The Kancil Festival 2018

Celebrating humanity in creativity, technology & culture.

Come experience 2 days of talks, forums and mini workshops and explore how people from different creative backgrounds tell stories, write music, build robots, make ads, create art, produce content, express poetry and rebuild a country find common ground in our shared humanity. Discover the weird, the wonderful and the hey-how-come-I-didn’t-think-of-that sort of ideas for the brands we’re tasked to build.

The Kancil Festival will be begin at Ruang and end with the Kancil Awards Night at Chin Woo Stadium.

For more information, head on to Kancil Festival Site.

Kancil Awards undergoes another makeover

The Kancil Awards will undergo another major revamp this year. It will be rebranded as a two-day creative festival with talks and workshops modelled after the likes of Cannes Lions and Adfest, said the programme’s creative council chairman, Alvin Teoh.

The festival is slated to take place July 26 and 27.

Teoh, who is ECD at Naga DDB Tribal, is enthusiastic about the festival elements of the awards as well as a few new award categories. Notably, all channel-based categories will be awarding the Culture Kancils for best use of cultural insights as well as a ‘Kancil for Good’ award. Both awards place a heavy emphasis on solving problems, while the cultural awards are created to celebrate the diversity of the social fabric in Malaysian society. The latter change comes at a time when the nation is trying to shift from divisive racial politics following its historic election in May.

“Often we don’t use [culture] creatively to solve anything, or we are very shallow with the ways we look at culture,” Teoh told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “It’s always the Malays, Chinese, Indians [the three major races in Malaysia], but there is so much beauty in the layers of the culture that is untapped.”

He maintained that there are enough examples of work produced in Malaysia that fit the category, while at the same time, not all work should be racially inclusive. A mature piece of work is simply one that is strongly based on cultural insights, Teoh said.

The overhaul of the 4A’s top local honours comes after the introduction of channel-based categories and online viewing of submissions in 2017 to address a plagiarism scandal involving Dentsu Utama in late 2015. The Kancils took an interval in 2016 as a result of the controversy, while Dentsu Utama resigned from the 4As in protest of the revocation of eight of its awards.

Teoh stressed that the revamped programme is about looking forward. He spoke only reluctantly about the past events, and asserted that the incident moved the industry in a positive direction.

“The year (2016) was filled with bad news, plagiarism, scams, it’s so shameful and a very dark time for the industry,” Teoh said. “This is an attempt to learn lessons from those days and not to repeat that.”

Although Teoh could not confirm whether public viewing of submissions will be continued this year, he said such measures and the public reckoning from the Dentsu Utama episode show that the industry is emerging from the shadows of the scandal. The creative council did not flag plagiarism from the entries last year.

“Most of the local ECDs are on the same page,” he said. “We all know the damage that has been done because of the individualistic pursuit of awards for the sake of awards. It’s very unhealthy if everyone is playing the network game, everyone has come to terms with that.”

As an added measure to improve diversity of voices and transparency, independent agencies such as Fisherman Integrated and Ensemble Worldwide are joining the creative council, Teoh added.

Gigi Lee, who is the head of jury from TBWA\Group Malaysia, said having the Culture Kancils and ‘Kancil for Good’ under each category allows the council to focus on commercial creativity, the industry’s reason for being, while still ensuring there is space to celebrate impactful, legitimate creativity for causes. “Having just one just one subcategory per category also means that the competition and scrutiny would naturally be harder,” said Lee.

On ‘Kancil for Good’, Teoh strongly feels that it should not attract award-bait entries. “Sadly, a lot of people use causes like animal abuse and the refugees [for example] as a means to win awards,” he said. “I don’t think they give a shit about solving any problem, it’s very shameful and unethical.” The creative council hopes  to assess the entries based on UN’s 17 sustainable developmental goals and is planning to get a UN representative on board for the judging of this category, Teoh explained.

On how clients would respond to the new award items, Teoh said the rising trend of consumers who respond to socially conscious brands should give them incentive to produce more work that fits these purposes. “I think it would be positive because almost every client I know is investing some degree of time and effort into making an impact in society. And on a more personal level, I’ve also seen the sort of impact these efforts have on the client themselves—they’re touched and moved beyond words and it gives them a greater sense of purpose in what they are capable of.”

