Campaign India Team
Sep 10, 2015

Spikes Asia 2015: Sonal Dabral's blog

The chairman and CCO of DDB Mudra recounts day one at Spikes Asia 2015

Spikes Asia 2015: Sonal Dabral's blog
Singapore has always had a very special place in my heart. And when you combine this beautiful city with a prestigious advertising festival like Spikes, the experience is bound to be great. 
The first day of Spikes 2015 saw a host of interesting and inspiring seminars. Learnings from a few of them remained in my head, even after the day ended.
The day began with our very own Gursimran Khamba from All India Bakchod, taking the stage to speak about AIB’s journey from being a group of stand-up comics, to widely popular content creators.  
Aptly named ‘Creating content that matters’, the seminar saw AIB’s most popular work like ‘It’s your fault’ and their video on Net Neutrality. Gursimran progressed to talk about how AIB is able to speak to the youth, almost effortlessly, by engaging them with content that they can relate to and interact with. Content that is not bound by laws and restrictions, making it far more provocative than anything you see on any news channel. 
Yet, by the end of the seminar I was left wondering ‘How could an entertainer of his calibre put up a presentation that, though excellent in content, was so serious and monotonous in tonality?’ Maybe he got so carried away by the subject he was speaking on, he missed out on a very crucial rule of any presentation, to be entertaining and engaging. I genuinely feel that AIB is a extremely talented lot and great entertainers and this was nothing but a little blip. 
What stood out for me on the first day was ‘DDB presents Vincent Laforet’, a part of a long running series created by DDB that invites major thinkers and innovators from the field of art and culture. It’s never failed to be a highlight of Spikes every year, and this year was no different. Vincent Laforet is a filmmaker, Pulitzer Prize-winner, former staff photographer at The New York Times, and the brain behind the phenomenal Air project. Having garnered over 40 million views within the first month of publication, this project, shot from 7,500 feet above New York, is bound to leave you awestruck. I would strongly recommend everyone to visit his website and go through his amazing work. 
Vincent also spoke about the importance of embracing change while staying true to the core principles and techniques that we have relied on for generations. It's strange but sometimes a simple change in a point of view is all you need to create magic. Come to think of it, there’s a life lesson there.  
Yet another seminar that left me inspired  was Grey Group’s ’The Unravelling of the Burka Avenger’. Grey Group, Singapore’s CCO Alii Shabaz was in conversation with Aaron Haroon Rashid, a Pakistani pop star now known as the creator of The Burka Avenger– a multi-award winning 3D animated TV series about Jia, whose alter ego the super-heroine Burka Avenger, fights for justice, peace and education.The first ever animated superhero series made in Pakistan, The Burka Avenger brings forth a very important cause of female empowerment to the world. 
Haroon spoke about the inspiration, execution and promotion of this simple but brilliant idea. He spoke about how The Burka Avenger has shone through, right from winning multiple awards including an Emmy nomination, to becoming a very popular TV series on Zee, in India. 
Both the interviewer and the interviewee excelled in this seminar. Ali Shabaz asked some thought-provoking and pointed questions and Haroon, a very energetic and exciting personality, gave quite a few candid answers. There was a certain passion in the way he took us through his story, that quite evidently reflects in his work. This just goes on to show that just chancing upon the most brilliant of ideas isn’t ever enough. It’s the passion to see it through that makes these ideas truly magnificent and unforgettable.  
Finally, I would like to bring you to yet another brilliant addition to Spikes this year, the ‘Silent Stage’. A small area within the main seminar hall where the audience is asked to put on wireless headphones and lose themselves in the content running on the big screen, without any disturbances. 
I also managed to catch the screening of Crispin Porter Bogusky’s ‘The Cannes Showcase: Whiskey, Rum, Board Shorts and Advertising’, a screening of a seminar from Cannes last year. Presented by Chuck Porter, Neil Riddell and Andrew Keller, this session covered the importance of innovative thinking amidst new economic realities of the business. They spoke about how they created the Brand Development Group, a special group within the agency that focussed on developing and marketing brands. They shared their learnings on creating and launching Angel’s Envy bourbon, Papa Pilar rum, Noll surfing apparel and Dolomite high-end outdoor gear. Another exemplary example of product design meeting innovation to create magic, not just for the clients, but also for the agency. 
The day came to an end with networking parties that refused to end, even after the day did. As for me, there is a lot to look forward to today and tomorrow at Spikes. 
Next up my take on the best work here.
Campaign India