AdAsia 2011: A new era in Asian diversity and creativity

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 02, 2011
On Day One, Session 3 of AdAsia 2011, Piyush Pandey, Akira Kagami, Kitty Lun and Bruce Haines had an interesting discussion on creativity in Asia, its evolution and progress, and the areas it lacks in.

Titled 'Asian Creative? A New Brief', the discussion at AdAsia 2011 addressed key issues and concerns faced by the creative agencies in Asia.

The session involved eminent panellists such as Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy India, Akira Kagami, global executive creative advisor, Dentsu, Bruce Haines, chief strategy officer, Cheil Worldwide, and Kitty Lun, chief executive officer, Lowe China. It was moderated by Tom Doctoroff, director, JWT North Asia and chief executive officer, Greater China, JWT.

The session began with Doctoroff asking panellists about a noteworthy piece of creative, which according to them, represented a high standard of creativity. Lun focussed on Alipay's Porter campaign and mentioned how the entire campaign revolved around the value and attitude of the product contradicting the insecurity in the Chinese market. It is known to have won several awards in China.

Kagami declared the Kyushu Shinkansen (Bullet Train) 'The 250 km' campaign as ground-breaking. It was a countdown campaign designed to run alongside the full opening of the Bullet Train, and involved the creation of a 50-metre giant virtual character Saigodoon, moving through Kyushu.

Haines featured the Home Plus subway virtual store campaign that won the Cannes Lion for the Best Use of Outdoor Media as his choice for an outstanding piece of creative work.

Pandey, on the other hand, brushed off the very idea of pointing out a single creative campaign, when there are several of them -- and very different from one another. But, he did mention Cadbury, Vodafone Zoozoo, and Lead India as some of the noteworthy campaigns.

On being asked by the moderator to rate their satisfaction on their respective country's progress in long-term creativity, Kagami gave Japan a score of 7 on 10. Haines gave 4.5 on 10 to Korea, citing the country's celebrity fixation as a reason for the low score. "In Korea, they choose the celebrities first and then design campaigns around them," he added.

Lun split her score into two for China. "On one hand, I will give China an 8 on 10 for the hunger for creativity, whereas on the other hand, a 2 on 10, owing to barriers for blocking creativity," she said. She added that overall, the Chinese creative market is young and the creative people are hungry. "But, China as a country is very large and you cannot make any mistakes by the way of experimentation. This is where the incredible creativity gets restricted." She reasoned that launching a national campaign in China is way more expensive than launching one in a small region like Singapore. "In a small market like Singapore, you can afford to make mistakes and correct them, but in a large country like China, you cannot afford to take such a risk," she added.

Like Lun, Pandey gave dual ratings to his own country India. "I give 5 on 5 to urban India because the industry there is doing a fantastic job. But, to a large part of India that still remains untapped, I would like to give 1 on 5."

Speaking on representation of the Asian countries at international award functions, Haines said that the work that is truest to its market gets recognition internationally, whereas the one that emulates the international campaigns fails miserably.

Both Lun and Kagami opined that Asian countries are doing well at international award ceremonies.

Pandey had a unique point of view on the awards. "International award shows do not matter. You do not need to prove anything to the judges, but to the people on the streets of your country. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself whether the award made a difference to the person on the street," he stated.

When Doctoroff asked panellists about their approach to stimulate creative minds as managers, Haynes said, "We need to encourage people to challenge authority." Lun mentioned how small things that one does every day really matter.

On being asked whether Asian markets are brand-building markets, Pandey said, "Without a doubt, yes." Lun had the same opinion about China. "But, some local clients have a monopolistic mindset and sales-driven modus operandi, and hence do not understand the value of brand building," she added.

Haines feels that brand building is still 'work in progress' in Korea. Kagami said that brand building in Japan began during the late 1990s. "Clients need trust from people on their side when they are selling their products, and hence, brand building is important," he concluded.

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