Thursday Mar 23

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JWT Beijing and Shanghai

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Issue #02 - Interviews

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JwtPerhaps the most gratifying performance at Adfest came out of JWT Shanghai.

hey had a number of other agencies nipping at their heels, but ultimately their medal haul of Silver in Film and Gold for Animation in the Film Craft category.

Gold and 3 Silvers in Posters; Silver and Lotus Roots in Press; 3 Gold and Lotus Roots in Print Craft; and finally 2 Bronze awards in Outdoor won them overall Agency of the Year victory.

Credit must also go to JWT Beijing for their magnificent Nokia ‘Bruce Lee Ping Pong’ campaign which deservedly won Gold. We caught up with the Shanghai creative team, Lillie & Rafael, after they got back to home. We also spoke to Polly 'Kung Fu' Chu, chief creative officer,  JWT Beijing ...


Agency.Asia: Congratulations on your performance at Adfest – this surely won’t be the last award you win this year for Shan Shui. It’s always fantastic at an event like this to look around and see nobody muttering ‘scam’ under his or her breath. It was clearly a popular win.

Lillie & Rafael: It’s definitely nice to have this recognition. The idea and intention for the whole campaign came from a real concern we have. Beyond winning awards, we just wish the success of ‘Shan Shui’ campaign keeps challenging people to take a closer look at the environment that is messed up by us, and do our part to make it a better place.

Agency.Asia: So, which of you is the writer and which is the art director – or are you one of those multitalented teams where you are both … both?

Lillie & Rafael: The idea came from the entire team, but Lillie worked very closely with Yang YongLiang on the art direction and Rafael and Jacqueline crafted the headlines and copy.


Agency.Asia: The awe-inspiring animation sequence runs for only 45 seconds, yet feels like a minute and a half – and must have taken considerably longer to make. It must have been a big undertaking for you – not to mention the poor animators locked away for weeks.

Tell us what sort of team effort went into this campaign!  Of course, selling it to your client is a significant achievement in itself. Did you story board the concept with one million key frames?

Lillie & Rafael: Our agency producer Jane was spot on when selecting the animation director, HaiLong Li of One Productions, to produce this spot. HaiLong loved the idea when he first saw the storyboard, and was determined to make it a show reel piece.

His passion was infectious, and together with Jane, Lillie, and YongLiang, we spent eight weeks crafting the animation. The other important component was music, to which we engaged JiangZhou from Vision Unit who compose an original track that brought the spot to life.

We have to say that for a complex production, it went very smoothly. Thanks to Betty Tsai, the Client was very impressed and only required minor adjustments to the final film.

Agency.Asia: What was the thinking behind the campaign - in so much as what inspired you to depict something as ugly as pollution in such an elegant way? Who is the campaign targeted towards? Some may argue that a solution is beyond the reach of individuals.

IMG_0397Lillie: Being a Shanghainese, I’ve eye witnessed the city’s, and also China’s progress and prosperity. However, industrialization due to rapid development has contributed to serious environmental problems.

When China Environment Protection Foundation (CEPF) approached us to develop a campaign to raise awareness on the pollution issue, we happily collaborated.

We wanted to do our part to rescue China’s beautiful natural landscape and clean air. We are a country of 1.3 billion people, and if each one of us is willing to do something, however small it may be, it’ll contribute greatly to the entire country and make an impact to the world.

bruce lee
Check out CEPF TVC here

Agency.Asia: Of course, it is good to see a campaign for the environment achieve such result in an open category – not simply in a ‘community service/charity’ division. Perhaps you could relate to us some of the positive feedback and the outcome that the initiative achieved in China.

Rafael: The art work is amazing and it really gets people to stop and spend some time analyzing it. The feedback so far has been overwhelming!

I must confess I was a bit concerned at the beginning that locals might be offended with us using traditional Chinese paintings to communicate such a strong message. But people seem to like it and understand why we did it this way.


Agency.Asia: Your JWT Network did splendidly to take out the network of the year at Adfest. Were you aware that your sister agency in Beijing were also armed with such a dynamic campaign in ‘Bruce Lee Ping Pong’, or was it as much a surprise to you as it was to everybody else that your network was going to take out the overall honours at Adfest 2009?

Lillie & Rafael: I wasn’t surprised at all. JWT has a very strong network in Asia and globally. With Polly Chu now leading Beijing office, we’re sure they’ll do even better.

We were also extremely proud and pleased with JWT Shanghai winning China’s first-ever ‘Agency of the Year’ in AdFest this year.

Agency.Asia: In case we missed anyone, would you like to mention some of the people involved in the work that made it all possible? Don’t forget to mention Yang Yeo! Thanks for chatting to Agency.Asia and all the best for the rest of the year, especially around bonus time

Lillie & Rafael: Yes, there are so many people we can’t forget to thank! We’ll start with Yang Yeo of course, the driving force behind this campaign, the team, and the agency.

Betty Tsai for managing the project and the Client. JCDecaux for making sure most Shanghainese are exposed to this campaign, especially the entire wall of plasma screens in Shanghai’s busiest subway station – People’s Square.

HaiLong for a wonderful animated spot, and lastly, but far from the least, YongLiang Yang, for his passion, and artistic talent, which brought this campaign to life.