Meanwhile, the range of diversity measures will also be seen in the lineup of the seminar speakers from across different professions, including Al Jazeera producer Sarah Yeo and newly elected MP Fahmi Fadzil. “The big change that we are saying is that the ad industry does not own creativity,” Teoh said. “To say that we own creativity is arrogance, it’s very shortsighted. We are making a bold decision, 80% of the keynote speakers [for 14 sessions] are not ad people.”

Teoh takes over the reins from Tan Kien Eng, CEO of Publicis One Malaysia, who had served as the creative council chairman for a number of past Kancils. Although the event will be held on a bigger scale this year, Teoh believes the organisation can meet cost and sponsorship challenges.

Inaugural two-day Kancil Creative Festival culminates with re-fashioned Kancil Awards


A two-day creative festival to be held in Ruang KL will explore how people from different backgrounds in the field of creativity go about telling stories, writing music, building robots, making ads, creating art, producing content, and expressing poetry, while finding common ground in their shared humanity.

Organised by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4As), the theme of the Kancil Creative Festival is ‘Celebrating humanity in creativity, technology, and culture’.

“We want put a spotlight on how humanity should be at the core of all we do as a creative industry. Whether a docu-maker or journalist, a tech person or a content creator, an ad-man or artist, an influencer, a preserver of culture or a strategist, anyone who understands the beauty of the human experience will create the sort of work that lasts. Beyond the latest trends and techniques, we’re celebrating the type of work that compels one to think, to feel and to act,” said Alvin Teoh, Kancil Creative Council Chairman.

“It’s the only festival that brings people that are so seemingly different from one another and put them in one place to discover their commonality so that we can celebrate these differences that ironically makes us one. From this festival, the public at large, in addition to marketers and ad industry folks will get a glimpse into the seldom tapped areas of humanity in the hopes that they will discover new opportunities and ideas for brands that they are tasked to build,” he added.

The festival will feature a series of ticketed and highly anticipated talks with notable speakers from a wide range of disciplines, including Bassam Tariq, social documentary story-teller, Steven Chan, founder of Dialogue in the Dark, Stella Soo, artist and heritage activist, and Sarah Yeo, Producer of 101 East at Al Jazeera. Fahmi Fadzil, MP of Lembah Pantai, will also be speaking about the ‘brand narrative’ of Pakatan Harapan.

Several advertising industry leaders will also be featured including Shun Matzuzaka, founder of McCanns Millenials, Ronald Ng, Chief Creative Officer at Digitas, and Aneil Deepak, former Executive Creative Director at DDB Mudra.

In addition to the talks, the festival will inspire and challenge younger talents through a series of fresh initiatives. The Young Kancils 24-Hour Challenge, in partnership with Grab, will see teams of junior creative agency staff responding to a brief with an Instagram-centric campaign focused on Grab drivers.

The 666 Young Directors Challenge is for aspiring film directors, who are invited to submit their original scripts to the organisers. 6 winners will be selected, and 6 production houses will provide production support for a 6-minute film.

For those still completing their training in school, the Kancil Creative Festival will also be introducing Student Awards to showcase creative student work against a professional barometer. Other highlights of the festival include exhibitions, and a mini cinema screening noteworthy shorties.

The inaugural Kancil Creative Festival highlights the wider creative world beyond the ad industry. In today’s world of collaboration and idea-sharing, it feels timely to have everyone coming together for a cross fertilisation of thoughts and projects,” said the Organising Chairman of the Festival, Karthi Palanisamy.

“This extends to welcoming the public to the Festival and we hope that they can develop an appreciation for and contribute to the diversity of ideas on display,” concluded Karthi.

Big trouble in little Kancil: Alvin Teoh, creative council chairman of Malaysia’s national awards show, addresses the elephant in the room

Malaysia’s annual awards show, the Kancil Awards, has had a chequered history with an often love-hate relationship with the local ad industry. This year’s Creative Council Chairman is Naga DDB Tribal’s Alvin Teoh (left), and here he candidly addresses some of the previous concerns with the Kancils and outlines the vision for going forward for this year.

The Kancils has a long history and like anything that has a long history, it has its ups and downs. We’re far from perfect so shit happens. The Kancils has always been known as a creative award show and therefore is an exclusive event for the ad industry and their clients.

At its best, it became a showcase for great work. At its worse, a platform for ‘made-just-for-awards’ work and that’s when some called it a ‘wank-fest’. We’re not on a witch-hunt here but when these practices crept into an award show, it tarnishes the entire industry and is disrespectful to the real efforts of good people struggling with real work. This is the elephant in the room that needs addressing. And necessarily so, because despite of an exodus of talents to other countries, there are still plenty of amazing talents, as well as clients here, and their work needs to be celebrated.

