Merlee Jayme, is a member of the AME’s Advisory Council, a group of respected leaders who together lend their creative insights, industry expertise and global perspective to the AME Awards team.
Merlee is the first Filipino to be awarded: The Creative of the Year for Southeast Asia in the Campaign Asia Pacific Agency of the Year. She is "Chairmom" and Chief Creative Officer of Dentsu Jayme Syfu and the only woman in the 20 top creative directors in ASIA as reported by Campaign brief Asia.
Under her leadership, Dentsu Jayme Syfu has already been named the 2016 Creative Agency of the Year Philippines by Campaign Asia and the inaugural SPIKES ASIA Country Agency of the Year 2017 and recently, The 4As Agency of the Year Best in Creative 2018. Her works push Insights and innovation. She has won major awards that include a Cannes Lion Grand Prix for Mobile, Grand CLIO, NYF Grand Awards, D&AD yellow and wood pencils and just last June, a Gold and Silver Lion for Green Peace “Dead Whale”.
She is CEO of MamaLab - a network of moms from Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan, to create great ideas that truly understand moms. One of CNN’s Leading Women, she initiated the #sistergood project in the office to inspire women leadership. A creative at heart, she wrote and illustrated an inspiring handbook “Everyone Can Be Creative”. Merlee is also a mom to 4 beautiful girls, and an inspiration in breaking the glass ceiling in this mad men’s world.
Effective Perspective spent a few minutes with this award-winning influencer asking her to share her insights on what campaign’s she’s most proud of, her creative process, why industry awards are important and more.
AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on the AME Advisory Council?
Merlee Jayme: It is a privilege to be part of a group that upholds creativity that gives results.
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?
Merlee Jayme: A challenging marketing problem, a brilliant strategy that answers this problem, mostly guided by data, lead to an insightful and inspiring creative and effective work.
AME Awards: In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What measurably effective campaign are you most proud of?
Merlee Jayme: I am proud of work that changed how consumers think. Especially, the world’s favorite target market: Mothers. They are pretty close to my heart.
A. Fonterra’s Anmum Materna, the maternal milk:
The problem? Expecting women would rather drink ordinary milk. They’re more accustomed to the taste of ordinary milk plus they think drinking Anmum with all the nutrition perfect for baby, will make them gain weight. The campaign urged pregnant women to put their baby’s welfare over their personal issues. So, we created the “9-month date” trimester campaign. The spokesperson of the film was a cute animated baby inside Mommy’s tummy. Suddenly, Moms imagined the baby inside them. How much they need the right nutrition as they were growing inside -month per month. Given a small budget, I even asked my daughter to lend her voice for the baby. The films got 150 million views worldwide. Product trial went up by 81%. Being purely digital, the strategy had 371% reach.
B. Breeze “The Good Experiment”:
The problem? Globally, Breeze is called OMO. The campaign is all about “Dirt is good”.
In the Philippines, Moms are having a hard time understanding this proposition. For them, a dirty child is a naughty child. What’s worse, it reflects back to her as ‘bad mothering’.
So, we latched on “good children” and the insight “It is easier to wash away the dirt than it is to bring up a good child”. In a real-life experiment, we asked Moms to pick up their children from school. They had the shock of their lives when their children came out one by one all muddied and dirty. Hidden cameras caught them scolding their children. Then eventually, having a change of heart when a monitor shows the real story behind the dirt. Their children faced a test when an old janitor needed help with muddy pots. 6 out 10 children helped the old man and carried the pots. Suddenly, Dirt became a badge of goodness and source of pride.
“Dirt is good” finally became relevant to moms. From a 4th brand, Breeze was catapulted to number two.
AME Awards: How do advertising/marketing awards that focus exclusively on Effectiveness, like AME help set the standard of excellence within the industry?
Merlee Jayme: AME rewards brand campaigns with genuine results. The ones that created relevance to consumers. The ones that changed their habits, way of thinking, and feelings toward the brand. The ones that created brand love. It celebrates creativity- not just for creativity’s sake. It proves that creativity has the power to build brands.
AME Awards: 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?
Merlee Jayme: It starts with a very good strategy. Nowadays, everyone has a say in the strategy. This role is not just given to planners and business leads. Data is mined. The problem is dissected. Creatives even join in, as we finalized the directions. During brainstorming, we involve a bigger group, including digital technologists, social media experts. This way, ideas can come from anywhere.
AME Awards: Are industry awards important and if so, what’s the ROI (value added besides a trophy) for entering?
Merlee Jayme: Beyond trophies, awards like the AME make creativity important to clients. They begin to appreciate brilliant work. Eventually, mediocrity is unacceptable to them. After all, it proves that creativity is indeed effective to their business.