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AdFest: Thai agencies shine at Asian version of the Cannes Advertising festival

[pattaya, thailand] At Asia's leading creative festival last week, Suthisak Sucharittanonta cemented his status as the king of advertising in Thailand, widely regarded as the region's wackiest but best creative market.

Known globally for his award-winning "green worm" ads for Unif Green Tea, the chief creative officer of BBDO Worldwide in Bangkok picked up 20 awards, more than any other agency at the three-day Asia Pacific Advertising Festival (AdFest) that ended March 11. His awards included Best of Print for a Maglite flashlight campaign. Those three ads-"XXX Cinema," "Streetwalker" and "A Go Go Bar," bizarrely demonstrate the illuminating power of Maglite flashlights with nighttime scenes of prostitutes and drugs and the tagline, "See the dark side."

The festival, increasingly regarded as the Cannes of Asia, drew 1,400 delegates to Pattaya, a seaside resort town two hours south of Bangkok. Attendance at the 9-year-old event was up from 1,000 last year. Entries grew to 4,738 from 4,027 in 2005, largely due to the fast-growing direct-marketing and interactive categories, and a new print craft category.

Overall at AdFest, Dentsu's Tokyo office ranked second to BBDO Bangkok, pulling in 18 awards, followed by Ogilvy & Mather, Bangkok (14) and Saatchi & Saatchi, Singapore (11).

Creative star Mr. Sucharittanonta faces tougher competition these days. The Best of Film award went to Jureeporn Thaidumrong, formerly the executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Bangkok, who set up her own agency last year, JEH United. She won the top film prize for "Love Story," a campaign for Smooth E Baby Face Foam that humorously dramatizes a young Thai woman's transformation from a spotty, unattractive tomboy to a popular beauty.

Another hot rival is Thirasak Tanapatanakul, Bangkok-based executive creative director at TBWA Worldwide's Creative Juice/G1, Bangkok, winner of 10 awards this year.
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