All aboard the Oriental Express: reflections of a Spikes Asia PR juror

  • PR
  • September 20, 2012
  • Kelly Bennett
All aboard the Oriental Express: reflections of a Spikes Asia PR juror

Before we began the lengthy exercise of trawling through and discussing the merits of the 50 short-listed entries, PR Jury President Glenn Osaki (President, MSLGroup, China—the largest PR agency network in Asia—suggested that Spikes Asia epitomised the best of innovation, boundless thinking and creativity in the region How right he was, because the vast majority of the work we evaluated was exactly that, and more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-rhnV4l08Simplicity was the key ingredient in most of the standout campaigns we reviewed. In this regard the Gold-winning work from Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok, ‘Smoking Kid’, for the Thailand Health Promotion Foundation, was real, emotional and consequently generated masses of earned media all around the world.

Another PR Gold went to Proximity Beijing/Goodstein & Partners Beijing for ‘Hover Car’ for Volkswagen Group China because it had brilliant story telling at its core, was multi-layered and ‘open source’ in nature. Both of these campaigns really blurred the lines between advertising, social media and public relations, and we debated this at length. Where does advertising, marketing communications and PR activity start and end, how do you know the difference, and does it really matter?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubpObNY0NTISo with that in mind, here are several of my observations and reflections for the PR industry in New Zealand to consider.

  1. PR entries were predominantly from three sources: advertising agencies, large multi-national PR networks, and regional outfits. Hardly any from New Zealand made the cut, with the exception of the Whybin\TBWA & Eleven PR's entry ‘Good Energy’ for Mercury Energy (which was short-listed). Australia’s ‘Manland’ for Ikea resonated well, as did MJ Bale’s ‘Grazed on Greatness’.
  2. Just because something does well at Cannes, doesn’t mean it’ll do the business at Spikes Asia. Cultural differences play a big part in the democratic process the jury goes through every time it casts a vote.
  3. The vast majority of campaigns included references to PR value and yet there is still no standardised position stipulating how agencies should calculate those figures.
  4. The PR industry in Asia (indeed, around the world) still needs to get better at selling itself and the work it produces. There continues to be a chasm between the quality of video submissions, for instance, with PR lagging behind.
  5. Insights, ideas and results are still the three key components of a successful PR entry and those that have a simple, clever and compelling submission will do well.
  6. And finally, a prediction: Asia will become even more important for all agencies not only in terms of the economic opportunities it presents but also in terms of the creative influence the region has around the globe.
  • Kelly Bennett is the managing partner od Eleven PR and is leading the expansion of brand activation, experiential and PR services for the TBWA\ network throughout Asia Pacific. 

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