Staff Reporters
Dec 22, 2023

Year in Review: Campaign's most read stories of 2023

We are reflecting on the stories written by Campaign's editors that you read, shared, and spent the most time on in 2023. Here is a roundup.

Year in Review: Campaign's most read stories of 2023

End of the year is a time for quiet reflections and a bit of cultural excavation. What were the biggest issues of the year? What resonated most with our readers? And what do these stories say about our times?

As a frantic year of tech upheaval, bulldozed budgets, job losses and massive innovation comes to an end, it’s time to sit back and revisit the 10 stories that stood out for our readers, with a Bumble celebrity campaign topping that list.

There's a lot to parse in our top 10 stories of the year. Meaningful campaigns always strike a chord, you’ll find a couple of them in this list, juicy scandals around campaign plagiarism and brand wars made it to the list along with the wonders and worries of generative AI—its impact on the planet and programmatic ad buying. It's a varied list, for sure. By all means, click around and judge for yourself. 

We'll be back in 2024 with more wholesome coverage. 

1. A Bollywood star and Bumble showed kindness is the ulitmate turn-on

Bumble, the women-first dating app, wanted to prove that kindness is more attractive than looks in today’s dating scene. So they teamed up with Aditya Roy Kapur, the dashing Bollywood star, to create a film that showcases how kindness can be sexy. The film follows Kapur as he shoots an ad for Bumble, and then puts his words into action in real life. He sends soup to his date who is sick, and wins her heart with his sweet gesture. The film has a funny twist at the end, which adds to its charm and appeal. Whether it was the script, the relevant message, or the star appeal of Kapur, the campaign struck a chord with the Campaign audience. It was first covered by Campaign's India team in July, and it still generates buzz online.

2. Copycat accusations: Cathay Pacific vs. Singapore Airlines

Cathay Pacific’s chief marketing officer, Edward Bell took to LinkedIn to point out that Singapore Airlines’ new global campaign “Welcome to world class” has taken creative inspiration from Cathay’s 2015 ‘Life well travelled—Miss Adventure’ spot. The delivery and setting of both the campaigns were somewhat identical and they both used a similar approach: SIA’s spot was from the perspective of the cabin crew, CX’s story was shown from the traveller's point of view.

It's a bold move to publicly call out a competitor, and imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery—unless your own pockets have been picked. While SIA denied any plagiarism, and the ads were not exactly identical, sometimes creatives do have similar ideas. But as Campaign’s own critic Ad Nut knows, our readers love a good drama. And the popularity of this story proves it.

3. DDB and the copycat catastrophe

'Love The Philippines' campaign (top) and Christina Garcia Frasco, Philippines tourism minister (bottom) 

The Philippines, a tropical paradise that relies on tourism as its lifeblood, entrusted its creative agency DDB with a hefty US$900,000 budget to craft a catchy slogan for its new campaign: “Love the Philippines.” But instead of wooing the world with original and authentic visuals, the campaign AVP, a 1-minute 45-second film created by the agency used unauthorised clips of foreign stock footage from tourist destinations such as Thailand, Dubai, Switzerland and Bali. It was removed from DOT's official Facebook page after allegations of plagiarism erupted online.

The result was a disastrous PR nightmare that left the country blushing, the politicians fuming, and the rivals gloating. DDB’s contract was immediately terminated and the internet was ablaze with mockery and outrage. The agency did not lose any clients as a result of this scandal.  

4. Tiger Beer shifted its messaging from roaring to relaxing 

Tiger Beer, one of Asia’s leading brands, has always encouraged its consumers to unleash their inner tiger and chase their dreams. Its previous Lunar New Year campaigns, featuring Korean soccer star Son Heung-Min, showcased the power of boldness and determination. But for 2023, Tiger Beer took a different approach, acknowledging that being bold also means knowing when to pause and appreciating the journey—a sentiment that deeply resonated with the audience. 

Its 2023 Year of the Rabbit film, portrayed young adults who are running non-stop towards their goals, until they realise that they need to slow down and enjoy the present. This shift in perspective leads them to greater happiness and success. The film is based on a consumer research by YouGov, which revealed that most Gen Z and millennials in Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore feel stressed and inadequate, especially when they compare themselves to others on social media. In the rollercoaster of life, a gentle reminder that small wins deserve to be celebrated and people need to love themselves, is an apt and a relevant one.

