The Warc Prize for Asian Strategy went live on last week. Warc subscribers can browse all 176 of them here. The awards recognise the best strategic thinking in the region - campaigns that demonstrate interesting and original ideas that help a brand meet its objectives. Hindustan Unilever won the Grand Prix award while The Akanksha Foundation, NetEase, Pampers, and Gillette were awarded Gold.

I’ve dug a little deeper into the 176 case studies to showcase several campaigns that stood out - perhaps for their innovative use of media, or for successfully overcoming difficult marketing challenges.

TrueMove H: Giving is the best communication

Emotive storytelling was at the heart of this campaign for TrueMove H, a mobile telecom provider in Thailand. Dismissing the feature-based, coverage-promising communications that are the norm in telecoms marketing, TrueMove H created an emotional connection with consumers by showing how communication is, at heart, an emotional and human act, not just a technological one. The ‘Giving is the best communication’ campaign drove a 40% increase in 3G subscribers and a branded online video became the 12th most shared ad globally on YouTube.

Clean & Clear Morning Energy: An Alarm clock for your skin

Clean & Clear wanted to gain market share in India’s highly competitive teenage skincare category. It needed to create differentiation in the face of an over-used ‘fruit ingredients’ messaging. Thus it rebranded its face-wash product from ‘Fruit Essentials’ to ‘Morning Fresh’, shifting the focus from fruit ingredients to one that delivered ‘Morning Energy’. Aimed at teenage girls, the brand was positioned as an energising alarm call for the skin. A fully integrated campaign that involved a crowd-sourced video competition on social media called ‘Whacky Ways to Wake Up’ helped Morning Fresh ‘own’ the morning skin-washing ritual. Moreover, the brand jumped to number two in the cleansing sector.

Alpino: To love is to share

From ‘owning’ a ritual to ‘owning’ an equity. Nestlé launched Alpino, a bonbon brand, into the increasingly lucrative ‘accessible premium’ chocolate sector in India. The brand sought to ‘own’ the act of love and sharing. Packaging was at the heart of this campaign; the product consisted of two bonbons in a pack, with little love notes in each urging couples to share them. The launch was supported by TV, print, product sampling and social media. The campaign gained 65% awareness and 33% trials within the first quarter of the launch campaign.

Dyslexia Did Not Stop Me

The Dyslexia Association of Malaysia (DAM) needed to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with Dyslexia. But DAM had a limited budget. Targeting parents and educators DAM rejected a ‘preachy tone’ in favour of an empowered one by showcasing what people with dyslexia could achieve. Well-known dyslexic achievers such as Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and John Lennon were showcased through the work of a dyslexic illustrator. Outdoor was lead supported by social media to spread the ‘enablement’ message. The ’Dyslexia didn’t stop me’ posters went viral and generated massive earned media and more parents got their children tested.

Hacking Jakarta for Running

Nike, the sportswear brand, found its market share had been in decline in Indonesia. The Nike WeRun 10 km running event gave Nike the opportunity to promote its Just Do It philosophy, create relevance, generate buzz and reinforce its innovation credentials among young people. Nike wanted to highlight the opportunities to run in Jakarta and identified running areas that were underutilised. Targeting influencers, the streets and buildings of Jarkarta were the advertising mediums of choice. With no traditional media spend, Nike created one of the most successful campaigns in Indonesia to date and had record attendance at the WeRun 10km race.

Amul Milk: How the world’s youngest nation turned to the world’s original energy drink

Amul, the Indian milk brand, needed to arrest the decline of milk consumption in India by creating renewed relevance among India’s Generation Y audience. With a limited budget, Amul repositioned milk as an energy drink, one that was a healthier alternative to sugar laden soft drinks. The 2012 Olympic Games gave Amul the opportunity to engage with India’s youth through their love of sport. Social media and online gaming complemented TV, cinema, radio and packaging. The results? Milk was cool again and sales rose along with positive sentiment. Similarly, see how Mizone, the energy drink, increased consumption occasions among Chinese millennials by repositioning the brand from a ‘functional’ sports drink to an ‘every day drink’ that could compete in the broader soft-drinks sector.