Further Credits:

Agency: JWT Shanghai
Creative Director: Yang Yeo
Art Director: Lillie Zhong, YongLiang Yang
Writer: Jacqueline Ye, Rafael Freire
Designer: Sean Tang
Original Artist: YongLiang Yang
Client Service: Betty Tsai
Agency Production: Liza Law, Tao Shen, Hester Lim, Joseph Yu
Agency Producer: Jane Zhang
Director: Hailong Li
Production House: One Productions (Beijing)
Producer: Xue Wu, Yuncheng An
Editor: Chun Huang, Jing Li
Music Company: Vision Unit Production
Composer: Jiangzhou Feng



Agency.Asia: Your work for Nokia is simply brilliant. The idea of Bruce Lee playing ping-pong with nunchaku ["nunchukkas"] is so fantastically comprehensible, yet so incredibly obscure.

Every other creative in the world is kicking himself or herself that they didn’t think of it first. That’s the sign of a good idea. How in heaven’s name did you sell an idea that features absolutely no footage of a telephone to a huge multinational client? That is a masterstroke.

Polly Chu: Effective viral relies on an idea that is ‘very’ - very amazing, very funny, very disgusting, or very rude etc. Only when people find it interesting enough, they will spend time with it and share it to others.  That makes it ‘viral’.

Bruce Lee had ‘very’ amazing skills and we knew we had to be true to the legend. Thankfully, we also have a ‘very’ open-minded client who champions and knows the value of great creative.


Agency.Asia: Is it possible to place a value on a campaign like this?  Nokia must be rather pleased, to say the least. Hopefully we can expect to see more of this edgy style of advertising from them and less skydiving clowns in the future.  What was the inspiration for ‘Bruce Lee’?

Polly Chu: We've done an estimate on how much it would have cost for paid placements on links like YouTube, Youku, etc. The figures came up to millions of dollars.

A little harder to measure, but equally valuable, is the ‘cool factor’ it has given the Nokia brand globally. The inspiration behind the idea comes from the teams’ love for Bruce Lee personally. We are big fans of him.

That’s why we understand what kind of tricks will stir up hot news among his fans. Of course, 2008 was Bruce Lee’s 30th anniversary also inspired us to launch a campaign to pay tributes to him.

Agency.Asia: Seriously, you showed the client a storyboard that doesn’t feature any product until the last frame. What was their initial reaction? By the way, kudos to Nokia for buying it.

bruce lee
Check out Bruce Lee TVC here

Polly Chu: It didn’t start as a TVC idea. When we presented to client at the very beginning, It was a purely internet activation idea. Therefore it doesn’t have a traditional TVC structure. It's important to differentiate viral ‘pull’ communication from traditional TVC ‘push’ communication.

Our task was to get people excited enough to visit the campaign’s micro-site where they could learn more about the Nokia N96 Bruce Lee Limited Edition, not to communicate a complete, stand alone product selling proposition which is the objective behind most TVCs.

That's not to say a great TVC can't be viral too but most overt commercial messages lack the entertainment value and social kudos the consumer who passes it on is looking for from their friends.

Agency.Asia: The video has been viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube alone. Notwithstanding its phenomenal popularity, there is a colossal amount of debate as to whether the footage was real or whether it is trick photography.

When we look at the forums, people are actually hurling abuse at each other. It is rare that advertising stirs up so much passion. The one thing that seems almost unanimous is that people absolutely love your ad.

Polly Chu: Now, that would be telling! We're also thrilled to see that people think the product is as cool as the viral films. This is also one of the most interesting aspects of this campaign that we can actually know how people reacted with our ad; we could keep tracking on the responses and plan our next step. We launched the 10 seconds teaser first and waited for 2 days.

There were already 700,000 views within 24 hours. Then we launched the full version with the product shot and website address where people could order the limited edition phone. It is in fact a well planned e-marketing campaign. We were thrilled to witness those passionate responses.

Agency.Asia: We somehow doubt that you are going set the record straight for us – are you? And frankly it doesn’t really matter. The execution is faultless. Did Nokia specifically request a viral campaign, or did ‘Nokia N96’ start out as a TVC brief and end up going ballistic on You Tube?

Polly Chu: Actually, the original brief was for point-of-sale only but we knew that it wasn't going to cut the mustard. And frankly, we didn’t have media budget at all. Therefore viral video was the only creative solution.

Agency.Asia: What can you tell us about the director, because they absolutely nailed this advertisement? Shot from the darkness, it has a distinctly voyeuristic feel about it.

You really feel like you’re there and you daren’t even breathe in case Bruce should mishit the ping-pong ball - and possibly come and kick your ass! It is an execution altogether different from what one might expect from Nokia, a company renowned for micro technology and refinement.

Polly Chu: Yes, we discussed with the director how to make it look like a never-seen-before secret footage of Bruce Lee. The director took a great effort to study Bruce Lee and found the right talent. We used an up and coming local Chinese director whose passion could be seen in every second of the film.

Agency.Asia: Well, congratulations to you on producing one of the nicest ideas of the year. We’re predicting that you and BBDO Worldwide are going to be fighting it out at Cannes later in the year.  Feel free to give the rest of your team a mention. You all deserve a round of applause.

Polly Chu: Thanks. Fingers crossed for a good performance in Cannes in June. The whole team is excited.

Full Creative Credit:

Chief Creative Officer: Polly Chu
Creative Director: Shankun Sun
Copywriter: Wei Huang
Art Director: Dechun Qiu
Agency Producer: Lin Ma
Account Executive: Daniel Ingall
Director: Jingjing Zhu
Production House: JQK Production
Cinematographer: Jingjing Zhu
Producer: Jade Tang


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