Q&A: Kestrel Lee – Executive Creative Director, Freeman APAC & China

Kestrel Lee is leading the charge for Freeman Asia in developing sustainable digital/social/e-commerce systems for its clients. Patrick Collister recently spoke with Lee leading up to his return as a judge at The Caples Awards.

You judged The Caples Awards in New York in 2017. It clearly made an impression on you.

Yes, I learned so much from the awards submissions, especially the digital and data-driven entries. I wrote about it at the time. Creative effectiveness must be linked to data.

Ogilvy New York’s “Cognitive Dress” for IBM was a great example of what I mean. The idea showed how data and social listening influenced not just the materials that were chosen to make the dress but how viewers could change it on the catwalk.


You’re judging again, in London in May this year?

It’s an honor to have been asked and I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the best work from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Europe.

I’m expecting to see ideas that both humbles and inspires me to be better in my own work.


It’s a show that wants to focus on work that sells. Is this important to you?

Yes, The Caples people say it’s a show that wants to recognize and reward work that sells because it’s very hard to get people to open their wallets. 

For me, the gap between brand work and tactical retail advertising has ended. Today’s economy has to be about engaging meaningfully to sell. You know, even established brands can lose market share and customers within weeks these days, let alone months.

Every customer has an opinion and they can make or break a brand.

Welcome to the age of creative accountability!

What work from China have you seen that could win international awards?

Cheil’s “Back2Life” campaign for Samsung is a candidate. It did quite well at One Show China. They hacked “Blood River”, one of China’s most popular multiplayer games, and got players to learn to use CPR  to revive other gamers.

I also like Tencent’s “A Team of One”, which was created to inspire more Chinese people to become organ donors. The idea is the story of a boy who died aged 16 but, through his organs, was able to play professional basketball. 

What else do you plan to do in London?

Apart from look at hundreds of ideas? I’ll try and see what the best work in the UK is in experiential. I’ll work out of our London office for a few days and share case studies and best practice and maybe catch a concert or two.

You can find out more about The Caples Awards here.

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