Thursday, 5 November 2009


Our judgment is always based on our life experience: the books we read, the music we listen, the friends and families we have, the job we do and the tv programs we watch.

Therefore, what is interesting to us may not be so to others, as each of us looks at things from different perspectives.

An architect, when appreciating a house, will not just look at it from the front side. He will see it from the inside, from the corner, from the back, from the top or even from the bottom.

He will touch the walls and the floor, feel the light and space within the architecture, and most importantly, he needs to be comfortable being in touch with it.

This, to me, is the most crucial part.

When you go through my works, whether you personally like them or not, it doesn’t matter.

I hope you find a little joy going through them.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


The dustbin execution was presented to Nestle many years ago, while I was working at Lowe Singapore. They didn't buy it.

I kept it and presented again to Nestle Thailand while I moved to Bangkok.

This time with two more executions to make it a campaign.

The client loved it, ran the prints and even turned them into a series of postcards.

I never throw away my old ideas.

When I revisit them some years later, I always have new sparks of inspiration.

The print campaign was a success among the teenaged groups.

We tried to convince the client to run commercials for more ad awareness to revitalize its brand image.

The client agreed to pay for the media, but agency had to absorb the production cost.

Fair deal?


My writer showed me his sketch. A blank page with a pack of Kit Kat and the "have a break" tagline.

I told him we had to remove the pack because it killed the idea.

He said the client would not buy it if they did not see their product.

I did the layout without the pack shot and presented to the client.

She was speechless at first, but finally bought the ad and ran it in major magazines.

Months later, I heard from the Account Director that she left Nestle. I hope her departure had nothing to do with this ad.


The feet argued with the hands: "We can do exactly what you can, why should we stay at the bottom?"

The hands said: "But we can't do what you can, that's why we are at the top doing what we are good at."

The feet exchanged its position with the hands. The body couldn't walk straight and fell down to the river.

Don't mess up with others. Just do our duty well. Especially so in advertising.


We did the mock up and shot it in our office building.

We presented the layout to Scholl. The client loved it but had no money to run it.

We slashed our agency cost by 50%. They still didn't buy into it.

We scraped the project. But the ad got into One Show.

Don't ask me why.


Though the little piggy was not playing along while we shot, we didn't actually spank him.

Blame it on Khun Manop the editor.

However, the sound effect did add a touch of cheekiness into the tvc.

Rather than five different edits, give me one unexpected twist.


We did not abuse the boxer. But we did drug him so we could finish the shoot on time.

Many joggers in the park stopped by to find out what was going on.

I told the director we should have expected this and not hire too many extra talents.

We would have saved enough money to shoot a third ad for the print campaign.


Once in a while, you get a great client who demands nothing but great works.

Once in a while, you get a great brief with a budget that can afford George Lucas.

Once in a while, you get a piece of great work through.

What happens to the rest of our time at work?

Never wait for "Once in a while", make the best out of what you have.


If you have a great product, you will not resort to strategy or execution to make your advertising stand out from the rest.

Focus on the product, and you already have a winner.

Look at Wonder Bra, Mini, Apple Ipod and Parmalat ketchup.

Of course, the competition will catch up.

Your job is to help the client say it first.


This tvc ran on all major channels across Thailand for 3 days, until the CEO of Millennium Steel saw it and pulled it off air.

He simply didn't feel comfortable seeing a spirit house in his tvc.

But he sees them everywhere he goes. Even in his own house there is one he pays respect to everyday.

"It's not about the spirit house." we concluded: "The GM should have asked for the CEO's final approval before the tvc goes on air."


I told the Japanese client that even a calculator can be cool if its advertising is relevant.

At the time the campaign was presented to them, US troops had just invaded Iraq, George Bush refused to stick to the Kyoto treaty on pollution, and the rainforest had reduced by a third.

Topical ads can be powerful and memorable.

The client, after much consideration, found it too extreme, ran them as in-house posters instead.


How many times have we been to a noodle store? Numerous times.

How many times have we been to a garage?
Numerous times.

How many times have we been to a garage which also sells noodles? Perhaps not often.

But in Thailand, there are plenty of shops selling more than just one service.

I have been to many Thai weddings.

The grooms always make passionate speeches
at their weddings.

Well, action speaks louder than words, isn't it?


It's a 2-D print ad.

But it comes in three dimensions.

Ideas are not limited by the media.

It's we ourself who put limits on our minds.


Announcement ad is boring.

Announcement ad with a limbo background is
even more so.

Well, challenge yourself.

Perhaps a piece of great music will help. And a
bit of executional detail will add some life to it.

If you have a small budget, you need to think big.

Ideas are everywhere in our life.

We need to keep our eyes open for them.

Remember what Pablo Picasso used to say?

" I do not seek. I find. "


At an award judging session, a Creative Director from another top-notch agency commented: " These are easy executional ideas. No big deal."

I showed these ads to a friend who was not working in the ad industry.

