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Laura Geagea, Managing Director and Executive Producer of China, Asia & MENA at Sweetshop reports for Campaign Brief Asia from AdStars 2018 in Busan, South Korea.

 

DAY 1:
“Share creative solutions, change the world.”

 

Not an easy endeavour for this year’s Adstars conference.

 

Here we are all in lovely Busan with a typhoon threatening to hit, but still staying just far enough way for all the delegates, judges, speakers and guests to enjoy a few days by the sea. A packed three days at the Bexco Convention Hall of Busan brings speakers from across the industry together to talk on three stages: The Creativity stage, the Adtech stage and the Open stage. I myself decided to stick with the Creativity Stage this year and started the festival by sitting in on a couple of talks.

 

Focus Media, Tracks & Fields & Noah’s Ark all had speakers on the first day. Creative Vice President Andrei Ivanoff from Mullen Lowe Mexico, kicked off with the topic ‘Pay Attention. What Do Consumers Really Want?’
We are in an age where we are all hyperconnected. So how do we compete for consumers’ and viewers’ attention when they are surrounded by a multitude of distractions making advertisers’ jobs even more difficult?

 

Andrei brought our attention to a list that Business 2.0 Magazine put together 20 years ago defining the 10 driving principles of the new economy: Matter, Space, Time, People, Growth, Value, Efficiency, Markets, Transactions and Impulse.

 

Things have obviously changed over the past 20 years, but it’s interesting to see the difference between then and now, as this allows us to understand where things have really changed and how out of that change we can create value for a brand!

 

Andrei discussed how the 10 principles would fall short if they were applied to 2018:
~ Cloud Computing and SAAS (software as a service)
~ The death of print publishing
~ Social media and social networking

 

~ The rising importance of digital marketing
~ Crowdsourcing and the peer-to-peer economy
~ Location-based services and mobility
~ The explosion in user-generated content

 

So how do we go about creating more value for our brands? And if the product value of your brand is related to the output, what is the success defined by?

 

Andrei referenced some campaigns as examples, including Pedigree, Omo ‘Dirt is Good’ and Asics ‘Perfect Race’. All campaigns that tend not to focus on the product, and rather on the communication and what’s important to the consumer. It’s about not just relying on how strong your brand itself is, but rather on how you can connect with people, the product itself and through the platforms you are advertising on.

 

Cinzia Crociana, Global Creative Director from Energy BBDO Chicago next took to the stage for to talk about a more heart wrenching topic: “Can creative marketing help solve the Opioid Crisis?”

 

Cinzia is Italian and has been based in the US for many years. She walked us through the Opioid problem in the US, which sees 22,000 Americans overdosing every year. There’s the common misunderstanding that all people addicted to Opioids are “junkies”, however the issue is much more complicated than that. Most of the prescribed medicine is for pain, however many people are not aware that taking the drug can become a serious addiction.

 

Cinzia and her team built a huge wall covered with the tiny faces of all the victims of the Opioid epidemic. Joining the dozens of stories of families that have been affected by the issue, they wanted to prove that it’s a far-reaching problem. Through the creative project they wanted to build awareness and to reduce the number of victims. A very touching project, which received a lot of attention for a cause that is still ignored by many, and that hopefully helps to create a brighter future!

 

The Opening Gala and Kick-off Party brought the delegates together to watch a few performances, have a few drinks and hide indoors while the typhoon was still circling the city!

 

DAY 2:
My second day at the Creativity stage started off with a nice therapy session led by Andreas Krasser, Chief Strategy Officer at DDB Group Hong Kong entitled, “Strategists & Creatives: A Couples’ Therapy Session”.

 

Andreas’ message was clear from the very start. Strategists and Creatives need to have a better relationship within an agency. They need each other to make the best work possible. So, it’s about finding the best way to create stronger, more adaptable relationships between both.

 

He defined a plan with an obvious analogy to relationships. Solutions ranged from drinking together, bonding, talking and karaoke, in order to somehow get to a place where the two teams share the same goal.

 

Andreas explained, one of the most efficient ways to achieving this more effective relationship, is by creating a new seating plan. Instead of separating the Creatives and the Strategists, at DDB they have now mixed everyone together. The challenge is finding different approaches to working together.

