THAILAND – Spirits are still high at J. Walter Thompson Bangkok after the recently concluded Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France, last week.
The Touchable Ink project, for clients Samsung Electronics Thailand and the Thailand Association of the Blind brought home a total of six Lions: 2 Bronzes and a Silver under Public Relations, a Bronze in Health & Wellness, a Bronze in Promo & Activation along with a Gold for Product Design.
“It’s incredible to see such a win! Not only us, but the client is also very excited with the result of our hard work,” chief creative officer Satit Jantawiwat tells Campaign Asia-Pacific. “To win six Lions across the different categories is big news for our market and we think this is the right path.”
However happiness aside, Jantawiwat believes the most important thing is that the result can help speed up the process inside Samsung for further development and bring the finished product to the market.
“We do believe that this success at Cannes Lions will help us address how important this issue is,” he added. “We and our client have no option but to work harder to make it real and make the blind people’s dreams come true.”
In a nutshell, Touchable Ink is special ink that transforms home printers into Braille printers. Made by mixing embossing powder with ink, once printed on paper and heated up with any household item, the ink rises enabling it to be ‘read’ easily via touch.
It’s creation was not quite the result of an overnight flash of insight but borne from the agency having worked on products and with retail brands related to visual problems for more than ten years.
The projects spanned CSR campaigns, ranging from donations for people with visual problems but couldn’t afford spectacles, to encouragement for the elderly who could see clearly again after receiving the spectacles or having their eyesight corrected, enabling them to read caring and encouraging messages sent online by their children to test their vision after correction.
“Our teams have worked extensively in this area and we are aware that, besides people with correctible eye problems, there are still many others out there who have yet to receive help,” said Jantawiwat.
“We’ve also done campaigns for the cause of the blind, calling for volunteer readers to read for them. From there our research expanded and led to our findings about the blind, globally and in Thailand,” he added.
The JWT team approached Thailand Association of the Blind to gain more information and learned there are around 285 million people who are visually impaired around the world. In Thailand, it is 1 percent of the total population.
They “see” in their everyday life through tactile sensation, and their main access to learning is via Braille code. However Braille embossers are too expensive for the average households to afford, resulting in limited availability of reading materials in Braille.
Armed with this information, the team continued efforts to work out a helpful solution for the blind.
“Ideas were raised in team discussion from various points of views, until we were asked, ‘Why do we have to change anything about the printer? Why don’t we make normal home printers print for the blind on normal paper? Can we change the ink for an embossed effect? This should be less costly than buying another printer,’ Jantawiwat recalled.
“The questions clicked. Everyone shifted the attention to available printing inks, general inks and pens and trying on their embossed results,” he added.
When the project was pitched to client Samsung, Jantawiwat reported that they had “zero hesitancy and fully supported the project at the first presentation”.
“For them, as the leading company in consumer electronics and innovation in the world, they always make things and support those who can change the better living for people in the society as part of their belief in accelerating discoveries and possibilities,” he added.
From left: Nopharit Dusadeedumkoeng (Associate Creative Director), Satit Jantawiwat (Chief Creative Officer), Charnpanu Suchaxaya (Art Director) and Amina Horozic (Jury President, Product Design Lions)
Solving human challenges
The work on Touchable Ink falls under the agency’s mandate to create “pioneering solutions” that builds enduring brands and business. This pioneering solution must tackle and solve the human challenge, either big or small.
For Jantawiwat, the project helps the team reflect on who they are, portraying the “company’s revolution from being just a communication expert to becoming the real solution pioneer that works from concept to expression in an innovative and effective way.”
Asked about lessons learnt along the way, he said that such an innovation-centric project in a traditional agency world requires much time, effort, experiment and collaboration with outside expertise in different fields.
“We tested and tried so many times, gone through so many failures until the prototype of the ink became stable during the development process,” he added. “However, this is still at the beginning stage.”
The goal now is to work with the client and collaborative experts to bring the finished product to market.
“Our aim is not only for sale in Thailand but to make it accessible to visually impaired people around the world who are facing the same problem with inaccessibility to Braille embossers,” said Jantawiwat.
Chief creative officer: Satit Jantawiwat
Creative director: Supachai Toemtechatpong
Art director: Charnpanu Suchaxaya Art Director
Copywriter: Nopharit Dusadeedumkoeng
Project manager: Jiraporn Channawach