Warc Prize for Asian Strategy 2013: Notes from the judging

Warc Prize for Asian Strategy 2013: Notes from the judging

Papers entered for the 2013 Warc Prize for Asian Strategy were assessed by a panel of 18 judges. This year's judges were a mix of senior client-side marketers and agency-side strategy experts, plus one academic. As in previous years, we invited several judges from outside the region to join the panel.

In the first round, they scored the papers against the following criteria:

  1. Quality of insight behind the strategy. (15%)
  2. Quality of strategic thinking. (40%)
  3. How well was the strategic idea brought to life, including creative work and channel thinking? (15%)
  4. How did the strategy perform against its objectives? (20%)
  5. Can other marketers learn from this case study? (10%)

(Read more about these criteria in the entry kit.)

The second round saw judges join conference calls to discuss the highest-scoring papers.

The final results were decided by secret ballot after the conference calls.

Chairman's comments

Prize Chairman Leanne Cutts offered four points for judges to bear in mind when deciding their picks for the winners.

  1. Goals and objectives that are well understood – with a clear line of sight from strategy through to execution and results.
  2. Results that matter to the brand – not every campaign has to save the world.
  3. Simplicity and focus – not all brands need 1,000 touchpoints.
  4. Good creative work that we would be proud to call our own – ideally that builds the brand for the long term, not just a one-off

General feedback

It's also worth highlighting some specific feedback that came in from the judges on the entries in general.

  • Many entries fail to articulate the problem at the start. The best ones are able to describe the business problem faced by a brand, and the role marketing could play in solving it.
  • Some papers failed to recognise the jury would be international, and did not explain the cultural, social, economic and business context behind the entries. Judges from other markets may not be aware of these factors.
  • When proving effectiveness, few papers sought to discount other factors that could have contributed to success (eg price-cutting).
  • A lot of papers "run out of steam" when it comes to explaining the lessons they learned from the campaign. This is worth 10% of the marks, so is worth thinking about carefully.

Generally, however, the judges were impressed at the standard of the entries that made it into final consideration.

Read more feedback on how to demonstrate a strategy has worked from Martin Weigel, Head of Planning at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam.

Feedback on the winning papers

Five papers were given Gold awards, including the Grand Prix winner. Two of these also won Special Awards.

Warc set up five Special Awards this year to recognise excellence in specific areas. The other three Special Awards winners were Silver papers.

Feedback on these eight papers was as follows.

Grand Prix Winner
It's More Fun In The Philippines
(BBDO Guerrero / The Philippines Department of Tourism / Regional)

This case study describes how the Philippines enlisted the help of Filipinos to produce a groundbreaking tourism campaign.

  • Generally this was a very popular paper, and ticked all the required boxes. In the final judging, it was a clear winner.
  • Most judges commented that this was a great tourism campaign. One judge highlighted the difference from other Asian tourism campaigns – it was about "personality" rather than product; it was also an aggressive, comparative strapline; it was simple but very creative. This also has potential to become a long-term platform.
  • Some judges highlighted the benchmark against Malaysia as an interesting way to gauge success.
  • The one question around this paper was whether it was "too old". The strategy was entered to last year's Prize, but the results at the time were thin (it was still quite a new campaign at the time). This year it has been re-entered with a much more substantial results section, though the core insight/strategy was the same. Several judges felt the strategy has already been judged, has already been through several awards shows, and it should not be rewarded this year.
  • Others, however, felt that maybe this year is the 'right time' for this paper.

Gold and Asia First Special Award
THPF Smoking Kid: A Personal Message to the Smokers
(Ogilvy & Mather Thailand / Thai Health Promotion Foundation / Thailand)

This is an innovative online anti-smoking campaign from Thailand that connected with smokers on a personal level.

  • Generally, opinion was very positive. Judges praised "brave, in-your-face" work that is different to similar campaigns, "top-class" thinking and "clear visualisation" of the thinking.
  • One judge said this case went back to the chairman's comment on matching goals to results. Another said it showed a good understanding of the drivers of behaviour change, and the failure of logical appeals in those circumstances.
  • There was some divergence of opinion. Some judges argued it was "post-rationalised", and primarily a creative idea.
  • However, in the final judging this entry emerged as a clear winner for the Asia First Special Award, recognising innovation or insight that the rest of the world can learn from.

Gold and Local Hero Special Award Winner
Voltas All Weather AC – how a pure play Indian brand turned a giant killer
(Ogilvy & Mather / Tata / India)

This case study describes how an Indian air conditioning brand used fresh insight to become market leader.

