Gabey Goh
Sep 10, 2015

Two from Y&R win inaugural Facebook hackathon

SPIKES ASIA - A spark of insight into the true essence of a client’s identity led two young talents to success at the Young Spikes Facebook Creative Hackathon at Spikes Asia this week.

L-R: Subrata, Chen, Sotto, O’Hare, Alex Kayanan, executive director, PhilDev
L-R: Subrata, Chen, Sotto, O’Hare, Alex Kayanan, executive director, PhilDev

Junior planner Jessica Chen and junior art director Cynthia Subrata, both from Y&R in Singapore, beat out six other teams with their concept to further the mission of PhilDev.

PhilDev (Philippine Development Foundation) is a non-profit working to spark long-term economic growth in the Philippines through education, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The organisation is the beneficiary and focus of the two-day hackathon, which challenged participants to create a best-in-class campaign for Facebook’s News Feed in response to a brief.

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, PhilDev board member Elmer Sotto shared that what gave the duo’s pitch an edge was the demonstration of insight into the organisation that he himself didn’t even think of.

“That’s the beauty of the idea they came up with," he said. "It made me smarter and spotlighted a side of the organisation that I didn’t even think of. And their idea will give that company a chance to get funded to bring their invention to life.”

The duo conceived a campaign that centred on featuring home-grown talent to inspire Filipinas to think about engineering and entrepreneurship as a path out of poverty.

Aisa Mijeno, an engineer, social activist and creator of SALt Lamp, a cost-effective lamp that is powered by salt, was chosen as the initial face of the campaign.

Mijeno’s work as an engineer, and ambitions for the Philippines, closely mirror that of PhilDev founder and chairman Diosdado “Dado” Banatao, the son of a poor farmer who went on to become the inventor of the PC chip set, and the graphics acceleration architecture—two of the foundation technologies present in PCs from the dawn of the personal-computer age through to today.

“The tagline we came up with is ‘See the new Philippines through the lens of PhilDev’, which expresses the role that the organisation is trying to play in educating and enabling people to become entrepreneurs,” said Chen.

Subrata added that there are quite a few entrepreneurs and engineers in the country making a difference.

“They want to do more and are great examples of the work that PhilDev is trying to support. The idea was to present, in a light-hearted way, that Philippines does have a culture of innovation and to inspire others,” she said.

This was the first time both women had participated in a hackathon, though Subrata had participated in creative competitions before and for planner Chen, this presented an exciting change of pace.

“It was a great experience and there’s this sense that you’re doing something that will really make a difference,” she said.

Both added that their bosses back at Y&R were supportive about taking the time to participate in the two-day event.

From idea to reality

With the hackathon conquered, both Chen and Subrata will now be invited to Facebook’s internal twice-weekly hackathon group to continue working on making their idea a reality.

Fergus O’Hare, the recently installed head of APAC for Facebook Creative Shop, said that the team is committed to ensuring that the duo’s campaign goes live.

“It gets exciting now," he said. "We’re going to help make it as good as it can be and deliver it for the client. We’ll bring in the expertise, launch it and build a case study for it that the winning team can put in their portfolio which will be great boost for their career."

Facebook's Creative Shop works with agencies and brands to highlight the differences between Facebook users, their potential customers, and craft campaigns that help those brands play a less intrusive role in users' always-connected worlds.

Asked about key takeaways from the experience, O’Hare shared that initially with the timeframe provided, he thought that they would only get basic ideas and more traditional thinking, given that many of the young participants came from traditional agencies.

“I thought we might see some interesting thinking, some basic ideas but not a lot of Facebook knowledge, especially with the time limit as well,” he said. “But I was just astounded at the work done in just two days. Not only were the ideas well thought out and polished, they had great knowledge of the platform and what it can do.”

This is the first time that the company has hosted a hackathon at Spikes Asia, but it hopes to continue with this programme moving forward.

“We’d definitely do it again next year, but maybe add an extra day to it so that teams can expand their ideas out further—couldn’t this year due to the Polling Day holiday," O'Hare said. "And we hope to get more participants next year as well, once more people find out about this programme and how they can challenge themselves to do more."


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