Is Asian advertising not effective?

Why didn’t Asia get a single entry on the shortlist for the Creative Effectiveness category at Cannes yesterday?

Because Asian advertising is not effective?

No. Of course, not.

Besides the fact that this is new category at Cannes, just in its third year, it is largely because Asian clients are not willing to share their results.

This is a problem.

If clients don’t share their data, they hold the creative process back.

If they do not show that a creative idea has impact, then how is advertising supposed to hold sway in the corporate board room?

Now, in this instance I’m going to pick on Singapore, the most maddeningly frustrating country in Asia for getting any sort of sense out of marketers or agencies, in my experience.

Why do I pick on Singapore? Because the diminutive citystate is probably the most important market in Asia right now, wrestling with Shanghai for status as the region’s most important hub.

It’s where most of the big multinationals are now. And, as a result, it’s where the agencies and media owners are too (except for the international brands that cover serious news, such as The Economist, Fox and Turner, which are still based in Hong Kong).

We ran a story recently that questioned the legitimacy of the Effies in Singapore that has awarded the agency of the year gong to the same agency for 10 years on the trot.

The reality is, that DDB is the agency that brought the Effies from New York to Singapore.

DDB has supported the Effies more than any other agency with entries. It has close to a monopoly on the major local clients (StarHub, Courts, etc). And it knows how to write an effectiveness awards paper, which is an art in itself.

But I hear from good sources that the reason that DDB remains unchallenged is partly because the clients of other agencies are unwilling to share their effectiveness data.

Now, I must declare at this point, that the reason I’m in Cannes now is because DDB paid for my flights. But anyone who knows me would probably agree that I won’t hold back if there’s a story – good or bad – to be told.

Joe Talcott, the former marketing director of McDonald’s Asia Pacific, told me about Asian advertising today: “I’d often look at creative work and would say, it doesn’t feel right to me. Then they’d show me the results… I’d be wowed.”

Asian creative work is often misunderstood for being weird and wacky, usually in the eyes of Westerners. Odd or not, that doesn’t mean that it’s not effective.

Clients in Asia need to open up more, share, and prove what they’re doing is making them money.

Then they might find themselves on the awards podium at Cannes more often, and find more good agencies vying their business.

Robin Hicks


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