Ad industry celebrates triumph of creativity over adversity at CreativeFest 2021

Creatives, advertising professionals, marketing experts, and thought leaders came together, virtually, last November 24 to 26 to celebrate the power of creativity to inspire people and drive the world forward even in times of great adversity at this year’s CreativeFest.

The event, organized by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (4As), brought together titans of the advertising industry together from here and around the world and experts from a variety of allied fields to discuss the powerful force that is creativity, and how it was able to move people, businesses, and the globe forward even with the unprecedented disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. This spirit is reflected in the event’s theme: Creativity Unlocked.

“This year’s theme—Creativity Unlocked—is a call of defiance as we created stories and invented experiences from our dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. We’ve proven that the creative mind knows no boundary, that creative work is undoubtedly possible despite the cramped spaces, limited movement and physical interaction,” Melvin Mangada, Chairman of the 4As and Chairman and Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno said in his opening remarks for the first day of the event.

Day one of Creative Fest was kicked off by Drag legend and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Manila Luzon who is also set to host the first reality drag competition in the Philippines, Drag Den. The Fil-Am Drag Queen recounted her story growing up and how she searched for her identity first as a Filipino-American, living in Minnesota with limited interaction with other kids of Asian heritage and then as a gay teenager longing to see herself reflected in pop culture. Her experiences gave birth to her drag persona, Manila Luzon, which proudly bannered her Filipino heritage.

“My journey has led me here. I’ve learned to accept who I am, as different as I am. I’ve embraced my heritage and I’m proud of where I come from. I proudly strut towards an ever brighter future. I let my own light shine as a beacon of hope for anyone who will follow,” Luzon said in her keynote address.

Luzon’s remarks was followed by a talk from Alice Chou, CCO of dentsumacgarrybowen Taiwan, who discussed her journey towards a Grand Prix from the Cannes Lions and how she harnessed insights from her culture to create a compelling story that resonated not only with the Taiwanese people but with the world. Susie Walker, VP of Awards and Insight of Cannes Lions, gave an incisive view behind the process of winning a Cannes Lion.

Other speakers during the first day were Vic Icasas, President and Managing Partner of Hit Productions discussing the sound of creativity; Alison Chadwick, Executive Coach of Grow People tackling how leaders can unlock creativity and foster a culture that leads to growth; and OPM band Ben&Ben expounding on how they continued to create inspiring music even at the height of the pandemic.

Day one also saw a panel discussion on Culture and how it can contribute to a thriving business and happier people. It was moderated by Mio Chongson, President and COO of Ace Saatchi & Saatchi with Third Domingo, CEO and Founder of The IdeasxMachina Group of Hakuhodo; Anna Norbert, Group Chief Culture Officer of DDB Group Philippines; and Mau Valenzuela, Chief Culture Officer of Propel Manila, as panelists.

Day two started with a keynote speech from advertising legend Madonna Badger, Founder and CCO of Badger and Winters. She underscored the value of authenticity, creativity, and transparency in leadership and how it can contribute to the growth of ad professionals. She also stressed the importance of diversity inside the agency as a powerful force in creating impactful work.

“I believe the only way creativity expands is through diversity of the people in any agency; diversity of experience, of thoughts, of schooling, of family structure, of schools, and of sexuality, of background, and of present life. Diversity of geography, having a car, no car, religion or none, sci-fi lovers and art lovers. All languages, all skin colors, all thinkers, creators, analyzers, dreamers, optimists, cynics, all are welcome. Because we need independent and diverse figures to be who we are. To be the driving force behind all our creativity,” Badger said.

Badger was followed by Maisie Littaua, Head of Growth of Canva who demonstrated the powerful creative tool that is Canva and how it equips people from every background with tools that will enable them to communicate creatively.

Three panel discussions filled the latter half of day two of the Creative Fest. First was a panel on Women in Advertising, moderated by Lynn Pinugu of She Talks Asia. She was joined by Leigh Reyes, Creative Chair of MullenLowe TREYNA Group; Golda Roldan, CEO of Wunderman Thompson; and Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA. This was followed by the Global Pinoys in Advertising Panel which was moderated by Tin Sanchez, Deputy Executive Creative Director (ECD) of Wunderman Thompson. She was joined by Kat Encanto and EJ Galang, ECDs of 180 Amsterdam; Aste Gutierrez, Creative Director of Droga5; and Budjette Tan, Co-Creator of Trese and Senior Brand Creative of LEGO.

The last panel discussion was about Creative Authors, advertising heavyweights who have forayed into writing books. David Guerrero, Chairman and CEO of BBDO Guerrero moderated the discussion. He was joined by Merlee Jayme, CCO of Dentsu APAC and Chairmom of Dentsu Jayme Syfu; Uma Rudd Chia, Co-Founder and ECD of KVUR; and, Andy Blood, Author of Full Bleed and former Creative Strategist of Facebook.

The third day only had one panel discussion, Kidlat Hits, a comprehensive discussion on this year’s most interesting, most purposive, and most inspiring entries in the Kidlat Awards. The panel was moderated by Adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero. She was joined by Kidlat Awards jury members Angie Tijam-Tohid, Creative Director and Head of Content of Ace Saatchi &Saatchi; Ali Silao, Head of Art and Creative Director of Seven A.D.; Tony Sarmiento III, CCO and Managing Partner of Screen and Surface; Joey Tiempo, Chief Creative of Octopus&Whale; Bia Famularcano, Group Creative Director of Publicis JimenezBasic; and, Roshan Nandwani, Chief Strategy Officer of BBDO.

The event was capped with the return of the Kidlat Awards, one of the country’s most prestigious recognitions in the field of advertising. The annual creative show of the 4As took a hiatus last year in view of the pandemic but returned to form this year to recognize the most outstanding creative work from 2019 and 2020.

Proceeds of CreativeFest 2021 will benefit Silid-Aralan, an organization that educates and empowers low-performing learners, and is committed to creating a better and more sustainable nation.

This year’s CreativeFest was made possible by Bench, JTI, and Ginebra, in partnership with Cignal, TV5, One Sports, Provill, Google Creative Works, Grupo Agatep, Adobo Magazine, Hit Productions, and Plan B.

To know more about the CreativeFest and other future activities of 4As, please visit www.4asphilippines.com, like and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4asPhilippines.