Advertising Week Asia 2017

Advertising Week Asia 2017: Highlights

AWASIA returned to Tokyo again this year and AP Global Talent was there to bring you these highlights. Some were agenda-setting and some you might just have missed.


The ad agency model under threat (again)

The threat posed to advertising by consulting firms was a recurring theme at AWASIA 2017. Dentsu, Hakuhodo, Accenture and PwC got together to compare notes, though the Japanese ad agencies didn’t seem worried that their consumer-centred model was about to collapse anytime soon. Rei Inamoto, formerly of AKQA, explained why he got into the consulting business and why marketers will need to combine expertise from design, data and technology in order to survive in future. Meanwhile, R/GA, whose Tokyo office opened just weeks ago, explained how ideas borrowed from startups – putting out an MVP, user testing – allow them to work in close collaboration with clients and avoid the pressure of returning two weeks later with the ‘perfect campaign’.

The hottest new trend is TV?

With online advertising still reeling from a year of revelations about ad fraud and brand safety, there’s renewed interest in television as a safe place for brands to park their messages (sorry, Pepsi!). At the same time, TV offers more brand-building potential than conversion-obsessed digital marketing. What’s needed is for TV to adapt to changing audience behaviour. Japan has been slow to implement on-demand programming as both agencies and broadcasters collude to protect valuable media real estate. However, change is in the air as audience preference for viewing across multiple devices meets the huge commercial opportunity of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Are we about to witness a revolution in broadcasting on a par with the 1964 Games?

The battle for attention is won by constant innovation

It’s a modern paradox that the more media people consume, the harder it becomes to earn their attention. On the fringes of AWASIA 2017, there were glimpses of how different players are innovating in the all-important art of making people give a damn. TBWA\HAKUHODO’s Kazuaki Kuribayashi, AKA ‘The Hype Machine’, walked us through his agency’s social listening model, which can generate real-time campaigns based on what people are talking about today. Example: when internet users were discussing a story about cats curling up inside car engines for warmth, TBWA\HAKUHODO rapidly iterated the “Knock Knock Cats” campaign for client Nissan.

Agencies are in denial about talent management

Ad agencies like to say that people are their lifeblood, that they live and die by their roster of talent. So you would think that a panel discussion about the difficulties of attracting and retaining talent would be one of the big talking points of AWASIA 2017. But in a competitive industry like advertising, there remain obvious incentives to claim that talent is an issue for other agencies, while yours is the one people are queuing up to join. Too few agency heads are willing to come out and admit they personally find it a struggle to attract and retain talent. Until that happens, people churn in agencies can only ever be discussed at arm’s length.

Consumers want experiences (but we don’t)

Agencies are constantly telling us that people want experiences not ads. Provide total immersion, surround customers with sights and sounds, goes the mantra. A number of tech brands had followed this advice and installed pop-up, walk-through, branded environments at AWASIA. So it was amusing to see a conference full of advertising people walk straight past these ‘experiences’ time and time again without even stopping to enquire. It looks like agencies may need further encouragement to swallow their own medicine!


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