The Digital Revolution is here!

Report from Spikes Asia 2010

Sir Martin Sorrell moderating the Spikes Debate

Spikes Asia, now in its second year is fast becoming the region’s hot advertising festival, with a multitude of distinguished speakers jetting in from across the globe to join the their Asian colleagues to share their views on where the ‘ad world’ is going, or ought to be, to reach and engage the region’s changing consumers. Add to those engaging seminars, the Spikes Asia Awards, being judged by panels of eminent worldwide and Asian Creative Directors to spot the most innovative and engaging creative work across print, electronic, digital, outdoor, promo, design and integrated categories and the opportunities for young professionals to learn and shine at the Spikes Academy and the Young Spikes contests, not forgetting the after-hours parties typical of the industry, and you have a mind-opening experience for the region’s creative communicators.

No wonder the Sri Lankan delegation this year topped 38 industry professionals from its top agencies, who are once again looking optimistically at the industry’s future, and what they could transform it into with learnings from what is happening out there in Asia and the world. Sri Lanka also selected and sent two teams of young professionals to the Young Spikes contests this year, and has entered some work for the Awards as well.

Starting with the first session on Sunday afternoon, where three creative greats reviewed the most inspiring work that won at Cannes this year, all the sessions on the first full day on Monday clearly showed that the ad world is heading digital, not only because that’s where their consumers are spending an increasing portion of their time, but also because it presents opportunities to engage, influence and mobilize them for the benefit of their clients’ brands in a manner not known to the more traditional forms of advertising. The lesson for Sri Lanka’s marketers is to shed their skepticism and think more progressively in embracing digital advertising to reach their consumers who are now fast joining their counterparts across the region in enjoying their new ‘digital lifestyle’ – whether on the Internet, through their mobile phones or through other convergence devices that technology is rapidly enabling to as vehicles of the 21st century lifestyle.

Digital media is different in many ways to traditional media – the most prominent feature being its two-way interactive capability. Its global connectivity and networking capability also gives digital media users the ability to share thoughts, conversations and good ideas instantly through social media channels becoming opinion leaders in brand building or destruction! And probably the best opportunity that has come about is for marketers to make today’s on-line consumers and communities co-creators of their brand story-telling and marketing campaigns.

The other key aspect that received attention was how CSR was becoming not just essential corporate good behaviour but a path to corporate success. Several presentations on the first full day threw up evidence and examples of this. Air Asia’s Group CEO the irrepressible Tony Fernandes showed how his airline was practicing the philosophy that CSR begins at home by first growing their rapidly growing team and championing their dreams. From becoming the airline with the most number of female pilots, including a Miss Thailand, in the region, to helping realize the dreams of young Malaysians as motorcycle racers and F1 drivers in their Lotus team, Tony walked the talked internally and then externally in helping communities-in-distress in post-tsunami Aceh and post-bombing Bali. David Jones, Global CEO of EuroRSCG showcased the One Young World programme he helped to found to bring together young people who would change the world. Dentsu Asia’s Digital Director Angeli Beltran underscored the CSR thrust in her talk that spoke of “Good Innovation” as businesses doing good for human sustainability and using digital communications as a catalyst for change.

The Spikes Debate moderated by WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell needled an eminent panel from Yahoo!, Nokia, Diageo and OCBC Bank to give their expert views on the challenges in Asia and how marketers and agencies were working together, or ought to be,  and using the new technology in building for the future.

Then came the agencies, from Ogilvy who showcased their Big IdeaL thinking, which connected a brand’s ‘best self’ to society’s challenges to realize the strategy and creative expression for their campaigns; and Leo Burnett who spread their “Humankind” philosophy that human purpose was the starting point to leveraging people, popular culture and participation to effect change; to JWT who underscored that time is the new currency and that brands had to create ideas that people wanted to spend time with; and Draft FCB who took the baton to drive that further with their finding that advertisers had no more than 6.5 seconds to capture a consumer’s attention and the proposition that a magical number and an inspiring insight may avoid the risk being ignored.

Campaign Asia interviewed BBDO’s worldwide chief Andrew Robertson to uncover his journey of success and his advice to young ad people. Microsoft Advertising’s Carolyn Everson talked about trends and insights in the new digital era, and sneak-previewed their new gaming X-box 360 – Kinect.  The inspirational talk of the day came from 78 year-old author of “The Power of One” and former CD of DDB Bryce Courtney who roared, wept, knelt and rolled on the floor in telling his amazing life story and exhorted the audience to realize their potential and their dreams.

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