Sanjeev Kotnala@Adfest: 20 Learnings from the Jury on How to Be Bad Enough

23 Mar,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala

Here is a summary of what the Jury at ADFEST 2015 PATTAYA said they were looking, wishing and at times missing. In simple terms in addition to being the bravest, smartest pieces of communication here are the 19 pointers for you to work on.

1. The ultimate winners come from answering some simple questions. Which one had the biggest impact? What’s the contribution these ideas have to society? What is pushing the industry forward?

2. Stop seeing mobile (or any emerging media) as a last-minute add-on.

3. Designs not only needs to be pleasing to the eye but also must stimulate the mind by making you think, look twice or imagine.

4. The best design idea might not be the loudest or the coolest, but it should be the most memorable, and it should be built to last.

5. You will fail as a designer if you don’t build to last.

6. Direct marketing has moved into new spheres, with a lot of new platforms and technologies. Develop ideas that are targeted, contextual and that evoke a direct response, rather than simply trying to use the latest tool.

7. Do not simply follow tried and tested formulas.

8. Work stands out when it is very different in thinking and is well executed. The most insightful pieces not only connect well with the audience but also are lauded by the jury.

9. To succeed and be appreciated, always start with a strong, unique insight.

10. The era of advertising as an awareness-building industry is over. The role is now much bigger. Question- what solutions are we providing? What actions are we encouraging people to take?

11. Jury tries to look a work that is making a contribution to brands, to customers and to society at large.

12. Do not force the use of technology. The best pieces are simple. There the technology is a tool that seamlessly supports an idea, rather than being the idea.

13. Now, in the digital age, scam ads are about going to charities and promising them a wonderful idea with no long-term interest in the charity. If you’re going to do charity work for awards, make it meaningful. Otherwise it’s morally corrupt. Jury tries to award a work that is genuinely effective and created for genuine clients.

14. Everything can be a medium now. But what it takes to succeed is the ability to use the medium to connect the brand to the consumer in a relevant way in bold new ways.

15. Good branded content and entertainment pieces have to be entertaining and engaging in their own right, even if the brand is not prominently featured.

16. The best pieces of work are not just immensely entertaining to watch, but also brings the audience closer to the brand.

17. The more media channels diversify, the more overlap we will see the art is to ensure that every utilized media channels in innovative, targeted ways.

18. Demonstrate an unexpected solution to an expected problem.

19. The winning work is always distinctively inspired in and by the cultures in which they originate and address.

20. The Jury must kick itself into asking: why the hell I have not done this.

Various jury members contributed learning in this list. They comprise Bechara Mouzannar, Chief Creative Officer for Leo Burnett MENA, Beruit. Charles Cadell, Asia Pacific President of McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, Singapore. Mitsuyuki Nakayama, President of Dentsu Media Southeast Asia and CEO of Dentsu Media (Thailand). Norman Tan, North Asia Chief Creative Officer & China Chairman for JWT, Shanghai. Pum Lefebure, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Design Army, Washington DC. Rei Inamoto, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of AKQA, New York & Global. Sonal Dabral, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of DDB Mudra Group



Sanjeev Kotnala is Head Catalyst at Intradia and believes the best way forward for an organisation is to enhance its interanal team’s potential and capabilities instead of depending on external resources. He is a Management, Marketing and Braand consultant and conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit


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