It’s not just the pepper crab. For a few days, Singapore boasted a scrumptious collection of delicious preparations other than of the crustacean kind. Spikes Asia 2014 was a magnificent display of some of the best work from across the continent and for the first time in its history, Pakistan was a big part of the event, taking home three silver and seven bronze spikey metal trophies. Here is a summary of the show, along with some choice pieces of work.
Not just pictures, words too
The beauty about international award shows is not only about being surrounded by top notch work. You also get to be around some pretty smart folks who are there to share their wisdom. Through several presentations and talks, we learnt: if your ideas are not scary to you, then they are not good enough; the most dangerous thing to do is to play safe; it is important to be happy in what you do; content might be king, but context is the emperor, and if you are an art director and don’t know who Helmut Krone is, please just go away. The most important learning came from Ted Royer of Droga 5, who answered the question of why he is so good. “Because I give a s**t.”
Japan – Land of the rising trends in advertising
Dentsu swept the Grand Prix tally pretty much across the board with their stunning work for Honda. ‘Sound of Honda’ is a spectacular feat of technology in which Dentsu recreated Ayrton Senna’s historic lap at Suzuka using LED lights and large speakers which replicated the sound of the engine. The data was real; it was gathered by Honda in 1989 when Senna made the record lap, and the resulting video is the most watched for any automobile in Japan’s history. This was a true game changer – a perfect storm of a brilliant idea and incredible technology. It also shows you, in about three seconds flat, how far behind advertising in Pakistan is. And there was more from Japan: the beautiful ‘Mother Book’ which took the design jury by tsunami, with its stunning idea of growing in size page after page along with the mother. And the banana trophy for Dole was pretty brilliant too. It’s good to see Japan pushing the limits of non-traditional and unexpected advertising: this is where the future is.
The new kids on the bloc
It wasn’t just the usual suspects. As pointed out by Terry Savage at the start of the presentation ceremony, there were a number of countries that showed up to the party that weren’t in the habit of doing so. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar all received a mention. There was a rise in entries all around. Sri Lanka took home a gold for the wonderful mosquito-repellent newspaper by Leo Burnett Colombo. BBDO Pakistan was one of the most highly awarded agencies of the event with 10 trophies for its ‘Not A Bug Splat’ campaign against drone warfare, following up well from its tally at Cannes for the same campaign.
India continued to impress with an elephant load of entries. Award show recognition is clearly an essential part of their industry, evidence of which lies in the high quality work they produce, and the standards they hold themselves up to. JWT India’s ‘Make Every Yard Count’ for Nike is like Zakir Hussain playing the tabla on your eyeballs: an incredible editing blitz of crowdsourced imagery that combines to show a cricket game in progress. A gold was a worthy nod. Even the print work shone bright with highly conceptual and graphically interesting press and poster ads. The Far East did well as expected. Gold calibre work for Lego by Ogilvy Hong Kong. Brilliantly built classic works of art using Lego bricks, prompting a swift kick on one’s own behind along with the question “Why didn’t I think of that?” And the Guinness poster campaign by BBDO Singapore? Pure art. Then there is Australia and New Zealand, which keep reminding you that they are also part of this region and that this is a really tough region to win in. Another fantastic use of technology, ‘Melbourne’s Remote Control Tourist’ uses a live camera mounted on an actual person combined with a webpage to give you a personalised tour of Melbourne – as directed by you. So much better than any of the usual boring tourism stuff. New Zealand was not far behind either – some very hard hitting broadcast work for road safety helped them pick up a number of trophies for BBDO. Even the GayTMs for ANZ continued their fabulous Cannes run of wins.
And the winner is...
Dentsu was easily the agency of the year for Asia, and BBDO was named the network of the year for its massive haul of trophies across all media and offices. My favourite piece of work was a radio campaign by BBDO Auckland for Pedigree. They didn’t just do a radio commercial, they thought up an entire radio channel. A radio channel for dogs. It’s the sort of game changing attitude that Dentsu brought around for Honda too.
And it’s the sort of stuff that inspires you to look at your desk, and the brief that is lying on it and ask, “How do I manage to make this get me to Spikes next year so I can try some of that pepper crab?”
Ali Rez is a creative director who currently consults between South Asia and the Middle East.