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The Epica awards is unique in this industry because it is the only creative prize judged by the press.

This year, the first Sri Lankan version of the awards jury was moderated by Epica Awards editorial director Mark Tungate, who also hosted the ceremony. The jurors were Raahil Chopra, deputy editor of Campaign India; Daniel Huntley, news editor of shots in the UK; Harmandar Singh, founder of publishing company Sledgehammer Communications in Malaysia; and Pongpiti Phasukyud, founder of Ad Addict in Thailand. Epica’s extensive online jury of more than 200 journalists around the world also got a chance to vote on the 400+ longlist. 

The two-day event consisted of a conference that featured speakers such as Dentsu APAC chief creative officer Ted Lim,BBDO Worldwide regional ECD Ali Rez, TGH collective founder and CCO Tay Guan Hin, Ogilvy Pakistan ECD/head of strategy Assam Khalid, as well as the co-founders of Ki Saigon.

shots News Editor Daniel Huntley spoke with some of the people behind the work at this years Epica Sri Lanka awards, below we see what they thought about the first advertising awards in the country for over 12 years.

Epica Awards - 4As Sri Lanka

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Above: Event recap created by The Sri Lankan Chapter of the 4A's (Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies).


Rajiv R. Menon - Chief Executive Creative Officer, Phoenix Ogilvy.

What did you think of the Epicas?

It’s been over a decade since Sri Lanka had a creative awards show of any measure; let alone a reputed international one. We were desperate for a platform here that could set quality benchmarks for local creative work. So, the Epica Awards making its debut in Sri Lanka was most awaited. Plus the fact it’s adjudged by journalists, made it a good unbiased opener of sorts. And yes, the show did justify its billing. I thought the line-up of speakers was an interesting mix from maverick creatives to technological pros, each bringing a fascinating mix of knowledge and if I may say, thought-swagger to the table.

There were plenty of entries, as expected. Fishing the waters, checking for potency of the bait, so to say.

How pleased is your agency with the awards, and success of the show?

For Ogilvy in Sri Lanka, I would say, it’s a re-start to winning ways. The team’s been in a build mode in my 2 plus years here, so it’s a good feeling. 

We won 3 Golds and a Silver, but what pleases me the most is the diversity of our wins. From classic print to animation to cinematography. Small steps, but we’re running in the right direction.

Ceylon Tea Board – Ceylon Tea

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Above: Gold winning Direction & Cinematography work for Ceylon Tea.


What was the concept behind the Ceylon Tea campain? 

Ceylon Tea has been known as one of the finest teas in the world for over 150 years. It’s prized for its quality, due to the unique terroir and climatic conditions of Sri Lanka. But globally, the ‘country of origin’ is becoming less of a selling point for tea brands, and the demand for ‘pure’ Ceylon Tea is diminishing as markets are being inundated with cheap multi-origin blends and low-cost quick brews. So, our challenge was to rejuvenate the image of Ceylon Tea for the world.

What Tiffany is to jewellery, Ceylon Tea should be to tea.

The cinematography is very sophisticated, can you talk about it?

What Tiffany is to jewellery, Ceylon Tea should be to tea. We wanted to position Ceylon Tea as premium tea by romanticizing the story that Ceylon Tea isn’t just the purest tea in the world. It is tea from an exotic island with a history, a place and a culture. It is tea with charm and a distinct personality. 

Therefore, the idea of ‘Pure enchantment in a cup’. Every sip of Ceylon Tea takes you on a magical trip to the tea island of Sri Lanka. To capture this essence, the film had to look very elegantly premium with an ethereal sophistication to it. Every shot was beautifully crafted and the camerawork did justice to the magic prevalent in the high-altitude tea plantations.

Government Of Sri Lanka – Reconciliation And Development

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Above: Gold winning Animation work for Sri Lanka Ministry of Finance.

The zipper campaign is about bringing people together. Tell us about the team that worked on it.

Yes, the zipper is a metaphor for unifying the North and East of Sri Lanka to the rest of the country. We were briefed by the then Finance Minister to help promote unity and unification as a necessary precursor to the country’s development in the context of long-standing inter-ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka that escalated to a demand for two separate states.

The idea was to ‘zip together’ a nation that has been divided by perceptions of right, rights-denied and interpretations of historical evolution of the problem. The zipper helped demonstrate that unity has the power to spur economic development and a better future for all.

Once I cracked the zipper idea, I was sure that this commercial had to be an animation

Once I cracked the zipper idea, I was sure that this commercial had to be an animation and rendered in a very simplistic style. Simple on two counts; one, it had to cut through all SECs and two, it would also demonstrate to people that coming together was not that difficult. Then I met with film director Chathra Weeraman who has worked on animation projects, and together we began sketching the principal characters who represented the three ethnicities. From there, every frame of the storyboard was carefully illustrated and then animated. 

What was the response to the film?

The film was warmly received by all. Importantly, most people are very skeptical about chest-thumping government ‘propaganda’, so in that light, we were delighted that almost everybody who saw the film found it to be very endearing and got the message in a trice. It was highly commended on social media as well.

Life Chant

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Above: Gold winning work for Colombo Municipal Council.

