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 4As 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.