Laura Geagea’s AdFest Diary: Day 3

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Laura Geagea’s AdFest Diary: Day 3

Laura Geagea, managing director and executive producer at Sweetshop, China, Asia & MENA reports for Campaign Brief Asia from AdFest 2019.


I spent the morning of Day three listening to some inspiring sessions. Nick Cummins started off with a strong talk about ‘Why the World Needs More Agencies & How to Start One’. Cummins is a Creative Partner at The Royals an agency in Sydney.

Adding a funny twist to his life story, Cummins walked us through his career: He worked for a big agency, got sacked, got drunk, started another agency, sold it, joined DDB, got angry, left and started The Royals. Easy enough…. You’d think.

Cummins thinks we need more agencies. He encourages all of us to start our own agencies. But why?

One of his main arguments is that we all know it’s easier to build something from scratch than trying to change something that’s been running for a long time. The same goes for agencies.

Also, clients love new agencies. New agencies find new ways. It’s obviously something we all try to do in our industry on a daily basis, but it’s easier when you’re new and nimble.

Cummins followed with some more advice. Pick your partners wisely, don’t just go with your friends, even if you like them. Go with diversity. Plan things, that can be your part time job. Pick a good name for your agency, a name isn’t just a name. Get a big office, don’t start in your bedroom and then spend a fortune moving everyone to a bigger office.

Start under the radar, leverage equality, hustle and most importantly be hands on. Make sure you know what’s going on within your company. Spread your role across the whole agency. Have a few processes but not too many. Build a culture.

And finally stay true to your vision. You have a vision when you open your agency. You know what kind of agency you want to be so stick to that. And while you do that, question everything.

Don’t lease, don’t get a bank loan and don’t say you can do everything. Determine what your business is.

It’s a bit scary, but it’s all worth it so go for it!

Laura Geagea’s AdFest Diary: Day 3 Laura Geagea’s AdFest Diary: Day 3

Tahaad Rabis from FP7 McCann MENAT followed with ‘Let’s Learn from the “Creative Hackers”’. Rabis tells us about the Middle East region and about the creativity that’s coming out from the region. A big mix of work, but some great and different stuff too.

Check out for Calligraffiti in Egypt. It’s beautiful work in an area in Cairo where people sort through garbage. A touch of hope in an otherwise pretty dark life.

In Saudi Arabic, advertising shows a lot of bias against women. No campaign or advertising is allowed to show women. But that’s also something that some people are wanting to change. Al Rajhi Bank came up with an idea to break the norm without breaking the rules. It set up an outdoor ad, a mirror in a mall where women could get a photograph taken of themselves in the context of what looks like an ad. That image was then sent to their phone to share on their social media. Pretty smart in a world where there are many rules, to find ways around them in a tasteful manner and without upsetting anyone.

Rabis also touched on some work from the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Nice to see bold new ideas coming out of these areas.

Laura Geagea’s AdFest Diary: Day 3

David Guerrero, Chairman 4As of the Philippines, took the stage next to tell us about Advertising in the Philippines. ‘Is Advertising More Fun in the Philippines?’ Sure, but more fun than what? Guerrero showed us a series of work from the Philippines that showcased the versatility of the region. And what is unique about it all? In a nutshell, the lesson is really that it pays to be true to yourself and the audience. It’s not about being Spanish or American, but about being a proud Filipino.

And it’s about culture and ingenuity put together that will hopefully lead to better work. The Filipinos are social, speak good English and are generally great to work with.

‘So yes!’ Guerrero ended with, ‘It is more fun in the Philippines. Come along and have fun with us there.’

Joshua Okada and Chris Gurney both from ADK took to the stage next with Jerome Louis from Toyota. They took us through some great work that they have been doing together. The session was titled ‘Moving Toyota into Tomorrow. Today.’

ADK and Toyota have been partners for two years. The first year was planning and the second year was creative asset development. Louis from Toyota said the brand wanted to transform themselves from a car company to a mobility company. And as the brand does that they are committed to creating mobility for all, that goes beyond cars. It’s about overcoming challenges, making dreams come through. Perhaps solve some of today’s limits and overcome tomorrow’s problems with innovation.

Toyota is working on vehicles for mobility-impaired drivers and passengers, but also the elderly. The brand is also partnering with Tokyo 2020 as an Olympic and Paralympic partner to consolidate this commitment they are making. Start Your Impossible is a movement they have come up with to inspire the public, the brand’s partners and their customers, while committing to how they want to work on mobility.

ADK took the brief from Toyota and have been working on it for the region. Toyota is a top brand with slightly more mature customers, families usually as well, so it’s positioned as a safe reliable car. 
Start Your Impossible was a tagline they came up with initially for global audience. But ADK wanted to make it a WE story, to start ‘our’ impossible and packaging a purpose for the brand, Okada told us.

Gurney then took over to tell us about the once in a lifetime opportunity that came with the brief they got in. The agency obviously did a lot of work, research, understanding as to what the brand was up to. And to also deliver the idea in Asia too. The Olympics and Paralympics in our part of the world aren’t as widely known and viewed as the Western world. They wanted to find a way to bring something of real value to the campaign. How do we deliver something that is meaningful for the audience but also influence positive change? they asked.

ADK wanted to make sure that their athletes were very carefully selected, they didn’t want them to be superstars, they wanted them to have something unique, a story. And to create a movement around not only their sporting achievements, but also their social achievements, who they are as people, what they’ve been through. They call them ‘Dual Heroes of Impossible’.

Initial markets where they launched were Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. And they will soon be launching in Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Philippines with six new athletes. Check out the Start Your Impossible campaigns, pretty awesome work. And definitely something that will push the region into positive change.

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After lunch, I went off back to the hotel to get ready for the great Campaign Brief Sunset Drinks. Sweetshop is part of the annual party, what better way to spend the evening than watching the sun go down, with a nice cold glass of wine, by the pool.

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