Mediaworks 2017, mentoring the next generation of advertising leaders

This week I was asked to be a mentor at an industry program called MediaWorks hosted in Hanoi.

Mediaworks now in it’s 12th year is designed to test the newest batch of rising stars in the media and communications industry. The bootcamp-style workshop is an intense and uniquely rewarding learning experience featuring a 4-day course designed to challenge young talent to think quickly and creatively execute their ideas as a team.

MediaWorks replicates real-life scenarios, tasking syndicate teams to pitch to a real client on a real brief. As part of the workshop, MediaWorks incorporates a one-day conference that gathers industry leaders and professional trainers to examine practical applications such as obstacles facing the next generation, strategies for winning pitches and how to encourage creativity while delivering the client’s objectives.

As a mentor our role is to imbue young talent with skills and practical experience to thrive in media roles. It’s best described as part vocational bootcamp, networking hub, and conference, with the added flavour of a tense reality-TV challenge.

This year’s MediaWorks drew nearly 80 delegates, representing 25 organisations from across the Asia Pacific region. Separated on arrival from colleagues and placed in one of eight colour-coded teams, they were assigned their mission; to research, craft, and pitch an enticing and—more importantly—viable media strategy for a client in less than sixty hours.

One notable feature of MediaWorks is that each edition invites a different client to present a unique brief. This year that duty was taken on by Seraphina Wong, APAC executive director for brand management and advertising at UBS. Defying expectations, the brief wasn’t for an established brand, but instead a startup company in an extremely niche market.

It was an extremely rewarding experience bringing a group of people together from around the region who don’t know each other to quickly form a team and transform into a high performance team. It opens your eyes up to the talent we have in our industry and gives me reassurance for it’s future. It is not for the faint hearted or for people that love their sleep.

Applying digital makeup with Shiseido TeleBeauty Augmented Reality App

As technology has made it possible to have facetime with co-workers even from miles away, companies around the globe are finding ways to accommodate mobile employees. Some 80% to 90% of the US workforce for example say they’d like to work from home at least part time, according to the latest research from the firm Global Workplace Analytics.

Shiseido, in collaboration with Microsoft Japan has developed “TeleBeauty”, an app that automatically calibrates skin tone and applies digital makeup to the face during video-conferencing.

The aim is to support women who actively pursue their careers remotely, be it from home or otherwise, and consider cosmetics part of their image management.

With the technical assistance of Microsoft Japan, Shiseido has developed a trial model of this app for “Skype for Business”.

With today’s progressive diversity of work styles, “teleworking”, a flexible way of performing duties regardless of the time and place, is spreading fast.

Many people take advantage of this style in order to achieve greater business efficiency or to circumvent locational restrictions when, for example, providing child and/or elderly care.

Noticing this trend, Shiseido conducted a survey among telecommuting women. The results revealed a feeling of annoyance with having to apply makeup for one or few online meetings while working from home. They also expressed that they don’t like their personal and private space being seen through the monitor and that sometimes, due to camera quality or room lighting, they feel uncomfortable with the appearance of their skin on the screen.

“TeleBeauty” has been developed based on insights Shiseido has gained through its long experience and work in the industry. Experience gained through makeup techniques owned by Shiseido artists, makeup simulation technology developed by Shiseido R&D (proved at the stores since 1999), and trend information.

In addition to its main feature of applying makeup, the app can also correct the skin tone and blur the background. As the makeup smoothly follows the user’s facial movements, it is hard to guess that it is a simulation and not real makeup. This easy-to-use app saves the telecommuters both time and effort.

Canon Photo Face-Off – Sharp and Colorful Branded Content

Canon Logo

Photo Face-Off is a competitive photography reality TV show pinning amateur photographers across Southeast Asia against each other and resident professional photographer Justin Mott. Presented by Canon Photomarathon Asia on the History channel.

Hosted by Asia’s own Kelly Latimer, Photo Face-Off now in Season three is presented by Canon Photo Marathon also features a welcome return to the screen for the pro photographer that everyone loves to beat Justin Mott.

