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“Get into  adver-sing,  design,  or  any  other  kind  of  commercial  art   business  only  if  it’s  the  only  thing  you  want  to  do  with  your  life.  You   know,  there  are  easier  ways  of  making  money.  Making  ads,  especially   good  ones,  is  very  hard  work.  It’s  stressful.  It’s  a  soul  and  ego  destroying   ac-vity.     On  one  hand  you’re  an  ar-st.  You’re  sensi-ve.  Well,  at  least  you’re   supposed  to  be.  If  you  care  about  your  work,  you  pour  your  life  into  it.   Each  piece  of  work  that  you  create  is  a  reflec-on  of  you,  your  tastes,  your   life  experience.  So  its  does  your  ego  and  confidence  a  lot  of  damage   when  first  your  crea-ve  partner,  then  your  crea-ve  director,  then  the   planner,  the  account  director  and  finally  the  client  tells  you  that  it  sucks.   And  this  happens  on  a  daily  basis.  

And then  you  have  to  pick  yourself  up,  pretend  nothing  happened  and  go   back  to  the  drawing  board  and  give  it  your  very  best  shot  all  over  again.   So  it’s  hard  work.     But  every  once  every  while,  your  stars  will  align.  You  will  get  the  perfect   brief.  You  will  crack  the  perfect  idea,  your  crea-ve  partner  will  craJ  it  to   perfec-on,  the  client  will  buy  it,  there  will  be  enough  money  to  do  the   idea  up  well,  and  it  will  win  awards  and  sell  products.  And  when  that   happens  it’s  magic.  It  makes  all  the  pain  worthwhile.     Ask  yourself  if  this  is  what  you  want  to  do?  Does  this  get  you  out  of  bed   every  morning?  If  you  follow  your  heart  and  love  what  you  do,  success   will  follow.”  

“At 26,  I  started  out  as  a  copy  trainee  with  a  small  agency  in  south  India   for  the  princely  sum  of  800  rupees,  which  is  exactly  48.67  Singapore   dollars.  But  I  didn’t  really  care,  because  I  was  doing  what  I  loved.  I  was   consumed.  I  used  to  work  18,  19  hours  a  day.  Things  that  nobody  else   wanted  to  do,  I'd  do  with  pleasure.     With  a  lot  of  luck,  aJer  6  years  I  ended  up  as  an  associate  crea-ve   director  at  Ogilvy  in  India.  I  was  having  a  good  -me.  I  had  a  fancy  -tle.   I  was  making  fairly  decent  money.  But  I  realised  there  was  something   missing.  My  ads  were  looking  like  shit.     In  the  late  90s,  I  was  seeing  all  this  amazing  work  coming  out  of   Singapore.  Exquisitely  craJed  work  with  razor-­‐sharp  focus  on  the   message.  Work  created  by  people  like  Pann  and  Thomas  yang  and   Maurice  Wee.  So  one  Friday,  I  quit,  paid  for  my  no-ce  period  myself  and   came  to  Singapore  with  a  10-­‐day  visa.  

This was  in  2001,  not  many  Singaporean  crea-ve  directors  were  on  email   and  all  that  jazz.  So  I  started  cold-­‐calling  agencies  with  not  much  success.   I  eventually  got  through  to  Norman  Tan,  the  execu-ve  crea-ve  director   (ECD)  of  JWT  Singapore,  he  was  looking  for  writers  and  he  offered  me   a  writer’s  posi-on.  I  told  him,  I'll  take  it.  We  didn’t  even  discuss  money.   When  he  finally  got  back  to  me  about  the  money,  it  was  almost  half  of   what  I  was  making  in  India.  But  I  took  the  job.  The  first  year  was  really   tough.  Yet  I  was  working  with  some  of  the  best  art  directors  in  the  world.   That  to  me,  was  enough.     My  work  was  gedng  beeer.  I  was  learning  a  lot.  I  was  gedng  good  stuff   into  my  book.  And  soon  enough,  because  I  was  working  with  really  good   people  my  work  started  winning  awards.  And  within  a  year,  I  started   gedng  fair  compensa-on  for  my  efforts.”  

“I’ve seen  many  rising  stars  whom  I  thought  would  change  the  face  of   adver-sing,  yet  aJer  a  couple  of  years  they  sort  of  vanish  down  the  black   hole  of  adver-sing.  These  are  people  who  buy  into  the  adver-sing   lifestyle.  A  liele  success  and  they  acquire  the  trappings  of  the  adver-sing   life.  They  start  to  live  their  lives  like  they  were  in  an  episode  of  mad  men.   But  I've  also  seen  a  lot  of  solid  people  with  half  the  talent  but  double  the   hunger  and  passion  for  their  work.     When  I  first  came  to  Singapore  I  heard  a  lot  of  stories  about  David  Droga   who  now  runs  his  own  set  up  called  Droga5,  easily  one  of  the  best   agencies  in  the  world.  

David Droga,  applied  a  disciplined  approach  in  coming  up  with  ideas   using  the  60  boxes  rule.  His  ra-onale  was  that  if  you  had  filled  up  the   sheet  with  60  ideas,  at  least  one  of  them  won’t  suck  so  much.     And  I  know  that  some  of  the  most  successful  people  in  adver-sing  do   that.  I  remember  when  Thomas  and  I  were  working  together  at  JWT,  we   were  doing  a  campaign  for  Listerine  and  we  did  these  three  ads,  and   I  was  ready  to  go  home.  But  Thomas  Yang  said  we  must  do  at  least  six.  At   that  -me  I  was  like  are  you  fucking  crazy?  But  in  hindsight  6  ads  gave  the   campaign  a  lot  of  body  and  it  ended  up  winning  best  of  show  at  the   Singapore  Crea-ve  Circle  Awards.     Keep  referring  back  to  the  brief,  don’t  strive  for  perfec-on.  The  brain  is   a  muscle.  The  more  you  work  it,  the  stronger  it  gets.  Discipline  and   consistency  is  key.”  

“If there’s  no  life  outside  adver-sing,  there  will  be  no  life  in  your   adver-sing.  You  must  have  a  rich  and  varied  life  if  your  work  is  to  be  rich   and  varied.  At  DDB,  we’ve  set  up  something  called  degree. Degree  is  an  online  shop  that  allows  our  people  to  create  ideas  and   products  that  have  nothing  to  do  with  their  daily  work.   But  aJer  that  you  must  do  one  very  important  thing.”  

“Have a  place  to  record  all  these  interes-ng  things  that  life  throws   at  you.     Most  crea-ve  people  I  know  have  a  place  to  store  all  these  memories.   Keep  a  notebook.  There’s  only  so  much  your  brain  can  store.     Collect  quotes  and  stuff  that  inspires  you.  Draw  random  stuff.”  

“And finally,  don’t  be  a  jerk.  No  maeer  how  successful  you  are,  know   that  rela-onships,  friendships  are  the  most  important  things  in  life.  You   get  into  an  agency,  you  do  a  great  campaign,  you  win  some  awards,  you   get  a  raise  and  a  fancy  -tle  and  then  something  strange  happens.  You   stop  gree-ng  the  taxi  driver,  you  become  nasty  to  the  servicing  people,   you  screw  over  your  partners,  you  start  calling  the  clients  dumb.  You  go   from  a  young,  talented,  hungry,  nice  kid  to  a  prima  donna  that  nobody   wants  to  work  with.     So  pick  a  great  agency,  work  your  ass  off,  be  nice  to  people,  try  to  stay   happy  and  everything  else  will  follow.”  

Six Key Lesson for Young Creatives  

For them who works in advertising agency

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