Spikes Asia: Megan Clark’s inspiring jury duty

After being invited to be a juror on the promo & activation category at the Cannes Lions in June this year it was an honour to be asked to judge the category again, along with direct, at Spikes Asia, the little sister of Cannes.

This festival is a celebration of everything that Asia Pacific brings to us outside of advertising, in the real world: colour, vibrancy, diversity, humour, emotion, political and social issues, assaults on the senses … and an incredible richness of culture. It is these elements that are also woven into how we communicate brands and certainly what we would find embedded in the best work in the region, and the world.

I know all this now, but as I boarded the plane to Singapore I didn’t know what to expect from a Spikes experience, apart from knowing it would start with the inevitable average plane food.  Would it be a smaller, muggier version of the Cannes Lions perhaps?  Was I to find cultural divides across the room? What about the quality of the work?  

I needn’t have worried about divides and instead was rewarded with deep cultural discussion and respectful debate. I needn’t have assumed the work was any less than Cannes. Instead it had the aromatic spice and sweetness of the 30 diverse nations entered into the show  But yes, it was sticky, steamy hot. I got that part right.

In promo & activation we were looking for ideas that grabbed consumers by the heart and provided an experience that moved them so much they were compelled to take immediate action. In direct, the winning work would have an effective response mechanism that delivered a brand connection and would elicit a significant change in behaviour.

Medals day was a great day for New Zealand. To get a medal you are in the top ten percent of all entries in the show, and it was our day to get metal.

From the live tweeted toppling of a nasty king, to animals saying enough and making a government reverse the law, to turning a cricket stadium of fans into a country of one-handed players, all were ideas that the judges unanimously wished they had done.  New Zealand won three of the four golds in promo & activation and two of the five golds in direct. This is nothing short of outstanding.  

DDB’s ‘Animal Strike’, which had a brilliant day winning gold in both Promo & Activation and Direct as well as a silver and bronze, was particularly loved by the Indian and Philippines jurors in that it enabled a massive change in behaviour for the good of the planet, using the power of the people. That such a simple yet powerful idea could make a country’s government reverse law, and so quickly, they found utterly remarkable, coming from countries with such embedded politics.     

DDB continued its great form with Sky’s ‘Bring Down the King’, rewarded with twin golds in both categories for its outstanding integration of social media and live stunts, done in a way that captivated fans all around the world.

And as for Tui Catch a Million, the jury loved it for its brilliant activation of the stadium in a way that had influence on the fans, the non-fans and even the players. It took the game literally into the fans’ hands and moved the nation. It won a gold in Promo & Activation and two silvers.

When looking for our grand prix winners our jury president, Josy Paul (aka The BBDO Legend), challenged us to look for work that pushed boundaries so far beyond the category norm that it changes our industry. 

And the epic Sound of Honda achieved that. I loved this at Cannes and I loved it even more after hearing insights from a brand/culture perspective from our Japanese juror, Fumitaka. The campaign stunningly takes a product which is difficult to communicate, Honda’s internav system, and brings it to life through an event that shows what Honda stands for: history, passion and depth of spirit. It is multi-layered and yet a simple idea: recreating Ayrton Senna’s 1989 lap through sound and light. Josy Paul described it as taking artistry to a new level through technology and what the creative industry dreams of creating.

The grand prix for direct was awarded to Melbourne Remote Control Tourist. We loved this idea for its incredibly creative use of directly targeting potential visitors in a way that uniquely brought the city to life, putting the adventure in the control and hands of the would-be visitor.  The judges described as the perfect combination of an audience having a deep, live experience through a digital medium.

This is a world class idea and in my role as the chair of the CAANZ PREScom committee I am very excited that we are bringing this campaign’s client, Michael Hauser from Tourism Victoria, to Auckland on 22 October to speak about it, along with Michael Knox from Grey Australia who will be sharing insights on the stunning Cannes Lion Gold winning campaign, Ungiven Gifts. 

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As I wing my way back home, I can tell you the intense days in the jury room have stretched me creatively and culturally in a way that was so unexpected. Cannes is Cannes. It is epic and inspiring and mad. But Spikes has something special. The diversity of the jury, the rich cultural tapestry of the work and most of all the opportunity to discuss, share and debate with a small group of outstanding people has been an enriching experience, and one of the best experiences of my career. 

  • Megan Clark is founder and managing director of Copper Brand Experiences. 

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