Crestor: The Vein Guy

‘The Vein Guy’ was a smartphone app developed and launched in Japan by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in support of its cholesterol-lowering drug, Crestor. Its objective was to promote adherence behaviour and to encourage people to take their medication on an ongoing basis, as per their doctor’s orders. Leveraging the principles of gamification, the app allowed patients to create a personalised avatar and set customisable reminders. The app also gave messages of encouragement and health tips. This is a good example of the m-health trend, with the app achieving high engagement rates.

AIA: Real life never stops

AIA, one of Asia’s best known insurance providers, wanted to redefine the brand in order to grow brand consideration. Avoiding typical insurance advertising clichés, AIA used emotion to engage with its vast target audience, positioning the brand as a ‘beacon of optimism amidst the reality of life’. A 15-market fully integrated launch was aimed at a wide variety of customer segments. Annualised premiums grew to a record level, and well above AIA’s competitor’s growth rates.

Cambodia National Rescue Party (C.N.R.P.): Using social media to mobilize the youth and change the political game

This case study for Sam Rainsy, the long-standing opposition leader in Cambodia forced into political exile in 2009, demonstrates how social media is perhaps most powerful when aligned with a social cause. Targeting the young Facebook generation, the aim was to turn young Cambodians into ‘agents of change’. Rainsy could not be physically present so had to be brought back into the country 'virtually' when the election was fought on Facebook. His Facebook page provided a central place for the country's youth to discuss politics, with direct access to Rainsy and engaging daily content including videos. Rainsy's CNRP made unprecedented gains, winning 55 seats out of 123, whilst the government lost 22 seats.

Kissan: Little farmers of Kissanpur

Innovative packaging was at the forefront of this campaign for Kissan, a leading ketchup brand in India. Kissan wanted to reinforce its brand differentiator: made with ‘100% real tomatoes’ in order to attract new customers, but also to increase consumption among existing customers. Aimed at kids, and mums, Kissan made their ketchup bottle the medium of choice. A tomato-shaped bottle cap was designed to carry tomato seeds that consumers could grow at home. This cap also served as a mini pot, in which one could grow the tomato sapling. Value and volume sales grew across India.

B&Q VIVID Homes: Love where you live

This campaign is interesting because it illustrates how B&Q, the home improvement retail chain, identified an opportunity to position itself as a ‘helpful assistant’, to overwhelmed and confused consumers in China. With a particular focus on customer service, B&Q re-engineered its business to provide a more collaborative approach, built around a unique ‘coaching staff’ model. It launched Vivid Home, a service that guides customers through the DIY process by integrating the entire customer journey from in-store, online, mobile right through to its product offer and supply chain. A Vivid coach is with the customer at every step of the journey. The concept is rapidly becoming the new home-renovation standard in China, as a symbol of quality, safety and trust.

!DEA: Honey Bunny

!DEA, an Indian mobile phone network, used music as a distinctive sound mnemonic to aid brand awareness. It wanted to reinforce the message that it had moved from a small, regional provider, to a national player. Struggling to shake off its regional image was hurting growth, as well as its ability to retain current customers. So !DEA created a signature ringtone, ‘Honey Bunny’, this unique piece of music conveyed the message that the network was present nationwide. The ringtone was downloaded to millions of phones, it generated earned media and established !DEA as a national player.

Finally, purpose marketing continues to be a major strategy in Asia. Brands with purpose include Stayfree,the women’s hygiene brand, partnered with UNICEF to create the Stayfree Women of Change Foundation, which was committed to making the women of India anaemia-free. StarHub, the Singaporean telco brand, developed a mobile application, MySmartEye, to assist the visually impaired by connecting them to a community of remote volunteers. Roche, the pharmaceutical company, created a movement, ‘We Care for Her’ to encourage Vietnamese people to talk about breast cancer with their beloved women.

Rexona, the deodorant brand encouraged women to start sweating to improve the lives of underprivileged children across Malaysia via a digitally driven integrated campaign platform. Johnson's Baby, in partnership with Goonj (a leading voluntary organisation in India) set up a programme to inspire mothers to share their child’s old clothes, toys etc. with underprivileged mothers and children who needed them. Ariel and Downy, P&G's laundry brands partnered with the Red Cross in the Philippines to raise money for victims of natural disasters. While Tata Tea launched the ‘Power of 49’ (PO49), a TV campaign that sought to educate women about the importance of their collective vote in the Indian general election of 2014.