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Thomas Hongtack Kim on this year’s Kidlat Awards: ‘The overall quality of the work far exceeded my expectations’

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Thomas Hongtack Kim, Founder of 2g, Chief Creative Officer of Paulus, and a member of the International Board of One Club for Creativity, recently flew to Manila, Philippines, to take part in the 16th Kidlat Awards, hosted by 4As Philippines and the Creative Guild. As Jury President for the Classic and Engagement categories, Thomas saw a lot of entries showcasing Philippine creative excellence. In this exclusive piece he penned, he shared exactly what he thought of these works and the unique stories coming out of the country.

What’s the best way to understand the world? Reading books and traveling are probably the answers. The other thing that helps me the most in my career is judging at global creative award shows because it allows me to see the problems clearly that are happening in the world and how creative solutions are being created at the company, civic, and brand level. Experiencing a judging session means I am briefed on the “why, what, and how process” of solving problems.

This is why my participation as a jury member at the 16th Kidlat Awards was so valuable. I judged two categories, Classic and Engagement — the most traditional and the most innovative together — and as I judged each piece, I was struck by three things.


The first is that most of the works go beyond simple branding and provide branded solutions to social problems. It’s a very smart strategy to act for social good because of brand activism and simultaneously create a new way of branding. Projects like “Pad-Ibig Diaries” (by Leo Burnett Manila for Roots of Health and Jsuntrade) and “Right to Care” (by MullenLowe TREYNA for QC Local Government Unit) have done this well.

Secondly, the deep concern for LGBTQIA was expressed well in the solutions. “Right to Care” is a great example of this. It is a bold and pragmatic attempt to solve an unexpected problem, and I think it would have much more value to share if implemented nationwide in the Philippines. “McDonald’s Lovin’ All” (by TBWA\ SMP for McDonald’s Philippines) was applauded for its lovely approach on LGBTQ rights. While a lot of content about this topic can sometimes have a serious tone, McDonald’s hits the nail on the head with a tone that its primary target audience can relate to. This is not a common situation in Korea, so it was refreshing to see, and I was impressed that the Philippines is a country that embraces diversity and inclusion.

The third surprise is that creatives are still shining in traditional media communications. The Classic category produced five golds, the most of any category. KitKat’s print ad series (by VML Manila for Nestle Philippines) was a standout. It’s an amazing talent to be able to translate the concept of KitKat break into such a beautiful poetry. The craft of translating this into a radio commercial was also a highlight. The selection of the right voice talent was the beginning of the amazing creative. “The SIM Registration” TVC series (by GIGIL for TNT), which aims to protect Filipinos from online fraud and crime, was also a great prescription for raising public awareness across the country. It was a playful solution to ignite a really challenging call to action that targets a whole nation scattered across multiple islands.

In fact, the overall quality of the work far exceeded my expectations. Revisiting Kidlat after 11 years, I was greeted by a very mature and grown-up Kidlat. What more could you ask for in the world of creativity? I won’t forget the roar and applause that filled the awards ceremony. If I could add a fourth surprise, it would be this.

adobo Magazine is an official media partner of Kidlat Awards 2024.

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