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4 days ago

Creative Minds: Lester Edgard Morales says autism is an overlooked issue in adland

The ECD at Catalytx Advertising talks about his dream outing in the Philippines, the impact his grandfathers had on him, and the industry’s misconception around autism.

Lester Edgard Morales
Lester Edgard Morales
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: Lester Edgard Morales

Origin: Manila, Philippines

Places lived/worked: Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guam

Pronouns: He/him


  • Executive creative director, Catalytx Advertising, 2012-present
  • Creative director, Marianas Media, 2009-2012
  • Freelance creative director, Shanghai/Manila, 2008-2009
  • Regional associate creative director, Y&R Hong Kong, 2005-2008
  • Associate creative director, Harrison Communications, 2005-2005
  • Associate creative director, DY&R-Alcantara, 1999-2005
  • Creative director, Adformatix, 1997-1999

1. How did you end up being a creative?

It was by accident. My friend wanted to apply for a copywriter position after college, and she didn’t want to apply alone. She got a copy of my CV from our school’s career placement office and submitted it without my knowledge. Eventually, we both got a call to take the copy test, and I was the one who was hired. I decided to give advertising a shot and never left.

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

We did the Colgate 360 Toothbrush campaign (image below, right-click for full-size) with Y&R Hong Kong as a result of our creative initiative exercise. At first, we thought it wasn’t something that the clients would approve, but we were surprised that they liked it as much as we did. The campaign was cheeky and irreverent, but it was well-received.

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

Coke’s ‘Small World Machines’ from Leo Burnett Chicago and Sydney (video below). This campaign is a true trifecta of brand essence, brand purpose and innovation. It not only spoke about the brand and what it stands for, it did it in a way that really impacted the lives of people. Seeing the sheer joy of the participants from both India and Pakistan and how Coke was instrumental in bringing them together is just magic. I’ve shared this with my students dozens of times, and it brings a smile to my face each time I watch it. And believe me, I’ve watched it hundreds of times already.

4. Who are your key creative influences?

Two of my ECDs when I was a junior creative: Ompong Remigio and Conrad Virina. Conrad made me aware of my abilities and helped me discover my love for advertising, while Ompong taught me how to really push myself and think out of the box.

5. Who do you most admire?

My grandfathers on both sides of the family. My paternal grandfather was the Chief of Police in Manila, and my maternal grandfather was a Mayor in the province. They both taught me the value of leadership and integrity.

6. Who’s on your dream dinner guest list (alive or dead)?

Antonio Gaudi, over some tapas and paella. Everytime I visit Barcelona, I’m always in awe over the details of his art. It’s organised chaos, and I’m here for it. I’d like to pick his brain regarding his art and visual influences and draw inspiration from him.

7. Do you work best under pressure, or when things are calm?

I’ve always been a calm person, so even if there’s a lot of pressure, I find ways to turn it around and make the situation calm. It's easier to think and be creative when my mind is clear and calm. And that’s when I work best.

8. What advice would you give to 10-year-old self, if you could?

Don’t stop drawing. I used to draw freehand a lot as a kid, even to the point that I'd write and illustrate my own comic books. My inspirations were Japanese robots and Archie. But I abandoned drawing as I grew older. I wish I developed that skill even further and continued drawing and writing comic books.

9. Do you have any secret or odd talents?

Drawing things from memory. When I was still living in Hong Kong, I saw a pair of shoes in a store that I wanted to buy for my sister. When I went back a few days later to buy it, the pair was gone. I tried asking the sales associate but there was a language barrier problem. So, I asked for a piece of paper and a pen, drew the shoe, and after seeing my drawing, she immediately knew which shoe I was referring to.

10. What would you do on your perfect day?

There’s a beautiful province in the Philippines called IloIlo, and they have magnificent churches with amazing backstories. A perfect day would be strolling around IloIlo, and spending time inside the churches to admire the architecture and the art. Then, I'd stop by a place called Molo to eat their famous ‘molo soup’ and have the traditional ‘biscocho’ for dessert.

11. Tell us about a charity or cause you think needs more attention.

Autism awareness. There are so many misconceptions about autism and there’s still a stigma attached to the subject. If people would just understand this condition more, it would be easier for people with autism to integrate themselves in society.

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