Apr 5th, 2017
Tay Guan Hin: Mentors, Young Talent & LA vs. Singapore
This year, Tay Guan Hin, our Global Executive Creative Director for South East Asia, was selected as one of the four Asian representatives on the Executive Jury at this year’s New York Festival. We caught up with Guan to hear about his creative journey and what he looks for when he steps into the jury room.
What is the difference between great work and award-winning work?
Truly award-worthy work redefines conventional thinking, taps into popular culture that triggers conversation, and allows our consumers to care, share or participate. Something brutally simple, yet rooted in deep insights usually creates an impact so memorable that it gets makes me think long after I have experienced it. In this fast-changing world, given our short attention span, if the work takes more than thirty seconds to make an impression, it’s dead.
You started your career in Los Angeles, California before continuing to work in Singapore. What would you say are the distinct differences between the creative industry in LA and the industry in Singapore?
I won my first award as an Art Center College of Design graduate at the Los Angles Creative Club Student competition. Winning the Best of Show opened up an opportunity for me to work with one of the judges. I truly enjoyed my time experiencing a new culture that was much more open than Singapore. Creative use of copy and humor played a huge part in American advertising, which took me a while to get used to. In Asia, because of the different languages, visual work that could communicate a message across languages is much more preferred than clever copy. This was completely opposite from my earlier experience America.
What are some of your favorite campaigns from the past year?
From our network, I would pick something closer to home from JWT Bangkok. Specifically, their campaign “Touchable Ink” that was done for Samsung. They created a new ink that can rise when heated to form embossed versions of flat row of Braille letters. I simply love the fact that the technology is more affordable than expensive Braille embosser. I hope this continues to be developed further so it can be accessible to all visually impaired around the world. More recently, when “Fearless Girl” first appeared on my Facebook post, it had already taken the world by storm. It’s a brave and outstanding piece of work that got everyone talking on International Women’s Day.
You've been committed to mentoring young talents in Asia. What would be your advice to aspiring young creatives who are trying to achieve your level of success?
The hunger to succeed, whatever the cost, is probably the most important virtue an aspiring young creative needs to have. Hunger drives passion, and passionate people have such an insatiable appetite for success that overcomes any shortcomings in talent. The hunger to learn without being defensive when criticized makes a huge difference when junior creatives are being mentored. Being open minded and the ability to absorb different points of view, is also critical.
Tell us about a mentor that shaped who you are as a creative leader today.
There are two mentors that created a profound impact in my career. The first is Ms. Linda Locke, with whom I worked with when I was at Saatchi and Saatchi and at Leo Burnett. She has the uncanny ability to be a talented creative and a fantastic manager. She’s extremely demanding and her objective is very clear. I’ve learned management skills from her. The second is Dave Droga. With Dave, it’s all pretty spontaneous. He’s a natural in developing ideas spontaneously and picking things up on the run. When I knew him at Saatchi and Saatchi in Singapore, he was just starting his career and was extremely brave. He had an “anything goes” type of personality. Coming from having a very conservative Asian perspective, it was very liberating seeing him break all the boundaries.