CAMPAIGN PROMOTION - Dressed to kick - in association with Dentsu

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 July 2009 07:00AM

LONDON - This year, Dentsu gave over the floor of its Cannes seminar to three female creative directors from different agencies and contrasting Asian countries

Dentsu...dressed to kick

Dentsu...dressed to kick

I’m from the previous generation. Maybe you don’t want to see my old face and I should let the ladies talk.

Akira Kagami was joking, of course. But it’s a fact that the Dentsu executive officer and global creative director chose three female creative directors to present Dentsu’s ninth seminar at the Cannes Lions festival in recognition of the rise of a second generation of creatives in Asia.

His choice of women, however, was not driven by the clichéd arguments of gender bias. Rather, the three speakers – from Dentsu Japan, JEH United Thailand and TBWA\China – are creative directors at the top of their field and being female merely gave them a different point of view. Their brief: to reveal the significant disparities between consumers in their individual nations.

Many advertising conventions do apply right the way across Asia, however. Some, Kagami notes, would seem anathema to Western adfolk. In  Asia, it’s heart first and the brain follows, he says. There is no logic, just an appeal to the emotions of the people. There is a strategy, but it’s not so strictly adhered to.

And Asia shares with the rest of the world the challenges of media integration and consumer engagement. When we shouted, we thought consumers would listen, he says. But maybe they want to say something to us and to our clients.

Consumer trends revealed

Japan Masako Okamura, creative director, Dentsu Inc, Tokyo

Everyone is tired You must be tired, or otsukaresama used to mean you’ve done a good job. People started using it five years ago. Now, 90 per cent of the Japanese start e-mails with it, after it originated in the TV and ad industries.

People don’t know who or what to believe in anymore Advertisers such as Orix life insurance have used this to their advantage, with ads urging people to get a grip on themselves (and get insurance). The company rose to number two in the insurance market.

What is advertising for? To cheer up the world or activate a desire in people.

Thailand Jureeporn Thaidumrong, executive creative director, JEH United, Bangkok

The state of a nation is reflected in its ads ?Ads are slowly starting to reflect dissatisfaction with the political situation, such as a D7 coffee spot, in which politicians who drink the beverage start telling the truth.

Recession becomes opportunity Some local advertisers (such as KSME Credit) are seizing this opportunity to compete against multinational brands. There’s also a strong drive to promote tourism in the country. At one point, Bangkok’s Four Seasons Hotel had just four guests.

A new female voice Women are traditionally known for being very gentle, but they are becoming more powerful. A protest film against the government was twice as shocking because the voiceover was a woman’s, ending with the line: And when do you plan to kill me?

China Carol Lam, executive creative director, ?TBWA\China, Shanghai

Girl power Girls are outnumbered, with 1.15 men to every woman of marriageable age in Shanghai. Women’s scarcity has increased their value and sense of power. They are the biggest influencers in consumer markets and even influence male purchases.

The Princess syndrome Products of a one-child family policy, these city princesses have a strong self-image, are proud to be ignorant and pretend to be innocent. They want to continue to be spoilt. Few marketers have tapped into this group. Notable exceptions are Chicken Essence’s allow me to look after you, and the DBS credit card endline: After all, women are meant to be spoilt. Female creative directors have an advantage, Lam believes, because it takes a princess to talk to a princess.

Masako Okamura, Creative director, Dentsu Inc, Tokyo

You are billed as part of a new breed of creatives in Asia. What does that mean to you?
I live and work my way, and I accept everything as it is.

Who or what inspires you creatively and why?

Monty Python: the art of humour. I watched it over and over again with my dad when I was a kid. It’s my mantra.
Haruki Murakami, the author: the art of storytelling. His stories have the power to heal the emotionally wounded.
José Mourinho, the manager of Internazionale: the art of direction. I’m deeply impressed with his way of coaching.

You are at the top of your profession. What did it take for you to get there? How tough was it?
Sorry, I’m not actually at the top. Still a long way to go. That’s why I do yoga and some exercises every day.

