Advertising luminaries talk digital age

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Advertising luminaries talk digital age


A group of winners at AD Stars 2018 pose at the festival’s closing ceremony on Saturday at the Bexco convention center in Busan. A total of 594 entrees received awards from among 20,342 campaigns. The festival was held between Aug. 23 and 25. [AD STARS]

BUSAN - Over the past decade, increasing connectivity has rapidly changed the way people work, communicate and receive information. Advertising is a field that has been deeply affected by this, as people shift their attention from traditional media to social networking platforms.

AD Stars 2018, Korea’s only advertising award festival, chose “Connectivity” as its grand theme for the year. This year, the annual festival was held from Aug. 23 to 25. The Grand Prix of the Year went to two campaigns that connected people using old-school tools - passports and the radio. The two were selected among 20,342 entrees from 57 countries.

The Grand Prix winner in public service advertising went to the Palau Pledge campaign created by the agency Host/Havas. Tourists to Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific Ocean, now have to sign a stamped environmental pledge upon entering the country at the immigration desk. Palau receives eight times as many annual tourists as it has residents. The campaign garnered praise from the United Nations and media coverage from around the world.

Coca-Cola won the most prestigious prize in the product and service sector with its Share a Coke 1,000 Name Celebration campaign, which was created by Fitzco/McCann and Casanova/McCann. The project was based on the company’s old campaign in which it printed people’s names on bottles. Coca Cola took the idea further and made personalized songs produced by 45 musicians for more than 1,000 English names.

The songs were played on the radio and spurred excited responses from people who heard personalized songs that matched their names.

The Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with five executive judges for AD Stars 2018 on Aug. 23 to talk about their choice and how connectivity affected the work of creators in the advertising industry.


From top, images from Coca Cola’s Share a Coke 1,000 Name Celebration campaign and the Palau Pledge. [AD STARS]

The judges were: Ari Halper, chairman and chief creative officer of FCB New York; Tay Guan Hin, global executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide; Toby Talbot, chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand; Anna Qvennerstedt, copywriter and chairman at Sweden-based Forsman & Bodenfors and Woon Hoh, chief creative officer at Hakuhodo Asia Pacific.

Q. What were the reasons behind your choice for the two Grand Prix of the Year?

A.Woon Hoh
: What I liked about the Palau Pledge is that it catches you at the moment: You’re off the airplane, you wait in line and, at immigration, you’re stopped to sign a pledge to protect the environment. And of course, the process to go meet government officials and to persuade them to create a new stamp. That is difficult to the last level.

Toby Talbot: Going through immigration is always quite a serious affair, and I think the fact of signing your name to it means definitely you’re going to have to look after this island when you’re there.

On Coke, I think it’s a wonderful extension from an old idea. Too many brands jump around [to try new things]. This idea could be for Coke and no one but Coke. For that reason, I think it’s amazing. I was on the radio jury for Cannes this year. There was so much talk about connectivity. This is a fantastic example of taking radio into a whole new realm.

In technological terms, both Grand Prix awardees don’t seem to emphasize connectivity that much - what are your thoughts on this?

: What really came across when we were talking about the ideas was that they both were sharable in the old fashioned way. In our business we often talk about something going crazy on Twitter, videos going viral. But these two felt like real ideas that connected on a different level with people, [each] in a serious and fun way.

Hoh: It’s not tech or data, but pure ideas that connect people, make you feel or do good. That’s all about it. It’s not about special technology or special gimmicks.

Tay Guan Hin: Whether it’s AI or mobile phones, they are all platforms that steer us in a certain direction, but it’s the creative ideas that people connect with in a relevant way. It’s interesting as things become more connected, we are getting more disconnected. Coke’s songs were handwritten for each name. The Palau Pledge was signed by people with their own hands.

You’ve all been in the industry for more than 10 years. What changes do you feel the most and how are you trying to overcome them?

Anna Qvennerstedt: I think the basic task is pretty much the same. You get a brief, you have to find out what the real problem is and solve it. But the resources and the media are different. I personally find working across generations is super important. At our agency, we try to just show work to each other, and I found the feedback from a 24 year-old on my work was just as good as my [years of] experience. We need to make sure the younger generation gets a real say.

A lot of campaigns air in multiple countries now, and the demands for political correctness may be different in each one. Does this make your work more difficult?

Qvennerstedt: I think concerns about political correctness may be killing a lot of good ideas. When I work with global clients, they will say this campaign will not go down in a particular country. For example, we [had a comment saying we] can’t use people with tattoos in Japan. Sometimes, clients are wary and would say no to this and that because of political correctness - during shoots or when they see the script. But once it’s produced, many times it would work in any country.

We are in the age of social media. What do you feel has changed with your work?

Hin: The way we tell stories. In the old form, a story starts from a beginning point and you build up from that. Today’s stories last for six seconds and they all evolve around the phone. And it revolves around using gimmicks like filters on Instagram. That, for me, is a fundamental shift, not the typical way of putting a storyline together.

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