Communication Summit & COMMWARD 2017

Communication Summit & COMMWARD 2017

September 14, 2017

Data-driven information and innovation in the 21st century has made people more active digital citizens and made firms all the more competitive and efficient. But there is a new factor which has proven to have a pivotal effect on the success of many companies worldwide in this age of globalization. That crucial factor is – Creativity. Creative principles, when applied to strategy and innovation, have dramatically improved the success rate for innovation in firms. Due to the remarkable success rate of creativity-led companies, organizations now want to learn how to think creatively and apply creative principles to the workplace itself.

To address such an important factor and enlighten the communication industry of the plethora of benefits derivable from creativity in this vastly interconnected world, Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) instigated the 7th Edition of Communication Summit, with the theme ‘Empowering Creativity through a Multi-connected World’, on 19th August 2017 at the grand Le Méridien Dhaka. Presented by Meghna Group of Industries, the daylong summit was attended by around 350 professionals from business organizations, marketing and creative agencies. This year’s Communication Summit comprised of three keynote speakers’ sessions, two panel discussions, two agency presentations and two workshops.


Shariful Islam, Founder and Managing Director of BBF

Asif Iqbal, Executive Director, Marketing, Meghna Group of Industries

The summit was initiated by Shariful Islam, Founder and Managing Director of BBF, who welcomed the respected audience to the 7th edition of the summit. He urged the industry to accept the presence of digital agencies because it is highly imperative to keep up with future technologies which will soon take over the entire branding world. But the need for creative ideas would always lie in the hands of agencies for which it is necessary to always hone creativity, he added.

His speech was soon followed by another welcome speech by Asif Iqbal, Executive Director, Marketing, Meghna Group of Industries. He identified the many challenges of the ever changing business world, where a firm no longer caters to local customers only, but rather to global customers. He concluded his speech by welcoming everyone present in the room to the 7th Communication Summit.


The very first keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Jonathan A.J. Wilson, who is truly a magician of words. He started off his career in the advertising sector in London over 20 years ago and is a Professor and Consultant expert. He has won multiple awards for: being a Global Thought Leader in Islamic Economics, Halal Branding, and Muslim Markets – a concept which is slowly but surely getting much attention in the branding world; his work on Inconspicuous Branded Consumption and Luxury; and being University Staff Member of the Year. He likes to call his key areas of interest as the ABCD of Business and Culture: Advertising, branding, Communications and Digital.

Invisible Handcuffs

His way with words had the audience captivated through the entire session. He started off with an interesting quote “Teach a woman to fish and we can solve a whole lot of problems.” He then explained why this quote is so relatable and relevant in our lives. Fishing as he feels it, is an art, a test of patience and self-sufficiency. In the same way, we are in control of our lives just like the fishing bait that is in our control and it is truly up to us on how we want to make a change in our lives through some little changes. He stressed on how we are always wearing invisible “handcuffs”- those insubstantial, unseen boundaries that we create ourselves, at times imposing those restrictions on ourselves. It is imperative that at times like this, we break away from those boundaries and overcome cognitive dissonance.

Prof. Dr. Jonathan A.J. Wilson

Making the permissible, unmissable

He then presented the audience with a question on “Why do companies come to Bangladesh and walk away being among the top 100 brands?” The answer to it being the invisible handcuffs and how we fail to recognize what great potential we hold. He then urged the growing industries in Bangladesh to promote the “halal” in the international market, because with Bangladesh being a Muslim state this is truly something that could be harnessed to gain global recognition. With the growing Muslim consumer market, the demand is on the rise for Halal products. Bangladesh thus should not be risk averse and should not lose out on the chance to “make the permissible (Halal), unmissable”, he explains.

Mr. Wilson recommended on grabbing attention, going out there, meeting new people, trying new things and actively trying and influencing our own fate and lives. He ended by quoting, “Every street is a catwalk and everyone a celebrity”. Through this quote, he urged the audience to co- create and harness the power of social media to the fullest.


The first agency presentation was conducted by Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd. on how they developed the positioning strategy of Atom. While Center Fresh’s positioning was “Zubaan pe lagaam”, Grey Advertising focused on the fact that people are more inclined to speaking up than being quiet.  So, they positioned Atom as “Atom khao chapa’r jor barao”. They went on to show 3 adverts based on this very campaign which was aired on national television.

