Dilshara Jayamanna draws from an eclectic career history, of which club DJ in London’s West End and documentary TV producer rank as highlights (or 'nadirs' depending on whom you ask) in order to help shape the creative trajectory of MullenLowe Group Sri Lanka, where he is currently CCO. Ever a believer in the varying shapes of advertising creativity, Dilly, as he is better known, discusses five recent pieces of work in Sri Lanka that caught his eye...
YouLead - 'Kalu Mal Pokuna'
Agency: Isobar Sri Lanka
Production: Alex Motion Pictures
YouLead promotes career guidance and entrepreneurship among youth. When the agency and client noticed that young people were not very proactive in pursuing their career goals, they wanted to let them know that things don’t just happen. They did this through a series of vlogs and films about the legendary Kalu Mal Pokuna (Black Flower Pond); a mythical pond that transforms whomever takes a dip in it into the best version of themselves. The films are shot in an indie spirit. The dialogue is every young person’s story but is also what the client wants the target group to understand about themselves. With most digital agencies obsessing over ultra-short branding pieces I find it refreshing to see Isobar Sri Lanka doing well with this measured long form campaign.
Red Bull - '#BigGirlsCan'
Agency: Magic Mango
Production: Sky Colombo
In Sri Lanka, a girl reaching puberty is celebrated with a series of quaint customs (that are either loved or loathed depending on whom you ask) and then the formerly carefree child is all but locked up in a tall tower. Many girls are asked to stop doing so many things they love and excel at. The biggest offender: sport. The drop off rate of girls doing sport after reaching puberty is staggering, so Magic Mango and Red Bull teamed up with international batting sensation and Sri Lanka Women captain, Chamari Atapattu, to remind Sri Lankan girls and their parents that becoming a big girl (that’s what a girl reaching puberty is called in Sri Lanka) is a time when a girl should spread her sporting wings and not have them clipped. I’m a big Chamari fan and loved seeing this piece.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority - 'Remember Who We Are'
Agency: Wunderman Thompson
Covid-19 decimated the global travel industry. Here in Sri Lanka, travel came to an absolute standstill with the airports closing for more than a year. In Q1 2021, with people slowly starting to travel in secure bubbles, Wunderman Thompson had to work extra hard to help the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority remind potential travellers that Sri Lanka had so much to offer when they did eventually decide to get on a plane again. How they did this was with a digital tourism film disguised as one of those Covid films that remind you to do the most mundane things, like to stretch and spend time with the people you love. The visuals that accompanied these little reminders were powerful enough to get travellers back onto Expedia and Tripadvisor looking for things to do when they got to Sri Lanka.
Maliban Biscuits - 'Work From Home'
Agency: TBWA Sri Lanka
Working from home due to Covid played a particularly sinister game of bait and switch with children. Their parents were home throughout the day, but alas, what’s worse than your dad being five feet away but too busy on phone calls to play cricket with you? TBWA and Maliban Biscuits use the auspicious time for partaking meals during the Sri Lankan New Year to remind everyone that sharing a meal together with the ones you love is one of life’s greatest joys.
Softlogic Life Insurance - 'Isiwara Weda Waruna'
Agency: MullenLowe Sri Lanka
Production: Sky Colombo
Rounding things off is a piece from my own agency. Sri Lanka boasts an indigenous medicine practice that is several millennia old. With the advent of Western medicine during Colonial times, these local practitioners have largely retreated into the shadows. Highly venerated by village folk and vaunted by the few city folk who have benefited from miraculous recoveries thanks to these local practitioners. When Softlogic Life Insurance wanted to advertise the fact that they now cover local medicine claims, the creative team wanted to depict the wondrous connection between nature and these indigenous medicine practitioners, and how they carefully utilise that connection to nurse their patients back to good health.