Spikes Asia: The Good, the Bad and the Brilliant

PiyushGaryDavidSonal.jpgCampaign Brief Asia's co-publisher Kim Shaw gives his opinion on last week's Spikes Asia Festival.

Spikes Asia has just concluded in Singapore and every delegate would, I think, have to have been left with the positive feeling that the new partnership between the International Advertising Festival (also owners of Cannes Lions, Eurobest, Dubai Lynx) and Haymarket's Media Magazine is off to a very good start. The three days were packed full of good and diverse speaker sessions, highly entertaining evening events and a bucket load of awards.

It was a great first up effort that has put Spikes Asia on the map. I've been to a fair few award festivals over the past 15 or so years and overall I'm giving Spikes Asia a score of 7.5 out of 10.

It would have been higher had there been less awards in that very big bucket.

Here's my opinion for what it's worth. (If you agree, disagree or wish to voice your own opinion as a delegate to Spikes Asia please feel free to comment, hopefully constructively, in the comments section below).
JudgesShot.jpgTHE GOOD

As the saying goes, an award show is only as good as its juries and Spikes Asia brought together one of the very best to be assembled in Asia - all the way through each category.

The speakers and panels were on the whole very good. With eight speakers each day delegates had plenty to choose from and attendance numbers varied dramatically from around 600, for Neil French's BBC HardTalk interview and David Droga's President's Address, down to around 50-100 for some others.

I must admit I did struggle with the 9am start each day - it does seem somewhat unreasonable for an Asian-based show. I cherry-picked and attended all the creatively-focused sessions with my highlights, in addition to both the Neil French and David Droga sessions, being presentations from Chris Garbutt (ECD O&M Paris), John Hunt (TBWA Worldwide ECD), the Leo Burnett and Contagious "Wildfire" panel headed by Mark Tutsell, Piyush Pandey's India showcase and the Uniqlo session. There was also a DDB presentation featuring a bloke knighted by the Queen but I'll save that for the 'Brilliant' section below.

The networking and socialising opportunities for delegates at Spikes Asia were fantastic. Certainly, I couldn't fault them and, from this perspective, Spikes Asia proved to be up there with the very best festivals that I have ever attended. All three nights of the festival were extremely well done and the Singapore industry really rolled out the red carpet.

McCann_Party.jpgMcCann hosted the Wednesday opening night at Lau Pa Sat hawker center. Complete with a band, DJ and gorillas it was an entertaining way to kick off the festival and to welcome delegates. On Thursday six different agencies opened their doors for office parties with all delegates invited to drop in on them anytime during the night. Unfortunately I got mugged early by the overly generous vodka the O&M bartender was pouring so I ran out of steam, vocal ability and memory before being able to drop in on Euro RSCG and Starcom, but my friends at Media voted the Euro RSCG party the best. The revolving party idea is a unique one that worked really well for both Spikes Asia and the agencies who opened their doors. There was certainly no expense spared at the Yahoo! sponsored Indochine Waterfront after-party that followed the Spikes Asia awards presentation on Friday night. It was a very classy way to end the Festival.

The most contentious subject of discussion in the lead up to the Festival and throughout it was Spikes Asia's decision not to allow entries from Australia and New Zealand. There is even division on the subject within the two joint venture owners of the Festival. But I am firmly on Terry Savage's side here.

One of the strengths of this year's results is that they were not diluted by the results of any Australian and New Zealand presence.

In previous years the weaker creative networks in Asia have been able to prop up their creative performances at Spikes with entries from their stronger Australian and/or New Zealand offices. What I like about this year's Spikes is that low ranking network positions at the Festival may spark network chiefs to shift a little more emphasis to their creative output and give a bit more support and encouragement to their Asian-based ECDs. Besides, quite frankly, Australian and New Zealand ECDs don't want to enter Spikes Asia anyway.


Suntec City is a cold, boring place. Even if Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, Ray Charles, and Marvin Gaye played there every day for the next year the place would still lack soul. Commercial realities will rule the day but I did find my heart agreeing with the "I wish it was held in Bali" sentiments. There were also some annoying sound problems with some of the microphones but the main problem with Suntec City is that several of the speaker sessions were poorly attended and, because there was nothing much to hold people in the exhibition area, delegates were quickly lost to the shops, hotels or various offices. For the 300 plus Singapore-based delegates pressure from the office was not an easy thing to escape from.

In terms of the work, the understatement of the year came from one of the judges on the first day of the Festival after I asked about how the judging was going - "I think we are being a little generous".

A little!

By adopting the existing rigid Cannes Lions systems for the judging process there was always going to be an increase in the numbers of Spikes handed out. But 258 Spikes Asia trophies is a bit of a joke for a regional-based show and especially for a region that prides itself on its strong performances at the big international shows. The shoddy treatment of the Silver and Bronze trophy winners at the award presentation night only reinforced this fact further.

This is by far the biggest and most important concern for the organizers leading into next year's Festival. Spikes Asia has every reason to be proud of their first up effort, but let's tighten up on the numbers of trophies handed out.  

Leaving aside Design (introduced this year) and the Grand Prix awards here's a comparison of the awards tally for the 2008 Spikes held in Bali and this year's Spikes Asia.

Bali Spikes 2008 - 6 Gold, 39 Silver, 64 Bronze.
Spikes Asia 2009 - 45 Gold, 70 Silver, 117 Bronze.

