Omnicom Backs Reality Show About Asia's Ad Industry

Creative Wannabes Will Be Mentored by Veterans in 'The AdBreak' Show Produced by Omnicom, Ice-TV, and Sony's AXN Channel

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HONG KONG ( -- Asia's creative community will soon get the chance to do a bit of naval-gazing on television.

Omnicom Media Group's branded entertainment and sponsorship division Fuse, a content production company in Singapore called Ice-TV, and Sony Corp.'s Hong Kong-based SPE Networks have partnered to create "The AdBreak," a reality TV series centered on the advertising and media industry.

Sean Cummins, creator of the Queensland Tourism's "Best Job in the World" campaign, will host the English-language series. The famous tourism campaign by his former agency CumminsNitro featured newspaper ads promoting a job as caretaker of an island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef and won three Grand Prix awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 2009. Mr. Cummins sold his agency to SapientNitro last year and left the company.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase Asian creativity and Asian advertising and marketing talent. There aren't many programs out there that currently do that," said Jack Lim in Singapore, SPE's VP-advertising sales & marketing.

Winner gets to work at an Omnicom agency for two months
Inspired by AMC's award-winning "Mad Men" series and "The Gruen Transfer," an Australian TV chat show focused on advertising, the series will feature 10 creative agency hopefuls battling it out as they complete assignments for eight weeks. The creators are also using experience gained from another Omnicom-produced branded-content series, "HP Space," which ran on the Asian News Corp. channel Star World last year.

The contestants will come from key creative markets like Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia. The winner will receive a coveted two-month creative assignment at an Omnicom ad agency in Asia that could turn into a full-time position. Viewers can take part as well. Armchair creatives watching the show will be invited to script, shoot and upload their own TV commercials for one of the brand partner's products for the chance to win $50,000.

"The AdBreak" will debut during the second quarter of 2011 on Sony's AXN Asia channel and will later run on two sibling channels, Animax and Sony Entertainment Television, as well as on terrestrial channels across the region. AXN has already produced branded content shows locally like "The Amazing Race Asia" and "The Contender Asia."

"These shows aren't created overnight. We have a rigorous recruiting process starting in January 2011. Contestants will be young creative wannabes who are fresh graduates and maybe haven't had their first job yet, or someone looking for a career change," said Ben Flint, the Singapore-based head of Fuse in Asia/Pacific.

Second season already in discussion
The show's creators are negotiating sponsorship deals with advertisers that work with Omnicom agencies, just as marketers like Procter & Gamble Co. were associated with "The Apprentice," a similar reality show launched by Donald Trump in 2004. (In Brazil, "The Apprentice" was hosted by a leading ad exec, WPP's Roberto Justus, and the prize was a job at Wunderman). They also plan to feature well-known creative agency veterans to mentor contestants and share insights about the ad industry.

"It's a lovely reveal about what happens in our world and also showcases creativity in this part of the world in an industry that hasn't been recognized as much as it could be," said Mr. Flint, who is already talking about plans for a second season of the show. "This is not about a cash prize, it gives the winner a true career for their entire life. Not many shows can do that."

Homegrown reality shows are popular in Asia. Viacom's MTV Networks International is working on two. "Freshwater Blue" features the lives of 12 young adults from Sydney's northern beaches during the summer after high school. It premieres in Australia and New Zealand on Dec. 2, and will run in the U.K. next year.

MTV is also backing "Shibuhara Girls," a half-hour series following four young women in Tokyo's epicenters for youth culture, the Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods. It will debut in Japan in January 2011, with regional broadcasts planned for South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and other Asian markets in early 2011.

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