Photo Face Off Promo


Across 5 one-hour episodes’ viewers are treated to a whirlwind tour around some of the region’s most exotic locales as the show pits three local amateurs from each country against each other, and of course Justin, in a bid to grab the single spot available in the season’s Grand Finale in Vietnam.


Traveling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok to Yogyakarta each episode features three decidedly difficult photo challenges – Speed, Theme and Face-Off – all designed to push the contestant’s skill, knowledge and creativity to the limit.

The Grand Finale, in the stunning city of Da Nang will see four ‘Champion of Champions’ and a very special Vietnamese ‘wild-card’ snapping and scrapping it out in one final ‘Face-Off’ for a chance to win exclusive Canon prizes and the crown of Photo Face Off Champion.

Putting the snap back into photography, Asia’s leading photo-competition is both sharp and colorful and a wonderful piece of branded content.

Dentsu Aegis – South East Asia Campaign Creative & Media Agency of the Year 2016

Since 1994, the Campaign Agency of the Year Awards is the Asia Pacific region’s most prestigious advertising industry awards, recognizing inspired leadership, management excellence, outstanding business performance and overall achievements in advertising and communications industry.

With results tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) it is the only awards program that honors agency performance at both a local and regional level. This year’s Agency of the Year Awards judging panel included 93 client marketers from key business categories across Asia-Pacific, all of whom gave generously of their time and expertise to review and pick out the best amongst a record-high 955 contending creative and media agencies.

Dentsu Aegis Asia Pacific had it’s been showing last night since Dentsu Inc. acquired Aegis Group business in 2013.

Dentsu Aegis - South East Asia Campaign Agency of the Year 2016

Dentsu Aegis – South East Asia Campaign Agency of the Year 2016

Dentsu Brand Agencies new brand proposition of delivering Innovative Business Solutions created in 2016 certainly produced the goods. Brands in Southeast Asia did fabulously with Dentsu media Thailand scoring two Golds for both Creative and Media Agency of the Year and Dentsu Jayme Syfu winning a Gold for Philippines Creative Agency of the Year.

Stemmed from a spectrum of Dentsu’s numerous capabilities, the work produced across the region spans many different forms – from the creation of music to movies and the management of sports to events.

Driven by ideas, technology and a strong sense of entrepreneurship, Dentsu Brand Agencies has positioned itself this year as more than a creative agency – it is a creative leader providing a full suite of innovative business solutions beyond advertising.

Aligned to Dentsu Aegis Network’s overarching vision of ‘Innovating the way brands are built’, Dentsu Brand Agencies’ new brand proposition is set to move people to move businesses as we head into  2017.

Nick Waters, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network APAC said; ‘This is a tremendous collection of awards, recognizing the strength and quality of our agencies and teams throughout Asia Pacific over the course of this year – many congratulations to all of the winners’.

Isobar Interactive Agency Network of the Year
The biggest win belongs to Isobar, who was awarded Digital Network of the Year for Asia Pacific, the brand’s fifth win within a span of six years. Awarded Gold in the Greater China region, Carat Hong Kong won Hong Kong Media Agency of the Year while Media Palette Taiwan was awarded the title Taiwan Digital Agency of the Year. Dentsu Aegis Network also emerged as Winner in the Greater China Digital Agency of the Year category.

Vizeum Malaysia took home the title of Malaysia Media Agency of the Year, and Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia rounded the awards up by securing the title of Southeast Asia Creative Agency of the Year.

Our Dentsu Aegis leaders did tremendously well too: Ruth Stubbs, Global President of iProspect, and Ashish Bhasin, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, celebrated their second consecutive win as Digital Asia Pacific Agency Head of the Year and South Asia Agency Head of the Year respectively.

Sean O’Brien, CEO of Carat Asia Pacific, won Media Asia Pacific Agency Head of the Year for the second time (his first win was in 2012) while Chris Chen, CEO and Executive Creative Director of Trio Isobar China, won Greater China Agency Head of the Year.