The numbers speak for themselves.


Sir Ken Robinson.

His presentation at Spikes Asia on Friday was worthy the cost of the trip to Singapore. If you were a delegate to the Festival and didn't attend this DDB sponsored event you really missed out on something very, very special. Thank you DDB.

Words can't do justice to Sir Ken's 45 minute talk. It left me inspired, awestruck, entertained and feeling inadequately about 6 inches tall at the end. And I wasn't alone. I wish we had our hands on a video so we could share it with you now. We don't but, if you haven't seen it, here's his 20 minute Ted presentation from a few years back and check out Sir Ken's new book The Element.

Actually, reliving Sir Ken's presentation prompts me to adjust my mark for the whole Spikes Asia experience up to 8 out of 10. I would have thrown in a Gold Spike as well, but there's none left.


Anonymous said:

I agree completely Kim. Except for two points.

Yes, far too many awards but excellent entertainment value. However, I am glad it is in Singapore and not in Bali as under this format the show can grow and prosper without security fears and venue constraints. I believe entries from OZ should be allowed. It would raise the overall standard of winners.

Anonymous said:

Too many gold at the Spikes. I won 2 bronze but nobody cares.

Good party euro and tbwa.

Anonymous said:

I wish I had made the parties but I was stuck in the office.

The funniest part of the awards was trying to read the silver and bronze winners in the half a second the details appeared on the screen. Months of my hard work rapidly dismissed before I could even read the first letter of the super!

Overall I thought the winners were average. Many of the them had won at cannes two years ago. There was little fresh new work. The GFC has struck hard.

Chris said:

Well done Spikes. Top marks from me.

Anonymous said:

too many gold

Anonymous said:

Is spikes better than adfest now?
I plan to attend adfest

Anonymous said:

Needs to be back in Bali. The format had much more charm than Singapore.

Anonymous said:

45 Golds!!!

I think AdFest metal might be worth more.

Anonymous said:

Alot of scam again... old work from Cannes 08???

Anonymous said:

None of the award winning work actually pushed the boundaries of communication (like say the zimbabwe useless banknotes campaign)....most winners were actually craft.

Anonymous said:

Spot on CB. 258 awards is far too many.

Imagine how many awards would have been given out if Asia had actually had a good year!

I enjoyed the whole festival but let's all remember it's all about the work.

Anonymous said:

Not even the Olympics give out this many medals! :)

Anonymous said:

Not many of those winners ads looked like they had appeared more than once in print...i suppose this is how it must be in asia or there would be no award shows. The Neil French session was not what you might call advertisings finest hour...since he is not with any network, he can say whatever he damn well pleases and some of the stuff he said about it being ok for kids to lie, cheat and scam were pretty shameful.....media interviewed some people who caught that show and they were clearly uncomfortable and blurted out some PC nonsense about how it was a good laugh. I just hope no clients caught that Q&A because it made ad people look like real assholes (which is not too far from what clients actually think of them right now).

Anonymous said:

If Spikes wasn't in the CB Rankings next year i wouldn't enter my work. The show was pathetic. The work was very weak. Except for Japan's work, which was amazing and inspiring. I'm confused on how Jeep and Silverfish was eligible to be entered after winning at Cannes 2 years ago.



Anonymous said:

Neil French has no respect for the industry just his own fame... CB love these type of guys.

Anonymous said:

I likes the Teach India campaign, Thai Insurance and the Comfort print ad.

Yes the show was a let down, but this is the first year and they will get it right I hope. I think the old Jeep and Silverfish campaigns were allowed because Spikes moved back in the year from April.

Anonymous said:

Frenchie is a legend.

Were you even there at his session? I doubt it. If you were there you would know that he was being entertaining and giving a good performance for the crowd. It was brilliant. It was funny. It was typical French.

Anonymous said:

45 gold is ridiculous. After all these years surely we can be judged on international standards.

Anonymous said:

AdFest is being very quiet.

You would think they would be talking it up already. Have they set any date for next year? They are not still thinking of moving it to Shanghai are they?

Anonymous said:

September 23, 2009 7:07 AM
... Jeep and Silverfish was eligible to be entered after winning at Cannes 2 years ago.

bro, is last year cannes. wat 2 years?

Anonymous said:

11.15 here is a repost of a comment from today on another story to do with AdFest:

Oh please, Shanghai has her fair share of sleaze. The place is filthy and the Shanghainese are rude! Plus the Shanghai smog makes Pattaya a heaven.

Adfest should stay where it is. It's cool being the only award show in the world that doesn't do it in a "proper" location. Its cool how the social fabric of Thailand is weave of tolerance with people from all walks of like intermingling with each other. Just look at how they come together during a meal by the street side, for example. How else to demonstrate this but putting an award show in a location like Pattaya. Can't we just celebrate it for its uniqueness? Afterall, the integrity and prestige of the show is in the work and its judging of work, right?

Anonymous said:

9.34pm said:

"Its cool how the social fabric of Thailand is weave of tolerance with people from all walks of like intermingling with each other. Just look at how they come together during a meal by the street side, for example."

Are you serious, you sound like an amazing thailand brochure?

For a real taste of thailand, tune into this series....granted, it's not like this all the time but it helps keep that famous 'thai smile' in perspective. Watch the episodes in the correct order to get the full story.


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