I was in Singapore a couple of years ago, helping out on some Asia Pacific strategy doo dah. I was with CMO's from various markets, it was mostly digitally focused.
I left energised.
Because while people in 'established' markets with a long tradition of advertising and stuff agonise about the future and spout stuff like 'ideas we advertise' rather than 'advertising ideas' it seems like these markets, without the baggage of 'the golden years' , plus the jet propelled cultural and economic change, don't bother taking about the future, they're just getting with innovating it.
Don't get me wrong, they have challenges and a planet of average, predictable stuff too. And yet....
If found the work at the Adstars Awards mostly average, which goes for most regions too. But the top ten per cent was really great. Not because of craft skills or orginal advertising ideas, but because they had big ideas that changed behaviour. Some were expressed as advertising, many were not.
None had 'good advertising' as the primary goal.
Most aimed for headlines and getting talked about. Fame strategy, the most effective approach you can take.
One of the overall Grand Prix winners, the Bridge of Life, changed lives by saving them. Using technology to talk to young men at the final jumping point. It made noise for Samsung Life insurance by doing something authentic and profound, by showing great media/technlology/cultural thinking all in one great idea.
While TXTBKS is just so smart and starts with thinking creatively about a clear problem.
My Blood is Red and Black shows how you make something people don't think about that much, or want to do that much, compelling if you can connect it to something they care about, in a properly authentic, way. Be part of their life, add something. Make a cultural contribution.
Start with what you want people to do, rather than what you want them to think and work back. It also shows the power of planning your story and then making medi build it, rather than just aiming for 'reach' or 'eyeballs'.
While Beijing Duck shows the power of genuine surprise.It also shows when you get you're audience's emtional needs, in Thailand that's heavilly towards irreverence, you can make magic. Mostly though, this is bloody funny and the testament is that it became part of the youth rhyming slang. Few can claim to have that level of 'legs'.
While Lifebuoy Roti is genius, innovative media thinking, about where and when to show up. I did worry it was a little bit 'spammy' but it's so relevant to the moment of eating with your hands, I think it's charming and adds real value.
One photo a day for the worst year of my life shows how you can re-purpose a cultural phenomonon like 'one photo a day' so common on Youtube, for devastating effect and reach. Some might think 'It's a bit Dove' but I just think it digs right into culture and makes you feel something. Oh and the craft is great.
There was other great work, but this was the stuff that stood out for me.
Because it transcended advertising and it's category.
Because I wanted to talk about it.
Because it made me feel something.
Because it was relevan to the commercial objective.
Because it made me care.
So wake up sleepy West. Especially sleepy UK. Stuff your Facebook graphs, technology doo dah and agonising over the death of TV and whether Google + will ever matter to anyone.
That's all secondary.
How do we make people care? How can we matter in real life? How can we make all these new tools and options create some magic?
It's that simple and that hard.