 

Andreas’ “relationship” advise also included:
1- Create a common agenda: If planners and creatives don’t have the same agenda, they won’t be to achieve a common goal without having to deal with unnecessary frictions
2- Mix things up a bit: Putting people with different mind frames together is always an interesting experiment. Start with something simple, like re -eating everyone so that they mix
3- Learn each other’s craft: And this not just for the juniors!
It’s obviously much easier to be done with the juniors as they are more adaptable / eager to learn, but this ideally should be done across the board. Perhaps we call it “receiving inspiration from each other, “Andreas says
4- Don’t take yourself too seriously (it’s only advertising!)

 

Peter Grasse, Executive Producer at Mr+Positive, a newly opened production company in Tokyo, Japan, spoke to us about production in the country and the best approach to the work in the “Land of the Rising Craft”, as he calls it.

 

The industry in Japan is always a very interesting one to outsiders. Directors sometimes seem to have more freedom in Japan, but like everywhere, it comes with its challenges.

 

Next up were some panel discussions.

 

Listening to Gabriel Grunewald Louro (Adnews), Lenilson Lima (Agência Um) and Andrei Ivanoff (MullenLowe Mexico) talk about what the industry is like in Latin America made me feel a bit like Westerners must feel when we tell them about Asia.

 

The challenges, limitations and differences in the culture shape campaigns, but also define how campaigns get made. Latin America still struggles with a lot of technological challenges across the territory. Some campaigns were nevertheless shown to illustrate that beautiful and effective work can still be made.

 

The all-ladies panel that followed later in the afternoon moderated by Laura Swinton Editor In Chief of Little Black Book, took us into another world which is more centered around women’s’ place in our industry. How offices are looking for more diversity, not only in gender, but also in race, ethnicities, religions and culture.

 

Anna Qvennerstedt (Forsman & Bodenfors) spoke from a Swedish perspective, Satoko Takada (McCann) from a Japanese and Vasudha Misra (BBH) spoke from an Indian perspective.

 

The panel touched on workplace questions: Securing an equally safe working place for men and women, working hours, expectations, and most importantly, having the work and life balance we all strive for in our industry.

 

Fascinating to dive into different countries and cultures and learn how each of them tackle some of the questions with more ease, while some seem to struggle. The panel agreed that it is a matter of management and it’s about finding the right balance, so the output of work isn’t affected, but made even better.

 

Day 2 comes to and end as we get ready to have a few cocktails at Adstars’ Network Party at Restaurant Mini, which is followed by the Campaign Brief Asia Legendary Party, hosted by Pixelbox, MPC, Hotshot and Think Tank!

 

Hoping the typhoon steers clear of Busan tonight. One more day to go tomorrow before we hit the awards show in the afternoon!

 

DAY 3

The third and last day of Adstars and everyone’s looking forward to the award ceremony this evening.

 

Hyungkyun Oh, Art Director at Cheil, Aeri Park, Vice President at HS Ad and Matty Burton, Creative Chief Asia Pacific at Google Zoo start off the day with talks touching technology, downloading and condensing work.

 

Emma Wilkie then took us through ‘Lessons From the World’s Most Creative Campaigns from Gunn Report’. A great 45 minute overview of the very best of our industry from print campaigns, to agencies, interactive and much more. Some fantastic campaigns and ideas make the Gunn Report’s prestigious list, but here are a couple of highlights.

 

The top 5 campaigns of the year:

 

Endless Possibilities
Brand: Getty Images
Agency: AlmapBBDO

 

A print campaign with four impressive portraits of Andrea Merkel, Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and Prince Charles put together with a multitude of stock art images stitched together.

 

4- Evan
Brand: Sandy hook promise
Agency: BBDO New York

 

The cute high-school love story that steals our hearts to then finally reveal that gun violence is something that is in the background and we seldom notice.

 

Child replacement programme
Brand: Pedigree
Agency: BBDO Auckland

 

The humorous campaign that encourages parents to adopt a dog after their kids have left the house.

 

Fearless Girl
Brand: State street global advisors
Agency: McCann New York

 

Today it’s one of the world’s most famous statues, ‘Fearless Girl’ was initially built and installed opposite the Charging Bull on Wall Street for International Women’s Day as a temporary piece. It’s now been moved to a permanent spot across the stock exchange in New York. A very clear symbol calling for diversity and empowerment for women.

