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Little Black Book’s 2019 Cannes Contenders: APAC


LBB’s Editor in Chief Laura Swinton plucks out some wildly popular projects and a few wildcards from the Asia Pacific region ahead of Cannes Lions

Little Black Book’s 2019 Cannes Contenders: APAC

The first wave of Cannes shortlists – Glass, Innovation and Titanium – have not been kind to the Asia Pacific region. Nothing in Titanium, three entries in Innovation and just one in Glass. Ouch. Tough crowd. But that’s not to say that there isn’t lots of great work from the region – hopefully we’ll see it fare better in other categories.

Ahead of next week’s festival, I’ve picked out a few big hitters that are on course to do well, some great creative nuggets you might have missed and one or two wildcards. 

Dead Certs

AutoAds - Carsales

This is a project that’s very much been on a trajectory when it comes to awards – and for good reason. It’s fun. The idea of creating a slick and comically clichéd ad for your trusty old banger is just fun. But it’s also proven to be pretty effective too, driving sellers to the Carsales platform and helping them market their car too.  On a meta level, it should appeal to juries as Melbourne agency CHE Proximity punctures the tropes of the auto category. Plus, as the threat of AI or auto-generated ads looms over creative shops and production companies, conjuring a future of dreck ‘mass personalised content’, this campaign shows that, when rooted in the right creative idea and used for a legit reason, the tech can be effective.


This interactive mobile app from Spark, BBDO and the Te Aka Māori Dictionary uses Google’s image recognition and translation technology to help Kiwis learn and conserve their country’s language Te Reo Māori. I’ve spoken to neutral parties who have been bowled over by the seemingly magical UX and, since launch, has had tremendous usage. Another ‘awards trajectory’ story.

Hong Kong Ballet – Never Stand Still

Dynamic poses slashed through with red, Design Army’s imagery for the Hong Kong Ballet is all about tension. Never Stand Still launched just shy of last year’s deadline so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up this year in Industry Craft or Print and Publishing.

Dark Horses

Alibaba/ Peppa Pig – What is Peppa?

This short got 31 million views in one day when it launched, proving that nowhere is safe from Peppa Pig. Sorry, parents of the world. After stewing in the bad books of the Chinese Communist Party for years, in 2019 the ubiquitous porcine hero was officially welcomed to China. It didn’t hurt that she had partnered with Alibaba and that she was launching a new movie all about the Chinese Year of the Pig. But to the film in question, it’s the story of a granddad struggling to get his head around the Peppa Pig phenomenon. It’s set not in the zippy, futuristic world of 21st century urban China, but in a rural village – conjuring up the spirit of home and family that fit perfectly with the CNY launch while also cutting through some of the glitzier commercial bling of the season. 

Shiseido – Party Bus

I’m a sucker for craft and this Show Yanagisawa-directed Shiseido film is craftier than Gepetto’s workshop. The costume design – slay me. The lighting – yes. The animation – delightful. The pico-pop soundtrack – shine on, twinkle toes. The reds, blues, and violets – exquisite. It is just too goddam pretty and I would happily invite Show to come and art direct my life for me. Where it might stumble is the casting debate that flared up among some expats working in the Japanese industry, so we shall see. 

Hamam – Waterproof Saree

The only Asia Pacific project on the Glass Shortlist, this activation and product innovation from Ogilvy Mumbai was created to help women attending the Kumbh Mela festival. The religious festival sees Indians bathe in holy rivers, but women devotees tend to bathe in their sarees to protect themselves. The waterproof saree was created to make the experience more comfortable and was devised for Unilever soap brand Hamam.

Alibaba - Smart Touch

Proof that innovation isn't about overengineering solutions to non-existent problems, this simple silicon sheet makes navigating smartphones a whole lot easier for blind people. It adds three simple buttons to the screen that means users don't have to risk accidentally mis-clicking the screen. The project is a collaboration between Qinghua University, Alibaba and mcgarrybowen Shanghai  

Berlei – The Best Support for Sport

So, this one is going to totally depend on the average boob/moob cup size of the juries, but from my reasonably-endowed position I’d like to see this spot pick something up. I felt this ad right in the tit. It’s a visual metaphor that goes straight to the brain’s pain receptors. Made by agency The Monkeys, production company Revolver/Will O’ Rourke and director Leilani Croucher, I’m not expecting this to sweep the boards or chart highly but the insight is sound (running without a sports bra HURTS), it’s refreshingly non male-gazey and I’m a sucker for that early ‘90s colour palette. 

Vicks India – One in a Million


(Err, I should mention who did it. Publicis Singapore, and directed by Offroad’s Anand Gandhi).

Homepro: 7:1 Furniture Collection

BBDO Bangkok is one of just three APAC entries shortlisted in Innovation and I also think this could fare well in Design. It’s a collection of high-contrast furniture created to help people with visual impairments navigate their homes. The agency created it for retailer Homepro. The clashing colours and clean lines, I dig.  I’m not sure what Homepro did with this collection aside from leveraging the PR element as I haven’t been able to find anywhere to actually buy the collection (though I don’t speak Thai), but hopefully that will come up in the live Innovation judging session.

SK-II - Future X Smart Store

Online shopping maybe putting the squeeze on the high street, but brands are investing more than ever in retail experiences, particularly in their flashy flagship stores. But while the mainstream press is still caught up in a paradigm of digital commerce vs physical retail, Huge and skincare brand SK-II have been blurring that line. The Future X Smart Store combines sensitive experience design with technology like facial recognition and AI to create tailored experiences. The Future X Smart Store popped up in Shibuya, Shanghai and Singapore in 2018 before heading over to North America for CES in 2019.  

Undercover Crosswords - Ministry of Social Development/Office for Seniors

FCB New Zealand worked with the Kiwi government to get support to elderly people suffering abuse – and in order to get the information out secretly they used a surprising media channel. The daily crosswords. By embedding clues and helpline numbers in the puzzles, they were able to reach out to those suffering at the hands of family members and carers secretly before turning the project into a huge media talking point. 

The Universal Language of Pain – Mercedes Benz Vans

Another effort from BBDO Bangkok, it's a Mercedes-sponsored health initiative to help communities who speak minority languages to more effectively communicate their symptoms with health workers. It did well at Adfest this year,

Red Restaurants List

This project from Hakuhodo Kettle Inc for Takasaki City ought to do something in PR as it’s a story that’s as warming as a bowl of chicken ramen. The small city in Gunma Prefecture managed to address a few issues in one go with Red Restaurants List. They launched a tour guide devoted to rundown restaurants owned by old people with no successors – hidden gems of home cooking. The campaign was pushed out across various channels but once the news media picked it up it went wild. It boosted the city’s tourist numbers and the featured restaurants saw a 30% uplift in footfall. And several eateries managed to recruit ‘successors’. As Japan grapples with the many consequences of an ageing population, this project created a small ray of optimism. 

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LBB Editorial, Wed, 12 Jun 2019 16:29:00 GMT