Digital hits from Asia and the Middle East

Exploring some of the most innovative winners from the recent Spikes Asia and Dubai Lynx awards.

da Mark Tungate , Adforum

One of the great things about international awards is that they provide a touch of inspiration from all corners of the world. Ideas from Europe and the US flow towards Asia, the Middle East and Latin America – and of course vice versa. A cross-cultural exchange of creativity.

The recent Spikes Asia and Dubai Lynx awards offer a unique chance to take the pulse of digital work in those regions. Let’s begin with the Spikes, where our eye was caught by the “Slow Road” campaign, from Cheil Asia, which won the Creative Data Spike. Could data encourage motorists to take scenic routes in tourist destinations, rather than cluttering highways? The answer lies below.

In the Digital Craft category, a Gold went to a fun innovation that automatically subtitled films and other streaming content when viewers were crunching their favourite Lay’s chips.

We were also captivated by the Silver winner, from Ogilvy Japan, which created a virtual version of the dynamic Shibuya neighbourhood of Tokyo when everyone was stuck at home due to the pandemic.

There are always many sides to history. Some of them are explored in this fantastic Mobile Grand Prix from Dentsu Webchutney in India. It takes people on a virtual tour of the British Museum in London, but provides the real – and occasionally bloody – history behind some of the exhibits. “The Unfiltered Tour” was made for the characteristically provocative Vice World News.

The Direct category is increasingly digital – or at least social. This Spikes Gold for the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines used the beautifully simple idea of turning ubiquitous face masks into media to draw attention to press repression. The masks that muffled freedom of speech became a selfie phenomenon.

It’s time to hop on a plane to Dubai, where the Social & Influencer Grand Prix at the Lynx was won by Impact BBDO and Essity. Did you know that the Arabic name for the menopause is “The Age of Despair”? That had to change…

Meanwhile, the Digital Grand Prix went to VLMY&R and Twitter, for a campaign addressing another very specific problem: in the Middle East, all audiences are addressed by advertisers and government entities in Arabic that uses the masculine pronoun, as if the feminine form doesn’t exist. A game-changing social media button offered an alternative.

In the Mobile category, there was only one Lynx for us – especially once we’d read the phrase “the first content-creating camel”. Teaming remote photographers with Sarha, a camel roaming the remote deserts of Saudi Arabia, Wunderman Thomson Riyadh allowed telecom provider STC to prove that its mobile coverage is second to none.

To finish with a flourish, here’s a spectacular idea for the UAE government from MullenLowe Dubai. During the first week of February, people were astonished and disquieted when they saw two moons in the night sky. Speculation raged across social and traditional media. In fact the apparition promoted the Hope Probe – part of the Emirates Mars Mission – and was created right here on Earth.

A suitable campaign to end on, bearing in mind the prominent role the moon is playing in the Arabic world right now. For those who are celebrating: Ramadan Mubarak.