Shehan Samarasinha - Director - Strategic Planning, TRIAD.

"Life Chant demonstrates the power religion has to create change, for good. In a first, religious sense met civic sense to educate people on dengue mosquito breeding. With over 13000 temples and shrines spread across Sri Lanka, Life Chant is a solution at scale!"

Tay Guan Hin - Founder & CCO, TGH Collective.

What did you think of the event, organisation and response from the community?

Despite the threat of the coronavirus canceling many significant events, I am surprised to see so many speakers and jury members who made an effort to fly in and support Epica Sri Lanka 2020. The speakers who couldn't be in Sri Lanka skyped in and made their speech in the comfort of their own homes or office.

After 12 years, you can see everyone's appetite to learn and be inspired.

I was very impressed with how well organized the conference was. After 12 years, you can see everyone's appetite to learn and be inspired. Everyone I spoke to, burst with delight, and remarked on the quality of speakers. I overheard an agency head telling their clients the office will be closed for two days to allow their employees to soak in as much learning as possible. 

Any particular campaign or piece of work that interested you?

I thought the elephant repellent incense sticks for Aura by TBWA/Sri Lanka was a simple, cheap, effective way to ease the human and elephant tension. I didn't realize it was a significant concern in Sri Lanka till I was almost run over, head-on, by an enormous elephant who rushed out while the owners chased it while I visited a temple. Since villagers pray early in the morning and during the evenings, it was also the same time elephants traveled into the villages. A great product idea that has a dual function.

Wunderman Thompson - So Sri Lanka

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Alyna Omar - CEO, Wunderman Thompson Sri Lanka.

What do these awards mean to your agency? 

These wins are incredibly important to us because its another layer of validation of growth strategy here and the fact that we won for everyday on-brief work across 6 clients ranging from Sri Lanka Tourism to Unilever is very exciting – we’ve invested strategically in non-traditional talent, deep insight and diverse perspective to ensure that we’re creating solutions for the challenges that brands, consumers, industries and the Sri Lankan economy at large are navigating today – our social fabric is changing and we want to ensure that WT is driving the conversation in new Sri Lanka. 

We’re challenging ourselves to be braver and push forward with all our might and these results have been a lovely acknowledgment of the hard work and passion that all our teams bring to everything we do every day.

Our Epica success on Positive Sri Lanka is especially gratifying given its context – we created an economic stimulus model for the retail industry that was designed to jumpstart the local economy post the devastating Easter attacks of 2019. Our wins on Unilever’s Comfort and Lux are thrilling because it showcases our capabilities in experiential innovation. We’re challenging ourselves to be braver and push forward with all our might and these results have been a lovely acknowledgment of the hard work and passion that all our teams bring to everything we do every day.

What do the awards mean for the Sri Lankan ad community?

It’s been 12 years since the local industry had a local creative award platform, this has been devasting for us in terms of attracting and motivating good young talent – With Epica launching we have a fresh start – its an opportunity for the industry to set aside old politics and commit to uplifting the standards of creativity in Sri Lanka.

What impact will the event have in the region?

Sri Lanka has so much potential to be a hub of fresh creative perspective – our industry is yet to find its authentic voice - events like this help us do this and this will give us more confidence regionally and globally.

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Wunderman Thompson - Positive Sri Lanka 1

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Wunderman Thompson - Positive Sri Lanka 2

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Wunderman Thompson - Positive Sri Lanka 3

Ruchi Sharma - CCO, Brands for Humans/ former VP - 4As board of Sri Lanka.

There was some outstanding work at the awards, what was the most impactful piece for you?

Tough to mention just one. Three pieces of work stood out for me. The Motherhood series of illustration by Walter Thompson touched the mother in me. The Inherit your name & Life Chant by Triad, were two impactful communication pieces for the local community. Simple ideas that had a very crucial task at its core, to educate and change people behaviour.

For too long, the advertising and client community didn’t have a competitive and international bar to aim for as far as creative excellence was concerned.

What do you hope will be the lasting impact for the community with these awards?

For too long, the advertising and client community didn’t have a competitive and international bar to aim for as far as creative excellence was concerned. Through these awards, they will now be able to set a local standard of excellence and that will give them more confidence to aim for the international awards.

What would you like to see more of next time? work? more diversity?

I would definitely like to see more bold work on big clients. Clients that spend a lot in media here locally and have that kind of reach with the masses.

Inherit his name, Inherit his way

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Above: Gold winning work for National Muslim Collective.

Sanjay Chaudhari - CEO, Publicis Groupe Sri Lanka.

"Our performance at the Epica Awards was simply EPIC! To win 9 metals including the Grand Prix and Agency of the Year was a fantastic feat and kudos to each and every one on the team at Leo Burnett for their contribution towards winning anaward in every category we entered. Our performance at the Epica Awards places us squarely as the foremost creative agency in the country across all media. 

Our performance at the Epica Awards was simply EPIC!

At Publicis Groupe Sri Lanka, we have drawn up strategic plans for future growth and this triumph makes the journey an even more thrilling one. The agency’s close collaboration with clients continues to support us to create award-winning campaigns."

Check out all the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners from the awards at our roundup here.

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