CAMPAIGN REPORT ON ASIA: Rising in the East - Craig Davis introduces his selection of the executions he thinks are the most creative by agencies across the region

The usual suspects in Asia have just been upstaged at the two

biggest regional award shows, AdFest and Media Magazine's Asian

Advertising Awards.



For the first time work from India has been recognised as Best of Show

ahead of strong competition from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and

Japan.



It's a healthy sign for the region and a strong indication that creative

standards right across Asia are on the way up. For the past ten years,

Singapore, Thailand and Japan have more or less dominated the creative

scene.



What's been exciting to see in the past year is some great ideas coming

out of India, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. And much of it with a strong

local signature.



There's so much opportunity in Asia and a real desire to show the world

what can be done from here. That combination is pretty hard to find in

other parts of the world.



Anti-smoking campaign. Tough to come up with anything fresh on a subject

that has been milked for years by hundreds of creative teams around the

world. But this one does it.



A young man fires up a fag on a crowded Indian bus to the consternation

of an old man seated in front. He looks around at the young smoker a

couple of times before standing to our surprise to let the young man sit

as the voiceover kicks in: 'Every cigarette shortens your life by seven

minutes. Be nice to smokers, they haven't got long to live.'



It's a simple idea made without the usual finger-pointing and it's cast

and shot with a completely believable touch.



Lexus RX300. I'm allowed one pick from my agency, so here goes. I like

the truth in this campaign. That most four-wheel drive vehicles rarely

hit dirt is true the world over, especially so in Hong Kong where every

available surface is curbed and guttered.



But, for me, the real strength of this campaign is in the fact that

four-wheel drivers have a 'King of the Road' attitude. This campaign

turns that observation into adventurous parking behaviour. Nice

observation, great twist, beautifully executed.



Sunscreen. There's nothing new about sunscreen. It's a product that's

been flogged far and wide for decades. We've all seen the drop-dead

gorgeous nubiles on the beach made perfect by the product.



This time, someone's gone right back to basics in search of a simpler,

more elegant solution. And found it, lo and behold, in the product

benefit. Looking at it now, the idea seems so obvious. The best ideas

usually do.



Republic of Singapore Air Force. The trouble with most advertising is

that it looks like, well, advertising. And it appears in places where

people expect it and where they've trained themselves to ignore all but

the most surprising ideas. All the more reason to ambush people out of

the familiar context and use the environment as the idea. Which is

exactly what the agency has done here. The subject could so easily have

become a 'holier than thou' equal opportunity statement. This way it

makes the point without getting too earnest.



Fanta. A great bit of Japanese madness that has the product performing

to the astonishment of the cast. It's a good example of taking the

product equity from words into action. Much better that Fanta can

actually be fun, than to simply talk about it. My favourite is the trick

can in the desert. But they're all pretty quirky.



Isao.net. Technology clients so often fall for the sci-fi execution with

not an idea in sight. This campaign highlights the deficiencies of

text-based chatrooms and manages to take a shot at the banality of

chatroom dialogue on the way through.



The cast communicate with cards in lieu of voice in real social

situations to show up the weaknesses of pure text messaging. It's

refreshing to see high-tech subject matter treated with a bit of real

insight and given a human touch.



1 Lexus RX300

Project: Lexus RX300

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Hong Kong

2 Anti-smoking

Project: The journey

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, India

3 Fanta

Project: It's fun time

Agency: Hakuhodo, Japan

4 Sunscreen

Project: Hip

Agency: BBDO, Thailand

5 Republic of Singapore Air Force

Project: Glass ceiling

Agency: Leo Burnett, Singapore

6 Isao.net

Project: The love

Agency: Dentsu, Japan

Campaign

20/04/01

CAMPAIGN REPORT ON ASIA: Inflationary times - Asia's media has

excelled since the 1997 crisis. But with the current TV duopoly and

pressure from the US, the future isn't as secure as many predict, Kelly

Clark reports

KELLY CLARK, the chief executive officer of MindShare

Asia-Pacific

Advertising

Marketing

Following the economic crisis that rolled across Asia in 1997,

advertising expenditure and media inflation plunged in most countries in

the region. Advertising spend was often the first budget line to be

slashed by marketers in those tough economic times, but conversely was

among the first to be increased as confidence in the business climate

improved through 1999 and 2000.

Last year, the majority of the region's economies had returned to

pre-crisis levels of media expenditure and saw significant increases in

media inflation, based on our recent analysis.

The major turnarounds over the past three years have occurred in

Thailand and Indonesia. In Thailand, the 6 per cent inflation in 2000

contrasted markedly with the media cost deflation of 12 per cent in

1998. Indonesia saw a leap from 2 per cent deflation in 1998 to 19 per

cent growth in 2000.

In China - recently one of Asia's fastest growing media expenditure

markets - media inflation moderated beginning in mid-1999 and this

continued through 2000. After several years of consumer price deflation,

media inflation came down from 13 per cent in 1998 to 7 per cent in

2000. But we must be cautious when predicting anticipated China media

inflation figures.