So let’s start by being more inclusive.

Let’s look at creativity. To associate creativity with just the ad industry is pure arrogance. We’re just one little component in this vast universe of creativity. So let’s break down the barriers and celebrate a borderless creativity. Journalists, poets, docu-makers, musicians, artists, tech peeps, activists, and with that, ad anthropologists, psychiatrists and even a politician, all these people rely on creativity to get things done. And getting them under one roof to share what they do will redefine and reshape what creativity is. And thus, we have ourselves a creative festival.

The Kancil Creative Fest.

Celebrating humanity in creativity, technology and culture. In a sea of change, the one thing that remains constant is the human condition. So basically, this 2-day festival consisting of a series of talks, forums and mini workshops will explore how people from different backgrounds in their own unique field of creativity go about telling stories, writing music, building robots, making ads, creating art, producing content, expressing poetry and even rebuilding a country find common ground in our shared humanity.

It’s the only festival that brings people that are so seemingly different from one another, and putting them in one place to discover their commonality so that we can celebrate these differences that ironically makes us one. From this festival, marketers and ad industry folks will get a glimpse into the seldom tapped areas of humanity in the hopes that they will discover new opportunities and ideas for brands that they are tasked to build.

Some of the keynote speakers:

Ronald Ng, Chief Creative Officer of Digitas, Sarah Yeo, producer of 101 East, Al Jezera, Bassam Tariq, filmmaker, writer and TED fellow, Shun Matsuzaka, Digital CD and creator of the first AI Creative Director, Fahmi Fadzil, MP of Lembah Pantai and Coms Director for Keadilan just to name a few.

There will be 16 speakers delivering 14 keynote talks.

There will be a host of others conducting smaller talks, workshops, forums, exhibitions and experiential activities.

The festival happens 26-27 July at Ruang and ends with the Kancil awards at Chin Woo stadium in KL. Festival fees for the keynote series are RM2,200 for 4A’s members and RM2,600 for non members. It’s HRDF claimable and for every group of 5, there is a 10% discount.

Number of delegates are limited to 300 people only, while the rest of the festival containing exhibitions and mini talks and experiences are open to public.

The Kancil Awards Night

The awards night begins as the festival closes and the venue is the iconic Chin Woo Stadium. The award categories are updated to reflect the times and the regional awards. 5 new categories are introduced here:

  1. Culture Kancils – To give some attention to the diverse cultural practices, beliefs, rituals and landscape of Malaysia, this category celebrates the creative use of cultural insights in the work. And apart from senior creative, we’re also inviting anthropologists and academics as judges.
  2. Innovation Kancils – This gives emphasis on the creative or breakthrough use of mediums, channels and platforms where the medium is used for it’s strengths.
  3. Effectiveness Kancils – While this is not new in the industry, it is new in this creative award show and highlights the use of creativity that is result-oriented. 70% of the judges will be clients.
  4. Kancil for Good – For this category, we’re looking for creative ideas that has an impact in a community, society or the environment to demonstrate the power of creativity that is purpose-driven. This is the first step that will eventually lead to mirroring the categories here against UN’s sustainable development goals. We want to use this category to encourage businesses to look into areas where they can play a larger role in. We’re hoping to include NGO’s, NGI’s and members of the UN to join senior creative as judges.
  5. Production House of the Year – this is a new award category to celebrate the contributions of production houses to our industry. Points collected from winning submissions in the film and film craft categories will be tabulated and the production house that has the most points win.

And leading up to this event are 3 smaller events:

  1. The Student Awards – Art school students submit their best work in a simplified list of categories that mirrors the actual Kancil list of categories and their work will be judged by seasoned creative. Winners will receive their awards during Kancil Awards night in the presence of the industry.
  2. The 666 Young Director’s Challenge – where young people can submit scripts for a 6-minute film to be judged and 6 winners will get their scripts produced by one of 6 production houses that will help guide and produce their work for free. The winner gets a one-year stint in one of the production houses.
  3. Young Kancil Challenge – this is a 24-hour challenge for industry peeps under 2 years. We’re collaborating with Grab and teams of 3 will be spending 10 hours with a Grab driver and are tasked to create an Instagram campaign bringing the narrative of the brand to life via the stories of the driver they are assigned too.

The judging panel will include some big names in the region and locally. This list will be announced soon.