Read my post about the highlights from day one of Spikes Asia.

Read my full reports from Spikes Asia

The Spikes Asia conference drew to a close on Tuesday, culminating in the Spikes creative awards show. DDB picked up the network of the year prize, with JWT and BBDO also performing well.

Browse the winners of the 2011 Spikes Asia Awards.

One of the recurring themes of the conference was the need to find new ideas, with speakers disclosing their or their company's approaches not just to developing big creative ideas, but to product innovation, business ideas, agency models and client structures. Perhaps that's a reflection that, even in a region that still appears economically buoyant, there's still a pressure on the marketing services industry to evolve.

So, for example, we had Todd Sampson, CEO of Leo Burnett Australia and one of the team behind the Earth Hour campaigns, talking about the 'Rent-a-head' approach to problem-solving - try to think like somebody else and see what conclusion they draw. His example was the problem soap makers had in getting children to use their products. Their answer was to ask 'What would Disney do?', and the result was bars of soap with toys in the middle.

In another session, Publicis Worldwide Executive Chairman Jean-Yves Naouri described a three-step approach to building a brand positioning capable of giving a brand a position of leadership - not just category leadership, but a more general winning position (eg 'share of throat' for Coca-Cola). The questions are:

  • What is the change the brand can lead? (This involves understanding a brand's DNA, core competences etc)
  • What is the role it needs to take?
  • What idea can make this happen?

In focusing on a cultural position a brand can adopt, this approach has parallels with a disussion at Spikes Asia last year: Ogilvy's Big IdeaL methodology.

But when it comes to innovation, perhaps the last word should go to the conference's standout speaker, Joel Cohen, one of the writers from cartoon series The Simpsons. His topics included Brooke Shields' acting ability (or lack of), and the US$5 billion the series is thought to have made Rupert Murdoch's media empire ("Imagine how much phone hacking we've sponsored.")

His main point, however, was to look at the conditions a company needs to come up with great ideas. And one of his best points revolved around a scene where Homer Simpson was dragged out to sea by a whale, only for the whale to end up drowning due to Homer's weight.

Despite getting plenty of laughs with test audiences, the scene was never broadcast. Why? "Even if you come up with a great idea, if it doesn't fit into the bigger picture, an even better idea is not using that idea."