MALAYSIA has been struggling to regain its former glory at the Cannes Lions, the world’s biggest award show celebrating creativity in marketing communications.
This year the country had a commendable performance with a gold, two silvers and four bronzes, courtesy of Young & Rubicam and TBWA. It is an improvement from the two silvers and two bronzes secured last year.
However, the two highest points in Malaysia’s advertising creative history took place about a decade ago.
It was way back in 2006 that the country was Asia’s best (excluding Australia). That year we took home five gold, four silver and four bronze Lions.
And it was further back – in 2004 – that Malaysia scored a Grand Prix at the event.
Marketing magazine publisher Harmandar Singh remembers how the Jalur Gemilang was flown along Cannes’ Boulevard de la Croisette in 2004. “It has been a long time,” he says with a sigh.
Harmandar wants to “bring back the shine” – as he puts it – by galvanising the industry for Cannes Lions 2015. He plans to do this via a full-day conference in Kuala Lumpur on July 22 titled Creative Allstars.
The event, to include presentations and panel discussions, will feature some of the top local and international names in advertising creativity,
“We want to engage the audience, excite them and motivate them, as the industry aims for Cannes Lions 2015,” says Harmandar, who is the organising chairman.
Among the invited speakers are WPP Group’s former worldwide creative director Neil French, Google Asia-Pacific chief creative officer John Merrifield, Isobar regional executive creative director Graham Kelly and Dentsu Aegis Network Asia chief creative officer Ted Lim.
The programme will include two panel discussions, one of which is themed What’s killing creativity in our industry?
“I have worked on the conference over the last three months. It is an ambitious initiative, with high financial outlay,” Harmandar says,
He targets to get 300 participants, including from abroad. “We are expecting guest participants from Indonesia, Singapore, India, Thailand and the Philippines,” he says.
The event, which he hopes to hold annually in July (right after Cannes Lions), has received support from the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia, the Malaysian Advertisers Association, the International Advertising Association (IAA) Malaysia chapter and the Malaysian Digital Association. Members of these associations will get a 10% discount.
“I am humbled by the unanimous support from our industry associations toward this national effort to put Malaysia on the world map. We are all committed to raise the standard of creative excellence industry-wide,” he says.
The Creative Allstars conference is only the beginning. In the five months that follow, the IAA Malaysia chapter, of which Harmandar is adviser, plans to create a stimulative environment whereby the creative community, media owners and advertisers can come together to showcase something bold.
“We will hold a tea talk each month with topics such as print, radio, film, direct/media and promo/activation. Doing just one event (Creative Allstars) is not enough,” he says.
He tentatively calls it The Road to Cannes 2015 series.
“Hopefully we will have some good entries for Cannes Lions 2015,” he says.
> The Star is the official and exclusive Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity representative for Malaysia. For Creative Allstars ticket bookings, email email@example.com. An early bird discount will be given till July 8, with the fee being RM1,300.