Above: Jimmy Lam - Adfest President
Matt Cooper here, reporting from Adfest 2013. The general buzz is that the quality of work this year is really high. It amazes me that there are not more European and American production companies here meeting the crowd. It’s a young group of people who want to learn more. Plus, this year the festival is bigger and more diverse than ever. Delegates came from 56 cities in 32 countries, so it’s a great place to meet people from all over Asia.
In the spirit of being a roving reporter, I caught up with the movers and shakers at this year’s Adfest who have put together an amazing programme and worked tirelessly to sift through the 3507 entries.
Jimmy Lam - Adfest President
LBB> What do you want the delegates to take away from the festival this year?
JL> I want them to be exposed to the best work in the region, to be inspired by presentations of speakers and to feel great about seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
LBB> How is the quality of entries this year?
JL> I believe quality is up. The jury presidents were amazed by work and they are hard to please. Particularly the jury this year. Two of the current jurors were with us last year so they will have prior knowledge
LBB> Why do you think there’s been a lack of delegates from the UK and USA?
JL> I think the main reasons are the long haul. People think it costs a lot, but it doesn’t – it’s a very cost-effective place to be. Also, while Adfest is very well known in this region, it’s not so well known in other regions. It’s a shame that more people don’t come. There are bigger shows in the region, in terms of numbers, but Adfest is very unique in that it is so diverse. There is no other show that gets such a mixture of Asian countries; it has a real cross cultural feel that just can’t be found elsewhere. Interestingly, this year is the first year that we’ve had entries from the Middle East. The industry there discovered our show and are now entering, coming and judging - which is very interesting. Most festivals are very provincial, our festival isn’t.
LBB> How easy is it for the jury to judge the work across the Asian region?
JL> It’s tough to judge because the panel are very serious about it. They don’t want to miss out on anything. Every year the panel really take the time to discuss things that they are not sure on. Each panel only has seven members, which allows them to explore the work using good old fashioned discussion. It is tough because the regions all have their own textures and feelings.
LBB> Which media channel had the strongest work this year?
JL>The global trend is that traditional media is struggling in terms quality and quantity. Film and press are on the downturn. Outdoor is interesting and on the upswing, while promo and direct experienced huge numbers.
LBB> It’s interesting to see D&AD presenting here. Why do you feel this is beneficial to the audience?
JL> D&AD is a great brand. We started a discussion three years ago and somehow connected. We have many common interests - we are in the business of grooming talent. We had also done some academy and training work before, but it was perhaps too much for us, so it made sense to work with the D&AD on it. I believe they are keen to make an entry to Asia, so it works both ways; we are the perfect platform for them. It’s good for us to be associated with the best in the world and that is the way we think of the D&AD.
LBB> Do you have any new award categories this year?
JL> Effective Lotus is new. The judging criteria are one third on strategy, one third creative work and one third results. We try not to bring in too many new things. Every year we discuss whether we should cover PR and media, but in the end we always decide that we want to focus on advertising work. Creativity is the priority for us, even with the Effective Lotus. Any really good work should be thought about creative and effectiveness.
Graham Fink - Grand Jury President - CCO O&M China
“This is my first Adfest and I can honestly say that being on this jury has been one of the most rewarding experiences. It’s nice to be invited to these things, but they can often end up quite painful. However I’ve genuinely enjoyed this very much indeed.
When judging started, I told everyone that I had judged a lot of shows around the word and that every one has a different flavour; what I think makes Adfest unique is the mix of different cultures. It’s a real cultural emporium, which makes it interesting but difficult to judge. I’ve been in China now for 18 months and know what works in the UK won’t necessarily work in China - and stuff that works in some areas of Asia may not work in others. It’s quite hard when you are judging as you see all these rich, regional ideas, but you may not understand the language so you have to be instinctive and really discuss what you are voting for.
Everyone worked very hard to discuss each case. It’s crucial that every bit of work gets a fair hearing; a lot of planning and discussion goes into creating this work and it needs a fair chance.”
Farid Chehab - Honorary Chairman and Advisor to the Board - CCO Leo Burnett Lebanon
“I feel very privileged to have been invited to come to Adfest. I’m coming from the other side of Asia – the Arab world. I think there is something very exciting happening. Asia is the future of the world – it’s growing and becoming the new world economic power. What I love about Adfest is that it’s a not-for-profit organisation, meaning it can be the one hub where you can communicate about what is really happening here. Because Asia is growing, people will listen. I think that being a not-for-profit organisation gives it a louder voice.
Sitting in the middle of the east and the west, we can see what is happening and are watching the Silk Road of communication. I believe Adfest is an efficient, productive and fun way of enabling that communication. My take away from this festival is that we are seeing the beginning of an exciting new era in Asia. We must give Adfest maximum support to allow that communication channel to grow and prosper.”