Originally published on Campaign Japan, translated by Tatsuya Mizuno
In 2023, Asian work has made a significant impact on the Cannes Lions festival, with campaigns recognized and awarded in various categories, including three Grand Prix and numerous other awards. Countries such as Japan, India, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and others in the region have contributed to this trend.
I gained interesting insights from the awarded works. While creativity has traditionally been associated with innovation, strategy, wittiness, and effectiveness, Asian campaigns have added another dimension: bringing warmth to society through creativity.
This trend is not limited to NGOs but also extends to commercial brands. Some key elements of Asian campaigns have stood out. Firstly, they have addressed important social and environmental issues. Secondly, they have incorporated local cultural elements, giving the campaigns a touch of warmth and creating a sense of belonging for the communities they serve. Thirdly, fostering emotional connections between people.
I would like to share several campaigns:
“Knock Knock”, the winner of the Glass Grand Prix along with one gold and one bronze award, introduced an innovative and witty technology that resulted in significant changes in South Korean society. With the great idea of ” Make your voice heard voicelessly “. The campaign transformed the simple action of knocking on one’s mobile phone into an official emergency call. It provided a solution for domestic violence victims who might be unable to communicate verbally, by enabling a silent emergency call that allowed the police to view the situation via the caller’s camera, track the location, and activate a covert text mode through a fake Google page. By showcasing the potential of advertising to make a tangible impact on society, ‘Knock Knock’ demonstrated the power of creativity and innovation.
“My Japan Railway” was another Grand Prix winner, along with two gold awards, that aimed to boost domestic travel during the pandemic. The campaign used an emotional approach to transform train stations into personal destinations, creating a strong emotional connection between JR and its customers.
They developed a digital stamp system that delivers a cozy, analog feel by using woodcut-style lettering and imagery. The stamps showcase exceptional art direction, featuring unique location signatures. What sets apart great art direction from good art direction is not solely aesthetics, but also the element of surprise that the art provides to the audience. The project modernized traditional stamps while maintaining a human touch, fostering a warm and modern connection between people and their local city. Customizable stamping forces offer customers a personalized and memorable experience. The campaign exemplifies the power of emotional connection in marketing through art direction that connects people with the brand.
“A Train of Memories” won two gold and two bronze awards. The campaign captures 12 years of father-daughter memories on a train, with powerful visual that evokes warmth.
Although the visual effects may appear to be just for artistic merit or awards, they serve a deeper purpose. If it were just a typical music video with such visual execution, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. However, the unexpected visual presentation effectively conveys an emotional father-daughter story, showcasing different stages of their relationship and details. The innovative and never-before-seen production magically makes it a truly unique campaign that evokes a warm and emotional response in its audience. This work is a brilliant example of how craft and human touch can be combined to create an impactful and memorable campaign.
“SHELLMET”, the world’s first helmet made from scallop shells, won two gold and one bronze awards with the strong idea that “Shells have protected themselves from external enemies, and are now protecting human lives.”
This innovative campaign is a win-win solution for both the environment and finance, connecting us with Mother Earth. The creative solution transforms discarded shell marine-waste into an eco-friendly helmet. The design of SHELLMET is simple yet cool with a Zen Japanese feel, and the message is clear: “Protecting our heads and our Planet.” This beautiful story of scallop shells saving a village is a perfect example of how innovative thinking can solve real-world problems while promoting sustainability.
“The Well-Being Index” campaign won one gold, one silver, and one bronze award for offering a refreshing perspective on measuring a country’s success. It prioritizes the well-being of citizens by introducing a broader set of indicators beyond just economic growth, encouraging decisions that promote better quality of life for all. The model tracks a range of well-being indicators, aggregated into GDW (Gross Domestic Well-being) used alongside GDP as an official reference point. This innovative campaign breaks through the concept of how we measure the success of a society, awakening the people and society, and not just the index itself.
There are several campaigns that share a common belief in using innovative solutions to create a better world and building bonds to the society. The “Airtel 175 re-played” campaign uses technology to recreate the country’s group memories and create a sense of nostalgia and pride. The “Lay’s Smart Farm” campaign is another example of innovative technology and data being used to help farmers and promote social responsibility, leading to a better life for all. The “Kami” campaign introduces the world’s first virtual influencer with Down Syndrome, generating love and care to these people in society.
Winning awards at Cannes Lions is not solely based on superficial or gimmicky creativity. The 2023 Asian campaigns have demonstrated that impactful and socially responsible work, incorporating local cultural elements, can generate love and warmth towards society. These campaigns showcase how creative thinking can be used to promote positive change and create a better world for all. Congratulations to all the winners!
Executive Creative Director at Hakuhodo Hong Kong
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