CAMPAIGN REPORT ON ASIA: Life in the fast lane - Campaign asks Richard Pinder from Leo Burnett and Jeremy Perott from McCann-Erickson what they miss about London life and adore about Asia


Richard Pinder, regional managing director, Leo Burnett, Asia Pacific

"Miss The Ivy?

With a growing number of UK agency heads now operating outside the UK, I am not alone in foregoing that pleasure. But Messrs Gatfield, Robertson, Hammersley and Brien in the US don't have the solace of the occasional fiery meal on the Terrace Rim Naan at Bangkok's Oriental Hotel to take their minds off matters Soho.

Equally they might have more time for reflection. In Asia-Pacific you just don't - the region redefines speed. Life here feels a little like Harrison Ford's character experiencing hyper-space in Star Wars. Everything you thought was quick and dynamic suddenly feels sluggish and dull. Governments come and go (last year: two coups, two wars). On each successive country visit, you find enormous change: a new airport, improved cell phone technology, the first real supermarket, a new law on advertising. And then there's the birth of a new advertising superpower to be witnessed, with China growing faster than any market in the world. Korea already has 3G technology and more broadband-wired homes than anywhere else - this from a country that 50 years ago had the GDP of Bangladesh.

As for agency brands, all the usual suspects are here. But unlike London, there are only five or six real networks of quality. The rank order is a little different too. For 2001, top in size are Dentsu, McCann and JWT. Top in creative quality are Saatchi, Ogilvy and Burnett.

At our recent quarterly internal review of Burnett work, the ad that came out top was a powerful print ad from Indonesia. And in 2001, the agency's total Gunn Report tally in Asia-Pacific exceeded that of our London agency.

It takes an age to win the overt trust of key players and clients in Asia, compared with London. But when you do so, you can be sure of their backing, in a way that simply doesn't happen in the West among business associates. This makes it possible to drive initiatives through the company within timelines that used to be the stuff of dreams.

So, back to The Ivy. While I'll admit to missing English wisecracking over lunch in the company of Vinton and Jaume, that's about all I miss.

But I guess that's what Asia does for you. Infusing you with energy, conviction and commitment, it gives you a new view of the world. You should try it sometime.


Jeremy Perrott, creative director, international accounts,

McCann-Erickson EMEA

Leaving my native Australia I was given the opportunity to move to London. Fantastic! Then I left London for New York. How much better does it get? Then I was asked to be the creative director of an office in Korea. What had I done to deserve that? Yet, after four-and-a-half years there, I look back on what was the most exciting, challenging and fulfilling time of my career.

Of course, I thought it would be a doddle. After all, advertising is Hollywood, right? Wherever it is. But then I arrived with my family in a place with squiggly writing and interesting smells and realised very quickly that I was the odd one out. Despite the familiar corporate colours and the fact that the people spoke better English than I did, it was like being plunged into a dark room. Christ! What happened to Hollywood? Despite this, you adjust pretty quickly and learn to follow your instincts.

It is true that agencies around the world are much the same. They employ the same sort of people, usually clad in Armani and Boss, who are doing a job they love and trying to make an impact. And it is never more true than in Asia.

That said, there are some very real differences. It's fast. Very fast. The attitude is go, go, go. From a business point of view, Asians are incredibly buttoned down and yet a lot more maverick in their approach, which, in turn, is reflected in their advertising.

Gone are the days when Asia was considered an easy ride. It's tough, competitive and just because you are from London doesn't mean you are going to cut it there. In fact there is a cheeky saying abbreviated as "FILTH", which means "Failed In London, Trying Hong Kong". Asians are incredibly hard-working and want to be recognised as such. They believe the world is watching. The Koreans, Thais and Japanese are highly aware of international creative standards, and in many ways they are far harder on themselves than their counterparts in the UK. In my time there, we became one of the most awarded agencies in Asia.

What is also fantastic about Asia is the constant assault on the senses. You see the world through completely different eyes, which inevitably has an effect on the execution of creative work.

When preparing a global campaign, the tables are turned and considerations about what will work in Asia (with all its countries and cultures) are the first priority, followed by how it will be applied to the rest of the world. Of course, the differences can be profound. When selling Coca-Cola remember that a kid in Thailand has a completely different palate to a teen in California. It's ginger spice versus milk and honey - a new perspective on sweet and sour!

One of the other delights is the strong culture of respect. Respect is everywhere, from the street to the workplace, and it is a delight to know that, whatever the situation, a greeting, a farewell and an acknowledgement is always paid with the respect for the person you are.

The differences make Asia special. The challenges make it unique. The results are down to you. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.


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