Gender-Inclusive Anthem, AI-Supported Braille Win AD STARS' Grand Prix Honors
AD STARS trophies
Dentsu, BBDO, McDonald’s, Good Oil land special awards

Winning AD STARS’ Grand Prix of the Year honors this time around--during the unusual circumstance of a pandemic--were: Impact BBDO, United Arab Emirates on the strength of “The New National Anthem Edition’ for Arabic-language daily newspaper An-Nahar; and Serviceplan Korea on the basis of “Dot Translate: The First Braille Translator Based on AI” for Dot Incorporation.

The latter won for best public service advertising. Both Grand Prix winners will receive a $10,000 prize.

Due to a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Korea, the 13th AD STARS Festival, originally re-scheduled to be held in Busan, Korea from October 22-24, will be replaced online in consideration of participants’ safety. The three-day conference will include an online showcase of winning work to be released October 22 on the AD STARS website.

Levi Slavin, chief creative officer, Colenso BBDO, New Zealand, was one of five executive judges responsible for choosing this year’s Grand Prix of the Year winners. Regarding “The New National Anthem Edition,” he said, “Familiarity is such a barrier to change. I can’t think of anything more familiar than a country’s national anthem. They are not just a set of words we memorize without question; a national anthem is a document that outlines our collective beliefs and culture. It’s in these places that big problems hide.

“The New National Anthem tackles this in such an open and profoundly simple way,” he continued. “The idea proposed changing one critical sentence in the Lebanese national anthem from ‘the birthplace of men’ to ‘the birthplace of women and men.’ It challenged this norm in such a public and inclusive forum. We loved this idea.”

Valerie Madon, chief creative officer, Asia at VMLY&R and executive judge at AD STARS 2020, added, “This is a bold move by a publication to leverage its ability to move people at scale. Their bravery was clearly rewarded with massive PR coverage and impact on society.”

Fabio Caveira, sr. creative/art director at OPPO China, and an executive judge, said, “The New National Anthem Edition is a powerful idea as it gives women a voice at a time when the issue is being discussed in all parts of the world. Here, women are seen as key mobilizers and partners in a revolution that is no longer silent and that ‘sings’ and fight for equal rights to men to demand a better country.”

It is the second consecutive Grand Prix of the Year win for Impact BBDO, which also won Grand Prix of the Year at AD STARS 2019 for An-Nahar, “The Blank Edition.”

Regarding Serviceplan Korea’s Grand Prix of the Year (Public Service Advertising) win, Slavin said: “Dot Translate is an extraordinary idea. With near human accuracy, it translates any digital text to Braille. We loved this idea for a couple of reasons. In a time when we’re all struggling to understand the ethical parameters of AI, this idea elegantly uses the technology to support human effort, in the support of humanity. We also loved that it is a solution that can be delivered at scale. While there was a huge amount of extraordinary work in this category, the potential scale of delivery pushed Dot Translate ahead of the other very worthy contenders.”

Special Winners
Special AD STARS winners were:

  • Dentsu Inc., Japan: Agency of the Year
  • BBDO: Network of the Year
  • McDonald’s: Advertiser of the Year
  • Good Oil: Production Company of the Year

Grand Prix trophies, Gold, Silver, Bronze winners
This year’s Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners were chosen from 20,028 entries spanning 60 countries.

11 Grand Prix trophies were awarded to 9 creative companies:

  • 72andSunny Los Angeles, USA: “Swipe Night” for Tinder (Brand Experience & Activation Grand Prix) and ‘Next 100’ for NFL (Film Grand Prix)
  • Ogilvy Australia: “KFC Secret Menu” for Yum! (Mobile Grand Prix and Social & Influencer Grand Prix)
  • Dentsu Inc., Japan: “Pocky THE GIFT” for Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd. (Design Grand Prix)
  • Clemenger BBDO Wellington, New Zealand: “Belted Survivors” for NZ Transport Agency (Diverse Insights Grand Prix)
  • Alt.vfx, Australia: “Dinosaur Vs Unicorn” for AA Insurance (Film Grand Prix)
  • Walt Disney Company, United States: “Pixar Street View” for Walt Disney World (Outdoor Grand Prix)
  • Flock Creative Network, Indonesia: “Mad Cousin” for McDonald’s/PT. Rekso Nasional Food (Print Grand Prix)
  • Jung von matt, Germany: “For Seasons composed by climate data” for NDR Elbphilhamornie Orchestra Hamburg, Germany (Radio & Audio Grand Prix)  
  • WPP Marketing Communications, Thailand: “Thai Stay Home Miles Exchange” for Thai Airways International (Pivot Grand Prix)

Film & Video Stars
In Film, 72andSunny Los Angeles, United States won Grand Prix for “Next 100” for NFL. Alt.vfx, Australia also won Grand Prix for “Dinosaur Vs Unicorn” for AA Insurance.

“Next 100 is a film that creates value in the experience beyond the screen. The production craft of the film is exceptional. It reminded me of the power that one piece of visual expression can have to move mass markets and entire nations,” explained Takahiro Hosoda, executive creative director at TBWA\Hakuhodo and a final judge of the Film & Video Stars categories.

There were 10 Gold winners awarded across the Film category:

  • 72andSunny Amsterdam, Netherlands: “Fanta – In The Name of Play” for The Coca-Cola Company, won 3 Golds   
  • Wunderman Thompson, United Arab Emirates: “Dear Neighbor” for Bose, won 2 Golds
  • OTTO Australia: “Dolly’s Dream - Are your words doing damage?” for Dolly’s Dream
  • Dentsu Inc. Japan: “Designing Tokyo” for Mori Building Co., Ltd.
  • Rafineri, Turkey: “LOSEV: DEAR BROTHER” for LOSEV
  • Cheil Germany: “Stripped of Security” for Samsung Electronics Germany
  • DDB Sydney, Australia: “Up, Up and Toupee” for Virgin Australia.  