What can Japan teach the rest of the world?
How to draw Hello Kitty!

How do you know that the rest of the world is listening?
Sorry, I don’t know. Please let me know how to find out.

What is the biggest challenge you face today?

To pump up the desire of young Japanese people who are satisfied with leading the easy life, in which they can get anything they want within a ten-metre reach through convenience stores, hi-tech mobile phones and computers. Otherwise, our market or we will become extinct!
(At convenience stores these days, you can do everything from buying food, magazines, CDs and daily necessities to paying utility bills.)

We can’t help noticing that you’re female. Is that an irrelevance?
Sometimes it helps, especially at big competitions attended by ?20 to 30 agencies. Everybody remembers me easily.

What are the greatest loves of your life?
Watching soccer while drinking wine with my family.

What would you be if you were not in advertising?
A lawyer. I passed the Bar exam...

Jureeporn Judee Thaidumrong, Executive creative director, JEH United, Bangkok

You are billed as part of a new breed of creatives in Asia. What does that mean to you?
We always try to do something different, and not follow the success of others. It’s natural that a new wave replaces an old one.

Who or what inspires you creatively and why?
Apart from His Majesty, the King of Thailand, my mother, my family and my friends…I often derive inspiration from my work colleagues. I feel most inspired when I’m relaxed and alone. Some of my best ideas have hit me while feeding stray dogs in Bangkok.

You are at the top of your profession. What did it take for you to get there? How tough was it?
It may sound pathetic, but I love it. I give it all I’ve got and I’m happy to work through the night. It can take its toll socially, but I’m OK with it.

What can Thailand teach the rest of the world?
We are still learning a lot, but perhaps we can encourage other nations to keep on smiling. We have a strong sense of humour that comes through in our advertising.

How do you know that the rest of the world is listening?

We win international awards! I think that the world listens because humour is the universal language. Everybody wants to be entertained.

What is the biggest challenge you face today?

Technology is developing so quickly that people are following trends and leaving creativity behind. The result is an awful lot of crap on YouTube.

We can’t help noticing that you’re female. Is that an irrelevance?

Actually, I’ve found that it’s been incredibly helpful, letting me stand out from the crowd.

What are the greatest loves of your life?
In this order: my mother, ?music and animals. Music has always played a huge role for me: I wrote a hit pop song when I was ?16 years old.

What would you be if you were not in advertising?

I would be writing and ?singing music, just like ?that Susan Boyle.

Carol Lam, Executive creative director, TBWA\China, Shanghai

You are billed as part of a new breed of creatives in Asia. What does that mean to you?
It means I’m still considered young and expected to make changes. It means I have to work harder.
 
Who or what inspires you creatively and why?
Who – beautiful people. What – beautiful things. Why – animal instinct.

You are at the top of your profession. What did it take for you to get there? How tough was it?
A lot of hard work, loneliness, sweat and tears. And luck.

What can China teach the rest of the world?
Leap-frogging. China is a vivid example of how the latest technology can be applied commercially without going through a painful development stage.
To be successful in China, you need to think of this and avoid extending obsolete marketing concepts and tactics. We need to treat China as a distinctive market with new thinking.

How do you know that the rest of the world is listening?
Businesses have their own lives, strategies and goals. If a business doesn’t identify China as its strategic market, then, whatever you say, it won’t listen because it’s not on its radar screen.
Conversely, if a business focuses on China, it will be actively seeking information to ensure success. Businesses will listen at different stages of their corporate development. This is the easy way.
The hard way is for businesses to copy old tactics and products. Then they may learn through failure.
 
What is the biggest challenge you face today?
Time.
 
We can’t help noticing that you’re female. Is that an irrelevance?
I think being a female doing advertising in China is a slight advantage because of our relative selflessness in observing human behaviour.
 
What are the greatest loves of your life?
My family.
 
What would you be if you were not in advertising?
Probably a medical doctor. 

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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