Gareth Cleevely

SVP, Head of Search, dentsu Media

What's been the most inspiring thing you've seen?

The day overall has been truly inspiring, using creativity to tell stories in such unique, thought-provoking, emotion-inducing ways, truly moving and motivating content and I think it was Jonathan Mildenhall who spoke about how to build a brand in the 21st century, really highlighting the importance of purpose, community and an inclusive narrative.

On the note of inclusivity, Merlee Jayme of dentsu mcgarrybowen spoke about her own experience growing up in the Philippines and the differences in humour between the East and West and how we should be celebrating and embracing these differences and that thought process really powered a lot of the content throughout the day.

It’s the differences between us that makes us unique, it’s the uniqueness that causes disruption, it’s the disruption that makes a message resonate and it’s the resonation of that message that makes it impactful to us. As the people viewing it.

If I was to label an individual campaign as the most inspiring, then it would hand- down have to be the Grand Prix winner Sinyi Realty. They are a Taiwan-based housing realtor company. But they reimagined their purpose to go beyond selling houses to selling hope.

To do this they built a creative and a short film format which elegantly exhibited a young woman working for a housing registration office, witnessing both the excitement of marriage and the tragedy of divorce multiple times on a daily basis and she was struggling with her own internal fear of commitment. The campaign itself raised an current cultural challenge within Taiwan which is the high divorce rate. But beyond that, the impact was in its subtlety and they really let the power of storytelling resonate. 

What surprised you?

This is a very intricate piece, is that we consistently hear across all the trends that the new norm is short attention spans and yet a lot of the winners and finalists flew in the face of this, by creating long form content. In some cases, full feature-length films. In a world which progresses six seconds at a time, it is okay to slow down. Disruption can come in many forms but quality, differentiation remains key. 

What work or content really impressed you?

What truly went beyond the norm was called Womb Stories by Bodyform. Now, this was a wordless yet so impactful short-form video. It tackled so many topics within the same theme pertaining to a female’s womb. They utilised incredible visuals which captured both comedic aspects of life but then also presented a sincere depiction of devastating loss. And the campaign itself captured love, hate, pain, joy, all in a single short-form video, opening up so many discussions of truly sensitive topics that we go through during life, and to do all of that in a single film, I thought was incredible.

What have you seen that will have the biggest implications for our industry over the next 12 months? 

I believe the key implication which will inevitably last beyond just this event, in my opinion, is that it’s not enough for culture to be embedded within the creative but that the creatives need to embed themselves within the culture.

Let me say that again: it is not enough for culture to be embedded within the creative but the creatives need to embed themselves within the culture. Think about it. That is the crucial difference between authenticity and insulting inaccuracy or between an award-winning, culture-changing piece and a tone-deaf affair surrounded with negative sentiment. 

That to me is something which is going to last beyond this. It’s about being true, about being relevant, about taking action and, more than anything, about being sincere. In all of our creative, the way we build it, the way we discuss it, the way we ideate and the way we execute. Sincerity is key.