A new dawn: The creative age of business

Katherine Visconti

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Ogilvy's CEO believes it's the new weapon in business and advertising

MANILA, Philippines – A new age has dawned in business and advertising in Asia.

Paul Health, the chief executive officer of Asia Pacific for Ogilvy & Mather — one of the 8 largest advertising networks in the world and one of the most highly awarded in Asia — calls it “the creative age of business in Asia.”

During an intimate round-table discussion with Rappler and 2 other media outlets on February 16, Heath explained, “You can embrace it or have it forced upon you.” As he sees it, creativity is not an option.  

“Now we have some hard evidence showing that the most creative campaigns are the most effective.” Health cited a 2011 study undertaken by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, which found that creative campaigns are 12 times as efficient at growing market share than their non-creatively awarded counterparts. 

The big bang

The firm knows creativity means more bang for the buck since consumers will pick up the campaign and spread it themselves. On numerous occasions, Ogilvy has leveraged social media to magnify the explosion of their creative campaigns on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. 

1. Dove in the Philippines

Over the past week, the innovative Valentine’s Day ad for Dove men’s deodorant has been catching attention online. A group of men surprise their wives by serenading them in a public restaurant. 


After just 2.5 days online, the video had 600,000 views. Health smiled at the thought that with practically “zero media investment” they achieved so much engagement. He explained that the best campaigns hit on a truth most people will accept, like how far a man will go for the woman he loves. 

“If you think of what we did for Valentine’s Day, it’s just a fantastically creative expression of how men would behave on Valentine’s Day.” Health acknowledged that the team arranged the timing well. But he says one rule for making a viral video is to not plan too much. “It’s very raw. It’s very real…over-planning can mean that you miss the moment.”

In the Philippines, Ogilvy is being savvy about social media campaigns like Dove’s. As Ogilvy & Mather ASEAN president David Mayo sees it, “In South East Asia there are just nations of talkers.”

As a counter-point he offers, Europe, which he says is not a ‘talking culture.’ Mayo says, “I think what’s happening here (in the Philippines and ASEAN) is you talk, you chatter, you get involved in conversations and it’s brought to life by social media.” ASEAN refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

2. Huggies in Hong Kong 

To launch the Facebook page for Huggies in Hong Kong, their campaign asked parents to post baby pictures on the site with the promise that the 60 most supported photos would be featured on the side of a popular Hong Kong bus. Ogilvy played on the basic social fact that parents are proud of their children. 


Health said, “Within 5 to 7 days we had the largest Facebook (subscribers/community) in Hong Kong, after starting from scratch.”

3. Coke in Australia 

For the “share a Coke” campaign in 2011, the firm opted to remove the iconic Coca-Cola logo from bottles. In its place, bottles featured one of about 100 different common first names.

Health revealed that in the first 2 weeks of the campaign, grocery cold drink sales shot up by 32%. 


He explained that since Coca-cola is an established brand, the target was to bring in new consumers. “It created a huge impact and got people, who haven’t bought a new Coke in a long time, to come in,” he says. 

“The more bland you are, the less likely you are to engage,” said Health.

He added, “We offer creativity, that’s our core business. It (just) depends on how brave the client wants to be.”


The CEO also observed a change in consumers. “Our industry used to be built on the model of broadcasting a message to as many people as possible.” He added that customers were once like dogs who would come at the owner’s whistle. Now they are like cats, very selective and independent. 

In this new environment, he said the smartest thing a brand can do is be brave enough to have a point of view. He believes that once a company settles on a point of view, even a controversial one, consumers are more likely to latch on. 

He also sees businesses placing much more emphasis on Asia. According to Health, Ogilvy & Mather’s Asia branch is now responsible for 25% of global revenues.

“We’ve gone from the West to the East. The winds have changed and now we are going back from the East to the West,” he said. 

Will media dinosaurs become extinct? 

Health is clear, “Traditional media owners do need to watch out because what we are seeing is a radical reinvention and shift in how people are communicating.” 

Still he doesn’t expect television to vanish any time soon. “It’s very fashionable to say digital is coming along and it will kill TV…but the fact of the matter is there is no killer app, you have an increasing level of choice.”

He believes what will happen is that the mix of advertising spending will change. “It’s not really a question of digital…it won’t be long before there is something like Google TV… it’s your ability to use each medium for what it’s really good at.”

He thinks that whether you download from your mobile phone, or whether you watch television, the most crucial factor is quality content, which comes back to creative content. – Rappler.com

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