Australia Media Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Carat Australia

New Zealand Media Agency of the Year:
Silver: Vizeum New Zealand

Australia Digital Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Isobar Australia

Indonesia Creative Agency of the Year:
Silver: Dentsu Indonesia

Philippines Creative Agency of the Year:
Gold: Dentsu Jayme Syfu

Thailand Creative Agency of the Year:
Gold: Dentsu Media Thailand

Vietnam Creative Agency of the Year:
Silver: Dentsu One Vietnam

Southeast Asia Creative Agency of the Year Winner:
Dentsu Aegis Network

Malaysia Media Agency of the Year:
Gold: Vizeum Media Malaysia

Thailand Media Agency of the Year:
Gold: Dentsu Media Thailand

Vietnam Media Agency of the Year:
Silver: Dentsu Media Vietnam

Indonesia Digital Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Dentsu Digital Indonesia

Malaysia Digital Agency of the Year:
Gold: Isobar Malaysia

Philippines Digital Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Dentsu Jayme Syfu

Singapore Digital Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Isobar Singapore

Southeast Asia Integrated Agency of the Year:
Bronze: Dentsu Media Thailand

Digital Network of the Year:
Winner: Isobar Asia Pacific

Asia-Pacific Programmatic Agency of the Year (Sponsored by The Trade Desk):
Silver: Amnet Asia Pacific

Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Media):
Winner: Sean O’Brien | Carat Asia Pacific

Asia-Pacific Agency Head of the Year (Digital):
Winner: Ruth Stubbs | iProspect Asia Pacific

Asia-Pacific Corporate Communications Team of the Year:
Runner-up: Marketing and Communications Team
Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific

Dentsu Aegis Woman in Asia Mean Business

Dentsu Aegis Network and DentsuVentures is launching an initiative to mentor, develop and help fund female entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia.

The idea follows a report from the agency network earlier this year, titled ‘The New Voice of the Female Consumer in Southeast Asia’, in which it found that 36 per cent of women in Southeast Asia were self employed.

As part of One@DentsuAegis, a programme developed to support diversity and innovation across the business, Dentsu Aegis Network has formalised an initiative to mentor, develop and help fund female start-ups in South and Southeast Asia.

Partnering with other female led diversity initiatives such as Female Founders, Women Unlimited and She Means Business, Dentsu Aegis Network will run a three-part program.

Ruth Stubbs, CEO of iProspect Asia Pacific, will be running the initiative with an extended leadership team from across Dentsu Aegis Network and strategic business partners which include clients and other third parties. A blueprint has been developed to recruit, mentor and fund female founded start-ups that display `innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership’ at their core.

In a recent whitepaper, The New Voice of the Female Consumer in Southeast Asia, the agency identified an increasing trend towards people choosing self-employment over a traditional working lifestyle. This trend was particularly true among women, with 36 percent of women across Southeast Asia, self-employed.

In addition, the study found that 47 percent of all online women in SEA are sellers. This equates to 33 million women who opted in as a seller across Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in 2015. In Indonesia, 55 percent of online women are trading as merchants from their homes today. “We can conclude that selling and not just buying through digital channels to supplement income has created a new socioeconomic profile due in part to the sheer scale of the activity,” the paper stated. “The implications of which will shift the paradigm for digital marketers as it pertains to ecommerce for this part of the world, which still supports a very traditional marketing landscape,” it added. The study consisted of a 10-minute survey across the fieldwork period of August 18-28, 2015. Covering both buyers and sellers, 1,019 people across Indonesia (319), Thailand (350) and the Philippines (350) were interviewed.

Dentsu Aegis clients and third party partners will be recruited for involvement but the initiative will be led by Ruth Stubbs, CEO of iProspect Asia Pacific, alongside other Dentsu Aegis leadership across the region.

Stubbs commented; “We believe this initiative will allow Dentsu Aegis Network to lead the industry towards a more socially conscious approach to the onset of the digital economy, especially highlighting the role women and emerging markets are set to play. Digital convergence and an emerging generation of female entrepreneurs are changing the shape of traditional business as we know it. Understanding these women, their motivations and how we can help them is critical to the success of us all.”

The startups recruited onto the programme will be focused on ones that show ‘innovation, diversity, social sustainability and tech leadership’, according to the network. The three parts of the scheme; mentorship, development and funding, will start in August. Dentsu Ventures will supply the secondary funding for the startups as the final stage.

