What the APPIES tell us about creativity in Asia

Goh Shu FenShufen Goh is the president of the Institute of Advertising Singapore, which has just held an event to find the best marketing campaigns in Asia.

In this Q&A, Goh, who is also principal and co-founder of pitch consultancy R3, tells Mumbrella Asia editor Robin Hicks about what she learned from the APPIES.

Which campaign from the APPIES was your personal favourite and why?

This is a tough choice as there were a few that really stood out for me for different reasons. I like Wrigley’s Flavours of Life chewing gum campaign by BBDO China. It reminds us of the power of great storytelling and craft.

I also liked Thailand’s Smoking Kid for uncovering an insight that is universally relevant.

But if I have to pick one, it’d have to be the silver winner Shabondama Soap, The Truth Lies Behind by I&S BBDO Japan.

For me, it best epitomises how a stroke of lateral thinking can solve a business problem, in a simple and effective way, with a very modest budget in a highly cluttered and competitive category.

What do the entries to this year’s APPIES tell you about the state of creativity in the region?

This year, we have 100 per cent more marketers submitting and presenting campaigns than last year. Marketers are recognising the importance of creativity in driving business results, and more are seeing the value of participating in the APPIES to learn and relearn what has worked and not worked in other categories and markets. At the APPIES, we’re assessing the outcome of creativity, and in most cases it’s about getting consumer to act – buy more stuff, change behaviour or change perception. So versus past years, I think the level of creativity has inched up. We saw more impressive results.

What was the most memorable thing you heard at the APPIES this?

A presenter came up to me, thanking me profusely for organising the APPIES, then confessed that he was an APPIES virgin and almost deliberately missed his flight so that he didn’t have to do the presentation! But was very glad he had a personal breakthrough and overcame his fear of public speaking.

Oliver Kittipong

Oliver Kittipong

Who was your favourite presenter?

Well, it has to be Oliver Kittipong from Y&R Thailand. His passion is infectious and he inspires the assessors and audience with his conviction. This is his third year in a role winning best presenter so we’re going to give him a special Appies Hall Of Fame. I think next year he should come conduct a presentation workshop for Appies presenters. He’s a great role model for Asians.

What were the key themes to emerge from the APPIES this year?

I think all winning cases had strong strategic clarity, whether it’s leveraging a powerful cultural/human insight or a sound brand truth. The outstanding campaigns all had a degree of drama and entertainment, which separated them from the good.

If there was a weakness to emerge from the campaigns you’ve seen, what is it?

There needs to be clearer articulation of business objectives and marketing objectives, and better linkage to results. Too many campaigns had a laundry list of results with poor correlation to the objectives. This led to skepticism as to whether the campaign really worked.

Another observation is that most brands are only benchmarking against their own past results and immediate competition. The reality is that we are all competing for the same share of wallet – especially if you’re already a market leader. So you may need to look beyond your category for inspiration.


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