Burnett's Conrad praises Thai work at regional contest

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BANGKOK-- Leo Burnett Co. Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Michael Conrad says Thai creative teams are producing world-class advertising by being original and remaining true to their culture.

Mr. Conrad, speaking at the second annual Asia Pacific Advertising Festival in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya, said, "Thai creative teams are applying a warm approach and have sound concepts. The ads are friendly, watchable, playful and linked to the culture."

He said award-winning TV commercials for Counter-Pain brand muscle balm, using a rock climber and weightlifters, were so visually effective they succeed with people who have no knowledge of Thai.

Mr. Conrad said Hong Kong and Singapore agencies simply adopted British advertising approaches. Japan, he said, like Thailand, has created and stuck to its own unique style.

"While other countries are dumping loads of information into the ads, the Japanese are very single-minded [and use] a one-word strategy," Mr. Conrad explained.

A good advertisement, he said, should boil the creative essence down to a simple thought or, even better, down to one word.

"`Safe' in cars, you know the brand," he said. "`Colors' in clothing, you know the brand. The Leo Burnett executive led the panel of judges at the two-day festival held last weekend.

Despite the region's economic crisis, AdFest had more entries and delegates than the inaugural event last year.

An estimated 250 delegates attended, up from 200 at last year's event in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. They submitted 986 entries from 127 advertising agencies in 34 cities in the region -- 386 entries more than last year.

Nineteen agencies based in Tokyo participated, along with 18 from Bangkok, 14 from Taipei and 13 from Seoul.

In addition to Mr. Conrad, 11 other judges were involved in the the competition. Only Mr. Conrad was from outside the region.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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