A kick in the teeth for Malaysia’s advertising industry

The Lions are awards given out at the Cannes festival, an eight day celebration of creativity. Tens of thousands of awards are submitted and every man and his dog in the advertising industry wants to win a Lion. An agency can bring in business for years if it’s won a Lion. Even if the creative genius who won it has long gone from the agency.

This year, despite submitting 325 entries, Malaysia’s advertising industry failed to win one single Lion, despite the number of Lions awarded to firms in Asia increasing from 209 last year to 263 this year.

The awards went to agencies from the following countries with last year’s awards in brackets:

1. Australia – 71 Lions from 1782 entries (51)
2. New Zealand – 57 Lions from 526 entries (20)
3. Japan – 46 Lions from 1736 entries (35)
4. India – 27 Lions from 1315 entries (15)
5. Thailand – 23 Lions from 558 entries (9)
6. Singapore – 14 Lions from 688 entries (18)
7. China – 9 Lions from 1022 entries (17)
8. Hong Kong – 5 Lions from 386 entries (2)
9. South Korea – 3 Lions from 309 entries ( 11)
10. Taiwan – 2 Lions from 144 entries (0)
10. The Philippines – 2 Lions from 253 entries (1)
10. Vietnam – 2 Lions from 89 entries (0)
13. Indonesia – 1 Lion from 119 entries (4)
13. Bangladesh – 1 Lion from 25 entries (0)

Other countries that didn’t win any awards were:
Malaysia – 0 Lions from 325 entries (6)
Sri Lanka – 0 Lions from 31 entries (0)
Pakistan – 0 Lions from 3 entries (3)

On the face of it this is a major kick in the teeth of the industry in Malaysia. Despite the fact that some advertising agencies have been known to create fake ads simply to try and win a Lion or two the Lions are still the holy grail of the industry. By the way, I’m not saying of course that that happens in Malaysia…

Personally, I think the empty and pointless measurement of the number of awards an agency has won in the past has nothing to do with the ability of the agency to deliver creative genius in the future. But sadly it’s enough to convince a CMO or CEO that the agency must be good. Of course we all know that the metric by which they should be judged is how many units of a product are sold.

But I think a lot of the blame lies at the feet of CMOs, CEOs and other business leaders in the country. To survive an agency can only really give a client what he wants and if he wants the same as the other guy then what can the agency do about it?

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