  • There was a lot of support for this paper on the calls. It was noted that this was a "turnaround" for a brand that had "lost its edge", with "locally relevant" creative. One judge called it "genius".
  • Others liked the articulation of results – one said it was "one of the few papers that joined the data up". Another called the results "fabulous for this kind of market",
  • A couple of judges noted that the campaign was conventional, and could have been more ambitious in terms of media strategy - though one added that it "worked its socks off" in the channels it did use.
  • In the final voting it was a clear winner of the Local Hero Special Award for a challenger Asian brand out-thinking global competitors.

Milo Cans: Twisted Football
(Ogilvy & Mather Kuala Lumpur / Nestlé / Malaysia)

This case study describes how a children's beverage extended its appeal to Malaysian teens.

  • Overall this was a popular paper – well put together, with a well articulated problem. It might be less "thrilling and exciting" than other papers, said one judge, but it sets clear objectives, does a lot of "heavy lifting", and shows good results for what is already a big brand.
  • Several judges admired the scale of the problem this tackled – increasing a product's 'life-cycle' is a difficult goal.
  • One judge questioned the timeframe of the results – how permanent was the change in behaviour this campaign delivered?

Gillette: Shave Sexy
(BBDO China, @PR / Procter & Gamble / China)

This case study describes how a shaving brand shifted its communications strategy and drove record sales.

  • Generally this was felt to be a strong all-round paper. It felt this was a well written paper, and the brand did what it set out to do.
  • Several judges remarked that the insight was impressive both in the initial strategic thinking, then the way it was brought to life.
  • This was a P&G campaign – it's a big advertiser doing something different.
  • There was a big debate over whether this paper was significantly new – Gillette's work in India (eg 'Shave Sutra' in last year's prize) also targeted women. Some judges felt there was significant overlap in strategy with China.
  • But several others argued that the insight was sufficiently different in China (and, crucially, struck and chord there) to make this worth recognising.

Silver and Channel Insight Special Award Winner
Once Again: The Tagging Drive
(Ogilvy & Mather Bangalore / Once Again / India)

This case study used Facebook to turn an investment of $189 into funding for several community projects.

  • This was simple, cheap, but effective. It was a very fresh use of Facebook that judges had not seen before. Several judges felt it was worth recognising via the Channel Insight Special Award.
  • In the main competition, it was felt that the issue with this paper was its small scale. It's great in isolation, but difficult to compare with much bigger campaigns. Judges asked whether it was a one-off. Could it be repeated?

Silver and Cultural Connection Special Award Winner
Nike China: Greatness Campaign
(Wieden+Kennedy, Mindshare, AKQA, Razorfish / Nike / China)

This case describes how a brand took a fresh look at what it means to be a winner in China during the 2012 Olympics.

  • This paper split opinion. The judges who liked it believe that this is a "groundbreaking" campaign that is gutsy and culturally relevant. One judge said that it was the one paper that looked like a "truly great campaign".
  • Other judges felt disappointed by the reliance on buzz metrics to show performance against objectives. Some judges felt it needed to show an impact on sales, or at least a brand equity metric that would serve as an interim measure of success.
  • The counter-argument was that great corporate brand campaigns sometimes do not show immediate sales impact.
  • There was also some discussion on how Asian this was. It is an adaptation of a global strategy. However, enough judges felt the campaign had been rethought in light of Chinese cultural ideas, and had struck such a powerful chord it deserved to be recognised via the Cultural Connection Special Award.

Silver and Market Pioneer Special Award
(DDB DM9 JaymeSyfu / Smart Communications / Philippines)

This case study describes how a Filipino telecoms company developed textbooks in SIM cards to help raise school attendance.

  • This was a popular paper, though it was felt to be not quite complete enough to win Gold.
  • In its favour, judges praised the "non-advertising solution", and argued this was a rethink of the dynamics of the mobile phone market (by focusing on feature phones rather than smartphones). It's a very different approach for a telecoms brand.
  • Some judges pointed to the lack of scale of the campaign – there is no real sense of how big this is (how many SIM cards; how many kids?). Some judges, however, argued that it did not matter that this was only a pilot – it felt like the "start of something".
  • There is a question over the results. One judge, however, argued that the campaign delivered on its stated objective to make Smart act like a market leader. In that sense, the paper is "coherent".
  • In the final voting this paper was the clear winner of the Market Pioneer Special Award for the best example of a brand creating a category or targeting a new market.

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