Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

Kam Fans.jpgChris Kyme continues his "Postcards from..." series and this time he discusses the Hong Kong Kam Fan Awards

A big winner, for a big client, on a big night.

Last month I said I was not going to write about the Hong Kong Kam Fan awards. Actually I was lying. I lied through my teeth. Because now I am. Well I wasn't exactly lying as I had not intended to, partly because I wasn't going to attend. Not that I'm not interested, but when you run your own small agency you need a reason to go along, and usually that is when you have work entered that is within a shout of getting a nod. Which this year we didn't.
I maintain an interest though, despite having been in the industry since the first ads were carved by cavemen on cave walls (usually with messages like 'Buy Ugg, for all your aches and pains'..or 'New Ugg with essence of sabre tooth tiger, for shiny hair'), because to strive for recognition is a healthy objective for our young guns. Not to mention keeping our name out there.

Anyway, I digress. The main reason I am backtracking on my earlier intentions is because I was delighted when I discovered that the Big Award, the Kam Fan, the most Golden of the Goldens, went to a real campaign, for a big name client, on a very challenging brief. And that, in a world of often not real campaigns, often for big name clients who had nothing to do with their inception (you all know what I'm talking about), is something worth celebrating.

The Altitude Brew_HI-RES_1.jpgSunderland copy.jpgThe Grand Kam Fan went to McCann Worldgroup Hong Kong for its Betsy Beer 'The Altitude Brew' project for client Cathay Pacific, who were also awarded the accolade of 'Client of the Year'.

Now that, is huge achievement, and I was gobsmacked and jealous and immediately moved to congratulate my old mucker Martin Lever, ECD of the Cathay Pacific team for McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, while also commiserating with him because his football team, Sunderland, are so crap right now.

Martin has been around the block a bit, not to mention the desert, so this was one that had been a long time coming. He gave me the lowdown about the campaign:

"Betsy Beer was named after Cathay Pacific's first ever aircraft. We set out to address a real problem - a perception that Cathay's inflight catering was less than brilliant. We needed to do something more than "advertise"; we needed a big idea that could create a new conversation, and position Cathay as a leader and innovator in premium travel experiences.

We know that many airlines modify food to counter the dulling effects of altitude on our palates. But no one had ever addressed this issue for one of the world's favourite beverages. That gave us our challenge - could we scientifically modify the brewing process to create the world's first beer that tastes best at 35,000 feet?

To bring the project to life we needed a brewing partner with a sense of adventure! We found them in Chai Wan's very own Hong Kong Beer Company. They helped us study the science of a cabin to create a base brew that would work best at altitude. We then worked with leading restauranteurs, chefs and the HK Craft Beer Association to identify the unique HK and UK flavour ingredients that put travel into Betsy's DNA. making sure Betsy had an authentic and pleasing craft beer taste! A relentless passion from the team and the support of a client who really bought into the project's potential, helped us overcome the hurdles.

While it's thrilling for this project to win the Grand Kam Fan and help Cathay become Advertiser of the Year, the real reward was creating a truly meaningful brand engagement that got the whole world talking. To have a spontaneous, 5 minute product feature broadcast on BBC World is a level of earned media that's almost unheard of! Traditional advertising can't do that. Only genuinely innovative creative solutions to real business challenges have that power."

And that from a man who knows a thing or two about beer.

Naturally the client was just as delighted about the night, and this was the joint statement issued: ""We are thrilled to receive this recognition from the esteemed panel of judges. To have a Hong Kong brand celebrated for its creativity and innovation is something we're extremely proud of, and it couldn't have been done without a strong spirit of agency-client partnership," jointly remarked Brandon Cheung, Managing Director and Martin Lever, Executive Creative Director, Cathay Pacific Team, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific.

Bloody good stuff I say. We need more of it. We need more clients who get behind driving real creative innovation, and being proud of it. In fact, we need more beer!

Lions 3.jpgLastly, I will also hereby give another nod to such a client, HSBC, for its HSBC Rainbow Lions campaign, big, bold, brash and in full support of a meaningful message. Also highly awarded, the work is by Grey Group Hong Kong, and you can view the case study video here:

Congratulations to all involved I say. And may I also wish everyone a humongous and joyful Christmas (to those of you for whom that is relevant) and a happy New Year

Chris Kyme is chief executive officer at Kymechow, Hong Kong

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