In the Video Stars category, two Golds were awarded to R/GA Shanghai, China for “Nike Dark Horse,” created for the Nike Run Club; and FCB India for “The Punishing Signal” created for Mumbai Police.

“The AD STARS Awards focus on creative diversity and the importance thereof. It’s meaningful that the creative is authentically local, while having the power to resonate globally. These two pieces were great examples of that. They delivered truly local messages, while also embodying universal human truths,” said Hosoda.

Pivotal work during the pandemic
This year, AD STARS introduced the “Pivot” category to celebrate campaigns that have amplified and repositioned brands in response to COVID-19. The Grand Prix Pivot winner is WPP Marketing Communications in Thailand for “Thai Stay Home Miles Exchange,” created for Thai Airways International.

Pancho González, chief creative officer at Inbrax in Chile, was a judge in this category. He related, “‘Thai Stay Home Miles Exchange’ knew how to understand the current context and use it to its advantage, in a very natural and organic way. The airlines have always invited you to fly and for one to do the opposite is simply positive, especially if we are in a pandemic.”

Meanwhile in Diverse Insights, Clemenger BBDO Wellington, New Zealand won Grand Prix for “Belted Survivors” for NZ Transport Agency.

“No matter where you’re from, you can look at this campaign and understand it – even though it is absolutely tailored to a particular audience. It shows the power of having a well-understood audience. Campaigns like these absolutely do travel: it can be even more powerful to focus your ideas on particular communities,” says Slavin.

There were also two Gold trophies awarded in Diverse Insights: Clemenger BBDO Wellington, New Zealand’s “The Unsaid” for NZ Transport Agency; and Japan’s ADK Creative One for “Avatar Robot Café” from Ory Laboratory.

“‘The Unsaid’ is such a delicate and well-understood campaign, it feels like it’s coming from the audience itself. ‘Avatar Robot Café’ is also a lovely idea: the agency came up with a way to provide mobility through these little robots, it’s very sweet,” said Slavin. “For me, Diverse Insights is one of the most important categories at AD STARS. Instead of doing homogenized work to communicate with global audiences, championing Diverse Insights becomes a conversation between a brand and its customers no matter where they’re from. It legitimizes and honors their environment. It is a wonderful category to judge, and the winners should all be very proud.”

Integrated, Mobile, Data Insights, Social & Influencer
There were no Grand Prix or Gold winners in the Integrated and Innovation categories this year.

“We saw a lot of interesting, fresh thinking, but we were missing that one true breakthrough,” said Sascha Kuntze, chief creative officer, BBH Singapore, who led these categories as executive judge.       

In Mobile, Ogilvy Australia won Grand Prix for “KFC Secret Menu”--as well as Gold--for Yum! The three other Gold winners in Mobile were:

  • Bonsey Jaden, Malaysia: “Blink” for Xiao En
  • 72andSunny Los Angeles, USA: “Swipe Night” for Tinder     
  • Cheil Germany: “Ta(l)king Down the Invisible Wall” for Diskutier Mit Mir e.V.        

AD STARS introduced the Data Insights category in 2018. There were three Gold winners:

  • Grey Malaysia: “WWF Your Plastic Diet” for WWF Malaysia
  • Clemenger BBDO Wellington, New Zealand: “The Unsai” for NZ Transport Agency
  • Jung von matt, Germany: “For Seasons composed by climate data” for NDR Elbphilhamornie Orchestra Hamburg, Germany.         

In Social & Influencer, Ogilvy Australia won Grand Prix--and Gold--for ‘KFC Secret Menu’ for Yum! The other four Golds in this category were:

  • Clemenger BBDO Wellington, New Zealand: “The Unsaid” for NZ Transport Agency
  • Ogilvy Singapore: “Please Arrest Me” for RIT Foundation Singapore
  • WPP Marketing Communications, Thailand: “Lonely Rambutan” for Malee Group
  • Leo Burnett Taiwan: “Souvenirs From Travel” for China Airlines Taiwan.

In Brand Experience & Activation, there are two Grand Prix winners: 72andSunny Los Angeles’ “Swipe Night” for Tinder, and Impact BBDO, United Arab Emirates for “The New National Anthem Edition” for An-Nahar. The other Gold winners in this category were:

  • DDB Group, New Zealand: “Lotto - LO5T” for Lotto New Zealand                
  • McCann Worldgroup MENA, United Arab Emirates: “Astronomical Sales” for Mastercard
  • Walt Disney Company, USA: “Pixar Street View” for Walt Disney World                 
  • DDB Sydney, Australia: “The Burnt Christmas Tree” for Red Cross Australia.

This year, AD STARS introduced a new category, Creative eCommerce, to celebrate ideas that optimize the customer journey through creative eCommerce solutions. McCann Worldgroup MENA, United Arab Emirates, won Gold for “Astronomical Sales” for Mastercard.

“I was really excited to notice the Creative eCommerce category, as I work for Geometry, and eCommerce is a big part of our world. ‘Astronomical Sales’ for Mastercard stood out because of its ‘damn-I-wish-I-did-that’ simplicity and… well… stellar brand fit,” explains Gabriela Lungu, global creative director at Geometry UK and founder & creative lead at Wings Creative Leadership Lab, who also judged this category.

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