The sessions after lunch are known to have thin attendance but even a scrumptious Malayala Manorama-sponsored lunch couldn’t keep the delegates away from the session “Asian Creative? A New Brief”.
Along with Tom Doctoroff, JWT, North Asia area director & Greater China CEO, who moderated the discussion, the session had some of the best creative brains in Asia including Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and CD, South Asia, O&M India; Akira Kagami, global executive creative advisor, Dentsu; Bruce Haines, chief strategy officer, Cheil Worldwide and Kitty Lun, CEO, Lowe China.
Doctoroff kicked off the session by requesting each of the participants to share a piece of work that they thought had been path-breaking in recent times. While Lun chose an emotional campaign with an objective of building consumers’ trust for a high-technology online shopping platform, Alipay, Haines showed Cheil Korea’s recent Grand Prix winner for Tesco. Kagami brought the campaign Dentsu had executed for launch of Kyushu’s Bullet Train. Pandey, however, believed that India had hundreds of campaigns that had brought about a change in their respective segments in different eras and thus could not choose any one.
Doctoroff noted that all the chosen campaigns couldn’t have been possible with online platforms and believed that the advent of technology has liberated creativity and given a 3D canvass for new forms of creative expression. He then asked the participants to rank on the scale of ‘10’ the progress, they thought, their markets had made creatively in terms of big ideas with long term profitability, technological advancement and business effectiveness. While Kagami gave Japan an optimistic ‘7’, Haines gave a ‘4.5’ to Korea due to its celebrity fixation in advertising, which he called “creepy”. Lun gave China an ‘8’ on its ‘hunger-ambition’ criteria but a dismal ‘2’ on its risk averseness. While Pandey thought urban India was on the right track and marked it ‘4’ out of ‘5’, he felt that a lot of work needed to be done to create advertising that would move people in rural areas and thus, marked it ‘1’ out of ‘5’. “Creating work that moves people on the streets by gaining genuine insights is a reason to celebrate. If such a work wins awards too, it is a bonus,” said Pandey.
One of the main challenges facing the advertising industry, according to most of the panellists, was retaining talent in times when youngsters had many other options to choose from like mobile, Internet and gaming. According to Pandey, the only way to retain good talent was to pay well. “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!” he added. Also, while not a challenge in India where marketers have learnt to adapt brands as per consumers’ aspirations, Lun felt that China was still a predominantly sales-driven market where brand building ranked low on most marketers’ agendas.
On the question of how Asian creatives were faring in international awards show, Haines said, “It is heartening to see so many Grand Prixs being won by Asian campaigns. One of the reasons is that the jury is much more multi-cultural and thus, understands the local nuances of work being shown.”
Pandey, however, felt that the true winners were campaigns that actually worked in their respective markets. “The work that is created for a real client and with an intention of moving real consumers is a true winner. Work that apes the West will never win at awards shows or otherwise,” he said.