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Spikes Asia 2010: Of soulful egoists, conversation changers and magic

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Spikes Asia 2010: Of soulful egoists, conversation changers and magic

Spikes Asia 2010 ended its final day with magic – from advertising magic of BBDO’s David Lubars and TBWA’s John Merrifield to Publicis Asia’s Calvin Soh and finally Japanese magician Cyril Takayama ending the sessions. The conversations of the day ranged from soulful egoists who can change conversations and finally how advertising, when thought through, is a bit like magic.

In the first half of the day, Lubars was speaking to the audience on what makes a good agency and he confessed that the points he was making were not things that one would have not thought of of heard of but the hard part was to get down to doing it. He spoke of the BBDO model, where creativity was right at the top for a great agency that believed in the economic multiplier that followed. He said, “A lot of agency people are trying to find order and process but great agencies are messy and sloppy, they are always looking at new ways of doing things. Great agencies don't have sheriffs; they become the client themselves and learn to work together without silos.”

According to him, great agencies had an unfair share of great talent and BBDO liked to hire and work towards retaining what they called the soulful egoists. And the trick from there was to direct the ego into positive focus. Merit, integrity and dignity were some of the aspects they looked out. Lubars said, “Our clients love our people, and love is a keyword because of the passion they put in the business. Our people can pick themselves up, they are hand raiders not finger pointers, the mentality is we not me, there is a healthy paranoia and they are not resting on laurels – they know they are doing the right things. A great agency can be the right home for such people. A great agency can direct egos towards speed and efficiency.”

Lubars said that great agencies knew what awards were, and what they were not and scams was not on the list of great agencies. Neither was malicious obedience, where when you are terrified of losing existing clients and you will ‘yes’ them to death. Great agencies hired chefs, not waiters, because waiters can only take the order. The agency has to be able to position itself strongly in that direction, with the focus on work, and work alone.

Lubars ended his address quoting Edison saying that vision without execution was hallucination. And that was precisely where later in the magician Cyril Takayama took the conversation forward from.

Craft, Practice and Execution = Perfect Magic

Cyril was speaking to Grey Worldwide’s APAC CEO Nirvik Singh, and in the course of the conversation, Singh discussed how magic, in many ways, was like advertising. The due spoke on the need for focus on the craft and practising to be perfect. Cryril spoke to the audience of the different genres of magic but at the end of the day, magic was entertainment and genre categorisation didn’t matter. Singh asked Cyril about moments of inspiration that even in magic came from at any moment – in a bath tub, while window shopping, meeting new people or in conversations with friends.

Much like communication, technology and digital media has impacted magic as well and Cyril confessed that had it not been for the digital media force, a magician like him would not be known to anyone. He asserted that it was important even for magicians to evolve their craft with the evolution of technology. From geographical sensibilities to cultural nuances to clutter breaking ideas, much about the thought process of magic, creative idea to execution was like magic.

By the end of the session, Cyril was able to convince the audience that magic could impact people’s lives. A thought heard earlier in the day when Calvin Soh, Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Asia and Contagious magazine’s Paul-Kemp Robertson spoke on changing conversations through breakthrough ideas. Soh took the audience through some of the work done for clients like P&G. Soh said, “Feed the mind first, and that is a step towards building a culture that grows creativity.”

The session kicked off with three main points -- strong point of view, Story-bility and Co-creation. The times today were of generation participation, which were not about monologue but dialogue. The watch words were ignite conversations, own conversations, confront conversations and finally subvert conversations.

The session ended with the thought that people wanted to participate in conversations with brand as long as there was something relevant and useful for them. The final advice: Don't be scared not to create advertising, because that might be the best advertising you ever create.


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