If there was one thing that stood out about the 2016 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards competition, which attracted 1,500 entries from across the region, it was the quality of work submitted by indigenous Asian agencies—from India and Japan, China and Singapore.
Three of the finalists for the Platinum SABRE—presented to the best campaign in the region—came from Asia-based firms: the winning effort was “Second Life Toys,” a campaign designed to encourage more Japanese to register as organ donors, conducted on behalf of Green Ribbon Project Committee by Dentsu, Inc. Also among the finalists: More Than Just Another CEO Visit, from Singapore-based In.Fom on behalf of Microsoft; and SpiceJet, Rising Like a Phoenix, submitted by India’s Adfactors.

Dentsu took home five Gold SABRE Awards, a number matched by Adfactors, while In.fom won two. Other winning campaigns came from AKA Asia of Singapore and Bluefocus Digital and Red Bridge Communications of China.
The winning work spanned a range of categories: Dentsu’s work on organ donation was classic public education with a creative digital twist; the SpiceJet campaign was corporate reputation management at its best, taking a tarnished brand (the airline had been bankrupt, its flights grounded) and restoring its luster; In.Fom’s Microsoft work was smart executive positioning; AKA’s work for Electrolux was cause-related marketing, tacking food waste; Red Bridge delivered youth marketing and consumer engagement expertise for Forever 21; and the BlueFocus Infiniti effort was cutting-edge digital work with customer relationship management integrated at its heart.
But what they all had in common was a textbook approach in terms of strategy—sound research generating a strong strategic insight, executed with creative flair, and delivering strong business or behavioral results—as well as strong content creation.
The 2016 competition will also be remembered for a strong performance by agencies from the Indian market. While Adfactors was the standout performer, there were wins for a number of other projects that originated in the sub-continent.
Weber Shandwick, Vibha Bakshi and Viacom 18 teamed up for another Platinum SABRE finalist, the “Daughters of Mother India” campaign, a documentary film that helped to sensitize the police approach to sexual violence (which had earlier won top honors in the South Asia SABRE Awards competition).

In addition, there were Diamond SABRE Awards for CEO of the Year (Yes Bank’s Rana Kapoor) and Company of the Year (Godrej Industries), and for Genesis Burson-Marsteller in the Measurement and Evaluation category (for its work on behalf of Tourism New Zealand). Genesis BM picked up two additional Gold SABREs (for India’s Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion and Tourism NZ again), while MSLGroup in India picked up a Gold for its work for SBUT and Edelman India was recognized for its work with KFC and IPE Global.
The sub-continent’s impressive performance was further helped by the Coca-Cola Export Corporation of Pakistan, which repeated its success in the South Asia competition with a Gold SABRE for its women entrepreneurship effort in partnership with the KASHF Foundation.
That made 15 winners from the sub-region, 14 of them from India—more than any other country in the region and clear evidence that the Indian PR market has well and truly come of age.