Xin Ying Peh, copywriter at Reprise Digital Malaysia, reflects on her Creative LIAisions 2021 experience.
When I found out I was selected as a mentee for Creative LIAisons, two things ran through my head:
1. Oh my god, I got in wtf.
2. Must. Lock. In. Mentors.
As a small town Malaysian girl with only 3 years of ad experience, opportunities like this don’t come very often. So I wasted no time emailing back, and was lucky enough to be assigned three very amazing and experienced coaches.
On a Wednesday evening in May, I had my first session with Istvan Bracsok of White Rabbit, Budapest.
From the very beginning, the conversation with him was fascinating, intense, and insightful. We discussed the importance of being open to ideas and how creative challenges are fundamentally the same everywhere. The highlight of our conversations, however, were the pictures he sent of his giant Hokkaido Ken (that’s a dog, by the way), which I, as a Millennial/Gen Z person who lives off TikTok animal content, thoroughly appreciated.
Istvan taught me the importance to keep fighting for creative work, and how the ability to start over is an incredibly valuable trait to have in an industry like ours.
He left me with this quote, which had me both inspired and laughing nervously:
“You’re not a man until you win your first D&AD.”
We are all no strangers to the wonderful insanity that is Thai advertising, which is why I was absolutely elated to find out my second coach was Sompat Trisadikun, Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett/Publicis Thailand.
Sompat was like this really smiley, creative zen buddha. He even titled his creative methodology based on Buddhist philosophy, which…I’m not gonna lie, was pretty cool. He revealed to me that despite being known for its weird and wacky humour, at the core of every Thai ad is a simple message wrapped in a fun execution, and it is our job to ensure that the work is engaging.
One thing that really surprised me was when he revealed how Thai advertising is for the most part real, non-initiative work, which to me was absolutely unreal. The stuff dreams are made of. But as Sompat very sagely told me, oftentimes, the biggest problem we must overcome is ourselves. (See, very philosophical!)
My third and final coach was Jessica Apellaniz, Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Mexico & LATAM.
I wasn’t sure who was more excited: me or my boss, Kevin, who fan-girled endlessly about her famous AeroMexico campaign. Our first attempt at connecting ended up in a small scheduling hiccup – the time difference was pretty hard to navigate – but the wait was well worth it.
Jessica answered all my questions with such precision and poise, it thoroughly left me in awe. Our session was brief, but saturated with wisdom.
We discussed her career trajectory from MTV producer to adwoman, and how she made the transition successfully by letting her work do the talking for her. She encouraged me to find “my thing” – a skill that comes naturally to me and how to turn it into a superpower, but to never forget the importance of empathy and collaboration.
“If you want to grow,” she said. “People will want to work with you and for you.”
It made me reflect on the kind of boss and creative I wanted to be one day. And looking at her, I’d say I have a pretty good idea of what that looks like.
To be completely honest, I was very nervous going into the coaching sessions. There’s this pressure of wanting to make the most of each conversation, to make an impression and not somehow cock it up. I’m not sure if I’ve managed to successfully achieve any of those things. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, there’s no one formula to being an award-winning creative. Everyone does it differently, but some fundamental things remain:
1. Insights are non-negotiable.
2. Be open and willing to learn.
3. Keep fighting the good fight.
And these are the lessons I will be holding close to my heart for the rest of my career.
Thank you LIA for this tremendous and unforgettable opportunity.