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Leo Burnett Singapore CCO Chris Chiu on This Year’s Work at Cannes

During Cannes, we sat down with Chris Chiu, chief creative officer for Leo Burnett Singapore and juror for the Press Lions, to discuss the work seen in this year’s Direct, Mobile, Press and Promo & Activation Awards, as well as the trends currently coming out of Asia Pacific.


What did you think of the work we saw at this year’s Press Lions?
I actually liked it. It can be pretty difficult to judge in the Press category because there are a lot of expectations now when people consume advertising. And that’s not about being spoiled; it’s just about it being 2015. So, when you look at press as two dimensional, and you want to get a reaction, I think you get a reaction, but it’s not the same as other pieces of work that make you go, “I could use that in my life.” This is especially true when you have Mobile and Direct pieces of work in the same show, which are more relevant to what you do as opposed to a thing you consume.

What were the standout pieces of work from the Direct, Mobile, Press and Promo & Activation Awards?
I liked a few. I think all of the Grand Prix winners pretty much rocked it for me. I loved the choice for Direct, which was where Volvo hijacked the Super Bowl ads. Very, very clever idea. You know you have to get in the game, you know you need a couple of million bucks to get in there just for media alone, and they made it happen. They owned the whole game, not just the halftime show. That’s awesome.

I also liked the Life Paint work. I thought that was very clever, as well, and a bit more peripheral to the brand. Sure, it’s about safety, but the other things had more direct contact with the sale of a product, whereas Life Paint was more peripheral — especially compared to the equity of Volvo — but still very clever.

What did you think of the Grand Prix in Press for the City of Buenos Aires?
I had the privilege of being on the jury for this, and we picked it from the Golds. The Golds were Coca-Cola, the one from Ogilvy Paris with the hands forming the bottle, and there was also a Smart car ad where they were celebrating the size — still smaller than a Mini Cooper, still smaller than a Fiat.

This work for Buenos Aires was the freshest. I think we had a chat, and we agreed that what we might do was celebrate what was freshest and not necessarily what was representative of the whole trend to select “something inspirational moving forward.” That was a big quality here. It’s not a huge asterisk that we have to put next to the ad that we chose, but that was the thinking behind it because it wasn’t something people will still speak about in five years time.

What’s happening in Singapore? What do you think of the representation of the work in Asia Pacific this year?
Coming out of the Mobile show, I expected Asia Pacific to play a little bit more than [only] Korea and Japan. But it didn’t really happen. R/GA was killing it. They probably got 10 Lions in Mobile. I thought, however, that Asia Pacific would see a bit more. In Press as well, I think Asia Pacific came out with about 10 Lions. We gave out maybe about 40, so that’s not bad, specifically for the domain of Asia Pacific.

As usual, Latin America played pretty well. I think Asia Pacific underperformed in the four Lion categories that were given out at the Direct, Mobile, Press and Promo & Activation show. We have a lot of catching up to do. Overall, I’d like to see the level of thinking that matches what we saw from Europe and the U.S. during these awards.

You’ve been coming to Cannes for a while. How many Cannes have you been to?
I think this is my third time on a jury, maybe eighth time in all.

What are you going to take home with you that you will remember from this year? Any themes?
First of all, I’ll say that as tired as you are when you come here, you just immerse yourself into the job and you go home an actually refreshed and revitalized ad guy.

I think the themes are exactly what Leo Burnett has always been celebrating. It’s about the purpose, it’s about what the brand can do, what the brand means to people and not what it sells. I think we’re seeing Leo Burnett’s work at its peak. We just need to make sure we get everyone in the agency, not just the creatives, thinking like this.