Surviving the Malaysian Appies and 8 key takeouts

Kuching happy campaign

 ( – Woei Hern Chan, Executive Creative Director at ensemble IPG Mediabrands

Alright, so last Friday the Appies happened. My last encounter with it was 2013 in Singapore, and it was an exhilaratingly nerve-wracking event. It’s an award show like no other. Like, seriously. You can’t hide behind your case video and pretty visuals. You’ve just got to man the fuck up and literally stand by your idea.

Having said that, it’s really awesome experience, both as a participant as well as a delegate. So here’s a little roundup of learnings through my eyes.

1. ‘Realtime Marketing’ is the new buzzword.

Case after case, the one that caught the judges’ attentions the most were Realtime Marketing cases (Why am i using upper cases like it’s a buzzword?). Marketing campaigns that used, reacted and responded to actual data that we get, in Malaysia’s case, via social media.

Top 3 examples of realtime marketing:

Kuching happy In article

  • Kucing Happy – needs no introduction, it’s been rampaging across every award show it’s entered itself. It hit the sweet spot of winning creativity and effectiveness awards. And the judges were thoroughly impressed, I daresay even wishing they did it. That’s when you know you’ve brought it home.
  • Astro Polis Evo – Astro Malay Marketing unit is a beast. Not only did they did an entire real-time, reactive and massively social and topically-relevant campaign with heaploads of content that built hype to the movie, they did it in-house. They really could teach us a thing or two. Also. Wearing a police vest on stage is so fucking baller. Congrats Mr. presenter Faizal Fauzi (pictured right, like a baller ). You were a rockstar. Oh. Media Prima also picked up an award for a Huawei campaign. If publishers continue upping their marketing game, we’re in trouble.

KFC Hot CHeezy

  • KFC Hot & Cheezy – disclaimer. This is ensemble’s campaign. So yes. It’s a little humblebrag and you may skip this para to the next point. I wasn’t presenting the case though, so watching Angelina and Amit presenting it, I could really take an objective look at what worked. Data from google, coupled by storytelling from a bunch of oddballs with a sock puppet burger.

All 3 cases above got golds. One from an indie. One from a publisher. One from a creative unit housed in a media agency. Interesting times indeed.

2. Realtime Networking happens too.

The beautiful thing that happened at the Appies was the friendly banter amongst client, agency and media people.

There were competing agencies complementing one another and genuinely asking each other to learn more about the cases and campaigns.

There were clients joking with one another about how tough the questions were at judging and they all laughed about it after.

I ended the night with a party of 2 clients from different brands, and 3 people from different agencies, all exchanging banter over beer. It was nice. Plus I can claim.

It’s really refreshing compared to the normal evening industry award shows where everyone just claps for themselves and gets drunk with the same people you’ll meet the next workday.

3. ‘We don’t know’

This is a really beautiful statement.

A lot of the Gold campaigns, and the presentations from the team had an element of ‘we don’t know’.
‘We didn’t know if it’ll work, but we had very limited budget so we had nothing to lose.’

‘We didn’t expect the response to be so big, but we decided to scale really quickly and pumped more money into the campaign’

‘We don’t know what Malaysians will say, but we had planned and prepared in advance to scale the campaign’

 We talk about creativity needing courage all the time. And I hope that more clients buy into the fact that it’s ok to have a ‘we don’t know if it’ll work’ moment. That’s where the fun and excitement is, really.

4. 10 slides or GTFO

Every year, we see too many presenters get caught in the 6 minute trap. You have SIX minutes to present your case. SIX! Let’s do the math. 6×60 =360 seconds. 10 slides = 36 seconds per slide. If you really have to, maybe you can stretch it to 15 max. That big ass countdown timer can be really intimidating.

5. The ideal presentation team- Client x planner

Clients have the results and numbers. Planners have the thought process and strategy. Specially when the panel are marketers.

The creatives have already done their jobs with the campaign and case study. It’s better to sit back and watch and learn. It is good training though. It opens you up to a whole set of questions and point-of-views that we’re otherwise not exposed to, being too caught up in our own creativity and our part of adland.

So if you’re a creative, I would encourage you to not listen to this advice, bite the bullet, and give it a go! I still haven’t won an appie that I’ve presented in yet though.

6. This ain’t no TED conference

Don’t be fooled. It’s a freaking firing squad. Well. Depending on who you have in the room of course. But the vibe ain’t kumbaya when you’re up on stage though. We’re all in it to win it. Be prepared. If you look at the Gold and Silver winners and think, ‘what, really? Like that also Gold meh?’ think again. Every winner earned it. They had a great case. They prepared and practiced. They brought home the bacon. Beef of course, because Malaysia.

7. Old school can be cool

So while the whole world is in love with digital, data, social, tech and all the buzzwords in between, there were some cases that really stood out because they used ‘conventional’ media very, very well.

Case in point – Permanis. They were the biggest winners at the Appies. And from what I’ve heard, in quite a few other award shows too. Their creative executions mainly center around TV, print, outdoor and a solid marketing and creative strat. It goes to show, creativity can happen anywhere. There’s no such thing as any medium being boring. It’s picking the right weapon for the right battle. Good job Permanis and their agencies.

8. Marketing judges see things differently

Pay attention to the questions they ask. It was interesting for me. Not that it’s anything new, but as a creative I always forget. We fall in love with an onion ninja, an awesome technique, an amazing project, and then when we present it, those cold, dead eyes stare back at you.

And you wonder why. And you get depressed. And you lose hope and vent it out by doing it up anyway because the idea deserves to see the light of day
, client be damned.

But you know what? Clients love ideas too. We just need to know their definition of love. And that starts by knowing what they really need. And like any relationship, it takes time to earn their trust, learn their language and needs, so that we can all have more ‘we don’t know if it’ll work but let’s do it’ moments.


It was fun. It was a nice learning experience. It was a good day out of the office. If you read this and have anything else to add to it, please drop a comment to share.


Female colleague: I need a massage

Manager: I’m sorry, miss, this spa is strictly for men.

FC: Oh. I don’t mind if women massage me.

M: I’m sorry miss, I really can’t let you into this spa.

FC: Oh, you mean this spa is a…

M: I’m sorry miss. You’ll have to get back to the conference now.

Moral: Don’t skive. Stick at the conference :p

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn


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