BORACAY, Aklan—For their “radical and irreverent” idea on how to make Inquirer.net more engaging for Filipino millennials, two young advertising creatives from Publicis Manila who won this year’s Kidlat Young Creatives competition will represent the Philippines in the prestigious 62nd Cannes Lions Festival in France in June.
Amanda Cruz, 26, and Toby Fournier, 26, topped 23 other teams from 16 ad agencies with “Fearless Doodles,” which aims to make Inquirer.net even more interactive for Filipino millennials who want to put their own mark on today’s news—one brave doodle at a time.
“Congratulations to the winning team, Amanda and Toby. The Inquirer has always been a big believer in and supportive of sending Filipino talent competing in Cannes and Spikes. We have proven in the past that the Filipino creatives can compete and excel in the global arena,” Inquirer president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez said. “We are truly proud of you and will be cheering you all the way. Go Philippines!”
The Inquirer, the Philippines’ official representative to the Cannes Lions since 2004, has been sending the country’s best, brightest and most creative to the Cannes Lions, considered the Oscars of the advertising industry.
“I am very much impressed with the quality of work and amazing ideas of the young creative competitors. The winning team presented a very radical and irreverent idea. Very fearless, very Inquirer,” said Inquirer assistant vice president for corporate affairs Connie Kalagayan, who witnessed the presentations and the judges’ deliberations.
Runners-up Mark Rodel Marmol and Marielle Paula Nones of Ace Saatchi & Saatchi will represent the country in the international advertising tilt Spikes Asia in Singapore in September. Their winning Kidlat pitch involved news education of the “Internet-obsessed” millennial generation through Inquirer.net.
Rounding up the top five finalists were entries from young creatives of Leo Burnett, DM9JaymeSyfu and Tribal DDB Philippines.
The participants, all aged under 27, were given 24 hours to prepare a three-minute video of their idea on how to make Inquirer.net even more “millennial-friendly.”
The grand winners were still shaking with excitement and disbelief when they sat down with the Inquirer for an interview after the awarding. “It is really overwhelming,” said Fournier, a fine arts graduate from the University of the Philippines. “I told Amanda, ‘Win or lose, it doesn’t matter, as long as we could be proud of what we did,’” he said.
“It was totally unexpected,” said Cruz, a management graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. “I still can’t believe that we’re going to Cannes!”
Fournier, who came up with the concept, had initial misgivings about their idea, which he thought was somewhat risky. “I thought, when the Inquirer sees it, they’d think, ‘We couldn’t do something like that,’” he said.
Cruz, however, was immediately onboard. “We got the idea from the Inquirer’s tagline—‘Fearless views’—and we knew millennials are fearless as well. So we thought we might as well be fearless ourselves and push it,” she said. “When I first heard it, I was already so sure. It really resonated with me. It was a solid idea.”
Out of 10 or so concepts tossed around during brainstorming, their final idea was born: “Fearless Doodles.”
Mindful of their limited time, the pair decided to craft their idea immediately. “One tip we got was that we shouldn’t take too much time finalizing our idea,” Cruz said.
Six hours after the initial briefing, they started designing. Fournier, whose forte is animation, handled the visuals, while Cruz handled the copy.
Clean and simple
“We revised the copy four times,” Cruz said. “This was Toby’s idea, and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with the copy, and that it was as clean and simple as possible,” she said. “That was an advice our bosses gave us: Keep it simple. Go with your gut. We really took their words to heart.”
“By 5:30 a.m. we were done,” Fournier said. “We managed to sleep for a few hours.”
Though belonging to the same agency, Cruz said it was her first time to work with Fournier. “The scary part was that we had never worked together before. I was worried we wouldn’t get along,” she said.
“It really helped that our mind-set was to enjoy this contest,” Fournier said.
When asked about plans for Cannes, the pair just laughed nervously. “We plan to enjoy this night first,” Cruz said.
The jury included the biggest names in the advertising industry, led by DDB Sydney regional creative director Andy Fackrell, and former Cannes Lions jurors Dave Ferrer (JWT Manila) and Raoul Panes (Leo Burnett).
