Japanese Delegates Stay Home but Japan Is AdFest's Big Winner

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PHUKET, Thailand -- Two-thirds of the Japanese delegates skipped Asia's premier advertising show last weekend in Thailand, but Japanese agencies still managed to dominate the 14th Asia Pacific Advertising Festival.

Dentsu was named Agency of the Year at the three-day festival, better known as AdFest, while Wieden & Kennedy, Tokyo won the Interactive Agency of the Year award. Tokyo agencies took home 58 awards in total, more than any other city, led by Dentsu, with 14 prizes. Hakuhodo was close behind with 11 awards.

Attendance fell as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. Japanese agencies such as Dentsu, Hakuhodo and Asatsu-DK, or ADK, have been major supporters of the festival from the start. At this year's event, held March 17-19, the 800 registered delegates included about 130 executives based in Tokyo, but "two-thirds of registered delegates from Japan decided to stay home this week to be with their families," said Jimmy Lam, the Hong Kong-based president of AdFest.

For those who did attend, such as ADK Creative Director Mutsumi Ajichi, it was a hard decision. "I didn't want to leave Japan," Mr. Ajichi said, "but I also didn't want to miss the opportunity to be a jury member at AdFest."

Two Gold Lotus winners, for Shangri-La hotels and 3M Post-it notes, may offer a clue about which Asian work will do well at the Cannes Lions ad festival in June. While jury members found little to rave about this year, some entries did stand out, such as the "It's in our Nature" campaign for Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts by Ogilvy & Mather Group, Hong Kong.

Campaigns that engaged consumers were also popular among the judges, such as "Sticky Train," created by Cheil Worldwide, Seoul for 3M's Post-it Super Sticky Notes. The campaign was geared toward young Koreans, as 3M Post-It notes are widely used by students prepping for stringent exams. When the train reached its final stop, none of the Post-it notes had been blown off the high-speed train, demonstrating their strength.

Hakuhodo won the show's Grand Innova prize for its Born to Be Destroyed, which saw the agency create the Smash Guitar (a guitar made for smashing) for K's Japan Guitar Stores.

Hakuhodo's Sky Comic also won a Lotus.

Read more on AdAge.com.
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