ASIA: Budgetary constraints are forcing Asia's marketers to reconsider their approach, putting greater emphasis on the cost-effectiveness of campaigns and tapping brand purpose to connect with consumers, according to an analysis of entries to the 2016 Warc Prize for Asian Strategy.

Shrinking campaign budgets were one of the most notable trends to emerge in the Asian Strategy Report 2017. (Non-subscribers can download the Executive Summary here.)

Two years ago 26% of entrants had budgets of more than $3m, but that proportion has fallen to just 9%; at the other end of the scale, the proportion of campaigns with budgets of under $500,000 has jumped from 25% in 2015 to 44% in 2016.

With marketers having to do more with less, many are looking towards free or lower-cost platforms to get their messages out. Earned media is seeing a resurgence: more than half – 53% – of the 2016 shortlist cited PR as a soft metric, up 20% from 2015.

Brand purpose was another significant trend, particularly in India, as campaigns sought to align brands with emerging cultural narratives.

This was evident in the Grand Prix winner, Ariel Matic's Share the Load, which addressed the changing role of women in Indian society and asked men if doing the laundry was only a women's job.

That campaign sparked a nationwide debate and brought the detergent brand $10m of earned media publicity, as well as more than doubling volume and value sales.

And, ultimately, the latter metrics are the ones that matter. Commenting on the entries, Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, head of the judging panel and Global Head of Brand and Chief Marketing Officer at Standard Chartered Bank, was impressed "not only with the breadth of the data but, more importantly, with the impact that it had on business.

"They crunched all that data and questioned why certain things worked and others didn't," he said. "That, from a business strategy level, was very powerful."

The 2017 Warc Prize for Asian Strategy will be open for entries from April 2017.

Data sourced from Warc