I was counting down the days since the beginning of May, and after months of waiting finally came the day, 19th September 2016. Not only was I excited about attending Spikes Asia, I was also very eager to travel to Singapore, because after all, it is one of the best tourist destinations on earth. Because the whole trip was an enriching experience, I will be talking about everything we did and not just our Spikes experience.
I had a strong feeling that the trip was going to be a memorable one, and my gut feeling was right. There were 6 teams besides us and we didn’t know any of them beforehand. But mixing in with the other champion teams was no big deal at all. We had overcome the awkward stage even before we landed at Changi airport. The airport is itself a breathtaking piece of modern architecture termed by many as the best airport in the world. While we were mesmerized by its beauty, we hurriedly got done with the immigration formalities and headed toward town because we knew better things awaited.
The first day of Spikes was on 21st September which meant that we had 20th all to ourselves, and we made full use of it. But more of that later on. We checked the schedule of the First day of Spikes a day earlier so as not out miss out on any good activities. All of us woke up early, dressed, and headed for spikes. Spikes Asia was to take place at Suntec Singapore which is one of the biggest Malls and convention center of the city. After registering for the event, we were eagerly anticipating what was called the biggest festival of creativity.
There were some very interesting seminars and talks on the first day. The event kicked off with talks from Harris Diamond and Prasoon Joshi, both Chairmen at McCann Worldgroup and McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific. They talked about how marketing messages can be kept personal and human even in the presence of multiple channels and platforms.
Next interesting speaker was Jason Li, creative lead at Facebook. He started with how communication has changed over time owing to changing expectations and technology. He concluded by saying mobile phones have incorporated all the features of different communication mediums and therefore stressed the need of designing for phones.
The famous YouTuber Hugo Schneider was also among the speakers. Focusing on his competency, he shared his videos which he had made for some of the biggest brands. His mantra is simple: make attractive videos that people would love to see and they won’t mind seeing the brand logo the whole time.
Mastercards’s head of marketing gave a speech about how Mastercard uses creativity, technology, and partnerships to build a more sustainable business. To further prove their point, they called in Anil Kapoor, their sustainability partner in India to talk about how brands that make a positive impact are more successful.
My favorite speaker of the day was Cheyney Robinson, Chief Experience officer at Isobar. Her talk revolved around how brands could innovate by using latest technology. She even shared real life examples.
The second day was full of great talks as well. Matt Eastwood from J. Walter Thompson stressed the importance of passion in personal and professional life. While he does acknowledges talent, for him passion makes all the difference.
The next segment aimed to answer a very popular question, why does China copy so much? To answer this we had Raymond Chin and Zhenhan Hao. They shared insights about China’s copying habits and how it can actually be a good thing.
We spent rest of the day attending workshops on practical programmatic certification. This was a great opportunity for us as we earned a certificate in areas not known to many not just in our country, but in advertising and marketing globally. The workshops were conducted by New Marketing Institute (NMI). Final
It was the final day of spikes and it just seemed to get better and better. Eric Cruz from AKQA, in his speech called Asia the next global epicenter of innovation. Asian youth have been learning from the west, and as they apply these knowledge to their own demographic geographies, there will be a rapid technological growth that will match that of the USA and Europe. China, South Korea, and India will play a vital role in shaping global innovation.
Next up was the game director of Pokemon GO Tatsuo Nomura. He illustrated how companies are developing corporate cultures that foster innovation. He shared his own story by explaining the history of Pokemon GO.
The event was rounded off by a talk from Marko Kljin who showcased why animations are an all-round communication solution. Later he explored how we can create high quality animation within budget constraints.
After the conclusion of the talks, the creatives from all over the region were awarded for their outstanding work in the awards ceremony. An after party was held at night to celebrate the successful culmination of the event.
Every morning there was sponsored breakfast for all the attendees to enjoy. Havas also had a small café set up for the guests offering coffee, tea, and other confectionery products free of cost. There were promotional stalls by various companies including MasterCard. A maze-like gallery had infographics and illustration of successful marketing campaign on display. There were also two Guinness World record attempts made, one for the most contributions to a drawing by numbers and the highest number of faceswaps simultaneously, both of which were successful.
Singapore is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, so we had no problem fitting in. In addition it is also very tourist friendly. All the directions were clear and in English, also I made sure to grab tourist maps at the airport. The city is so well planned that we never got lost, everything was in close proximity. And when in confusion we turned to the ever helpful citizens of Singapore.
Singapore is also very safe which resulted in our returning to the hotel late every night. Although a small city, Singapore has its fair share of attractions. The night view of the skyline is breathtaking, in fact most of the enjoyable things in Singapore are best after sunset. For example Gardens by the bay look amazing once the sun has set and the light are on.
Spikes ended around 5 pm which meant we had enough time to roam around the city and we took full advantage. We went window shopping at Orchard Road, ate Middle Eastern food at Arab Street, enjoyed the nightlife at Clarke Quay, felt like home at Little India, headed to downtown to see the iconic Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.
I regretted arriving a day late for the Singapore Grand Prix, but made sure to check out the Marina Bay Street circuit. We also headed to Merlin Park to enjoy Singapore’s skyline. We even watched a local football game at the stadium near to our hostel.
What’s a Singapore trick without visiting Sentosa? Going to Sentosa was a top priority but honestly a whole day is required to enjoy it fully. Nevertheless we went to Madame Tussauds and The S.E.A. Aquarium at Sentosa.
Saying goodbye was the toughest part. We felt just like home at Singapore. Just staying 5 days in such a tourist-friendly city had made us accustomed to it. We knew we’d miss the city and its wonderful people. And we do. We miss the clean streets, traffic free roads, the diversity, the architectural wonders, and the feeling of security. I for one want to visit Singapore soon, a city where everything is just a step away.
In the end we’d all like to thank BBF for creating a platform like YouthFest and enabling students to experience such an amazing trip. We feel privileged to have been part of the first YouthFest. We would love to see YouthFest grow into an even better and bigger platform in the future years.
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Mohammed Shahriar Sharif
Winner, Social Issue Category
Bangladesh YouthFest 2016