5. Generative AI's role in programmatic media buying

Generative AI is evolving at a rapid pace. It's adoption in transforming programmatic media buying, resonated with viewers through its ability to detect fraudulent ad behavior, optimise spending, and enhance ROI. The technology’s hyper-personalisation, creative optimisation, and strategic bidding are pivotal in its success. This feature explores what industry giants like Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are doing with advanced AI tools for advertising, what's are the challenges in data quality and privacy compliance, generative AI’s benefits in brand safety, ad fraud prevention and the sustainability angle. 

6. Is the hot new tech making the planet hot?

Is generative AI green? Is it bad for the environment? What is the carbon footprint of ChatGPT and its cousins? Can advertising reduce it? The exact energy cost of a single AI model is tough to estimate, however, for other FAQs, this feature is a pretty neat explainer. 

7. GroupM China in hot water: Beijing's crack down on media rebates

China has been cracking down on international companies with fines and raids, creating an uncertain and volatile operating environment. Officials raided the GroupM in Shanghai, one of the largest media investment groups in the country. Several senior executives of GroupM China were detained or questioned over alleged media broker activities, involving the misuse of client funds and tax evasion. The raids are part of Beijing’s increased scrutiny of the media rebate issue, which has plagued the Chinese advertising industry for over a decade. 

8. Top 50 CX brand rankings

Campaign Asia-Pacific published an authoritative list of Southeast Asia's top 50 brands for consumer experience following an extensive survey and research from Milieu Insight. The list was unveiled it at our flagship marcomms event Campaign360 in Singapore earlier in May. 24 surveys were carried out involving more than 9,000 interviews, 1,200 brands were tracked across 11 sectors, Samsung emerged on top, followed by leading ecommerce and super apps Shopee (2), Grab (3) and Lazada (4). But digital-based businesses were not the only customer experience standouts. McDonald's (5) and Watson's (6) also ranked highly thanks to their many locations, ease of buying and strong customer service scores. 

Our in-depth market coverage from this list remained one of the most read articles on the site. You can read the top brands for CX in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Veitnam, Phillippines and Singapore here. 

9. Neurodiversity and the benefits of tapping into the world’s largest minority group

Together with key partners, Mattel carefully curated Bruno’s character to ensure an accurate fictional representation of an autistic child in the real world. Photo: Mattel 

Great minds don't always think alike. It is estimated that between 15 and 20% of the global population is neurodiverse. This includes up to 10% of those with dyslexia, 6% of those with dyspraxia, 5% of those with ADHD, and 1-2% of those with autism. Yet, despite making up the world’s largest minority group, accessibility for neurodivergent and disabled communities is still not a marketing priority for brands. For Autism Awareness Month, Campaign moved the dial on DEI to discuss why accessibility is still not high on the marketing agenda and why adland needs to think differently to make neurodiversity an asset.

10. Maybelline exposed the ugly truth of online gaming for women

Female gamers face rampant sexism and harassment online. Gaming has become a boys’ club and if men act like they own the space, largely because they grew up with a video-game industry propagating exactly that.

Maybelline launched a new campaign, called ‘Through Their Eyes’, with a social experiment where two male gamers were disguised as female using deepfake technology and subjected to the same abuse that their female counterparts endure on a daily basis. The unprovoked harassment is shocking and might leave viewers with knots in their stomach. 


Campaign Asia

Related Articles

Just Published

2 hours ago

FCB India appoints Ashima Mehra as CEO

Mehra has over 18 years of experience and was most recently at Leo Burnett India.

2 hours ago

Big Brother is watching you: Audible stages 1984 ...

George Orwell 'returns' to The Observer in new ad campaign.

3 hours ago

Signs of light: Is fun coming back to adland?

The best reason to work in advertising should be that it’s fun, says Angus Tucker. Without it, advertising is just telemarketing.

3 hours ago

M&C Saatchi to consider US acquisitions to bulk up ...

A new leadership team will address the group’s underweight presence in the world’s biggest ad market.