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The Asian Mobile Lion’s roar is challenging creative thinkers

Between awards, seminars and the parties, life at Cannes can be very busy for the entire week of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The sacrifice of sleep, nonetheless, is a small price to pay for the global learning and enriching ideas that the platform offers.

The Mobile Lions category, now in its third year, turned out to be quite a discussed and debated category this year. One key question that the trends across categories throw up is whether it is wise to constraint mobile to a single category. Reason being, mobile is playing a very meaningful role in the whole aspect of advertising and marketing. Most winning campaigns have a strong mobile element to them. I am near certain that the arguments there, on both sides, will continue for a while, which will only make the evolution of this category even more fascinating to observe.

For me, every conversation, session and every winning work brings its own learnings. Amongst that, the one thought that surfaces repeatedly, is that mobile has moved beyond a technology driven medium to a channel that is evoking and speaking to human emotions. This only reflects the fact that mobile is an intrinsic part of an individual, and that the successful creative ideas are addressing that human aspect, touching human emotions with the device.

The other unmissable factor seen in the Gold and Silver campaigns is mobile driving and ‘connecting in the moment’. The ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’ campaign was an excellent example of fulfilling a human need to be entertained and to consume content in a convenient form. Works like Anzac Appeal, Nivea Sun Kids and AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) touched upon various elements of being human – whether it is protection, women’s safety, social cause and so on. There was once a time when the creative fraternity saw TV making the emotional connect as it had the audio visual elements; mobile is doing the same but with so much more – it is not just making the emotional connect in the moment but is reflecting how consumers are using technology to assist them in personal life and needs.

Technology is underplayed and now truly becoming a means to the end. The end being about benefits, social causes, protection — basic human traits that good mobile work is delivering.

Mobile is truly enabling brands to connect to masses, in a very personal manner. The winning mobile work roll technology, UI (user interface) and creativity all into one. Great creative, great storytelling, emotional connect, happen more on mobile since it is personal and it can help drive a very different impact. The Anzac one minute of silence for instance, was about being disconnected with the world for a minute. Essentially, what an individual thought in that one minute would be completely different from another – making that experience very personal.

The other thing that I was most encouraged to see was that some of the great mobile work was only leveraging basic functionalities like voice, text. These were enough for some brilliant storytelling (the Amaral Carvalho Hospital from Brazil) challenging the myth that mobile cannot be home to a brand’s storytelling initiatives.

Most definitely, Mobile Lions showcased some great work and I would like to agree with those who say that the performance from Asia overshadowed everything. I would like to, but I am not going to. The performance from Asia was great – nearly 30 per cent of all Mobile Lions wins were from Asia but I truly believe that Asia has the potential of owning 60-70 per cent of winning work. There were around 20 shortlisted entries from Asia, representing various markets. We must deliberate on how this number can be increased. In SMARTIES APAC alone, the industry enters over 500 pieces of work just between India, China and Singapore. There is so much work happening but it is not coming all the way to this platform, and the question is why.

It is already established that innovation is being driven out of Asia and taken global but some of these works are missing on the Cannes Lions platform. What is required from Asia to have its presence felt here? Do brands have to do more, do agencies have to push harded, what is the environment that has to be built… I will go back with many such questions. But I will also go back with the belief that brands and agencies, that have won here at Mobile Lions, have proved that not technology but a great idea can tell a story on a medium such as mobile also.

Updated: Click on the link to view the Mobile winning works at Cannes Lions 2014

Rohit Dadwal

The author, Rohit Dadwal, is the Managing Director of Mobile Marketing Association APAC.
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