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news / In conversation with Gavin Chimes

One Grand Prix, four Gold Spikes and two Silver Spikes. Here's how 2023 Independent Agency of the Year Howatson+Company achieved success.

How has the landscape of creativity evolved over the past few years, and in what ways has this evolution influenced your agency's creative approaches?

The creative landscape has evolved in several ways over the last few years. First, there’s been a rise in new technologies such as AI, which is opening fascinating new creative opportunities. We’ve also entered a golden age of entertainment and content, which we’re consuming in more ways, on more devices, than ever before. Additionally, earned media has become an increasingly important part of any successful campaign, especially with a reduction in production budgets. To navigate this changing landscape, our agency brings together different capabilities to solve modern business challenges – creative, production, media, tech, PR and data. Different departments constantly collaborating, sharing and building upon ideas. We call this intersectional creativity. It's not just something we say to clients. It’s the soul of our agency and informs how we act every day.

What motivated your team to submit Rejected Ales for the Industry Craft Spikes and other relevant Spikes Awards including Brand Experience & Activation, Direct, Design and Outdoor?

Spikes represents the benchmark of creativity for our region, so we’ll always be motivated to enter our work into the award show. The non-traditional nature of Rejected Ales meant that we could enter it into multiple categories. It lived as a retail activation, a piece of direct mail, a holistic design identity and was dripping with meticulously crafted copy. Each one of these touchpoints meant a different jury could review the campaign from a unique lens.

In your view, what played the most significant role in driving the success of the "Rejected Ales" campaign?

I believe three things made Rejected Ales successful. The idea, the craft and the orchestration. The idea itself – selling a perfect beer by promoting its near-perfect rejects – allowed us to talk to beer-drinkers and retailers in a wholly new way for the category. The craft let us stand out in a heavily cluttered beer-fridge, with distinctive packaging designs and attention-grabbing copy. While we fastidiously orchestrated the campaign to reach the right audiences at the right times, from installing entire beer fridges in leading bottles stores, to sending direct mail kits to influencers, to entering our rejects into international beer competitions (where they fittingly won silver). All these elements worked together to ensure Rejected Ales wasn’t just a great idea but one that was well-executed and had real-world impact.

If you could share one key piece of advice with other independent agencies entering their work into awards, what would it be?

Indies tend to lack the award budgets of network agencies, so being smart with category choices can help. I’ve found that spreading the work across more juries, rather than doubling down on one, gives the work a better shot at winning. Yet this approach is only effective if the work is relevant for the category. Sometimes that means crafting a new case study that’s relevant for the jury. It’s more effort but often worthwhile.

Spikes Asia is happening 13 - 14 March 2024 in Singapore.

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