Rahat Kapur
Jul 9, 2024

Why the ascendancy of Asia will be key to shaping the future of the ad industry

In an exclusive chat with Campaign at Cannes Lions 2024, McCann Worldgroup APAC's Shilpa Sinha unpacks the findings of the Group's latest thought leadership on Asia's unique blend of tradition and innovation, and why it's setting new global benchmarks.

It's no secret that Asia's rich cultural tapestry has always made it an enticing playground for advertisers. The continent's unique blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology has been a fertile ground for developing and implementing creative marketing strategies—with the diversity of audiences in Asia necessitating constant innovation in order to navigate the spectrum of everything from languages to cuisines to traditions, and even fashion styles.

Most importantly, however, Asia's values-driven society expects more from agencies and brands alike, demanding authenticity and cultural sensitivity in every interaction. When well understood, this distinctive environment offers an unparalleled chance to tap into a vast array of consumers and insights, and shape not just campaigns, but also define culture. 

Shilpa Sinha, APAC's chief strategy officer for McCann Worldgroup, is deeply familiar with the rich opportunities presented by the Asian market. Having unveiled the preview of McCann Worldgroup's upcoming "Truth about Ascending Asia" report at the Cannes Lions festival over two weeks ago, Sinha brings over two decades of experience in marketing and strategy at leading organisations like Unilever, WPP, and IPG across the region. Having taken on her most recent role at McCann in Singapore 12 months ago, She was previously instrumental in shaping numerous leader and challenger brands across prominent markets such as India, the UK, China, and Russia for agencies including McCann, Grey, FCB International and Ogilvy. Sinha, who hails from the Asian region, describes herself on her LinkedIn as having "imbibed the zeitgeist of both the Orient and the Occident." 

Speaking about the report in a dedicated session on day three of the Festival, Sinha focused on unpacking Asia's role in setting global benchmarks for economic success and technological disruption, even amid significant social challenges. She shared key insights from the study, emphasising how Asia's innovative thinking can power global marketing and creativity in today's interconnected world, where the boundaries between global and Asian challenges are continuously blurring.

The highlights: The top three concerns for Asians were identified as climate change, new wars, and growing economic inequalities. Despite these worries however, Sinha noted there is a palpable optimism driven by Asia's economic growth, innovation potential, and enduring value systems. According to the study, 85% in Asia believe that everyday life will be better in 10 years (compared to 52% in Europe), and 76% believe Asian societies are better equipped to handle the stresses of modern life than Western ones. Respondents also see Asia as the future best place for work/life balance, access to global brands and products, and education.

Sinha also revealed three ways brands can draw inspiration from the 'Asian dream' from catalysing collectivism, innovating ‘human tech', and celebrating their unique cultural affluence.

In this exclusive video interview with Campaign, Sinha explores the above findings and implications of the report (which will be fully released this autumn) and provides context on how Asia can leverage its unique position in the global economy. She also reflects on the first 12 months in her new role, breaks down the role of strategy in the modern creative process, and much more.

Campaign Asia

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