CANNES, FRANCE — The excitement is palpable as this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity kicks off in a few days. As the Festival is widely known for recognizing outstanding creative work from around the world, Jason Williams, Head of Creative Excellence at Publicis Groupe APAC and MEA, has taken on the task of selecting his top five campaign contenders from the region for Cannes Lions 2023.
With a wealth of experience and a keen eye for creativity, Jason is a respected figure in the industry. As the driving force behind Publicis Groupe’s creative excellence in the Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa regions, his expertise has shaped award-winning campaigns that have left a lasting impact on audiences. Here are his top five campaign selections for this year’s Festival:
Knock Knock by Cheil Worldwide Seoul for Korean Police Agency
“Knock Knock is a clever utility that solves a very real issue by making ‘urgent assistance’ accessible to women in a brilliantly covert way,” James said.
The Innocent Eyes by Ogilvy Bangkok for Voiz
He further shared, “From Thailand, ‘The Innocent Eyes’ series of films simply entertain us. Both the client and agency appreciate and honor film and those who watch them.”
Phone it in by Colenso BBDO for SKINNY
“New Zealand’s Phone It In IS a fun way to encourage participation and populism. Well-crafted writing and hilariously unpredictable casting make this a very entertaining idea,” James explained. “This is a good example of a self-aware brand being playful with how it recruits new customers.”
Middle Seat Lottery by Special Group for Virgin Australia
According to him, “This campaign solves a genuine business problem by gamifying the negative and turning it into a positive.”
The First Digital Nation by The Monkeys (Accenture Song) for The Government of Tuvalu
James highlighted another campaign from Australia, this time shedding light on a pressing environmental problem. “First Digital Nation emphasizes one of the most significant dilemmas on the planet right now,” he said.
Unbranded Menu by Leo Burnett Manila (Publicis Groupe) for McDonald’s Philippines
“From the Philippines, and my own network, ‘Unbranded Menu’ is a great example of observant creatives hacking existing IP,” James said. “Game designers create virtual food that looks suspiciously like McDonald’s, and If you can’t afford to sponsor over 1300 gaming titles because that would cost billions, then get gamers to do it for you and reward them with IRL food.”
Cannes Lions 2023 promises to be a celebration of creativity like no other, and these campaigns are poised to shine brightly among the world’s best. Each contender James selected has a unique story to tell and represents the collective spirit of innovation and creativity that defines the advertising landscape in this dynamic region.
He concluded, “At D&AD this year, APAC earned a total of 93 pencils from 10 countries including Japan, India, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Of those 93 pencils, 11 were yellow which is a solid achievement at arguably the world’s toughest award show. All in all, the region has regained its confidence after the challenges posed by Covid-19. Our people and brands are more passionate than ever to increase creative standards, build strong client relationships, and win awards for meaningful and effective work
“In a few days, the Cannes Lions Festival will begin. It’s truly the United Nations of juries, putting a strong emphasis on Asia this year. We can only hope that APAC will do even better than D&AD because we know Cannes is meticulous about how it hand-picks juries, with a focus on the diversity of country, gender, and discipline to help juries comprehend cultural nuance and context. If we want to see further success at international awards, then we must create our stories with cultural context in mind, and present them in the most optimal way possible.”