Completing the jury were top creatives from other ad agencies: Brandie Tan (Publicis JimenezBasic), Eugene Demata (DDB-Tribal), Joe Dy (McCann), Third Domingo (Ideasxmachina), Rey Tiempo (Dentsu) and Dale Lopez (BBDO Guerrero).
“In my three years of leading this search, it was my first time to witness a unanimous decision from the very start,” said Herbert Hernandez, executive creative director of Y&R Philippines and director for the young creatives competition.
“We were looking for an idea that was engaging and very different from all the rest,” Panes said. “I am amazed that the young people were able to execute their ideas, given that they had less than 24 hours to do it. It speaks well of the future of the industry.”
“The judges looked for a breakthrough idea for the Inquirer, but it had to be something that could also be used by the company as well,” Ferrer added. “[The winning entry] really mirrored the behavior of the millennials—how millennials really want to speak their mind, express what they feel about things happening around them. They want to own the world—they want to own the news.”
“It stood out from the clutter,” Demata said. “I don’t believe that millennials have short attention spans, you just have to engage them. I think the winning idea is the one that engages the millennials the most.”
“A lot of older brands like the Inquirer are also facing the same challenge of appealing to millennials. How do you refresh yourself in order to be engaging and relevant to these guys? Both executions (grand winner and runner-up) were really able to tap into the mind-set of the millennials. They were interesting solutions to a tough brief,” Dy said. “They were particularly sustainable solutions as well, not just gimmicks. These are things that could last.”
With one entry disqualified for being late, the judges and the organizers stressed the value of time management in the competition.
“The main challenge really is the time limit of 24 hours,” said Hernandez, who explained that this year’s competition rules are similar to the ones in Cannes, where contestants are not allowed to present in front of the jury and are just asked to submit their work.
“To be honest, the entries in the contest did not look like they were done just overnight,” he said.
“Usually you have three days to a week to do it,” Domingo added. “These guys went through hell.”
Both Domingo and Hernandez emphasized the importance of time in the competition.
“It doesn’t matter if your idea is good—if it’s late, then it’s a goner. That’s just the reality,” Domingo said. “This is art on a deadline.”
Given the higher stakes in Cannes, how must the young winners prepare?
“Cannes is still the ultimate show to win,” Ferrer said. “It is extra-difficult for young creatives because they have less time to decide which among their thousands of ideas is best. It takes a different skill to discern which idea to finish up and present.”
“The clearest and the cleverest idea is the one they should stick with, and they should steer away from trying to impress with complicated ideas or really complex platforms. I think in the end the judges will still look for the simple idea behind the presentation,” Ferrer added.
Focus on competition
Panes said the participants should focus on the competition once they are there.
“The time factor is important. Being able to deliver given a stressful 24 hours or so—they should be able to distill the idea, choose the best one and execute it in the best way possible,” he said.
“It can get overwhelming there, with a lot of people and nationalities. The place is also so beautiful, it could be distracting. They should be able to focus,” he added.
For Hernandez, who has competed in Cannes in the past, generating many ideas is important.
“This is an international competition, and you must come up with many ideas. You don’t stop on your first, or on your second idea. Looking at our winners today, you could tell that was not their first idea. They pushed it, and they had good insight.”
“These days it is not enough to have a good idea. You must also be able to tell a good story about your idea,” Hernandez added.
Best, most creative
The awarding of the Kidlat Young Creatives is among the events of this year’s Kidlat Awards, an annual competition held by the Creative Guild of the Philippines to celebrate the best and most creative advertising work in the past year.
Apart from the awarding ceremonies, the Kidlat Innovative Week, held from March 5 to March 7 here, also included Kidlat Talks by advertising leaders BBDO Guerrero chair and chief creative officer David Guerrero and DM9JaymeSyfu chair and chief creative officer Merlee Jayme.
Other speakers were ABS-CBN chief digital officer Donald Lim, Google Philippines country manager Ryan Morales and MyShelter Foundation executive director Illac Diaz.
Aside from Cruz and Fournier, the Inquirer is also sending young marketers Ada Almendras and Ashley Santillan of Golden Arches Development Corp. to Cannes in June as the country’s representatives to the Young Lions Marketers competition.