She exclaimed: " Spot on! I like them. This has happened to me before too."

The print campaign helped push the Rexona sales in a matter of weeks.

I like to be creative. But never for the sake of just being creative.


House ads are the hardest to crack.

If you are not honest in what you say, it shows.

Other agencies always try to find faults with it too.

The best solution, I have found out later, is to say something without actually saying it.


Our mind is always moving around.

Our thoughts come one after another, never stopping even in a fraction of a second.

If you know how to tame your mind, whether by keeping it still or slowing it down, you begin to see your thoughts more clearly.

Where is an idea coming from?

In between two thoughts.


Defending our ideas is part of a creative process.

Overprotecting them may breed problems.

Knowing where to stop helps both the agency and the client.

Remember, we will never know if the idea we have now is the greatest. It may be the next one.

Or the next next next one.


I hope I don’t have to do another shampoo ad.

I hope I don’t have to do another shampoo ad.

I hope I don’t have to do another shampoo ad.

Fat hope.


I can't eat the product.

I can't put it on my hair.

I can't use it to wash my laundry too.

There must be something else that I can do with it.

Goethe wrote: The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.

I agree whole-heartedly.


The client wanted a 5 sec tag-on.

We presented a 30 sec board alongside.

They loved it, increased the budget and got it shot.

It is really up to you.

If you don't push further, you will never go far.


I was in a retreat with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

He said in an orange we could see the whole universe.

We could see the sun, the moon, the rain, the cloud, the soil, the bees, the wind, the river, the farmer and even the driver who delivered the oranges to a place near us.


(Mezzaluna is an Italian restaurant on Silom Rd)


In Asia Pacific, all Axe thematic tvcs were handled by BBH Singapore.

Lowe Bangkok was only given the Activation task.

One day we showed the "coma" storyboard to Unilever Thailand, they loved it and decided to run it, amidst strong protests from BBH Singapore.

We had a decent budget and Pi Tor, from Phenomena, wanted to shoot it for us.

This is what I call: fight for what you believe in.

Everyone has played the Tetris game before.

There are thousands of ways to end the game.

Here's one of them.


In an idea, there is no good or bad.

Nor there is right or wrong.

When we start dissecting an idea, it dies.


As a buddhist, I believe in reincarnation.

Life after death is something as natural as a burning match stick.

The flame is like our life, it appears when the phosphorus is ignited from the heat of friction with oxygen.

The burnt wooden stick is like our decay or dead body.

And the smoke refers to our soul, or Alaya the 8th consciousness, which releases into the air and merges with the clouds. It may come back in the form of rain, go into the river, and end up as a cup of tea in our hands.

In Ernest Hemingway's words: Life is a moveable feast. It never stands still. It always keeps changing.

Embrace changes like you embrace your loved ones.


We all have our own pre-occupations.

Our views are fixed on the culture norms of our society.

It is hard to break free.

If we still hold a dualistic view, we will never walk out of the labyrinth.

Yes, you can’t escape celebrities in advertising.

The more well known they are, the more likely you will be asked to feature them.

If you choose a celebrity with the personality matched to that of a product.

It will do a lot of goods to the brand.

Tor the singer isn’t the best celebrity I can find.

But his conservative and wholesome image fits in well with Brand’s.


In a visual ad, execution detail is very much like the body copy, giving the readers extra elements to complete their own mental picture.

I spent close to two months on the production of this campaign. It deserves a lot of my attention for the meticulous detail.

Take a closer look. Every bit of it tells a story.


Someone on left a message after seeing this tvc online.

It says: "Better than watching a 2-hour movie. It taught me a great lesson."

8 out of 10 people who saw this ad admitted they had done the same once or twice in their lives.

This spot even won the Viewers' choice awards.

When you speak to your audience, they will response.

When we see a vase of beautiful flowers, we are only attracted by the flowers.

We seldom think about the water inside the vase.

Without the water the flowers will be dying.

At an agency we see only the award winning creative teams.

But quietly forget many other invisible faces who help sustain the agency.


We always try to identify the problem but end up looking for it in the wrong places.

The problem lies in the roots.

If we weed out a problem without getting rid of its roots. It will come back.


The art of looking sideways teaches us to see with our mind open.

We see the sun everyday. We see the house we stay everyday. We see the people around us everyday. We see the roads, the shop lots, the market and the traffic that we travel from day to day.

But we never make connection with them.

Do not separate ourselves from the surroundings, we are all inter-connected.


An empty plate gives us so much room for infinite imagination.

If it is filled with a dish, it becomes occupied, and has no more space for other possibilities.

Our mind should be like an empty plate, always full of room to accommodate everything.


The client didn't want creative stuff as she feared the local readers might not understand it at all.

We presented the "bike" campaign to her. She was happy as it was visually Vietnamese. And no one would have problems understanding them.

We were wrong. 80% of her colleagues didn't get the message.