WHO ARE THEY? Sid Lim (far left), 29, and Michael Chin (left), 26. The art director and copywriter respectively at interactive agency DDB Singapore won Creative Team of the Year at last year’s Singapore Hall of Fame Awards, organised by the Institute of Advertising Singapore to celebrate young talents.
They’re the brains behind touching campaigns for a local telco, like #AddMumOnFacebook. “Winning at the Hall of Fame Awards was an affirmation to do better. We also got to give a talk at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and share our experiences,” shares Sid. The Singapore Hall of Fame Awards 2015 takes place on Nov 26 at Gardens by the Bay.
8 DAYS: What’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve had to do for work?
MICHAEL: We shot an ad at Bukit Brown cemetery with a bunch of YouTubers one night during the Qing Ming Festival. The ad was about taking life to the edge, so we filmed people watching a movie on their phones in a coffin. We heard sounds, and cameras that were not supposed to break down broke down. It was a shoot we’d rather forget. (Laughs)
SID LIM: The idea sounded good on paper, but when we were there it was scary.
You guys are all suited up today like proper Mad Men characters. How accurate is the show at portraying life in an ad agency?
SID: Not at all for us. It was set in the ’60s, when the context was very different.
MICHAEL: The show Mad Men made [life in an ad agency] very realistic, but advertising moves so quickly that even something from five years ago would be outdated today. Don Draper is a taboo name in the industry!
SID: Because of Mad Men, everyone thinks that working in advertising is all about arriving in office like a rock star, drinking whiskey while ideas come to you at the last minute. They’re dead wrong, man. If you go in like that, you wouldn’t last a month.
MICHAEL: In the show there’s a scene where Don Draper comes up with a line [to promote cigarettes] that goes, “It’s toasted.” If we say that to our boss today…
What’s one thing you’ve learnt on the job that they didn’t teach you in school?
MICHAEL: I studied Mass Communications at NTU, which taught me that everything has a structure. But work taught me I need to be flexible, like accepting that an idea isn’t suitable for a TV ad. Otherwise I will keep landing back at square one.
SID: I studied Design Communications at LaSalle College of the Arts. School didn’t teach me to like what I do, which is important ’cos advertising doesn’t offer work-life balance! It’s common to see people join an ad agency and leave quickly.
We turn into clients from hell for a day and challenge Sid and Michael to market mundane everyday things — as well as civic consciousness — to local folks.
1. HAND CREAM
MICHAEL: “Many hand cream brands claim to be ‘natural’. Some even say their creams are edible. If Sid and I had our own hand cream brand, we’d claim that it’s not just edible, but delicious. We’ll work with a juice brand and turn it into a hand jam. You could put it in your sandwich if you want. ’Cos if your hand cream tastes natural, and is organic and non-toxic, then it probably is good for you.”
2. THE GRACIOUSNESS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT MOVEMENT
MICHAEL: “Every year, National Day Parade tickets are assigned randomly through a ballot. [But how we’d do it is] if people make way on trains and buses so they don’t block the entrances and exits, they accumulate points towards getting a pair of National Day Parade tickets. All they need to do is tap their EZ-Link cards on readers at the rear areas of the bus, or on the hand rails furthest away from MRT train doors.”
3. HEAD MASSAGER
MICHAEL: “The basic rule [of advertising] is that you don’t sell an object. You sell its benefits, like showing how good this head massager makes people feel. But advertising is not like magic. People can’t throw us a brief and expect a campaign by tomorrow. We need to consider things like the advertisement’s medium too. You’re like a monster client, 8 DAYS! (Guffaws)”