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AD STARS 2019: Success Beyond Accolades — How Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan’s Winning Campaigns Created Societal Change 

A big win for BBDO Global in this year’s AD STARS, as the group is named as Network of the Year by the award-giving body in Busan, South Korea. The group created campaigns that delivered results and numerous accolades. Although the win was for the entire global network, works made by the regional group in the Middle East without a doubt pulled the attention of critics the world over for the advocacies and purposeful work behind the campaigns themselves.

It hasn’t been long since agencies in the Middle East started receiving attention in advertising award shows. In fact, according to Ali Rezthe Regional Executive Creative Director at Impact BBDO, Middle East & Pakistan—some people used to say that Pakistan, one of the countries in which Impact BBDO operates in, is never going to do anything or never going to get into that stage where they are recognized by awards shows globally.


Ali Rez and Impact BBDO proved these naysayers wrong because just last year, Pakistan was included among the top 40 creative countries in the world. Not only that, but Impact BBDO and its subgroup BBDO Pakistan have been winning awards left and right, and are the only agencies in the Middle East to be recognized internationally—this year and the last. 

Their winning streak was no different at this year’s AD STARS. Touted as the world’s biggest show according to the number of entries received this year—20,645—the competition must be tougher. However, Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan have once again proven that their purposeful work is more effective than ever, and that their simple yet innovative ideas can bring about action. This action is as important as ever as countries in the Middle East face social and environmental issues. 

“I think creatives now realize that if anybody’s gonna bring about the change to action, it’s them. They have the capacity and creativity to form that solution,” Rez shared in an interview with adobo magazine’s Founder, President, and Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero

And bring about change, they did. The winning campaigns at AD STARS from Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan tackle all kinds of issues in the Middle East—from female genital mutilation in Egypt to missing children in Pakistan. The success and effectiveness of their campaigns varied from awareness to actually bringing forth change, and not necessarily the accolades they received. 


Title: Truck Art Childfinder
Agency: BBDO Pakistan
Advertiser: Berger Paints
Artist: Samar Minallah Khan
Awards: Design (Furniture / Household) – Silver; Design (Posters) – Silver; Diverse Insights – Bronze; Media (Use of Outdoor in a Media Campaign) – Bronze; Media (Use of Screens) – Bronze; Outdoor (Furniture / Household) – Bronze; Outdoor (Special Build) – Bronze; Outdoor (Art Direction) – Bronze; Outdoor (Illustration) – Bronze; Campaign Videos (Case Film) – Bronze

According to the “Truck Art Childfinder’s” campaign video, 3,000 children go missing in Pakistan every year. These children are then exploited, abused, or even raped. Rez explains that in finding missing children, the first 48 hours is the most crucial. After that, the child may have been displaced and they could be a thousand miles away from where they were last seen.

To try and find a child within the first 48 hours of abduction, BBDO Pakistan and Berger paints collaborated with renowned conceptual artist and anthropologist Samar Minallah Khan created the “Truck Art Childfinder.” By using what is now culturally accepted as a Pakistani tradition, Truck Art transformed these large vehicles into moving billboards with the face of a missing child on them.

“We started out with 25 trucks and we’ve recovered 7 children,” Rez shared. 


Title: Stop Dowrymongering
Agency: BBDO Pakistan
Advertiser: UN Women
Awards: Diverse Insights – Silver; PR (Corporate / Institution) – Bronze; PR (Public Affairs & Lobbying) – Bronze

Forced dowry is a custom wherein the groom’s family demands the bride’s family to pay them in material goods. When the bride’s family fails their demands, the bride is then abused and sometimes even murdered because of it. This custom is practiced in Pakistan, no matter the class in which a family comes from. 

To raise awareness about the issues that women face because of forced dowry, BBDO Pakistan and UN Women created a campaign where they used the most recognizable symbols of marriage in the region—hands adorned with henna—and transformed it to send across their message: “Stop Dowrymongering.”

The posters for this campaign entitled “Dowrymongering Henna Posters,” also won a bronze for Print (Illustration). 


Title: Twix Face Off
Agency: Impact BBDO
Advertiser: MARS
Awards: Interactive (Use of Social) – Bronze; Social & Influencer (Brand Storytelling) – Bronze

When asked about whether advertising to sell a product still works, Rez answers: “Burger King is a great example because what I like about the [AD STARS’] two Grand Prix [of the year] is that one is so highly commercial, and even though the other one is from a commercial entity, it’s for a purpose. But the Burger King work is simply—Ted [Lim] was like, this is as pure commercial as it gets. Nothing good about it. It’s about making money but it’s brilliant. As long as you’re being honest about it, I think commerce is good.”

