By Taposh Ghosh
We are living in an era of boundless information. An era, where more change has arisen in the past decade, compared to changes over the past century. With changing products and consumer behaviors, the job of sending out effective messages from businesses to the customers is becoming a task too strenuous to overcome. This age old job of delivering and communicating has become more demanding than ever before with new tools replacing the traditional ones and the expansion in communication mediums. Such a volatile era thus creates the need for newer techniques and ideas, ones which will enable modern day marketers to survive this 21st century renaissance, ones which can only be achieved through embracing innovation and creativity.
To address such an important motion and equip the communication industry of the country with the relevant tools and knowledge required to fight this battle between brands, Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) organized the sixth installment of the Communication Summit on the 3rd of September at the grandiose Le Meridien hotel in the capital. The summit was followed by the prestigious 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.
The daylong festival was designed with a number of engaging programs for the guests attending. The Communication Summit, being one of the key programs was aimed to engage audiences with inspiring speakers’ sessions to enlighten them with current trends, analysis and practices in the field of marketing and advertising. This year’s Communication Summit comprised of five keynote speakers’ sessions and one panel discussion. The summit was attended by 300 professionals from the communication industry. An exclusive 63rd Cannes Showcasing was also organized at the venue. Over 70 of the award winning advertising and PR campaigns were showcased with still images and campaign stories with the aim to educate local agencies on how to develop award winning ideas. In the evening, a grand award ceremony was graced by some 500 professionals to celebrate the winners and winning campaigns of this year’s Commward.
Patrons & Partners
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 Event Partner Le Meridien Dhaka, Strategic Alliance Roaring Lions, Knowledge Partner Marketers Society of Bangladesh (MSB), Media Partner GTV, IT Partner Aamra, PR Partner Masthead PR, Social Media Partner WebAble Digital, and Visual Partner Aatosh.
The Crack of Dawn
The rather breezy Saturday morning welcomed a gathering of highly passionate professional men and women at the elegant Le Meridien Hotel. The levels of anticipation and eagerness of the participants surrounding the Communication Summit 2016, which was about to start in an hour, was beyond measure. The guests had already began to immerse in networking on arrival to the venue, while the Grand Ballroom awaited the commencement of the much anticipated event.
The master of the ceremony, Mr. Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Managing Director, Adcomm Ltd., a man with a rather illustrious professional career and a profound communications specialist, took the stage for the official commencement of Leadership Summit 2016. He, much like his campaigns, took a rather interesting approach in starting the show by asking all of the guests to stand up and face backwards and not watch the stage, symbolizing the fact that the industry needs to step away from typical approaches and start thinking differently.
Mr. Shariful Islam, Founder and CEO, Bangladesh Brand Forum, took the stage to officially welcome the respected audience to Communication Summit 2016. He described BBF’s journey as an attempt in bringing changes throughout the country by means of creativity, ideas and knowledge. In his speech, he shared that the past 6 years has seen changes not only in the business arena, but also in consumer behaviors. The last era being of knowledge and information will lead into the next being of ideas and creativity, and Mr. Sharif emphasized how BBF can play a crucial role in encouraging ideas and creativity through the Communication Summit.
Addressing the need to embrace creativity in solving problems in our everyday lives, he announced an upcoming television program, Idea Factory, as an initiative to take this dialogue forward. He concluded his inaugural speech by urging the industry to engage with BBF and assist in this journey towards an era of ideas and creativity and make a difference.
Speech by the Editor of The Daily Star
Being unable to attend the summit in person, Mr. Mahfuz Anam, Editor of The Daily Star, delivered a speech via a video message. In his message, he expressed how The Daily Star values the whole range of creative work that goes into the country’s creative industry and urged for new ways to promote and encourage this trend. He also identified the difficulty that local businesses are facing in reaching an aware and conscious audience and the challenge in creating relative content.
Mr. Anam expressed his gratitude towards local creative artists who have been increasing the country’s reputation on global platforms and offered The Daily Star’s support towards them. He concluded his speech welcoming the international keynote speakers to this year’s Communication Summit.
Session 1: Bharat Avalani
The first speaker of the day was a man who comes with 25 years of experience in Brand Management, Consumer Insights, Media Strategy, Brand Activation, Market Development and Integrated Brand Communications. Mr. Bharat Avalani is the CEO of Connecting the Dots Consultancy and is an expert in designing and delivering brand experiences – and in what better way than to use stories.
