Technology with a beating heart of creativity


 ( – by Malati Siniah

How do you tell a memorable story? Is it in the way it’s told, the emotions it evokes or is it through the technology used to convey the message?

As a writer and someone who is constantly on the lookout for interesting content to be featured for MARKETING that question is always at the top of my mind. In many ways attending the recent Spikes Asia, a three-day festival of creativity, allowed me to at least scratch the surface of this question. The region’s oldest awards show for creative excellence, Spikes Asia took place at Suntec City in Singapore and brought the region’s most forward-thinking innovators who inspired with a jam-packed agenda of 55 sessions presented at the Interactive Inspiration, Silent and Discovery stage platforms throughout the day.

Apart from thought-provoking talks, the best campaigns of the region were celebrated at The Spikes Asia Awards. This year’s awards drew a record 5,132 entries from 23 countries, across 20 categories including two new Spikes – Music and Digital Craft.

This year’s awards saw an increase of 781 entries since last year. Entries into the Healthcare category saw a significant 72% increase, with Design (40%) and Direct (34%) also experiencing an upturn.

Terry Savage, Chairman of Lions Festivals shared that the increase in participation reflected just how important the region is becoming in the global creative communications sphere.

“Creativity in Asia Pacific continues to excel globally with 3 of the top 10 most awarded countries at this year’s Cannes Lions coming from the region. The growth in entries is reflective of the fantastic work coming from this creative community and Spikes Asia is a platform for this work to be celebrated,” he added.

Messages of change
One of the most awarded campaign at Spikes was by J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, winning three Grand Prix for Design, Healthcare and Innovation. The winning ‘The Touchable Ink’ campaign is a brilliant example of how smart partnerships can not only create a memorable campaign but also result in social good.

Braille is the language used by the visually impaired to read. Unfortunately, Braille printers are hard to come by and can cost thousands of dollars. Looking to find a solution to this problem and improve the lives of those living without the gift of sight, Samsung collaborated with the Thailand Association of the Blind and a chemistry professor at Thammasat University to solve this problem by creating a special ink which transforms home printers into braille printers.

‘The Touchable Ink’ is able to convert text into braille once it’s printed out and heated up with any household item. In their initial sampling with the Thailand Association of Blind, more than 90% of the respondents shared that the ‘The Touchable Ink’ is readable and is no different from their braille text.

Highlighting more on their campaign Samsung shared, ‘The Touchable Ink’ is not just an advertising message but a key for visually impaired people to unlock their barrier and free their visualisation to be able to read and learn the world by themselves.’

Another big winner at the awards which managed to interweave its brand messaging with social good is the #sharetheload campaign by Procter & Gamble (P&G) India for its laundry detergent brand Ariel Matic.

The campaign won multiple categories including the Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness and Gold in Film. It also picked up several metals at this year’s Cannes Lions.

Anchored by a powerful message the campaign made a memorable impact beyond India with its heart-warming TVC which touched on the issue of gender inequality at home.

What was interesting about this campaign is that beyond a TVC that pulls on the heartstrings it also tapped into unexplored media like packaging on matrimonial websites and even the forgotten wash care label on clothes. Beyond the ‘Do not bleach’ and ‘Dry cleaning only’ cleaning instructions, a new one was added ‘Can be washed by both men and women’.

As a result of the campaign almost 1.57 million men pledged to share the load, the brand received US$10 million in earned-media. Publicity and volume sales grew by 106% and 105% respectively.

While it’s common to see beauty videos on social media titled ‘How to get perfect red lips’ or ‘How to apply eyeliner’, it is an uncommon sight to see them coming from an acid attack victim.


A series of beauty vlogs were launched on YouTube, where an acid attack survivor Reshma shared beauty tips with the world. Each vlog ended with a plea to crowdsource signatures on a petition addressed to the Prime Minister of India enforcing the ban on the open sale of acid.

Reshma’s plea instantly triggered a global conversation. In a matter of few days, the campaign received acknowledgement and appreciation from global news outlets including TIME, Reuters and The New York Times.

The vlogs had over 1.5 million views and 314,000 signatures from all parts of the world. PR worth US$17 million was generated at zero cost. Thanks to its creative campaign and effective results the ‘BEAUTY TIPS BY RESHMA’ campaign done by Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai for Make Love Not Scars clinched the Gold award for the Spikes PR category.

Malaysia at SPIKES
A total of 111 entries were submited from Malaysia at this year’s awards, with the most number of entries submitted for the Print & Outdoor Craft category (16 entries). While our performance this year paled in comparison to the 10 over metals we brought home from last year’s Spikes, Malaysia fared slightly better as compared to this year’s Cannes Lions Awards.


Bringing home Malaysia’s only award at this year’s Spikes is Leo Burnett Malaysia for ‘Project Buka Hati’ (Project Open Doors) which the agency did in collaboration with local NGO Dignity for Children. The campaign won a Bronze Spikes in the Design category.

Reviving a formerly bustling but currently forgotten part of Kuala Lumpur, Sentul, the agency featured the untold stories of Sentul through the use of patterns on the gates, windows and doors of homes around the area. The beautiful designs and stories of the people living in the city were digitised on for people to read and print out.

All the physical prints of the artwork that were sold at Sentul’s Project B café were bought and proceeds of the sales went to the Dignity for Children Foundation, a charity that provides educational opportunities for the underprivileged children of Sentul.

Apart from the one win, Malaysia was also shortlisted in three other categories. One of them came from Leo Burnett for Rubber Boy, an ad created for Petronas. The other two came from Geometry Global, who were shortlisted for two awards under Media and the Promo & Activation categories for their BoardCast campaign done for Dunlopillo.

The campaign launched earlier this year was created to reach out to Malaysian insomniacs. The agency repurposed Dunlopillo’s most detailed and technical product videos to create a series of boring ads to serve as sleep aids.

In its entry, the agency shared, ‘The solution wasn’t with the videos but the time and context where people saw them. For 70% of slee
pless people, the smartphone is the first thing they look at when they wake up. And they often check Facebook. So we turned our soporific videos to our advantage through an optimized targeting strategy’

‘Using Facebook sponsored posts, we placed our existing videos in front of sleepless people on Facebook, late at night between 12midnight and 5am. Each post had a clear call to action to get the sleepless to watch the videos. The next morning, we retargeted the people who watched our videos the night before, with a different post, to drive them to our stores.’

‘65% of sleepless people targeted watched our videos every night, adding to 350,000 views in two weeks. This campaign drove 7% more traffic to Dunlopillo stores. With zero production cost our mobile content strategy focused on repurposing existing non-performing Branded Content combined with audience’s specific behaviour to create growth.

Will technology overshadow creativity?
No, was the answer from Ashleigh Axios Former Creative Director and Digital Strategist at the White House who spoke at the last day of the festival in a presentation titled ‘Designing for the White House’.

In a future where technology such as Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) will be at their peak, will people no longer turn to traditional methods of storytelling and creativity?

“Absolutely not, it’s all about ……..


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