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Tham Khai Meng On Cannes

TheNextGag.com is an online media showcasing creativity in advertising. Recently, they interviewed Ogilvy & Mather’s Chief Creative Officer, Tham Khai Meng to know his views on Cannes, cyberbullying and clients.

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THENEXTGAG.COM: WHAT DOES BEING PRIZED THE “NETWORK OF THE YEAR” AT CANNES MANY YEARS IN A ROW REPRESENTS FOR YOU?

THAM KHAI MENG: There’s a whole cocktail of emotions surrounding it. The buzz of being there on the night and receiving the award is huge, it would be dishonest to deny. Not just for me but for all our clients and the foot soldiers in the network – our unsung heroes slaving away all year round. I accept the award, but they are the people who won it.

There’s a sense of vindication too. You think, maybe we weren’t crazy after all. The pursuit of excellence can become obsessive, you can turn into one of those movie mad scientists working late in the lab, oblivious to the clock and forgetting  to eat. So it’s nice to get some sort of vindication.

There is also a sense of relief. Winning it is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, no one has the right to expect it twice. All the same, you still hope. Each time you feel like one of those high-wire acts who walk a wire strung between two skyscrapers. It’s nice not to fall off.

TNG: CAN YOU TELL US WHY YOU CHOSE TO BRING MONICA LEWINSKY FOR YOUR TALK AT CANNES?

TKM: I saw her TED talk earlier this year and was blown away. I showed it to a few other people and they were blown away. They showed it to others, who in turn were blown away. It was so clear that here was an idea whose time had come. There is so much cruel and uncivilized behavior online that it almost becomes part of the furniture. We accept it, but it’s not acceptable. Monica’s talk brought home the scale of the problem and showed us what we could do about it. So there she was trying to gain traction for her  campaign against cyber-shaming and cyberbullying and here we were, a bunch of creative people who spend most of our lives creating stuff online. It seemed an obvious fit to me.

TNG: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE UPSTANDR ONLINE PLATFORM?

TKM: It’s a content sharing platform on Tumblr where anyone and everyone is encouraged to share content that supports the core idea behind Monica’s campaign. It’s a place where we can come together to make the creative commons a kinder more compassionate place. No one needs telling how extraordinary the internet is – it’s up there with the invention of paper, Gutenberg and the printing press. But equally, there is no doubt that it has unleashed the beast in man and made him go viral. I think we all share a responsibility to find a way to deal with this problem.

TNG: IS THERE A CAMPAIGN THAT YOU SAW AT CANNES THIS YEAR AND THAT YOU REALLY LIKED?

TKM: GEICO’s The Unskippable Ad. It’s clever, memorable and cracks me up every time I watch it. The creative team went out and took advantage of a problem that we all experience: a lag when we stream or buffer while uploading videos, and they did something really fresh. This is true creativity, the ability to see something that stares us in the face, but no one else notices.

TNG: WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD CLIENT?

TKM: It’s easy to be glib with questions like this and reel off a list of ideal attributes, like on a dating site – strong, kind, GSOH, must like dogs etc. But it’s not as simple as that.

First and foremost, it’s not about being good or bad but about the relationship we can forge and that is a two-way street.

If the client shares our passion for great work, and if they share our vision that the way to achieve truly great work is through great storytelling that touches the heart…then we can do amazing things together. It goes without saying that they must genuinely love great work, and understand what makes it great. And they need the courage to take the risks such work entails.

All this takes hard work, commitment and trust on both sides, just like a marriage.

Only by forging such strong partnerships can we produce brilliant work like Unilever’s Dove Beauty Sketches, IBM’s Outdoor As Utility, Burger King’s Proud Whopper and not forgetting the highly successful Share a Coke program, which allows drinkers the world over to customize the labels on bottles of Coke…

Originally published on thenextgag.com

 

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