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Persuasive storytelling still potent in Asia: WARC on effective marketing trends

WARC, the global authority on advertising and media effectiveness, has released its Asian Strategy Report 2018, outlining successful key marketing trends in the region, based on an analysis of the results of this year’s WARC Prize for Asian Strategy, a search for the best strategic ideas that have driven business results in Asia.

Jury chair, Shekar Khosla, Chief Commercial Officer, Kellogg’s, commented, “The WARC Prize for Asian Strategy aims to highlight the region’s smartest strategic thinking, and that has never been more important. Strategy can help businesses not only by sharply defining where to win, but increasingly also how to win, and how to understand points in the consumer journey, where brands and companies can create maximum impact and value for the business and the community.”

WARC’s Asian Strategy Report 2018 highlights the following key themes for effective marketing in Asia:

  • Leveraging influence for effectiveness

This year’s entries into the WARC Prize for Asian Strategy show how influence, as opposed to influencers, has been a key feature of many of the winning campaigns. From the McDonald’s Gaokao campaign that encouraged the nation to rally behind the nation’s youth to Whisper in India that effected behavioural change, influence was evident in myriad forms.

Judge Ida Siow, Head of Planning, JWT Singapore and Southeast Asia, observed, “Influencers and influencer marketing have received a bad rap. But influence can operate in wider, deeper and more effective terms when anchored in an idea, emotion and action.”

  • New digital models are emerging

Digital needs to be allowed to drive business, should facilitate value exchanges and must be considered as just one of a few points in a customer journey – not the entirety of it. These take-outs came from many of this year’s winners that showed how Asia is investing in emergent digital formats that are paving the way for future brands.

Judge Andreas Moellmann, Chief Strategy Officer/ Head of Digital, Geometry Global Japan, commented, “The companies behind these new digital models have shown the foresight of investing into their future.”

Brands, including UNIQLO, Paytm and KFC, are at the vanguard of these formats and demonstrate what can be achieved via digital when a solidly strategic approach is applied.

  • Brands need to harness experience

An ‘actions, not words’ approach should be employed by brands across Asia looking to engage consumers who are, according to judge Richard Bleasdale, Managing Partner, Asia Pacific, The Observatory International, “wearied by the ineffectiveness of most marketing and advertising”.

Dettol found a way to demonstrate the importance of hand hygiene by representing germs with glitter in Indian schools, while Vodafone helped to protect the privacy of its female customers. These initiatives speak volumes about the brands involved, giving them a powerful point of difference in the marketplace.

  • Persuasive storytelling is still potent

Storytelling is far from over in Asia– it’s still of paramount importance for brands. Whether it was a humorous campaign that engaged millennials from Seoul Dairy or a touching portrayal of the trials of a transgender mother from personal care brand Vicks in India, persuasive storytelling helped this year’s Prize winners with brand positioning and campaign effectiveness.

As judge Avtar Ram Singh, Head of Strategy, Falcon Agency, said, “If you truly believe that storytelling in advertising should always be centred around just the brand, then you shouldn’t work in advertising. Every brand has a story to tell, just not always about itself.”

Summing up, Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, WARC, said, “In our quest to help marketers become more effective, the trends highlighted in our Asian Strategy Report bring valuable insights to brands in the region during a time of digital transformation and when societal assumptions are being challenged.”

The WARC Prize for Asian Strategy, now in its eighth year, is a free-to-enter annual competition in search of the best strategic thinking from Asia’s marketing industry. The WARC Prize for Asian Strategy 2019 will open for entries in April.

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