With the motto ‘Excellence in Creative Communication’, Commward was initiated by Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) in 2009 in association with Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Commward, also known as Communication Award, is the only accolade for recognizing the creative works of Bangladesh – appearing as the biggest local platform for the creative industries in Bangladesh. Commward has been organized in a total of 9 times till now and the years are – 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019.
This year, the 9th edition is set to be a precedent for a more rigorous and demanding form of Commward. This will accelerate the process of bringing about a creative momentum within the industries and inspire brands to transcend their communication to global stature.
While the 9th Commward is being celebrated on August 3rd, 2019, let’s take a look back and find out how Commward has evolved from only an award to a platform that showcases the abilities of the country’s creative industry over the last 10 years, and above all, how it has aimed to change the creative landscape of Bangladesh.
THE HUMBLE BEGINNING
The creative communication industry of Asia has always been uniquely different from the very beginning. Be it due to the nature of consumer mindset or cultural diversity, the Asian counterparts of admen have created their own set of standards in advertising practices. Compared to other Asian countries, however, Bangladesh was a bit under the radar, until about the early 2000s, in terms of presence in global platforms. Although there were dozens of local and global affiliated agencies in operation, there wasn’t a single platform where these creative geniuses would gather and share experiences. There wasn’t any recognition for their creative works.
In 2009, Communication Award a.k.a. Commward happened. An initiative of Bangladesh Brand Forum, Commward was the first-ever award for the creative communication industry of Bangladesh. The first year of Commward was quite humble, with only 9 awards in total. As Commward was organized in association with Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the credibility of the award gained momentum quickly and the following years witnessed an increasing number of submissions. Alongside, Communication Summit was introduced in the following year.
Since then, Communication Summit and Commward are considered as the only saving grace for the advertising fraternity of Bangladesh. The summit brings together global minds who share knowledge with the local professionals. The award recognizes the best creative works of the previous year.
As for Bangladesh Brand Forum, the objective was to enrich the creative industry through knowledge and recognition. While the knowledge creates a direct impact, of course, the competition for recognition makes the agencies up their game – which, as a whole, enriches the overall industry.
In all these years, both the summit and the award were redesigned again and again. New engagements like breakout sessions, university engagements, student competitions were introduced in the summit. The award had gone through multiple category redefining and jury process innovation.
THE CREATIVE ECO-SYSTEM
Today, Commward has evolved into being a complete eco-system of fostering creativity within the country. The platform now encompasses Communication Award, Commward Publication, Communication Summit, Young Lions Competition Bangladesh, Young Marketers Competition Bangladesh and student engagement activities. This 360-degree approach is a call for creativity for everyone – starting from students through student engagement (Crafting Creativity), young professionals through Young Lions and Young Marketers Competition of Bangladesh and the creative industry through Commward & Communication Summit.
The advertising industry of Bangladesh has come a long way in the post-independence period. Now there are over 500 advertising agencies, 60 such production houses and more than thousands of digital marketing agencies operating in Bangladesh. The sector employs more than ten thousands of people in different roles. Yet, there’s a gap somewhere between the students and the advertising industry of Bangladesh. And, this can stand in the way of progress of the industry as well as have an adverse impact on the marketing and branding fraternity.
TOWARDS A NEW CREATIVE HEIGHT
Whilst the creative communications environment of Bangladesh initially lacked presence in global platforms, 2016 saw Grey Bangladesh bag the first-ever Cannes Lions for Bangladesh – 7 years after the inauguration of Commward accolade. This year, Grey Bangladesh, again, won three Cannes Lions for Bangladesh. Talk about better late than never! In order to continue catalyzing the standards of the country’s communications, Commward needed to accentuate its creative standards, which brought us to this year’s Commward.
For initiating a creative momentum across the nation, the 9th Commward, along with introducing newer and more challenging categories, has also introduced a more rigorous jury system and selection process. The new system boasts a Jury President presiding over the process and ensuring that Commward entries are evaluated to the most meticulous global standards possible.
This year’s Commward had Tay Guan Hin, Founder/Chief Creative Officer, TGH Collective, Creative Change Catalyst, APAC Global Advisory, as the first-ever Jury President.
COMMWARD & ITS INTERNATIONAL PLATFORMS
Commward is organized in association with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (formerly the International Advertising Festival), the most coveted and well respected in the entire advertising and creative communications world, often informally called as the “Oscars of Advertising”.
Also, Commward collaborates with Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity, held in Singapore every year. Each year, BBF, jointly with The Daily Star organizes Young Lions & Young Marketers Competition Bangladesh and the winners of the competition participate in Spikes Asia Competitions representing Bangladesh.
Over the time, Commward has ensured transparency and credibility in the overall process. And now, Commward has been established as an industry standard for creativity with relentless and sustainable efforts. Today, all forms of agencies (creative, digital, media, PR, events & Activation), production houses, NGOs & development agencies, and different organizations with credible communication campaigns participate in Commward. As a result, Commward this year had more than 650 works submitted which is the highest ever number of entries in Commward till now. The most deserving of these campaigns are being honored across 23 categories.
Commward is awarded under different categories in different media. The number of categories changes year to year, although keeping intact most of the significant traditional categories. Commward is awarded mainly in four ranks: Grand Prix, Gold and Silver, along with Bronze.
As forms of communication changed with time, Commward has also adapted by changing the awarding categories. Moreover, Commward has shifted from mostly commercial campaign preference to social good preference. These categories inspire both the brands and the agencies to incorporate societal elements for a greater cause in the branding and communication activities.
The industry has always supported the initiative in the form of suggestion, feedback, participation and promotion. For the last two years before Commward, a preparatory dialogue takes place moderated by BBF and attended by representatives from the creative industry. These dialogues mainly focus on the industry trends, needs and demands which further impact the Commward category selection and campaign evaluation. This helps not only Commward to be relevant to the industry but also the industry to directly contribute to their own celebration.
From the responses of previous years and keeping in mind the industry feedback, BBF took a bold turn from 2018 and onwards, focusing on creativity only, while two major awards were segregated from Commward due to the growing importance of that cluster. Digital Marketing Award – An award dedicated to excellent communications done in the digital platforms resulting in customer engagement and a positive return for the brand.
Media Excellence Award – The Media Excellence Award will look forward to redefining media management in the context of Bangladesh and also address the exemplary works in the media space of Bangladesh. Media Excellence Award will be a joint collaboration of Bangladesh Media Forum & BBF.
Commward has come a long way evolving into a platform for the creative industry of Bangladesh. This year, identifying the scopes for improvements and contributions towards the industry, Commward has focused on setting a creative momentum. Commward looks forward to addressing the prevailing gap to turn raw talent into qualified creative professionals. However, it is clear that Bangladeshi creative industry is no more under the radar. This sleeping giant is slowly waking up and will become a key player in the global creative scene. Nonetheless, Commward can undoubtedly be credited as a torchbearer of this creative journey.