Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Experiencing the global advertising landscape

Updated Oct 11, 2018 04:32pm
A ‘Young Spike’ recounts his experiences at Spikes Asia 2018.

McCann Worldgroup’s Global Chief Creative Chairman Rob Reilly summed it up in a single line: “Creativity is the only way to survive”. Indeed, it is, we thought to ourselves as we jumped from session to session. His talk at the Spikes Asia 2018 elaborated on creativity’s capacity to heal, jumpstart a business and save lives. His final words: “Stay crazy!” We knew we were in the right place.

That is exactly what Spikes Asia is all about. Madness. Belief. Experience. Networking. Inspiration. Creativity.

It is where Asia-Pacific’s creative community comes together for a spectacular three day celebration of creativity in communications, which took place in Singapore (Lion City) in September this year. As the region’s most prestigious advertising event, it gives professionals from around Asia a place to gather, get their voices heard and their work seen.

From the moment our plane landed at Changi International Airport and we knew we had made it, the adrenaline never eased. Two creatives in Lion City, ready to experience the global advertising landscape for the first time. The excitement over Spikes Asia was overwhelming – we couldn’t wait to get to the Suntec Convention Centre.

This was our first visit to Singapore; that too, participating in the Young Spikes Integrated Competition (such an incredible honour). The Integrated category required us to develop a campaign over two days in response to a brief prepared by a non-profit or charitable institution, executable across at least three media platforms. Complimentary Shutterstock and Audio Network subscriptions provided ample resources to use in our presentations as both multimedia distributors were partners at the festival.

While we were there to compete against professionals from across the region, we managed to the spare time to attend a few sessions taking place at the festival – owing to the full-access status our pass granted us. Although it meant leaving the competition area to refresh our creativity. The briefing session took place a day before the festival itself and lasted about an hour and was where we first met our fellow competitors. We had the rest of the day to ourselves, but we spent most of it brainstorming. Day one at Spikes Asia was upon us.

Bravery. Being Underestimated. Belief. DDB Worldwide CEO Wendy Clark’s three B’s were enough to show us why the global advertising atmosphere is so progressive. In the festival’s first session, she discussed how these factors can drive impact for brands, success for agencies, and growth for advertising professionals.

Networking was an essential part of the festival, for which there were ample arrangements. A dedicated meet-up lounge gave delegates the opportunity to speak to industry experts after their sessions. We managed to socialise with hundreds of participants from across the world.

One of the most inspirational spots was the ‘Walk the Work’ area where nominated work across all advertising categories was showcased, with a complete cultural context. It is amazing how looking at successful campaigns triggers a willingness to change and reinvent – that is exactly how we felt.


For both of us, the experience was a win in itself. The amount of learning that we received has completely changed the way we think, and we are looking forward to do something that will impact Pakistan’s advertising industry in a positive way and take it forward.


Co-Chief Creative Officer Ogilvy Singapore Nicolas Courant shed light on one of the most prevalent beliefs of young creatives in the industry. He emphasised how young people claim to have great ideas, but are limited by the briefs. “The main engine is hunger.” We learnt that the best campaigns are those that don’t just meet brief requirements, rather they go beyond the brief.

One of the most awaited parts of the festival was the happy hour (five to six p.m. every day) dedicated to networking and simply having a good time! After long sessions, speakers and delegates, jurors and officials got together at the meet-up lounge over music and drinks to socialise. It gave us the chance to meet even more people and talk about industry issues, trends and innovation.

And of course, the after parties. Don’t even get me started. One on the rooftop of the Singapore National Gallery, the other on the SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, almost 60-storeys high and overlooking Singapore’s skyline.

On the third and final day, we were to present our campaign idea. Each team had five minutes and a 10-slide presentation to sell their idea to the three-member jury – which comprised Ranjit Jathna, Chief Strategy Officer for Asia-Pacific, Edelman; Peter McFeely, Global Communications Lead for Food, WWF International; and Jeremy Chia, ECD of Publicis Singapore.

Although we were not able to win the Young Spikes Integrated Competition, the experience was a win in itself. The team from Philippines did a splendid job and took away gold. An interesting thing that came about after the presentations was how the teams from different countries, came together to share their ideas and presentations. In this way, we were able to see how different people in agencies from all around Asia-Pacific worked.

The award show was a treat in itself, and Pakistan didn’t hold back from bagging some Spike Awards too! In fact, BBDO Pakistan’s ‘The Bridal Uniform’ campaign won one of the prestigious Glass Spikes – the award for change. The Glass Spike celebrates culture-shifting creativity, which sets out to positively impact gender inequality, imbalance or injustice. The agency also won two Gold, two Silver and six Bronze Spikes. A campaign that won Bronze in the Music category was Adcom Leo Burnett’s Strepsils Stereo. Many congratulations to both agencies for winning big!

For both of us, the experience was a win in itself. The amount of learning that we received has completely changed the way we think, and we are looking forward to do something that will impact Pakistan’s advertising industry in a positive way and take it forward. At the end of the day, not just advertising, rather creating meaningful brand experiences really matters – and we feel we are geared up to get Pakistan more and more Spikes, and in fact, Lions too.

We are extremely thankful to our agency Spectrum Y&R for giving us the opportunity to experience the global advertising landscape and mingle with professionals from all over the world. We would also like to mention Sarmad Ali, Aneek Saleh Mohammad and Fatima Zakir. from the Jang Group, the official representatives of Spikes Asia in Pakistan, for putting their trust in us.

Here is to adding value to Pakistan’s advertising industry and winning more awards in the years to come!

Muhammad Ali Khan is Manager Creative & Strategy at Spectrum Y&R. He and his colleague Babar Naveed represented Pakistan in the Young Spikes Integrated Competition at Spikes Asia this year.