2019 AME Grand Jury Perspective: Do Cao Nguyen a.k.a Hien
AME’s Grand Jury is the powerhouse behind the prestigious AME Awards, their high standard of excellence ensures that AME’s 25-year legacy is upheld and respected globally both by winners and industry reports measuring creative distinction. Their dedication result in truly award-worthy work being recognized.
2019 Grand Jury member Do Cao Nguyen (a.k.a Hien) is Director is Executive Creative at Clipper Indochine Vietnam. He’s a full-blooded Vietnamese who found home in USA in 1975 and graduated from University of Pittsburgh and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a multi-disciplined degree in Visual Communication, Computer Science and Architecture.
In 1992, Do Cao Nguyen made his way back to his motherland where he became known as the design guru. Before becoming the Principle/ECD of Clipper Indochine Vietnam, Hien was a Creative Director at D’Arcy, Dentsu and an ECD at Chuo Senko, and Hakuhodo
He has judged at various award competitions around the region, as well as internationals including: New York Festivals, Andys, Spike Asia, Cannes Young Lions, Horseman Design, Ad Star, AdFest, and more.
Do Cao Nguyen share his thoughts on the process of creating an ad that delivers creative and effective results, the ads he’s most proud of, the importance of regional judging, and much more
AME Awards: AME’s winners and entrants are behind some of the most innovative leading-edge creative work on the planet that delivers the most impactful result. Tell us about your process of creating and delivering creative and effective results. Are your ideas inspired or do they come together as the result of a collective brainstorming session with your team?
Do Cao Nguyen: There are a few steps I normally take:
a/ as the team’s leader I often delivered inspiration directions (not ideas) toward the task and let the team generate ideas.
b/ without any interfering, I sit in all brainstorm sessions collecting thoughts.
c/ Help the teams short list ideas, put the shortlist through test and test.
d/ pick the best and test again and again and if the ideas still does not win over everyone we go back to (and I really hate it if we have to do this).
AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative and effective advertising…what do ads that have taken the brief and turned it into campaign that transforms opinions, evokes action and raises the bar for the brand have in common?
Do Cao Nguyen: The humanistic side of the brand.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Do Cao Nguyen: At the end of day it’s not how big the ad, how deep the thoughts, and/or how beautiful the ad and etc., It is how many people respond to the brand and how long will it last in people heart.
AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on this year’s AME Grand Jury and What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into this competition?
Do Cao Nguyen: I believe in effectiveness, there are so many ads that make the number but never made to the stage.
AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads and why in your opinion did they triumph?
Do Cao Nguyen It was not the car it’s the feeling it delivered.
AME Awards: In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of (don’t be shy brag about your accomplishments)?
Do Cao Nguyen:
Vietnam 1998: Orion Confectionary
Orion, a confectionary company from Korea facing crisis of copycat on their flagship product Chocopie in Vietnam. All competitors called their product Chocopie and look just like Orion's Chocopie.
Our task: We were to create a brand message to counter the copycats.
Challenges: By law we were not able to say: "leader" "number 1" or any implication that Orion is superior over others, no calling others is fake, no English in the ad.
Our Approach: We took a very elementary approach inspired by a children song depicting "Gecko is lizard and lizard is Gekko" and our brand message was:
"Chocopie là Orion, Orion là Chocopie" translation is "Chocopie is Orion and Orion is Chocopie"
A/ Chocopie is the product name and Orion is the company name so authority was unable to forbid us to use English words.
B/ Confirm that Chocopie belong to Orion without calling anyone fake.
C/ Translatable in all language by just change the word "is" no matter if the language reads left to right or right to left.
Quickly the brand message spread worldwide without any handle and it stays as the brand message ran continuously for 15 years and most Vietnamese remember it.
Numerous TVC were made, songs and jingle sung by many famous artists.
And, in 2013 we needed to upgrade the brand but do not go so far with the original message. Once again, we won the audience till today with the message "Tình như Chocopie”: "love like Chocopie"
https://youtu.be/qKwnnJ1Zq3Q?t=3 (1999 first commercial).
Vietnam 2009: ACB Bank Asia Commercial Bank
The banking scene was a mess, and no one trusted banks anymore, and the private banking concept was new to the market and ACB was the first to position themselves as retail bank to harvest the cash within the people. To challenge such a task, ACB Bank hired five International agencies to come up a TVC and brand story and message, agencies joining the pitch were Leo/Dentsu/ Ogilvy/Saatchi/JWT none of them could win their heart. Clipper Indochine were a small local team called in at the last minute to propose ideas. 2 days we were given, and we went to the meeting with no storyboard or PowerPoint, after the brainstorm sessions we grabbed a big chalk and away to the meeting. Our story was bold and touching still at the time.
Bold: A bench in a park considered dirty and a place for working lady, homeless and drug addict ...etc., And we proposed to use it as the symbol for the bank. You can imagine the outrages of the executives toward such insult.
How did we win the bank’s heart: After calming everyone down we drew a park bench on the chalkboard and poetically told them a touching story.
Voice of the bench:
I wish I could talk
I will tell you millions of stories
story of happiness
story of sadness
I've been here quite sometimes
rain or shine I am here 24/24
please sit rest your feet
calm your heart
tell me your story
even I can't help
I promise to listen.
A symbol and the attitude of the bench covered all aspects of ACB must have to win over the people and we branded ACB as:
ACB, The people's Bank "Ngân hàng của mọi nhà"
To win the people’s heart: We said nothing about finance, we only depicting happiness and what it could be, and we use a famous songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn with theme of one happiness a day.
https://youtu.be/KWoKgOP016Q?t=4 (Vietnamese version)
https://youtu.be/mP0rn7CwZoM?t=9 (English version)
Numerous TVCs were made and the brand story remain the same till today and touched millions.
ACB became number one private retail bank till date.
PSI Vietnam : HIV prevention
HIV prevention: Avoid stigma and asking people to come out and test for HIV. Just a simple ad showed no negative image with a message:
Khi tư vấn chúng tôi là chuyên gia, khi trò chuyện chúng tôi là tri kỷ
When you ask for our opinion we are the expert, when we talk we are best of friends
The tagline quickly became every doctor’s slogan and for the first-time people were not afraid of the stigma and came out for testing. Resulting in thousands of HIV cases were discovered and treated on time, and the awareness was highly effective noted by USAID
AME Awards: What advice or guidelines would you give to potential entrants on earning an AME Award?
Do Cao Nguyen: Try not to be too smart :)
AME Awards: AME’s Grand Jury, emanating from 5 regions around the globe provides the opportunity to earn trophies within a region and on the global stage. Why in your opinion is the idea of AME’s Grand Jury judging both regional and then the entire Grand Jury judging all the Gold winning work to select Platinum winners and Best in Show important to both entrants and to jurors?
Do Cao Nguyen: Culture understanding, and languages are different it is important to see it on both side of the globe.
AME Awards: What is one secret of your success that no one knows about you (till now)?
Do Cao Nguyen: No secret "I talk to all people from all walks of life, and I do ask and respect my wife and children opinions"
AME Awards: What philosophy or iconic individual inspires you in both your career and life?
Do Cao Nguyen: You are Crazy or am I "Albert Einstein".
Always ask the question no matter how obvious.