Mr. Avalani is profoundly known as a story teller and he started off his session stating, “We are human beings first and our roles come next”, emphasizing how we often tend to forget this simple mantra. Talking about Bangladesh, he said that this country is a marketer’s dream and the secret to success in this profession was to treat it like a religion; making the people look good, feel good, and feel as if they are getting more out of life.
The interesting story of Ecuador’s first Cannes win in 2012 was a major highlight in this session. Mr. Avalani shared how the country had celebrated their first Cannes victory by displaying the awards at the national museum and publicizing the win. The result of this move was unheard of, as Ecuador won more awards at Cannes in the following years with 13 wins alone in 2015. The speaker described this phenomenon as magic that happens when one puts creativity on the national agenda.
The Power of Trust
Mr. Avalani next asked the clients in the audience if they trusted their agencies; many raised hands. He then asked if they trusted them a hundred percent; this time around more than half the people dropped their hands, to which the speaker reply was that trust should be absolute and one cannot attach percentages to it.
He stressed on the fact that most campaigns fail these days due to the lack of trust between clients and agencies. The way should be to consider the agencies as your partners and not simply vendors or suppliers. Because the secret according to him is investing in building trust and not just being obsessed with the storyboard.
The Power of Relationships
The relationship between a client and an agency should work like a marriage; if you have an issue, talk it out immediately instead of waiting for annual reviews. And as an agency one is obliged to love the brand it is working for and the client; only then will the true potential of the work produced be attained.
Mr. Avalani also stressed upon the importance of:
- Putting people first
- Investing in building the brand ‘love’
- Unlocking the magic by not spending money, but through engaging others in our work
The Power of Ideas
“We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom”, said the speaker as he almost neared the end of his session. He pointed out that success in this difficult era depends upon how well you can pick up a consumer truth and make a story out of it. He listed out a few simple pointers on what a good story should include: the context and the ability to visualize it, a sequence of events, conversations, a pet, and a point of surprise.
When it comes to building ideas, he urged the audience to break the stereotypes by reflecting upon Surf Excel’s ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign. And finally he ended by shedding light upon the inevitable truth of brands having a purpose and realizing how one must know, how this purpose fits into the lives of the consumers.
Session 2: Fazal Ashfaq
In this era of technology and information, not many businesses have impacted our life as much as Google. The next speaker, Mr. Fazal Ashfaq, is the Country Lead for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for Google’s South Asia Emerging Markets. Mr. Fazal focuses on partnering with major advertisers and agencies in South Asia to develop digital solutions that build their business and brands. He joined in on the summit from Singapore using video conferencing through Google Hangout.
Mr. Fazal explained how due to technology, barriers in communication of the past are no longer barriers. And this shall be the case if ideas can be nurtured in this digital age. He stressed upon the importance of recognizing challenges and using the power of ideas as a leverage to overcome these challenges.
Initiative for creativity in Bangladesh has always been said, as pointed out by the speaker. But the problem is a sheer lack of inspiration as to how much thinking creatively can take us. The speaker talked about Google Street View and its initiatives in mapping the roads of Bangladesh, which looked at from a different perspective presents this country to the world.
He also touched upon the massive success of the Google Bus initiative in Bangladesh, aimed at educating 500,000 students in the country about the internet. The initiative’s success was expressed in numbers, with the total number of students reached being 100,000 more than the set target.
Mr. Fazal emphasized the need for fresher technology to power creativity throughout the industry. He set up examples of how augmented reality is being the next big breakthrough in the industry, with apps such as Pokemon Go being a major success and with more apps such as one named Tango hit the app stores soon.
He also exhibited a completely sci-fi looking tool, on which Google is currently working, called the Tilt Brush. This tool uses virtual reality and helps the user make 3D paintings and draw models, breaking the constraint of typical two dimensional paper art. He also stressed upon the importance of the availability of modern technology all across the globe, so that at the end of the day, maximum growth in creativity and innovation can be achieved with everyone being on the same page.
The famous Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”. The quote very easily sums up how the internet can be a terrifying place for people limited to only their native languages. Google Translate however has been a revolution in itself in solving such a critical issue at such ease.
The next 20-30 million Bangladeshi who can be connected to the internet is most likely to seek content online in Bengali, where as there is very insufficient Bengali content available online. To address the issue Google has been organizing events such as the Translate-a-thon and increase contributions to improving Google translate.
The session ended with a short video clip on how Google Translate has been changing lives of Syrian refugees in Canada, by helping them overcome the language barrier.
Session 3: Nirvik Singh
The MC next introduced Mr. Nirvik Singh, a 27-year marketing and communication industry veteran who has been serving as the Chairman and CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific since 2009.
