Where in the World Did Our Cover Come From? Vietnam

A Late-Night Ride Led to Much-Needed Inspiration for the Winning Team From Grey

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Winners: (From l.): Nguyen An Hoa, Nguyen Tuong Luan and Do Duy Thien.
Winners: (From l.): Nguyen An Hoa, Nguyen Tuong Luan and Do Duy Thien.

This year, Ad Age 's Global Issue cover was born on a motorbike in Vietnam.

Creative Planner Nguyen Tuong Luan, Art Director Nguyen An Hoa and Copywriter Do Duy Thien, who work at G2/Grey Group in Ho Chi Minh City, were having trouble coming up with an idea for the annual Global Issue cover design competition.

So, after hours, the trio left the office on their motorbikes for a change of scenery in what they call typical Vietnamese fashion. During a coffee break around 11 p.m., Nguyen Tuong Luan, 29, looked up at the stained-glass facade of a nearby cathedral. He noticed that the "chaos" of all the small glass fragments came together to create a unified image, he said, which sparked the idea of using a kaleidoscope to show how brands connect the world.

"We trooped back to the office ... and by the wee hours of morning found ourselves staring at a winner," said Mr. Nguyen, a Ho Chi Minh City native.

This year's cover contest for young creatives drew 369 entries from 54 countries, up from 220 entries in 2010. In addition to the winner from Vietnam, finalists were named from Australia, Canada, France, India, Singapore, Spain and the U.S. The winners will attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity .

Mr. Nguyen explained the trio's "Kaleidoscope" concept:

"We observed that individuals, while differing by outlook, aspirations, values and cultures, share a special affinity and common ground with others via brands. Brands can help tell about ourselves and about others and connect the world. ... Kaleidoscopes reflect the connected world theme."

The "Kaleidoscope" entry caught everyone's eye during the judging by Ad Age staffers, the second year we have opened our cover to young creatives the world over, because it illustrated a vision of a world connected by brands. So imagine our surprise when we looked at the submission info and discovered the winner was again a team from Grey , though this year it came from halfway across the world (last year's winning creative team hailed from Grey , New York).

Before Grey , Mr. Nguyen worked on the client side in Bangkok. He studied advertising and marketing in the U.S. at Webster University in St. Louis. He works with Art Director Nguyen An Hoa, 27 -- no relation -- and Copywriter Do Duy Thien, also 27.

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