Grey Advertising believes that positioning is no more static, rather dynamic. So, in the second phase, they wanted a more positive angle as per client’s request as the society was quick to criticize that Atom was teaching people how to deceive others. The agencies have to constantly come up with new creative angles so that it doesn’t become monotonous. So, in the third and final phase they positioned Atom as “Atom khao, awaj barao”. This, they mentioned received good feedback and thus they aired television adverts based on this campaign. After the presentation there were many questions regarding their first campaigns and adverts, which Grey Advertising answered quite clearly and thoroughly. The takeaway of this presentation was that in order to be at par with the changing world of media and communication, one can never settle for a single campaign, rather always be dynamic to suit the consumer’s requirements.


Vikas Mehta

Having global and regional experience in his arsenal, communication industry veteran Vikas Mehta, had the whole audience captivated through and through. Having worked in this industry for 29 years, Mr. Mehta has worked with multinational and local brands like Lifebuoy, Pepsodent, Sony, Horlicks, HSBC and many more. Having worked with Lowe, JWT, and Havas, he has handled major country level and regional level roles in terms of strategic thinking and bottom line responsibilities.

Mr. Mehta’s session took the audience through a suit’s viewpoint in the suit vs. creative fight going on in advertising industry. Suits usually look at strategies and deal with clients. Vikas Mehta discussed the evolution of the advertising industry he has encountered, from depending on labor to design ads then to ads being made in phones now. This is all due to the influence of technology.

Creativity Conundrum

“Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something great”- Mr. Mehta explains. When a creative individual starts working on something new, he/she faces a white blank sheet of paper and his/her job is to fill it. Tyranny of this paper is their absolute terror. According to HBR model, creative ads are original, flexible, elaborate, have synthesis and artistic value. A creative person has to look at 4 things: Research, Timing, Budget and Brief. It is believed that creative people hate briefs however it is bad briefs they hate. They look for brief that is relevant and that serves the purpose.

Mr. Mehta emphasizes why a brief needs to be brief. He then highlights some of the important elements of briefs. Target group segmentation is very important, so the fundamental element is whom you’re talking to e.g. Dove targets slightly aged women, Lifebuoy targets worried moms and Lux targets beauty conscious women. Second element is the benefit you’re trying to convey. Third element being the very personality of the brand. Each brand has a separate personality and it can’t be changed abruptly. The fourth element is the consumer insight e.g. Axe focusing on male fantasy. Consumer insights research, if done right, gets inside the consumer’s head to find the “why” of a purchase, to understand what happened, and to project what could occur in the future.

Execution versus Idea and Gimmick versus Core Thought

According to Mr. Mehta, what matters is not the execution but idea, not a gimmick but a core thought, not just content but media neutral formula. He further discussed moving from baseline to hashtags. We tend to get carried away with hashtags or viral videos and forget the importance of an idea. Our lives are dominated by screens. However, Mr. Mehta advised “Let’s not be creative just for the sake of being different and original”. A new entrant in this journey of idea is customer relationship which makes or breaks sales today. Vikas Mehta ended his session by elaborating the role of brands in society and thoroughly answering the impact of technology on creativity.


From Left: Prof. Dr. Jonathan A. J. Wilson, Prof. Dr. Syed Ferhat Anwar, K V Shridhar

With the presence of two experts, from different continents yet the same industry, a short dialogue moderated by Professor Dr. Ferhat Anwar took place on the 7th Edition of Communication Summit. Both Prof. Wilson and K V Sridhar.

Dr. Ferhat began the question asking how to motivate people to come out of the status quo. K V Sridhar answered mentioned about 3 kinds of innovation and related it to the needs of people. He mentioned that innovation takes place according to the needs of people.

Professor Wilson, upon coming on stage began his dialogue by first taking a short video of the audience to see how they react. Upon finding the audience calm, he took another shot and asked them to do any action that would make their presence worth watching. Upon saying so, the audience finally reacted to his video. Utilizing this, he mentioned how to capture the attention of market in order to push the ideas through.