Mr. Singh boldly started his session stating how the 4 Ps of marketing have been taken over by the 7 Cs, with the true power now relying with the consumers. He looked back to advertising in the 1980s when the industry only had a few fixed components and mediums. Three decades into the future, and the scenario is completely different now.
Today, how the world consumes content has changed, with new content channels being introduced every other day. Today, brands cannot guarantee if anybody is listening to the stories at all. People’s behaviors and expectations are being reshaped by media and technology at a rapid pace.
The speaker, most certainly being a cricket fanatic, showed a video of Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’ and termed the challenges being faced by the modern day marketers as googlies and also suggested a few innovative techniques as to how the industry can bat these mystery deliveries.
Ad blocking was identified as one of the first major issues. However, this is not a global problem. In North America, advertisements are considered intrusive to some extents. But in Asian countries, advertising often acts as a source of entertainment. He put up Loudspace as an example, where consumers actually pay to see advertisements. Another such example was India’s Kan Khajura Station, where Hindustan Unilever played free radio on mobile phones in Bihar and Jharkhand, and created a platform where advertisements was placed between entertainments, and targeted a mass market.
Fragmentation of messages is another major barrier, but breaking down broadcast to narrowcast to individual cast is the way to go in tackling fragmentation as per the speaker. Project Architeuthis by the US Navy was one such campaign that used this technique in finding the nation’s cryptologists.
Smaller canvasses, lower attention span, mistrust towards brands, and unwanted clutters and noise are some of the other challenges identified by the veteran, all of which can be dealt with by learning how to create conversations amongst people and within communities and allow the people to advocate your brand. And with trends changing every week and tech disruptions being a common phenomenon, the approach should be to prepare monthly consumer plans rather than yearly ones.
Mr. Singh ended his inspiring session, urging the audience to rely on the power of creativity and storytelling and use technology to meet the rising expectations of consumers. He ended quoting, “Be bold, be ready to evolve, experiment and if you do that you will connect, you will charm and you will convert”.
Panel Discussion: Power of Idea in the Connected World to Change Behavior
An intense panel discussion followed the three keynote sessions, which were heavily focused around international trends and examples. The panel discussion however was aimed to provide insights and perspectives about the local market and how the power of idea and creativity can be used to change consumer behaviors. Members for the panel discussion were Bharat Avalani, the day’s first speaker; Mithun Roy, COO, Bitopi Advertising Ltd.; Jaikishin Tikam, Head of Media, ITC; Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, Prime Minister’s Office; and Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Managing Director, ADCOMM Ltd., as the panel’s moderator.
Mr. Anir Chowdhury, one of the most important heads behind the Digital Bangladesh campaign, started off the discussion talking about his dream of changing Bangladesh with technology. Before joining his current role, Mr. Chowdhury had spent several years in the US and since has been incorporating US strategies in developing the country’s infrastructure. He stressed upon the need of devising solutions not based upon what the infrastructure and regulations can offer, but rather through the needs of the common people. He shared the government’s recent success in establishing Digital Centers all across the country, which act as private-public enterprises providing government services and also allowing the people involved to make an income out of it.
Going back to the topic, Mr. Avalani pointed out how the social media can be used as a powerful tool to change behaviors in Asian countries. He talked about Bandung, where the city’s mayor provided free Wi-Fi all across the city and urged citizens to post about the problems they were facing and the post would then be transferred to the relevant department responsible for solving the issue. Such a similar technique is also being applied by Deputy Commissioners in several Bangladeshi Upazilas, Mr. Anir added.
During the discussion the need for developing he country’s districts as brands with values was also identified, and Mr. Anir passed on the challenge to the private sector to help the government create this distinctive district brands. The discussion neared its end focusing on how powerful ideas can be simple no-brainers with the capability of changing lives. But such ideas and startups need collaborations with governments so that their true potential can be realized and greater social impacts can be achieved.
Session 4: Kaushik Roy
Problem solving has been one of Mr. Kaushik Roy’s core passions, and he knows how to do it creatively. The marketing veteran explains how being creative does not always have to mean that you are doing something new or unheard of, it can simply mean that you are doing something different. Despite being cliched, the quote ‘change is constant’ is the ultimate truth of the 21st century as more change has taken place in the past 10 years than the past 100 years combined.
Mr. Roy stressed over the fact how technology has taken over in a manner where anything can be achieved with data. He defines data as a new fuel source. He pointed out how our livelihoods are getting smaller with everything being shelved up in clouds. He expressed his concern that the print media might die out soon facing the rise of screens.
