Creative work we loved (and not so much) from the region’s top brands over the past year.
Samsung finds a groove
After years of inconsistent, often awkward marketing, the region’s top brand finally has a platform befitting its position. A focus on enhancing lives through innovation accommodates both product advertising and grander-purpose fare, such as its apps to help children with autism and adults with memory loss, or a recent initiative that posted crowdsourced Braille descriptions at sightseeing spots around Hong Kong. The company will be named 2016 Marketer of the Year at Cannes Lions in a few weeks, based on its 27 wins there last year. Samsung also excels at the market level, with each country turning out short, product-focused or instructional videos that people actually share.
‘Just do it’ locally
Unlike some multinational brands, Nike, with long-time partner Wieden+Kennedy, makes local work that is true to its global positioning but also woven into the local culture. In recent months, Campaign raved (twice) about this Korea campaign that called on young people to break through the pressure from the society discouraging physical pursuits. We also liked a brilliant basketball game played in reverse, which was made for Nike’s subsidiary Jordan Brand in China.
Adidas: See ’em sweat
Criticised in prior years for featuring too-much-attractive models who were never seen to perspire, the brand struck a more athletic note in the past year. We especially liked this campaign that showed kick-ass female performers such as the Chinese tennis player Coco Xu.
Fast-food family drama
The somewhat troubled (now rebounding?) fast-food purveyor tried a variety of family-focused gambits around the region. In addition to a musical tribute to parents in the Philippines, and a funny story of dad-daughter devotion in Australia, we lauded this tale about a gay son coming out to his dad in a Taiwan McCafé.
SK-II’s ‘leftover’ women
The P&G cosmetics brand touched hearts in China and beyond when it took a stance against ostracism of so-called ‘leftover’ (unmarried) women, chiding parents to be more accepting of their independent, professional daughters.
KFC’s pickup lines
Working with IPG Mediabrands in Malaysia, KFC unleashed 100 distinct 15-second pre-rolls over four weeks. Each ad featured a saucy, ‘cheezy’ chicken burger delivering a groan-inducing pickup line inspired by a trending YouTube clip. For example, before a video about a top badminton player, the burger said, “Hey, baby. I can’t play badminton with you … because I’ll get caught in your net of love.” (They didn’t call him cheezy for nothing.) Best of all, the campaign worked.
A terminal-velocity shave
Sublimely ridiculous, Philip’s ‘Extreme shaving tournament’ mashed up the venerable product demo with a range of extreme activities, like base-jumping from the Tokyo Skytree.
Shiseido’s ‘girls’ twist
Most cosmetics brands produce demo videos featuring attractive young women. Japan’s Shiseido made a far more impressive one, thanks to a surprising gender twist.
Puppy love at 7-11
Week in and week out, the convenience store chain produces online videos, especially in Thailand, that frequently showed up in our weekly list of the region’s most-shared videos (compiled by Unruly). As one example of those, the two-part story of ‘Boy meets girl and they enjoy a discount’ collected more than 1.2 million views.
Google's scooter gang
The internet giant doesn’t advertise much, but when it does you should pay attention: a film about a group of scooter-riders in Vietnam was not only beautifully shot and interesting, but also important because it underlined Google’s belief that voice search will take off in markets like Vietnam where writing on mobile devices is difficult.
Not so much
Each of the following efforts made an impression—just not a positive one.
Cadbury: In Singapore, the candymaker invited commuters to experience its chocolate by sitting on specially contoured seats in bus shelters.
Johnnie Walker: The Diageo whisky brand spent untold millions on another boring film starring Jude Law and the extraordinarily pedestrian 'Joy' campaign. Meanwhile, its best commercial in recent memory turned out to be spec work created by a couple of German film students.
Canon: Though still hanging on in the Top 10, Canon hasn’t made an impression with its work, unless you count the disdain we felt for a high-concept social-experiment video that badly bungled the message.