Festival Intelligence: Risk-taking in emerging markets | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Risk-taking in emerging markets

For marketers, the appeal of fast-growing emerging markets is clear – a ripe marketplace full of consumers hungry to explore new products and services and an opportunity to create first-mover advantages.

That’s why ad spend in emerging markets is constantly on the rise, with Asia-Pacific (+6.0%), Central and Eastern Europe (+8.4%) and Latin America (+7.0%) all predicted to rise in 2018, according to WARC’s latest Global Ad Trends report.

But on the other side of the coin the volatile political, legal, financial and cultural climates of these countries mean that breaking into these markets often comes with challenges. Yet for a number of brands featured on this year’s Festival of Media Global Awards shortlist, this only spurred them on to push the boundaries of media more than ever and take on a bigger risk to reap the rewards.

“I was particularly impressed by what I saw coming from the emerging markets,” said Adam Gerhart, CEO of Mindshare US. “There’s a lot that can be learned from how they build and execute provocative ideas – there was a lot more risk-taking in those submissions and in many cases, more ingenuity to deal with issues such as Internet access, cultural dynamics, and more. In some ways, limitations or restrictions (budget, regulations, etc.) can liberate the brave.”

Analysis of this year’s shortlist showed a vast spread of emerging market campaigns across the board: China (22), India (14), Russia (four), Saudi Arabia (three), Argentina (two), Indonesia (two), Egypt (two), Poland (one), South Africa (one), Turkey (one) and Taiwan (one).

FMCG brands are leading the charge with 28 shortlisted campaigns of the total 53 in emerging markets coming from this category. Meanwhile, brands in the food & beverage, pharmaceutical and retail industries were also significantly represented.  

Considering the cultural and technological limitations in these markets, what is apparent amongst the campaigns featured on the shortlist is that advertisers and their agencies have been exploring with media in interesting ways in order to break down these barriers. 

Much of the work is deeply rooted in cultural insight and addressing a real human need, with media plans devised and tailored to each particular market taking into account these considerations.

Smart, thorough and well-executed solutions, from innovating with basic mobile phone services (SMS and calls) to creating mobile games and geo-located ads, mobile emerged as a key driver in helping to reach the masses in new and interesting ways.

Meghan Athavale, CEO, Lumo Interactive Canada, said: “I was surprised to learn how many places in the world still face challenges related to internet access and data delivery speed. These countries produce campaigns that are creative in a way that more developed countries rarely explore.”

We put the spotlight on two FOMG Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight these trends:

Pocket Dentist | Colgate | Red Fuse Communications | India

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Mobile (GOLD WINNER), Impact Awards (GOLD WINNER)


In rural India it is rare to find or get access to a professional dentist. With just one dentist available for 50,000 people, most rural Indians never get to visit a dentist in their lifetime and instead depend on street side quacks with rusty implements and dodgy credentials. 80% of households have access to a basic mobile phone and so Colgate launched ‘Pocket Dentist’ – a unique mobile based technology innovation to automate professional oral care advice and make it accessible on-demand from every mobile phone, in real time.

‘Pocket Dentist’ was built on a voice-based platform to provide access to the greatest possible number of users. Voice technology avoids data dependency and gives the illiterate equal access to advice. It used the already popular “Missed call” practice in India to deliver the service for free. Callers dial the service and hang-up. ‘Pocket Dentist’ would call back and prompt the callers to describe their oral care problem.

To drive awareness, villagers could learn about the new service via hand-painted murals, mobile voice ads and community health workers.

Read the full case study here.


LetOutTheSour | Skittles | MediaCom | Saudi Arabia

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Gamification (GOLD WINNER), Best Local Execution of a Global Brand (SILVER WINNER)


Skittles is all about fun. But in Saudi Arabia that’s not always the case. Skittles loves poking fun at the ordinary and life’s little oddities. But Saudi Arabia is conservative and young people are expected to play by the rules. MediaCom needed to bring fun to a country where it’s often wise to hide how you truly feel.

Comedy is a case in point – being brave and daring with humorous content is not welcome. Saudi was recently inducted into Freedom of The Net’s table of Top 10 Countries with the highest internet censorship. As a result, half of all young people now go online via a mobile VPN for entertainment. The opportunity was to leverage the country’s reform agenda, which is loosening many old norms. It needed to bring the feeling of inclusion that the joy of a shared joke brings and remind the target that life should be a surprisingly endless source of entertainment.

The strategy would turn the Skittles Sours packaging into a fun moment, encouraging the target to “Buy One and Get Fun Free”. The idea: a unique ‘LetOutTheSour’ Card game modelled on Cards Against Humanity, a fun game for Sour people only be available in-store with the new Skittles flavours. The agency promoted this unique mix of brand, card and sour using paid media and social channels but the key brand beacon was this unique game, designed to create a reaction both in-store and when consumers played at home.

Read the full case study here.

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