With a strong focus on solidifying key foundational elements of a business strategy, the programme will take place over the course of two months with a unique curriculum created to deep dive into key areas that are essential to scale businesses.

The accelerator programme will partner selected candidates with senior industry mentors. A panel of strong and inspiring female business leaders from across Dentsu Aegis Network and its strategic business partners will also give guidance throughout the programme, sharing extensive experience on digital, marketing, finance and operations.

Going beyond educating and training candidates, the programme will culminate with a demo day in early December with possible second round funding from venture capitalists Dentsu Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures and others.

Dentsu Jayme Syfu continues UNIQLO customer experience focus by launching a digital travel planner


UNIQLO is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer. The company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. since November 2005 and has come a long way from its early days of operating as a suburban chain in Japan.

Over a span of two decades, the company has achieved monumental growth, sealing its status as a global fashion behemoth.

With over 1,400 stores in 16 markets across the world, Uniqlo has navigated its way through challenges such as Japan’s wavering economy and shrinking population, as well as unsuccessful forays into global markets.

As the fourth-largest fashion retailer in the world, the company currently ranks alongside other global retail giants such as Gap, H&M and Zara.


Uniqlo takes customer experience both in the real world and digital channels very seriously.

In planning and designing all aspects related to its in-store experiences, the company adopts the Japanese concept of kaizen, which translates to mean a continuous search for perfection and is now beefing up e-commerce operations by carefully repositioning itself to appeal to a wider, more multicultural set of consumers but without losing its ‘Japanese-ness’ – a quality that can be glimpsed as much in the technologically hip way it communicates with shoppers, as in the discipline of its clothing designs.

Uniqlo’s creative vision in the digital sphere first grabbed the world’s attention in 2007 when the company’s ‘Uniqlock‘ campaign took the advertising sector by storm.

The marketing project, designed to build brand awareness internationally, featured a clock with spliced clips of well- choreographed dancing and catchy lounge music all timed to match the ticking. It ran all year round, 24/7. In summer the girls dancing wore polo shirts; in winter, cashmere; and at midnight they slept. Click here to see Uniqlock in action.

‘Uniqlock’ swept the board at a raft of major advertising awards in the following year, even scooping a Grand Prix at Cannes. And the innovative but simple execution of the campaign played no small part in helping to propel a local clothing retailer that even in Japan was not considered fashionable to the status of a hip marque in a few short years.

Dentsu Aegis Isobar | UNIQLO – UMOOD from R3 on Vimeo.

UNIQLO and Dentsu Aegis Isobar agency in Australia launched Mood in 2015, a retail activation that helps consumers select from over 600 T-shirts by identifying their mood with neural technology at UNIQLO’s Pitt Street store in Sydney.

Customers take a seat in the UMood machine and watch a series of ten short videos and images, whilst the sensor tracks the customer’s brainwave reaction to that stimulus via a Neuro headset.

The brainwave responses are analysed and an algorithm recommends T-shirts that fit their mood. The unit was developed by Isobar and Dentsu Science Jam a Dentsu Aegis Network company.

Uniqlo Travel Planner Logo

This month, Dentsu Jayme Syfu in the Philippines launched the UNIQLO Travel Planner.

Traveling is incredibly fun but it involves a lot of preparation. Aside from plane tickets, accommodations, transportation etc., one major dilemma of many people is the wardrobe.

What does one wear for a particular trip? We want to be comfortable for all the walking and sightseeing but we also want to look great in our photos without bringing our entire wardrobe.

The UNIQLO Travel Planner recommends what to wear based on where you are going and when your trip will be. Just indicate whether you want to browse through their men, women, boys and girls collection; your travel destination and your trip dates.

The app will then start “building your wardrobe” and will show you the weather forecast during your vacation. Just scroll down and voila! The digital experience shows you the recommended wardrobe for the trip.

Uniqlo Travel Planner
The great thing about Uniqlo pieces is that they’re well made, functional, simple and basic. This means that you can just add a scarf, a hat or an accessory to make it stand out. This also makes mixing and matching easy. With the Uniqlo Travel Planner, choosing what to wear is made simpler because it is your online travel wardrobe assistant.