 

Meet Graham
Brand: Transport Accident Commission
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

 

An interactive sculpture created to show us what our bodies need to look like to withhold a car accident. A very successful campaign that attracted 10 million views on the website in five days.

 

BDDO worldwide takes the Gunn Report’s most awarded network title for the 12th year in a row, followed by McCann Worldgroup, Ogilvy & Mather & DDB Worldwide.

 

Ari Halper from FCB New York took the stage after Wilkie. Halper told us how The Future of Advertising lies in our creativity. But just not how you think!

 

He starts off with a simple question: Is there a future in this industry? Or should I… get out?

 

The good news is that advertising is not dead. The bad news is that it’s hurting, Halper says half-jokingly, half serious. Carrying on with the same tone, he gives us a quick overview of why we are where we are and what we could’ve avoided along the road.

 

He starts of by discussing a model that used to be the norm – where agencies would charge clients 15% of the total budget. The fee-based model ensued preceding the “divorce” of media and creativity. Also touching on awards and how they are an obvious big benchmark that create value for our companies, he says, “Awards should be part of the journey and not of the destination.” It does however feel different.There is unfortunately a feeling of mistrust that has set itself between Clients and their agencies. However, the future is not all dark and gloomy, Halper gives a few solutions that he believes will lift things up.

 

Ranging from a performance-based model where the agency makes more if the sales are better than expected, as a first option or even the IP model, which gives the agency ownership of a campaign so that they can capitalize on it when it does well and is aired throughout different media, territories and usage.

 

Other solutions also include a “Fuck it Model” – where we just need to not over think it, go for something new and not worry about anything else (and pray to whichever God we believe in that it will work out).

 

Toby_adstars.jpgToby Talbot, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi was next and took us through his personal journey and story revolving around his relationship with awards and “What is the True Value of Awards?”. Talbot’s been in the industry for 28 years. And asks himself whether his legacy will be measured in awards.

 

When advertising started, there were no awards. But I the 60s, we decided we should give ourselves awards to celebrate ourselves and our work. The logic, if we want to look at it that way, is that if the bar is set high enough, then maybe we’ll all end up pushing for more good work, we’ll have something to aspire to.

 

“Would there be more bad movies if the Oscars didn’t exist?” A good thought to ponder.

 

Talbot does believe though that there are too many awards shows out there. So which awards do matter and to who?

 

A few big names come up, the Effies, which are a bigger attraction to clients as they’re more measurable in terms of data than others. Also, Cannes Lions, D&AD, Spikes Asia, to name a few.

 

Some agencies are seen to spend up to $1 million a year on awards (this includes case studies, entries, delegates passes, sponsors…). In Talbot’s opinion, perhaps picking and choosing the award shows and investing the rest of your time and money within your own network might be the better choice.

 

A special note goes out to Adstars that has a system in place, which is different to the majority of awards, where the entries are free. The downside of having to pay for every entry is that some companies simply cannot afford it. Therefore, a lot of good work and ideas get lost every year. Which is something that should be avoided, if we want to see groundbreaking new work!

 

The creativity talks come an end with Talbot urging us to focus more on creativity, and less on the eternal chase of awards.

 

And off we go to the Awards show and Closing Gala party for the 11th edition of Adstars. A great couple of hours of watching all the work that has been voted the best by the jury, here are a few highlights!

 

Nike went home with the Advertiser of the Year award. BBDO was awarded Network of the Year, specifically BBDO Pakistan, which won several awards for its gripping ‘Bridal Uniform Campaign’.

 

Share a Coke_Name Celebration.jpgPalau Pledge.jpgGrand Prix of the Year went to two campaigns:

 

– “Share a Coke – 1,000 Name Celebration” Fitzco//McCann in the United States
– and ‘Palau Pledge’ campaign (Host / Havas Australia)

 

And I’m pretty proud to say, Sweetshop also walked away with a Gold trophy in Film Craft (Direction) for New Zealand Police Recruitment from Director Damien Shatford.

 

View all the winners here.

 

The 12th edition of Adstars’ theme was also unveiled, “Influence”. The hope is to influence the world through advertising and make it a better place! Thank you for having us Adstars! A shame we didn’t get more sun, but still an interesting and exciting three days.

 

See you next year Busan!

 

This piece was published by Campaign Brief Asia on 25 August 2018.