Big whale leads to big honors: Merlee Jayme on Dentsu Jayme Syfu’s triumphant Spikes Asia 2017 haul


MANILA – Who could have predicted that a facsimile of a dead whale built entirely of plastic would be so talked about worldwide? And who would have thought that the same dead whale would reap honors for Dentsu Jayme Syfu? But earn those honors ‘Dead Whale’ has, resulting in Dentsu Jayme Syfu walking away with the most number of awards at the recently concluded Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity 2017 in Singapore.

In an exclusive interview with adobo, Dentsu Jayme Syfu Chairmom and Chief Creative Officer Merlee Jayme shared some valuable insights into the award-winning campaign and how, though they are relatively new within the Dentsu network, the Philippine agency is living up to the high quality associated with the Dentsu name.

Genesis of a whale

“Late last year, we thought of the ‘dead whale’ project after hearing news about a dead whale spotted on a beach here in the Philippines,” Jayme says. “As we did more research, we found out that there were more unreported cases of beached whales in the Philippines alone. It was perfect timing when we met with Greenpeace about their ASEAN effort against ocean pollution.”

“We showed them our ‘whale of an idea’ and they loved it instantly,” she continues. “The only difficulty was the short deadline to make it to ASEAN week (May 8-12, 2017). To make it happen, there were a lot of selfless people who helped the team non-stop.”

Asked whose idea it was to create the dead whale, Jayme notes, “The team led by our Creative Director Biboy Royong created the idea and designed it completely made of plastic trash.”

As for the actual process of creating the whale away from prying eyes, Jayme bares that they had a limited window to work with. “We only had five days to actually work on it,” she relays. “We had nine carpenters and craftsmen working on it between shifts. We adjusted some details of the design based on their pace. We made sure the plastic whale would convince people that it was a real dead whale – in size and texture. We created this from a hidden warehouse near the beach. Greenpeace helped us secure a place and the permit for the beach. It had to be a relevant place where pollution was really a current problem. In the early morning before sunrise, this was carefully put on the shore. People in the area were really shocked when they woke up.”

Waking up to a changed world

The actual revelation of the whale on May 11 was planned all along to coincide with the ASEAN Leadership meetings held in Manila. “We mounted it on the shores of Naic, Cavite, a beach connected to Manila Bay near where the ASEAN meeting venue was held. Greenpeace wanted it on that specific date to make an impact on the ASEAN leaders. It truly did. Besides the social media impressions, TV news coverage both local and international, it even landed the front page,” Jayme says.

Upon mounting, it didn’t take long for the news of this “dead whale” to spread like wildfire online. “It was unveiled at 6:00 AM of May 11,” she chronicles. “A few hours later, it shocked the internet. It reached over 100 countries online while media oufits kept on coming to Naic, Cavite that day to cover the ‘dead’ whale.

Honors at Spikes Asia

The viral phenomenon brought a lot of attention to the huge problem of plastics being dumped in the seas around the Philippines from all over the world. It thus should not be considered a surprise that in the one of the first advertising themed festivals that the campaign was submitted as an entry, ‘Dead Whale’ reaped so many honors. To date, it won a Gold Spike for Media, Silver Spike for Outdoor, Silver Spike for PR, a Bronze Spike in Design, and a Bronze Spike in Direct for a total of five metals at Spikes Asia 2017 in Singapore.

On top of those awards, Dentsu Jayme Syfu earned the distinction of being awarded the newly-created award of Country Agency of the Year for the Philippines. “Of course, we were so happy,” Jayme said of their recent haul. “Our vision of creating ideas that change lives and change the world inspired us again. It was truly an honor for our agency and our country. Honestly, we were not at all expecting this. This was a very big blessing for us and ended our week in the best way possible.”

For its part, the home office of Dentsu Tokyo actually won the coveted Agency of the Year honor at Spikes Asia. Asked if the win by Dentsu Tokyo, Taproot Dentsu Mumbai (Country Agency of the Year for India), and Filipino media agency dentsu X (third place in Media Agency of the Year) puts any added pressure on Dentsu Jayme Syfu to also come up with award-winning campaigns, the Chairmom responds, “The pressure is always from ourselves and never from a network or anyone else. We sleep better at night whenever we come up with more creative ideas to help humanity. Making this world a better place through brand messages, technology or design should be every creative’s purpose.”

“We are a new member of the Dentsu family but we feel so much at home with the network’s goal of creating life-changing solutions. We also feel so proud to win this prestigious honor along with other Dentsu Creative agencies that we truly look up to: Dentsu Tokyo and Taproot Dentsu Mumbai,” she adds.

Regarding a message she and the agency have for the Philippine advertising industry in light of these victories, Jayme hammers home the message behind ‘Dead Whale’ when she says, “Being number three in the world in using plastics, it’s about time to help and educate every Filipino to refuse using it. Let’s start caring about our oceans, before it’s too late.”



Client: Greenpeace Philippines

Exec. Director: Yeb Sano

Oceans Campaigner: Vince Cinches

Media Campaigner: Angelica Pago


Agency: Dentsu Jayme Syfu

CCO: Merlee Jayme

CD: Biboy Royong

Copy: Soleil Badenhop

Art director: Blane Rosales

Production Coordinator: Sheila Villanueva

Business Unit Director: Julia Pronstroller Gallardo

Social Media Manager: Tabbi Tomas



Photographer: Ruben Hamahiga Dela Cruz

Production: Butch Garcia / Etnikolor

Post-production: Greenroom Inc.

Executive Producer: Franny Omampo

Producer: Lester Parulan

Post-Producer: JP Campos

Editors/Artists: Erin Hipolito, Jaymar Carinan, Berto Abenido

3D Animation: Underground Logic

Managing Director: Adrian Tecson

Head of Creative Operations: Paolo Morato

Senior Colorist: Leslie Tan

3D Artist/Animator/Generalist/VFX Supervisor: Wayne Dayauon

Renderer: Russ Galicia

Audio House: HIT Productions

Audio Engineer: Glenn Mariano

Music Arranger: Teddy Katigbak

Click here for a complete list of Philippine agency winners at Spikes Asia 2017 and here for the rest of the big Spikes Asia 2017 winners. Dentsu Jayme Syfu also won an award at the Tangrams Effectiveness Awards held on the first day of the Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity.


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