It’s not an easy task to reflect on all that I have experienced during Cannes Lions 2015. It has been overwhelming and inspiring.

Among the greatest pieces of work, I find that the most inspirational and impressive ones are those that are able to cunningly make the most of their culture.

Take HAKUDOKU’s ‘When ZEN meets ANIME’ session for example. Co-CEO and executive creative director Kentaro Kimura showed that ‘advertising is a mirror of a country’s culture’ and explored how Japanese contrast concepts like Zen and Anime culture can be used to create ‘wow’ factors in a campaign.

While Zen culture is about the pursuit of calmness, simplicity and fundamental beauty, Anime is all about chaotic energy and diffusion. When the two poles come together, new ideas and groundbreaking creativity pour out.

  • Tradition + Innovation

  • Dignity + Pop

  • Science + Emotion

  • Stillness + Motion

Examples include, Suntory brand’s Hibiki interactive whiskey glass that makes both sound and image display when used; Quicksilver’s True Wetsuit which combines Japanese surfing and professional cultures together to create a wetsuit for busy working people; Lyrics’ speaker that shows visual graphics while playing music; and ‘Eye Play the Piano’, a collaboration project of FOVE and University of Tsukuba’s special needs education school for the physically challenged that allows children to play the piano using an eye-tracking headset. These show how the two integrated cultural disciplines can create a powerful dichotomy and adding sensory and emotional impact to the work can make it truly unique. “Embrace your own culture. Invent your own future”, Kimura added.

The #TouchthePickle campaign that won the Glass Lion Grand Prix this year is also a great example of how to turn culture into a successful work of creative art through a critical approach that implicitly and explicitly addressed issues of gender inequality. The campaign for P&G’s Whisper products is defiant in that it challenges the cultural belief that Indian women’s menstruation is a vile curse and women are demoralized of daily activities during their periods, including touching the jar of pickles common in most Indian homes, because the pickles will supposedly rot. 

And the list goes on. As a Thai, I believe there is still so much room for improvement. We can make the most out of the richness of our culture in order to create impactful and thought-provoking works that will help elevate the people’s mind and soul.

Perhaps has the best way to wrap this up, “leverage the hell out of culture,” he says.