Staff Reporters
Nov 15, 2023

Creative Minds: Graham Drew on dreams, Cannes Lions and 'The Best Job in the World'

In a candid conversation, Grey's award-winning creative talks about his unconventional path to advertising, unforgettable work adventures, aspirations and motivations.

Creative Minds: Graham Drew on dreams, Cannes Lions and 'The Best Job in the World'
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Graham Drew

Origin: London

Places lived/worked: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, London

Pronouns: He/him


Chief creative officer Singapore/Malaysia, Grey Group, 2014 to present

How did you end up being a creative?

No idea, really. I never planned this. I've just been very lucky, and where I am now is all retrospect with a big heap of gratitude that I get to earn a living doing something so very cool.

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

The one I'm making next. Ok, that's the cheesy motivational answer. But I do really like the campaign we've just done, ‘The Art of Dreaming.’ It came out from a brief I gave my team over a year ago: 'How can we use this generative AI to do something that wasn't possible before? Not faster, funkier, cheaper things—but totally new'.  

The idea of visualising people's dreams came up—which became a way for our client Coway to become an authority on rest and sleep. What I really love, is that it then evolved into something totally unplanned and shows a whole new creative use of data that took people's dreams and behaviours and turned them into a product recommendation tool. I'm excited to see where this goes next.

3. What's the one piece of work you most wish you'd done?

Lots of arguably better crafted or more influential ones come to mind, but to me, it's ‘The Best Job in the World.’ It was 2009, my very good friend Michael Frohlich and I had founded a PR agency and we had entered a campaign at Cannes, so we could go to Cannes. We ended up winning my first Gold Lion that year, which we never realised was such a big thing till much later. But this campaign won everything and blew my mind on what was possible with better thinking and resources and was fundamental to me trying to get into advertising.

4. What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid?

I wanted to be Marty McFly (Back to the Future character), so an actor, maybe? Turns out I now just pretend to know what I'm doing every day.

5. Tell us about the worst job you ever had. 

When I was earning my way backpacking around Asia, I signed up to a labour agency—literally a body for hire. One day I found myself in the middle of a desert, in a rubber jumpsuit and goggles sawing bricks in half with a water-cooled circular saw.  After the fourth time of having to check I still had all my fingers, I sat shaking in a shed for the rest of the day.

6. What really motivates you?

Getting the team to believe that they can do more than they think they can. 

7. What's your favourite music, film, TV show or book of the past year, and why?

This is a cheat, but The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It's been on my shelf for over 20 years, and I finally read it this year—it took absolutely ages as it's so layered, I would just stare in to space after 20 pages. The central premise that the most altruistic thing you can do is be utterly uncompromising is a hell of a piece of life advice too.

8. What food can you not live without? What food would you be happy to never taste again?

 Cannot live without cheese and Branston pickle sandwiches. Happy to never taste Durian again.

9. Tell us about your tattoo(s).

I went with my best mate Dan to get one when we were 17—he went first, threw up, then half fainted. I got my first one on my 40th birthday. I now have eight; midlife crisis is real so the next is coming soon…

10. Tell us about a cause you think needs more attention.

The complete lack of any kind of editorial responsibility on all forms of social media. We have algorithms so sophisticated in giving us what we want to see, that it totally ignores what we need to see. As a parent this worries the living daylights out of me every day.

11. Cats or dogs?

Dogs. They see the very best in us, even when it's not there. Cats do the opposite!

Campaign Asia

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