We could again see aggressive media owner pricing policies if the

expected increase in foreign direct investment materialises following

World Trade Organisation membership.

Our analysis shows that TV continues to be the key driver of aggregate

media inflation across the region. Robust demand in most markets during

2000 - from established TV advertiser categories such as fast-moving

consumer goods - fuelled significant increases in TV pricing in most

countries.

Although dotcom companies grabbed most of the headlines last year for

their contribution to advertising expenditure growth, our research

showed that these 'new economy' advertisers were not the key drivers of

expenditure growth and inflationary increases. Categories such as

pharmaceuticals and telecoms contributed significantly more growth in

advertising spend, putting the greatest pressure on media supply and the

resulting cost inflation.

Also contributing to inflationary pressures - past and present - is the

de facto TV duopoly that exists in many markets in Asia. The top two

stations control well over 60 per cent of total TV viewing in a number

of countries - not the most conducive environment for competitive

airtime pricing.

While some markets are experiencing growth in alternative TV

distribution platforms, it will be some time before these challenge the

established terrestrial broadcasters in markets such as Japan, Hong

Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

The fact that media owner bullishness in media pricing has continued

into 2001 in a number of markets is out of step with demand indicators

in our view. Our estimates for annualised media inflation across the

Asia-Pacific region in 2001 range from 2 per cent in New Zealand (versus

consumer price inflation of 1.9 per cent ) to a high of 17 per cent in

Indonesia (vs 5.2 per cent CPI).

The aggressive price increases we see in a number of markets appear to

be based on assumptions that high levels of advertiser demand (for a

finite supply of TV airtime) will continue this year. TV stations seem

to be assuming that the good times will roll on. We're not convinced

that will be the case.

While adspend has generally held steady in most markets for the first

few months of 2001, we believe there is now significant downward

pressure on ad budgets. Many marketers are taking a wait-and-see

approach to media commitments, and some have already cut planned

expenditure. The dotcom 'disappearing act' does not help. And worries

about the the US economy adds more uncertainty to the mix.

The warning bells are ringing, but we're not sure everyone is

listening.

The fact that TV's share of total adspend is declining should also worry

TV owners. In every category, advertisers are evaluating alternative

channels.

Outdoor media, for example, has experienced dramatic improvements in

revenue growth in many Asian markets over the past three years. This has

been driven, in large part, by increased innovation in how outdoor media

owners sell their inventory, and by improved research on the

effectiveness of outdoor media. Similarly, newspaper and consumer

magazine publishers have become more creative and accountable in their

sales approaches.

In the current economic climate, media price increases may prove to be a

short-term fix for some media owners in the face of softening

demand.

But it is not a solution for the long run if TV pricing runs

significantly ahead of consumer inflation or other linked economic

indicators. TV owners should consider pricing policies carefully, and

focus more than ever on proving value and accountability.

MEDIA AND CONSUMER INFLATION 1998-2001 (%)

1998 1999 2000 2001

(Actual) (Actual) (Actual) (Forecast)

Hong Kong Media 2.5 2.5 5.0 5.0

Consumer 2.6 -3.3 -1.6 2.3

Taiwan Media 4.0 9.0 9.0 9.0

Consumer 1.7 0.2 1.4 2.2

China Media 13.0 12.0 7.0 5.0

Consumer -0.8 -1.3 0.5 1.9

Japan Media -2.3 -0.7 2.7 3.1

Consumer 0.6 -0.3 0.5 -0.1

Thailand Media -12.0 -6.0 6.0 7.0

Consumer 8.1 0.3 2.3 4.0

Singapore Media 6.0 3.0 5.0 7.0

Consumer -0.3 0.5 1.6 2.0

Malaysia Media 0.0 0.0 6.0 5.0

Consumer 5.3 2.8 2.7 3.2

Vietnam Media 22.0 15.0 13.0 13.0

Consumer 8.9 4.3 0.0 4.5

New Zealand Media 2.0 1.0 2.0 2.0

Consumer 1.6 1.1 2.1 1.9

Australia Media 7.5 3.9 8.0 5.0

Consumer 0.8 1.5 4.9 3.5

Indonesia Media -2.0 40.0 19.0 17.0

Consumer 57.6 20.5 5.8 5.2

Philippines Media 15.0 17.5 18.0 13.0

Consumer 9.7 6.7 5.5 4.2

South Korea Media 9.8 16.0 14.2 14.4

Consumer 7.5 0.8 2.1 2.8

Sources: MindShare, EIU

TV SPENDING SHARE OF TOTAL ADVERTISING (%)

1998 1999 2000 2001

(Actual) (Actual) (Actual) (Forecast)

Hong Kong 49 45 42 42

Taiwan 56 54 54 53

China 67 70 67 65

Japan 34 34 33 33

Thailand 58 58 55 50

Singapore 23 24 25 30

Malaysia 32 33 30 29

Vietnam 53 45 45 45

New Zealand 35 34 34 34

Australia 34 33 35 33

Indonesia 59 60 60 60

Philippines 67 66 65 63

South Korea 29 32 34 35

Sources: AC Nielsen, MindShare



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