While “Twix Face Off” doesn’t necessarily address any social issues in the Middle East, one cannot deny that this interactive campaign was fun and effective in a way that it garnered engagement, and advertised the chocolate bar. 


Title: Mutilated Words
Agency: Impact BBDO
Advertiser: 28 Too Many
Awards: Outdoor (Interactive Outdoor Experience) – Bronze; Print (Corporate / Institution) – Gold; Print (Typography) – Silver; Print (Copy writing) – Bronze

There is a prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or the cutting of female external genitalia in Middle Eastern and African countries. While this is sadly practiced in numerous countries, Egypt tops the list with more than 87% of women undergoing this barbaric practice. 

To raise awareness on the effect of FGM, Impact BBDO and 28 Too Many teamed up to create “Mutilated Words,” a poster campaign that makes use of Arabic calligraphy and words that are mutilated and merely stitched back together. The words show the damage FGM has on girls and women, but once the thread is pulled and released, the words unfold to reveal something hopeful: from pain to dreams, despair to joy. These are just some of the word transformations that this poster campaign did. 

“Some things cannot be undone,” according to the campaign. So to stop further cases of FGM, the “Mutilated Words” calls on people to say no to this inhumane practice. 


Title: Zero Tolerance Ribbon
Agency: Impact BBDO
Advertiser: 28 Too Many
Awards: Direct (Ambient Media) – Bronze; PR (Public Affairs & Lobbying) – Silver; Gender Equality – Bronze

Also a campaign that aims to address the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the “Zero Tolerance Ribbon” makes use of the universal awareness ribbon. However, Impact BBDO and 28 Too Many turn it upside down to make the ribbon look like the Arabic word for “no.” The ribbon was launched in hospitals all over Egypt to raise awareness on the dangers of FGM, and parents of newborn daughters are then encouraged to sign a pledge to say no to this practice.


Title: Toxic Flag
Agency: Impact BBDO
Advertiser: Greenpeace & Waste Management Coalition
Awards: Outdoor (Special Build) – Gold; Outdoor (Art Direction) – Silver; PR (Public Affairs & Lobbying) – Bronze; Green – Silver

Lebanon is facing a trash crisis due to a lack of proper waste management in the country. Without consulting environmental experts, the government single handedly decided to build incinerators in the capital of Lebanon. These incinerators, however, will not solve the problem as they are highly toxic and can even cause cancer. 

To protest against the government’s decision on incinerators, Impact BBDO along with Greenpeace and the Waste Management Coalition created the “Toxic Flag.” Because people won’t see just how bad the effect of the incinerators are, the “Toxic Flag” campaign made the invisible, visible. A flag of deadly-looking black smoke was then placed beside the first incinerator plan site in the capital, to show people the damage it will create. People were of course, alarmed and warned of what was to come if these incinerators are built, and public clamor eventually forced the government into action and plans for three incinerators were halted. 


Title: The Blank Edition
Agency: Impact BBDO
Advertiser: An Nahar
Awards: Peace & Justice – GRAND PRIX OF THE YEAR; Direct (Distribution / Publication) – Silver; Direct (Ambient Media) – Gold; Interactive (Use of Social) – Gold; Media (Use of Print in a Media Campaign) – Grand Prix; Media (Distribution / Publication) – Gold; PR (Distribution / Publication) – Gold; PR (Public Affairs & Lobbying) – Grand Prix; Social & Influencer (Brand Storytelling) – Grand Prix, 

In 2018, the country of Lebanon has been without a government for over six months. Politicians were unable to form a government despite having an election in early 2018. Lebanese politicians kept making excuses through various media outlets, so to take a stand against the state of Lebanon’s government, Lebanon’s leading newspaper An Nahar and Impact BBDO created “The Blank Edition.”

As the name of the campaign suggests, they literally printed out an entire blank newspaper and let it circulate in the country. Even An Nahar’s social media and website were left blank. It’s as if the newspaper was saying, “If politicians won’t work, then why should we?”

“Even though it was called The Blank Edition, I don’t think it’s only about it being blank,” Rez shared. “…it essentially gave the Lebanese people to write their own headlines and that I think is the bigger part of it. And they did it because it was blank.”

The Lebanese people, through writing their own headlines and calling the government for accountability, eventually won and Lebanon finally announced a new unity government. This campaign that helped push people to fight for what they believe in eventually won numerous Grand Prix and even AD STARS Grand Prix of the Year award. 

With numerous awards under their belt all for their purposeful work, one thing that Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan has proven to the world according to Ali Rez is this: “…you can do very impactful work with very little money depending on the kind of message you put up there… and we keep telling our clients, you don’t need to waste all that money trying to build yourself up in terms of PR. It will happen automatically.”

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