Moving on to the power of the internet he set up popular examples like the Khan Academy, Uber, and Airbnb, and how such industries have been possible only due to the flourishing of the internet and creative thinking. The secret here is reimagining products, content, and advertising.
Google is another example which has compelled us to reimagine our lives. It has redefined the consumer in all of us. It is in fact Google who can be credited or ridiculed for achieving the feat of turning us, consumers, into commodities.
The power of re-imagination was explained through two further examples. The first was a Google ad, where the user uses the power of search and Google Maps to reunite with his lost mother. Cadbury was the example when it came to relating re-imagination with growth. Cadbury entered Indian households by rebranding itself as the everyday dessert eaten after dinner, being the new traditional sweet or ‘meetha’.
Mr. Kaushik Roy also played a key role in the management of the IPL team, Mumbai Indians. He shared his story of how the vision of the team extended further than just winning games, but rather engaging itself with the ‘Education for All’ campaign, and in process establishing the team as a meaningful brand.
The session ended with the speaker urging the industry to take advantage of the most prosperous and powerful tool available at our disposal – the internet. The internet has changed our lives and behaviors completely and thus we must too start reimagining everything that we do.
Session 5: Fredrik Haren
Perhaps the most anticipated session of the afternoon started with Mr. Fredrik Haren asking the industry professionals to step out from the little communication box and be in charge of the business transformation that has been brewing throughout the industry. Mr. Haren is business creativity expert, an author, and a professional speaker having already delivered over 2000 sessions across 60 countries.
For the past two decades it has been that ‘Digitalization in coming’, but the fact is that Digitalization is already here. And the need for ideas with innovation and creativity is more significant than ever before. However, the speaker had a different way of defining an idea. He defines an idea as existing knowledge and information being combined in a new manner. In simpler words, every idea is a combination of previously known things, much like his famous book, a combination of a book and a notebook named ‘The Idea Book’, which is ranked as one of the 100 best business books of all time.
Business transformation is happening everywhere, according to Mr. Haren. In his 25 years of experience of working with businesses, he says that he had never felt the sense of urgency amongst firms, which exists today. Some might say it is due to the internet and the speed of innovation, but he states it is due to the frequent combination of existing technologies, which is bringing forth newer inventions every day.
We are living in an era where even science fiction technology no longer fathoms us and feels underwhelming in reality, for e.g. smart watches and house cleaning robots. We keep talking about the internet of things, where as we should be talking about the ‘robotification’ of machines. The speaker next carried out two exercises with the audience and portrayed the fact that despite being in the creative industry, we all pretty much think the same. Mr. Fredrik stressed on the fact that sometimes in order to be different, we need to look beyond what is obvious and fundamental, and reimagine a new way to solve the same problems.
The last session of the day came to an end with the speaker urging the audience “To think human and act humane” and develop the best ideas that serve human needs.
Award Gala Night
The daylong summit ended with Cannes showcasing where the audiences viewed and discussed the award communications, while the Grand Ballroom was being prepared for the award ceremony. As the clock struck 7, the ballroom started filling up with industry dignitaries and icons, gracing the 6th Annual Commward, with their presence.
This year, a total of 467 nominations were received from 41 advertising agencies, production houses & creative departments of various organizations. Three vigorous jury sessions, comprising of leading marketers and communication experts of the country, were held to evaluate and select 93 advertising campaigns across 25 categories as winners.
The prestigious ceremony was unveiled by Ms. Farah Sharmin Aolad, the host for the evening. Dr. Syed Ferhat Anwar, Professor, IBA – University of Dhaka, and Chief Advisor, Bangladesh Brand Forum, formally inaugurated the celebration. The speech was followed by an appealing audio-visual (AV) on Commward 2016, and soon after the main ceremony proceeded.
Token of Appreciation for the Speakers and Commward Souvenir
To inspire the essence of art and creativity in business, the four speakers, present at the venue were gifted with artworks of renowned Visual Artist and the Director of Bangladesh Brand Forum Ms. Preema Nazia Andaleeb.
This year’s Commward souvenir, a compilation of the success stories of the winning campaigns, was revealed on stage by Dr. Syed Ferhat Anwar, Ms. Preema Nazia Andaleeb, and Mr. Shariful Islam along with the speakers of the Communication Summit.
The award ceremony ended with a group photo session of the winners followed by a hearty dinner. The evening came to an end with Bangladesh Brand Forum’s objectives being recognized – inspiring professionals through the summit and equip them with tools and knowledge to take the creative industry forward, celebrate the best communications, and act as an aspiration for advertising agencies to surpass the boundaries in the coming years.