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Dentsu, the ALS Association, KFC and Kasikorn Bank among the big winners at Adfest 2019

The Tokyo office of Dentsu won Agency of the Year at the Adfest in Pattaya held last week. Dentsu also won Network of the Year. BWM Dentsu Sydney was Digital Agency of the Year.

Inhype Dubai was judged Media Agency of the Year. CJ Worx Bangkok was Independent Agency of the Year. The Advertiser of the Year was the ALS Association for Project Revoice.

GreynJ United’s chief creative officer Jureeporn Thaidumrong won the lifetime achievement equivalent Lotus Legend award. Speaking about her contributions to the business, Adfest president Jimmy Lam said: “Judee is larger than life, a trailblazer at heart and the brains behind some of Thailand’s most famous, beloved campaigns.

“She has played a major role in putting Thailand on the map creatively, and has won countless Lotus Awards over the course of her career – she joins some of the industry’s true greats as our 2019 Lotus Legend.”

Accepting the award remotely, Thaidumrong who was traveling in the Dominican Republic at the time, said: “My apologies I cannot be with you tonight in Pattaya to accept this award – I want to thank so many people in my life for giving me opportunities and supporting me, and for being my mentors.”

The festival saw 1,120 delegates from 63 cities and 34 countries.

As one of the first major awards of the year, we expected to see many unfamiliar campaigns earn their first big wins at the Adfest.

But with a few exceptions like Dentsu’s Akuma No Kimura [Demonically Spicy Chicken], JWT Bangkok’s ‘Narcos: The Censor’s Cut’ and ‘Party Bus’ from Shiseido, many of the most highly awarded campaigns at Adfest, felt like safe picks which had already spent the better part of last year, winning gongs at various festivals around the world.

The Grande Lotus or Grand Prix winners were Kasikorn Bank’s K-Plus in branded entertainment for ‘Friendshit’ created by GreyNJ Bangkok.

Chicken Ramen in brand experience and engagement for ‘Demonically Spicy Ramen’ created by Dentsu Inc Tokyo.

Hyundai in design for ‘Hyundai Pavilion’ by Innocean.

Carsales.com.au in direct for ‘Autoads’ created by Che Proximity Melbourne.

Shiseido in film craft for ‘Party Bus’ by Towerfilm Tokyo.

Babyshop in Lotus Roots, a category that celebrated work powered by local cultural insight, for ‘Putting Mum in Parenthood’ created by FP 7 Dubai.

Netflix in outdoor for ‘Narcos: The Censor’s Cut’ created by JWT Bangkok.

KFC Hong Kong in print and print craft for ‘Hot and Spicy’ from Ogilvy Hong Kong.

The Grande for Humanity went to the ALS Society for Project Revoice from BWM Dentsu.

For a complete list of winners, click here

Discussing the entries, Leo Burnett chairman and chief creative officer and grand jury president Mark Tutssel said: “The quality of thinking was fresh, different and unique to the culture. You could feel where the communication emanated from, in the personality, narrative and execution.

“There was a lot of great work, and a lot of work that assumed people would be interested as opposed to content that they genuinely felt rewarded by.

“It was easy to pick work that resonated from that which didn’t have value.”

The judges at Adfest 2019

The judges singled a few pieces out for praise. Tutssel said of ‘Friendshit’: “It connected the bank to people in a unique way and was trademark Thai. And it achieved 20 million transactions a day.”

When it came to effectiveness, Tutssel said: “We awarded a Gold Lotus to the ‘Girl from Nowhere’ series; a mysterious school girl who takes the audience on an extraordinary tale of revenge.

“We liked the idea that agencies can now create IP and worked with the client to produce a series powered by women and which empowers women. The uncensored version was signed up by Netflix and aired around the world.”

About the integrated category, he said: “It was slightly disappointing since a lot of what we saw was mixed media. The best ideas weave in culture.”

Hakuhodo Singapore’s Asia Pacific creative kaiju Yang Yeo who was jury president on outdoor and press said: “Is print dead? It’s not going away, but like Polaroid cameras, it will become something for collectors.

“It will get more expensive but better designed. The KFC work that won the Grand Prix was so strong and powerful that it would have won 10 years ago and we will love it even 10 years in the future.”

About the Netflix Narcos work which won in outdoor, he said: “When you put something behind pixels and censor it, people become all the more curious. And that’s why we rated it highly. It integrates into the environment and promotes being shared on social. The advertising becomes as entertaining as the content itself.”

Cheil’s creative officer Kate Hyewon Oh who was jury president on branded experience and engagement said: “We focused on two things – how to attract new customers in a fresh way and how to make it work in the market. ‘Demonically Spicy Ramen’ satisfied both these criteria.”

Other work she liked in the category included Fire Vase from Cheil, a campaign for Lotte Soh vanilla ice cream from Dentsu that encouraged the audience to ‘play with food’ using uniquely shaped scoops and spoons, and ‘Universal Language of Pain’ by BBDO Bangkok for Mercedes.

Google executive creative director Natalie Lam who was president of the interactive and mobile jury said: “Entries were down 40%, and that’s what I blame no Grand Prix on. But it was still fun.

One big trend that I will take back to inspire my teams is that of data being used in a meaningful, experimental or playful way.”

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