Staff Reporters
Apr 3, 2024

Creative Minds: Omar Sotomayor's creative quests, Aurora dreams and not-so-great-hits

Ice cream peddler by day, pop star by night? We Are Social's regional executive creative director reminisces about unconventional childhood aspirations.

Omar Sotomayor
Omar Sotomayor
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: Omar Sotomayor

Origin: Lima, Peru

Places lived/worked: Spain, Peru, USA, and Singapore 

Pronouns: He/him

CV:

  • Regional executive creative director, We Are Social, Singapore, 2023 - present
  • Executive creative director, Edelman, Singapore, 2022 - 2023
  • Creative director, BBH Asia-Pacific, Singapore, 2014 - 2022
  • Senior copywriter, Leo Burnett (Lapiz), Chicago, 2011-2014
  • Creative copywriter, Circus Leo Burnett, Peru, 2008-2010
  • Creative, Inqba Interactive Agency, 2007-2008
  • Junior copywriter, Action Marketing, 2005-2007

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I've always been passionate about films and fiction novels. Initially, I dreamed of writing movie scripts, but unfortunately, there were no accessible film schools in my town at the time. However, my parents insisted that I study something ‘useful’, such as law, so I enrolled in a university that offered various specialisations, including law and communications. Despite this, I was more drawn to philosophy, psychology, and communications courses—essentially everything except law.

It was during one of these classes when a teacher played a VHS containing a selection of Cannes Lions Film winners. Seeing these ads, which were essentially short films, captivated me (I remember classics like Guinness ‘Surfer’ or Nike ‘Tag’ being part of it). This led me to pursue studies in communications and, later, advertising, and I became eager to learn how to create something similar. 


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

I don't really have a favourite piece of work, but each one holds fond or meaningful memories for me. The idea I’m sharing stands out as a magnificent team effort during the Covid lockdown, a challenging time for all of us. Building Virtual Sentosa was a collaborative project with the entire team working from home. We organised a virtual supply chain in the game to deliver materials to our island architect, all in a race to be the first ones to dive into a trending gaming platform. It was a bit crazy but incredibly rewarding when we started seeing news headlines popping up all around the world.

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



There are so many campaigns I wish I had made. Here's one that often comes to mind. When the Paralympics were often seen as playing second fiddle to the Olympics, this 'Meet the Superhumans' campaign came along, changing the game by portraying Paralympians as powerful warriors instead of objects of pity. This concept not only shifted how people viewed the Paralympic Games but also had a lasting effect on perceptions of disabilities and their portrayal in the media. While many remember the film, it was actually an integrated campaign with a unique tone of voice that empowered these athletes.

4. What’s on your bucket list?

I want to see the Northern Lights, but I also want to write a really, really bad song that somehow becomes popular.

5. What career did you think you’d have as a kid?

I dreamed of selling ice cream for a living. In my hometown, you'd pedal around on an ice cream tricycle, announcing your arrival with a cheerful horn. I was mostly in it for the idea of getting paid in ice cream.

6. What or who are your creative influences?

I'm drawn to stories in novels, particularly those in theatre and comedy, as well as any work that delves into human behaviour and offers insightful perspectives. Whether it's witty remarks in a stand-up comedy show about our relationship with our pets or reading a long monologue exploring how each person perceives time differently, I enjoy perspectives that make you say, 'I've never thought about it that way before'.

7. What kind of student were you?

I excelled in subjects I enjoyed, such as art, literature, and history. I scored high in these not out of obligation but because I genuinely enjoyed reading and learning about different historical periods. In art, I particularly enjoyed creating and making things. However, when it came to maths, I must have had the lowest score in the class because I didn't enjoy the way it was taught. Interestingly, every time they told me I needed a high score on a final exam to pass the semester, I'd end up scoring the highest in the class. So, I guess my teacher's frustration was that I could do it, but my brain just didn't like it.

8. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I think this question is more suited for my friends than for me. I'm open to trying new things, so I don't consider much to be crazy. I took a job repacking cheese, judged desert-car racing, interned in a nail factory, hosted a radio show, and even once jumped from a bridge using climbing ropes. You have to try things at least once. However, I believe that pursuing a career as a creative in advertising is the craziest thing I keep on trying.

9. Who do you admire the most?

I've always admired my dad's passion and dedication to his work. He's a doctor who was disappointed none of his kids followed in his footsteps. As a teenager, I didn't understand his love for medicine, his constant effort to stay current on the latest tech, his passionate discussions about human eyesight (he's an ophthalmologist), and state hospitals. As an adult, I realised I also love what I do and can't fathom why someone wouldn't enjoy the creative industry. I guess my dad and I share the same question about our jobs: 'How could people not like it?'

10. Who is on your dream dinner guest list (dead or alive)?

It's a tough question; the table will have to be really long. But I suppose among those receiving an invite are Bertolt Brecht, Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Haneke, David Bowie, Hayao Miyazaki, Freddie Mercury, Björk, Donald Glover, Hirokazu Koreeda, Ruben Östlund, Gabriel García Márquez, Javier Marias, and I'm sitting with Ricky Gervais next to Jesus.

11. Who is the most important person in your life? (not including parents/spouse/partner or children)

After my immediate family, it will be my parents' helper Celinda in Peru, who was around to raise me. She was my family. She has been with my parents for almost 50 years. She witnessed my birth, watched me grow up, took me to school, and saw me move out of the house. I still call her often to check on her and hear her voice, although she is hard of hearing now. But she's probably the person who, despite not being blood-related to me, has loved me the most in the world since I was a kid, and for that, I'm forever thankful to her.

Source:
Campaign Asia

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