Click here to start planning your wardrobe.

Augmented Reality and the meaning of play

The promise of virtual and augmented reality has always been enormous.

Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world.

With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two. Go nowhere, and be transported anywhere. What a wonderful proposition to work from.

Virtual and Augmented Reality was very much a central conversation at Cannes last month so this blog post will take a closer look at it’s history and the most recent development, especially with the success of Pokemon Go launching this month that promise to be a worldwide hit.

Firstly to Cannes and the VR entries. The New York Times was a surprise big winner of the week, earning double Grand Prix for its virtual reality initiatives. The Times VR platform itself claimed the top prize in Mobile.

And in the Entertainment Lions, the New York Times took the Grand Prix for its VR experience “The Displaced,” which took viewers into the lives of refugee children pushed from their native countries.

Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman, CCO at CAA Marketing, said the idea “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward.”

Two VR experiences, Lockheed Martin’s “Bus Ride to Mars,” out of McCann New York and Goodby Silverstein’s “Dreams of Dali,” for the Dali Museum also were early contenders for the Grand Prix in Cyber, but ultimately, neither took the top prize.

Virtual Reality as a concept has been around for almost 100 years. In the 1930s a story by science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum (Pygmalion’s Spectacles) contains the idea of a pair of goggles that let the wearer experience a fictional world through holographics, smell, taste and touch.

Virtual Reality

In hindsight the experience Weinbaum describes for those wearing the goggles are uncannily like the modern and emerging experience of virtual reality, making him a true visionary of the field.

Virtual Reality had become significantly popular during the 1990s. It became one of the best topics for movies and even for virtual reality games.

During the 1950s, an attempt by a cinematographer named Morton Heilig to stimulate the different senses became the idea of what we know today as Virtual Reality. This is the same person who made use of the machine called Sensorama.


Sensorama included moving chairs and odor meters while providing a visual treat to the audience.

At Dentsu there have been a number of virtual and augmented reality programs of work over the years but the most successful to date has been iButterfly a free mobile application available on both iOS and Android platforms produced in October 2010.

It combines Augmented Reality, Motion Sensors and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies to allow consumers to “see”, find and catch customized butterflies at specific locations through their smartphones.

Marketers can tap on the iButterfly application’s potential to customize promotional mechanics based on their campaign needs.

iButterfly coupons can be time-limited, location-based, or number-limited. Marketers can design tactics such as having consumers collect a series of different butterflies in order to collect prizes, or have butterflies available only in specific geographical areas.

ibutterfly_screenshot1The augmented-reality (AR) game attracted 21 million users and became one of the most successful mobile apps ever. It has been praised for promoting exercise, facilitating social interactions, sparking new interest in local landmarks, and more.

Dentsu took iButterfly to Hong Kong  in May 2011. It became an overnight hit with over 10 million butterflies caught and 350,000 users.

In Thailand, iButterfly captured 100,000 downloads in the first week. In the Philippines, the largest shopping enterprise, SM Malls, embraced iButterfly as its promotion vehicle. In Indonesia, Unilever and top music bands are major partners. This unprecedented marketing platform has won over 10 local and international awards for its commercial success and creativity since 2011, capturing the imagination of advertisers in the region.

In 2012 Dentsu Singapore’s launched iButterfly on 17 November 2012. Consumers could redeem products and vouchers from Cheers, Gatsby and Yoshinoya by catching virtual butterflies. Each customized virtual butterfly was designed with product offers ranging from iPhone covers to meal vouchers and potato chips as well as facial packs. Three iPad Minis were won by consumers who caught limited edition golden butterflies during the event.

Now this month Pokémon Go launches and I get the feeling this app will be even bigger although likely to be short lived as the game play is very repetitive.


Pokesmon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices.

In the game, players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The game supports in-app purchases for additional in-game items.

So the learning here is imagine 10 years ago trying to envision the way we use cellphones today. It’s impossible. That’s the promise VR and AR has today. At its best it shouldn’t replace real life, just modify it, giving us access to so much just out of reach physically, economically.

If you can dream it, VR and AR can make it. It’s a medium for progress, not the progress itself. Enjoying thinking up the ideas.