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James Mok on Spikes Asia 2012

The Spikes Festival of Creativity is Asia Pacific’s big regional award show. Run by the same people who run Cannes Lions, they know how to put on a good show and make a handsome dollar in the process.
Attending the Festival in Singapore recently, I noticed a welcome trend; awarded work that would genuinely affect people and change behaviour.
Now I don’t know about you, but looking at creative award shows over the years, a lot of the highly awarded work leaves me a little cold. Incredibly clever, artful, and usually very lateral. But too often it’s work that seems to operate at a cerebral level. It requires mental gymnastics to figure out. It demands more attention than a cynical, time poor audience are normally prepared to give. Unless it’s an advertising award jury.
But most of the Grand Prix and Gold award winners I saw at Spikes had an uncanny knack of making me care. They seemed to understand what was important to people, why they should give a damn. Whether for commercial brands or social marketing, the ideas were built around relevant human truths, the executions were sometimes surprising, generally audacious, always engaging. But not just for an ad jury – these were perfect for everyone.
Here are just some examples:
Theanti-smoking experiential idea from Thailand that used young children to ask smokers for a light, then used their warnings of the dangers of smoking against them.

Using the sat-nav system ofHonda cars driving on Japanese roads in the days and weeks after the earthquake to show what roads were safely being used and what roads to avoid.

TheIkea catalogue that rented ‘space’ in people’s homes, paying them in Ikea dollars redeemable at Ikea stores.

Adirect marketing idea seeking financial support for Parkinson’s sufferers that was about as basic a DM package as anyone could make, yet so utterly human you couldn’t ignore it.
In a hyped up-ad-mad-wherever you look there’s a brand yelling at me-world, getting people to care is the critical thing. Let’s face it, it’s not hard to attract attention (assuming the client is brave enough to do something extremely provocative). But getting people to care is hard. This is the work that makes people think. When people think, they re-evaluate. When they re-evaluate, they make deliberate choices. Usually leading to behaviour change.
Making people care: it’s such a simple yet supremely powerful measure of an idea.
If you have a moment, go to The best work is world-class. Hopefully, if the region can continue producing work like this, it might just be able to put to rest its notorious reputation as the home of the ad scam.