Featuring an impressive panel of agency heads and senior marketing professionals, the debate explored questions such as 'Is advertising art?', 'Do awards really matter?' and 'What are truly global ideas?'
Almost all the panellists agreed that what really matters to both the agency and client is a good idea, but given the complexities of modern communication, ideas need to hold water at a global level.
As Chris Thomas, chairman and CEO of BBDO Asia-Pacific pointed out: "Ideas could be global, but what really matters is execution."
In response to what has changed in recession, Nayantara Bali, VP, male grooming Asia at Procter & Gamble, said that while the basic marketing approach may not have changed, they do ask for ideas that work harder.
Responding to the same query, Tim Isaac, chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific, spoke of the caution he has observed in the industry, and of the consequences of what he defined as dull, mediocre and cautious creativity.
But Asia may not be concerned by this, said a buoyant Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and regional ECD of McCann Erickson Asia-Pacific.
Defining Asia as a "scarcity society", Joshi said "limitations of any kind gave birth to greater creativity."
He also likened advertising to art, provoking other panellists to disagree. Chris Thomas said creativity served a purpose (brand-building) and was not really an art form.
To end it all, the panellists spoke of the importance of award shows, which Derek Yeo, head of marketing for Tiger Airways felt were not a passport to winning a pitch. Winning an award show alone cannot make for great advertising, he pointed out.