give much thought to, and resulted in a premium-priced product increasing its sales significantly.

Kumaravelu commented that it's all too easy for category leaders to rest on laurels, and difficult for them to take a risky approach, while Khullar agreed (with either an unintended pun or a truly amazing deadpan) that the work was "ballsy".

Walls Man 2.0 for Unilever (Mindshare)

The jurors praised the brand for marrying the nostalgic value of the Walls Man with a technical revamp of the customer journey. They could have just made an app, but instead they integrated the Walls Man into their whole ecosystem, said Khullar. "There's real magic in that."

Agarwal agreed added that people assume that tech has to be a break from the original or traditional, but this work succeeded because it revived something traditional.

Notes on entries

Entries for different categories must be rewritten to suit each category, said Khullar. "It has to speak to that category, and judges do notice it if it doesn't."

Agarwal chimed in that spamming too many categories with identical submissions is something that judges notice, and warned that it can create a subtle, perhaps subconscious prejudice against the work, as judges are only human.

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