From Left – Mohammad Nurur Rahman, Taufique Mahmud, Shariful Islam, Tanzeen Ferdous Alam, and Shakib Chowdhury

Followed by the two keynote sessions and the presentation, there was an intense panel discussion, its topic being “Creative conundrum-Sparring greater creative output”. Members for the first panel discussion were Tanzeen Ferdous Alam, Head for Home Care, Foods and Refreshment at Unilever Bangladesh; Taufique Mahmud, Consulting Executive Creative Director of Mediacom Ltd; Shakib Chowdhury, Executive Creative Director of Bitopi Advertising Ltd. and Mohammad Nurur Rahman, Senior Creative Director of Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd. with Shariful Islam as the moderator. The main concern in the discussion was Bangladeshi agencies not coming up with impactful and creative ideas. The panel members disagreed with this very statement. However, they agreed on the fact that the young generation is not bold enough to question their bosses. There are fewer bold and risky communications nowadays and the marketers have become risk aversive which results in less creative campaigns. From a client‘s perspective, it is believed that teamwork among agency and clients in co-creating the brief, creating the best communications. It can also be criticized that the number of strategic creative solutions is not enough to cater to the market needs as a result of digitalization. This is due to the offset balance in agent to client ratio. Furthermore, just having a strong idea doesn’t work unless it is well-executed, so co-creating strategy is also necessary along with co-creating brief.


From Left – Neville Ferdous Hasan, Vikas Mehta, Ashraf Bin Taj, Asif Iqbal, Gousul Alam Shaon

The second panel discussion was on “Are agencies losing relevance-Can they become the creative hub for business and brands?” The panel members were Asif Iqbal, Executive Director of Marketing at Meghna Group of Industries; Neville Ferdous Hasan, Managing Director of Asiatic 3Sixty Ltd; Gousul Alam Shaon, CEO and Managing Partner of GREY Advertising Bangladesh Ltd. and Vikas Mehta, ex-CEO of Lowe, Dubai; with Ashraf Bin Taj, President of  Marketing Society of Bangladesh, as the moderator.

The panel discussed about the plethora of challenges that agencies are facing in this age of globalization and technological progress. Gousul Alam Shaon pointed out, “We, the idea agencies, are now facing heat from the digital agencies, as you can do whatever you want to do by using technology.” To that, Vikas Mehta added that, if an agency is working with ideas it has nothing to lose as ideas always dominate regardless of the technology breakthrough in the market.  He further expressed, “Digital agencies can never challenge the branding market as they have less creativity. They are working with mostly Facebook and other social media platforms.”

It was quite evident from the panel discussion that agencies are here for the long run and their goal is to come up with creative ideas that can’t be changed even in 200 years. The panel members agreed that agencies are still relevant despite of digital intervention. However, the agencies are late to adapting to digitalization and do need complete restructuring. One upside of being late is that the restructuring will be done for good. It is emphasized that as long as agencies are in the business of creating ideas rather than just ads, they are not under any threat. Agencies have to be proactive and anticipate the needs of the clients beforehand. The problem lies in acquiring creative and talented individuals from the agency’s side and from client’s side the problem lies in calling them vendors rather than partners. The members advised the agencies to create and not just compete.


Bitopi Advertising Ltd. presented a case study on their recent campaign for Coca Cola in relevance with Pohela Boishakh. Rather than a conventional campaign, Bitopi wanted it to be consumer engaging. One thing that Pohela Boishakh and Coca Cola have in common is the colors that represent them, red and white. So they came up with the message “Lal shadar shubhechha” that has both the brand and the occasion crafted in it. To deliver this message, they created a microsite through which people can customize a video and wish their friends and family. However, they faced challenges attracting consumers to come out of their comfort and into their site. Another challenge was to ask people to write messages on their own. So, they tried to simplify it for the audience as much as possible and in the end this campaign got a lot of traction.


K.V. Sridhar

The most anticipated session of the afternoon was that of K.V. Sridhar a.k.a. Pops. A Creative Leader, K.V. Sridhar is more commonly known as Pops in the Indian advertising, media and marketing industry. This Ad Guru, with over 35 years of experience, is the founder of HyperCollective which is his self-funded entrepreneurial venture.  Mr. Sridhar wanted to plug the gap between creative and technology, a challenge which is often faced by agencies nowadays around the globe. Mr. Sridhar has led the work on successful campaigns for Nestle India, William Grant and Sons Distillers, British Airways, Taj Hotels who were clients of SapienNitro. Before his stint at SapientNitro, he was with Leo Burnett- India and subcontinent- for almost 17 years as the Chief Creative Officer. This gem of a person has bagged 22 Cannes Lions and a plethora of international awards.

