The following recap comes from DDB Hong Kong’s CSO Andreas Krasser during his experience at the Busan ADSTARS Festival.
The Busan ADSTARS Festival has attracted quite some attention over the past few years – not just because award submissions are free, but also due to its high-profile judges, speakers, and panelists from all around the globe, including Toby Talbot (Saatchi & Saatchi NZ), Anna Qvennerstedt (Forsman & Bodenfors), Matty Burton (Google Zoo), and Ari Halper (FCB NY) to name just a few.
And among this international, star-studded ensemble of Admen & women: a humbled moi, just psyched to take the stage in the country I used to call home for almost eight years.
‘Share creative solutions, change the world.’ This year’s festival ambition certainly put some pressure on its speakers. Paired with the forecast of a typhoon about to hit the Korean peninsula and a rather bumpy airplane ride from Hong Kong, ADSTARS, for me, got off to a slightly rough start. Luckily, the typhoon never really reached Busan. So, it was off to the Kick-Off Party for me!
Despite free booze & food, Psy impersonator performances (yes, Gangnam Style), and lucky-draw giveaways, the kick-off, however, never truly managed to kick in. It finally did though in a little bar called Fuzzy Navel, located near the beautiful Haeundae Beach promenade, which apparently has become the unofficial gathering spot for ADSTARS judges and speakers.
The next day (Day 2 of the festival) started with sunshine – no more sign of a typhoon.
Then tech rehearsal, sound check: check.
After a few more tweaks to my presentation slides and some much needed coffee, I just relaxed, kicked back, and enjoyed the day’s first panel discussion: “Creativity in Asia. Are We Pulling Our Weight?” in which Guan Hin Tay (JWT), Toby Talbot (Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand), Woon Hoh (Hakuhodo Asia Pacific) and Angel Guerrero (Adobo Magazine) discussed the issue of Asia as a whole underperforming at global creative award shows. Shrinking budgets, talent drainage, and case study crafting skills were some of the key themes during this entertaining panel session.
Tough act to follow…but I had no other choice. So, here I was, hosting a couples therapy session for Strategists and Creatives.
Prior to my talk, I had surveyed 103 planners and creatives in Asia to understand how these two parties thought of each other and what they wanted from each other in this particular part of the world. Some planners described the creatives they worked with in the past as ‘defensive’ and ‘challenging.’ Similarly, some creatives thought of their previous strategic counterparts as ‘theory-led’ and ‘tactical.’ Luckily, both sides, however, agreed that strategists and creatives do need each other. When it came to casting the future, this mutual need became even more obvious with planners and creatives finally agreeing on something: Strategy & Creative is the new Art & Copy! For more details, see my slide deck here.
I concluded with four final tips to salvage the relationship between strategists and creatives in Asia, answered a few questions, got a caffeine top-up, and off I was again, missing not only half of the festival and the entire awards ceremony, but also heaps of legendary parties (so I’ve been told).
Despite having been at ADSTARS for only one and a half days, it surely left an impression on me. In terms of logistics, planning, and facilities, the festival still has quite a few things to iron out, but when it comes to ambition, vision, and philosophy, it certainly has its heart in the right place.