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Do Ad Stars’ Pivot Winners Set the bar for Industry Best Practice?

Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
Busan, South Korea
Little Black Book spoke to the AD STARS Final Jury about the significance of the ‘Pivot’ category: what do the winners reveal about our industry’s ability to help clients adapt in times of crisis?

This year, Korean advertising festival AD STARS introduced the ‘Pivot’ category for the first time – an award that celebrates campaigns that have amplified and repositioned brands in response to Covid-19, or helped to overcome the pandemic through public health initiatives.

“I think ‘Pivot’ is a wonderful idea for a category. It’s obviously very timely given the current state of the world. It shows how agencies can mobilise any organisation to be able to ‘pivot’, which should be best practice for the industry,” explains Levi Slavin, chief creative officer at Colenso BBDO, who led this category as an executive judge. 

There was only one Gold trophy awarded in this category: Thai Stay Home Miles Exchange for Thai Airways International, created by Wunderman Thompson (WPP Thailand). To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Thai Airways offered people air miles simply for staying home, incentivising people to make travel plans beyond Covid-19, which is essential for the airline’s future. 

“It was probably the hardest challenge to solve in the current climate, yet the idea is effortless and inevitable, as all great creative work feels,” said Levi. 

Masako Okamura, executive creative director at Dentsu One Manila, said: “As a judge, not to mention solving problems under the pandemic, I voted for the pieces that give people hope. Hope is more powerful than fear.”

She loved ‘Stay Home Miles Exchange’ because it gives people ‘not only a good reason to stay home, but also hope that traveling would be possible again’.

‘Castrol Care for Caretakers’, created for Castrol by Geometry MENA, United Arab Emirates, was another of her favourites. It won one of only seven Silver awards in the Pivot category, and involved Castrol training 50,000 mechanics to service and sanitise cars belonging to essential healthcare workers.

“Castrol gives good fuel to caretakers such as health workers and eventually it will fuel solidarity between citizens. Their tagline ‘MORE THAN JUST OIL’ sinks into my mind,” says Masako.

Geumbyul Bae, group creative director at INNOCEAN Worldwide in Korea, also judged the Pivot category. She believes agencies must help their clients evolve in highly cost-effective ways: “Darwin’s saying became a reality in 2020: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.’ If we don't provide a solution for the survival of clients, we don't survive either. So, we need to pay particular attention to the 'Pivot' category.”

“Companies are running on a tight budget. There is no room for marketing. It means that any great idea, if it has to cost a great deal, is meaningless. Ideas must turn a crisis into an opportunity with 'very simple and minimum cost’ – that is the main point of judging the Pivot category, and also the role of the advertising industry in post-coronavirus era.” 

She also loved the thinking behind ‘Stay Home Miles from Thailand’. “It has made the entire nation a potential customer. The best reason for this campaign is, it suggested a way to treat the coronavirus more cheerfully than any other work,” says Geumbyul.

Pancho González, chief creative officer at Inbrax, Chile, adds: “I think the Thai Stay Home Miles campaign knew how to understand the current context and use it to its advantage, in a very natural and organic way. The airlines have always invited you to fly and for one to do the opposite is simply positive, especially if we are in a pandemic.” 

Sheena Jeng, chief creative officer, McCann Worldgroup, Shanghai, China believes advertisers are looking for extraordinary methods in extraordinary times. “It is a time to see how far you can go with your clients. As an ad person, we should be able to adapt to this crisis as a good problem-solving opportunity to help brands win the hearts of consumers. As a judge, I was looking for creative solutions that empower consumers to connect more, and are optimistic about the future when they are in lockdown.”

Sheena also loved ‘Ginebra San Miguel Frontliner Labels’, created by Dentsu One Manila, another Silver ‘Pivot’ winner. “By using the design of a special commemorative bottle label to commemorate the medical workers who paid sacrifice during the epidemic outbreak, this is a historically meaningful idea,” she says.

To see the full list of Pivot winners at the AD STARS 2020 Awards, click here.



  • Wunderman Thompson (WPP Thailand): Thai Stay Home Miles Exchange for Thai Airways International.


  • Dentsu One Manila, Philippines: ‘Ginebra San Miguel Frontliner Labels for Ginebra San Miguel Inc          
  • 72andSunny Los Angeles, United States: ‘TheRealHeroes Project’ for Sports United
  • Imaginary Friends, Malaysia: ‘Staaaaay’ for Pet World Marketing
  • Leo Burnett, Hong Kong: ‘Till We Fly Again’ for Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Naga DDB, Malaysia: ‘KFC You Soon’ for KFC Malaysia       
  • proof., Bulgaria: ‘Get through the hardships, get online’ for CloudCart Bulgaria   
  • Castrol Geometry MENA, United Arab Emirates: ‘Castrol Care For Caretakers’ for Castrol


  • Directors Think Tank, Malaysia: ‘Coca-cola: For The Human Race’  for The Coca-cola Company 
  • Humano, Bolvia: ‘Home?’ for TECHO           
  • McCann-Erickson, Shanghai, China: ‘Air Hug’         
  • Imaginary Friends, Malaysia: ‘Play Your Part – Sanitiser’ for Directors Think Tank
  • Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: ‘KitaSapotKita (We Support Each Other)’ for Maxis
  • Facebook Creative Shop, Korea: ‘Baby Shark Hand Wash Challenge’ for SmartStudy        


  • IDEOT, Korea: ‘STAGE X Drive-in concert’ for Hyundai Motor Company
  • Block, Perth, Australia: ‘Otherside Plan C’ for Otherside Brewing Co         
  • Conversion, Italy: ‘Welcome (?)’ for mediterranea saving humans
  • Conversion, Italy: ‘ABSOLUT PRIDE’ for Pernod Ricard
  • GREYnJ UNITED, Thailand: ‘Docovidtary’ for Kasikornbank Public Company Limited
  • Horizon FCB, United Arab Emirates: ‘Clorox Workouts’ for The Clorox Company
  • 72andSunny Los Angeles, United States: ‘WerkItFromHome’ for truth     
  • GIGIL, Philippines: ‘Bathroom Got Talent’ for Orocan Philippines   
  • PT. Pilar Mata Angin, Indonesia: ‘The Reconnecting Track’ for Indosat Ooredoo 
  • Deloitte Australia: ‘DAS TALKOMOBILE’ for Suzuki 
  • Horizon FCB, United Arab Emirates: ‘World Oceans Day’ for Fine Hygienic Holding
  • Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups, Korea: ‘Nation Campaign for the good deed of Prepayment’     
  • 3AW Brazil: ‘Supermarket Aid Flyer’ for Mundial Supermarket       
  • WPP Marketing Communications, Thailand: ‘Dear Client, Thank You For Cancelling Our Work’ for TCP Group   
  • Zulu Alpha Kilo, Canada: ‘Live in the Home you love – Postcards’ for HomeEquity Bank