Harmony of excellence and story

Mr. Sridhar highlighted the transition of how the communication world has changed over the years and the many challenges faced by agencies. Only stories do not sell rather the excellence that does sell because buying patterns and preferences are continuously changing. There is so much of information that we are exposed to everyday, it gets difficult to capture the attention of the consumer. The channels of communication are also blurring with the outdoor becoming the digital billboard and the digital panel becoming the outdoor billboard. Moreover connected consumers are also moving targets making entire process all the more hectic and difficult.

Purpose+ Story+ Experience=Affinity

So how do you as an agency, interact with your customers and create affinity for your brand? How can you make consumers experience your brand instead of merely telling them? Mr. Sridhar has the answer to it all through a very simple yet powerful equation: Purpose+ Story+ Experience=Affinity

Brand purpose has become an imperative topic in recent years, perhaps because Millennials, more so than other generations, are driven by doing good, and actively seek out brands that align with their ideals. You need to convey your purpose through a Story that portrays your values and create experience for your target customers. Successful iteration of a brand’s experience eventually translates to affinity. Affinity gets converted to loyalty, loyalty gets converted to premium pricing which in turn gets translated to profitability. The more profitable you are, the better you can serve your customers.

He then emphasized on why a consistent story needs to be told. When coupled with experience and various channels, it further amplifies the brand image. He thus ended his session exquisitely by quoting “Today a story lived is better than a story told, because if you are living the story, you are experiencing it.”


Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Visual Artist, Director and Creative Editor of Bangladesh Brand Forum

The daylong summit ended with the exclusive Cannes Showcasing while the Grand Ballroom was being prepared for the award ceremony, Commward – Excellence in Creative Communication, an initiative of Bangladesh Brand Forum, to inspire creativity in marketing communication and honor the best ad campaigns of the country which were launched and run during the past year. Commward 2017 had graced a total of 73 winners out 355 nominations which were received this year from 43 agencies across 17 categories; this year 11 categories were eliminated and 3 categories were added upon discussions among industry experts. The newly added categories are PR, Best Use of Idea, and Best Campaign by New Agency. This year, a vigorous selection process was held by 2 comprehensive jury sessions to give away the awards in three levels – Grand Prix, Gold and Silver.

The prestigious ceremony was unveiled by Ms. Tahsin Rajkumar and Mr. Md. Wasfi Tamim, the hosts for the evening. Director of Bangladesh Brand Forum and a prominent Visual Artist, Nazia Andaleeb Preema, inaugurated the celebration with a very unique and creative performance followed by a message. She stressed on creativity saying, “When it comes to creativity, being blindfolded is not an option. The creativity is left with no room to expand when we are prisoners to our own blindfold. We need to unleash our creative energy and convert it into a power that shows people how creativity enables their approach towards effective communication.” The speech was followed by an appealing audio-visual (AV) on Commward 2016, and soon after that main ceremony proceeded.


Presented by Meghna Group of Industries, In association with Cannes Lions & Powered by The Daily Star, this year the Communication Summit and Commward has been supported by a number of partners & sponsors namely Syndicate Partner RANGS Toshiba, Event Partner Le Méridien Dhaka, Strategic Partner Roaring Lions, Knowledge Partner Marketing Society of Bangladesh, Airlines Partner Etihad Airways, Life Style Partner Advanced Development Technologies, IT Partner AAMRA, PR Partner Masthead PR, TV Partner Ekattor TV, Radio Partner Radio Today, Social Media Partner Webable, Audio Visual Partner Aatosh, Digital Content Partner Fireflame Media, and Visual Content Partner Torun.


The 7th Commward ceremony came to an end with the excited group photo session of the winners followed by a hearty dinner. Bangladesh Brand Forum once again has been honored to have met the objective in inspiring professionals in the Creative and Communication Industry.

Written by

Fabiha Naz Kabir

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