Enthusiastic young creatives and students participated in an enthralling discussion with the panel of six speakers at the recent annual Ad Seminar held at the Singapore Repertory Theatre.
The Q&A session, which lasted more than an hour, had question after question flying at the speakers. It was a refreshing change to see our usually reflective students curious and boldly questioning the industry, asking all sorts of questions, from “How does Mother operate without any accounts?” to “Why was Clive Owen cast for the BMW films?”
Credit must also go to the moderator, Calvin Soh, CCA 2007 Chairman for doing a great job opening up the students' minds and giving an inspiring “lecture” at the start of the seminar. The Q&A session was conducted in the most unconventional manner with speakers seated on the floor with their feet hanging over the stage, setting the tone for a casual and inclusive exchange.
One student who had travelled all the way from Kuala Lumpur for the seminar missed out on the action when he arrived late in Singapore . Almost in tears, he wanted to know if we had recorded the session. Sitting through the last ten minutes of the session somewhat disappointed, he was thrilled when Calvin Soh announced that the Q&A session will continue informally at the Harry's Bar.
It was not difficult to understand why, after all the speakers are well-known creatives with many international awards under their belts.
Laurence Thomson (aka Lolly) from the edgy and unconventional London agency, Mother was there; so was Kevin Flatt from TribalDDB Chicago, widely known for his pioneering work on the BMW Films campaign; Ted Royer of Droga5 New York; Paul Grubb of Lowe Worldwide Bangkok; Kitti Chaiyaporn of Publicis Thailand and John So of Proximity Hong Kong.
These speakers whom were judging at this year's Creative Circle Awards (CCA) took time off to share their experiences and insights into many aspects of creative communications.
Kevin Flatt received recognition in many respected industry competitions including the first ever Cannes Titanium Lion in 2003, for the breakthrough work on the BMW Films campaign: a clever experiment in advertising that blurs the lines between product placement, program sponsorship, brand extension, direct marketing and online media.
Flatt gave a lighter view of the BMW films, sharing the lessons learnt from the campaign. He told of his experience with the client, how they trashed their initial idea, driving Flatt and his team back to the drawing board, to eventually create the BMW Films campaign. Emphasizing on how “Success Rewards the Brave”, Flat described how all parties involved had to be brave during the time the films were launched in 2003, the early stages of video streaming on the internet – technology we take for granted today.
Paul Grubb started his advertising career in 1979 at Gold Greenlees Trott agency in London . Leaving in 1989, he then started Duckworth, Finn, Grubb, Waters, one of the most respected independent agencies in London through the 90s. After 15 years, he left dfgw, and found new challenges in Lowe, overseeing Unilever business in Asia .
On his talk about Global Advertising/Cultural Differences, Grubb explained that the marketing trend is firmly fixed now, and it's global. They don't make 44 versions of every film for Asia , because the ideas they have are not based on local, cultural insights, but on human insights. Grubb used the example of the movie “Finding Nemo”, a story of a father in search of his son, which any parent anywhere in the world could relate to.
Grubb left the audience with one advice, “ Asia is without a doubt the most awards-obsessed community in advertising. But remember, awards are not what our industry is about. They are a very welcomed by-product of using our inventive minds to make a difference in the real marketplace.”
One of Asia 's most awarded creatives, Kitti recently won a Lion at last month's Cannes Lions Festival. The TVC for The Thai Olympic Fibre Cement, Shakespearean Gecko won him a Silver Lion in the Film Category.
Kitti showed us his “farm” – a collection of his favourite TVCs that used animals. From caterpillars, cows and dogs to geckos.
The best person to represent Mother other than Mark Waites himself would be Laurence (aka Lolly). He is one of the highly awarded creatives from Mother and has done award-winning works for Orange , Guardian and Coke. Recent works include a scuplture created to promote the program "London Ink" (a UK version of the US show, “Miami Ink”).
Challenged with creating a campaign on a limited budget to promote the new TV series, London Ink, on Discovery Real Time, Mother had to think beyond traditional media.
Mother's strategists collapsed everything Discovery wanted into a single word: Fame. “Fame” is a brief you can answer. When you want to create fame it's easy to come up with giant sculptures instead of posters because giant sculptures are going to be more famous than posters. And it's easy for the client to buy them because you've told them, “These will make you famous and fame will get you everything that you want.”
Thus, the team created sculptures of human body parts adorned with tattoos. A swimmer was placed by the side of the River Thames, and a girl with her head in a photo booth was at Victoria Station.
London Ink achieved an audience of 306,000 adult viewers in the 22:00 time slot, an increase of 586%. The previous week the Discovery Realtime channel achieved 30,000 viewers in the same slot.
John So from Proximity Hong Kong, an expert in direct marketing, brand activation and integrated marketing communications whose work for Nokia and Timberland won a string of awards.
John gave a presentation using some of the best examples of print, DM and digital work from the past and present to consider not only the role of the writer, but also the role of the art director in creating the most memorable and likable headlines, slogans and campaigns.
Ted Royer presented the case study on the Tap Project, which won a Cannes Titanium Lion this year. The Tap Project is a charitable initiative to raise awareness and money for clean drinking water around the world. The project was to also reinforce March 22 nd as World Water Day.
The Tap Project encouraged New Yorkers to donate $1 to UNICEF in return for the usually free activity of drinking water. The Tap Project garnered USD 5.5 million, providing the underprivileged more than 1.7 million days of water, and counting.
Royer also shared a case study on Droga5's work for the clothing company– Ecko Unltd. To reinforce Ecko's graffiti heritage and Marc Ecko's – CEO and Founder – position as an urban icon, Droga5 came up with an unconventional solution – “Tag the Impossible”. A video was circulated online showing 2 people spray painting Air Force One. After 24 hours, the viral was the most viewed and discussed video on 3,500 over websites, with over 100 major news appearances. The result was phenomenal with $0 media spend, reaching an audience of over 115 million.