Staff Reporters
Jan 26, 2023

Creative Minds: Rachel Hoo lives for a good challenge except when its at math

“Learning creative arts and ditching science and math forever was a dream come true for me,” says VaynerMedia’s creative director Rachel Hoo.

Creative Minds: Rachel Hoo lives for a good challenge except when its at math
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: Rachel Hoo

Origin: Malaysia

Places where you've lived and worked: Kuala Lumpur

Your preferred pronouns: She/her


  • Creative director, VaynerMedia APAC, Malaysia, present-2022
  • Creative director, Naga DDB Tribal, Malaysia, 2021-2016
  • Art director, McCann WorldGroup, Malaysia, 2016-2012

1. How did you end up being a creative?

Short story: I was an inattentive student who failed at everything but art.

Long story: When asked in every report card what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always filled in the same things: zookeeper, or artist. This always confused my parents because they had no strong feelings for animals, or art––especially my dad, a master's graduate in mathematics, who even wrote math textbooks. It befuddled him to see his own daughter struggling with basic additions. 

I made a deal with my parents to study science till high school. Back then, medicine or engineering promised a steadier future than arts. I agreed to stick to this stream for a fallback plan in case the arts dream comes crashing down. I barely scraped through high school and got myself through the Multimedia University. Learning creative arts (and ditching science and math forever) was a dream come true for me. Finally, I was doing what I enjoyedand didn’t suck at it! In fact, my dad advised me to study advertising, as he believed it was a needed field in every business, which equated to more job opportunities (yep, he did the math). Looking back, I think he was just grateful I didn’t decide to run off to the jungles of Brazil to breed and release parrots.

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

In celebration of Malaysia Day, KFC turned its heritage into a fashion statement to win over the Malaysian youth. The brand collaborated with homegrown streetwear brand, Pestle & Mortar Clothing to create 11 Finger Lickin’ Good Goodsa collection featuring designs inspired by classic Malaysian prints infused with contemporary streetwear styles.
Every piece here tells a story.

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

Caviar, truffles and even oil paintings: in Germany, many luxury goods are granted a reduced tax rate of7%. Tampons, however, are subject to the top VAT rate of 19%. The founders of the online shop The Female Company didn’t want to just sell feminine hygiene products; they also wanted to take action against this discriminatory taxation. Nearly all German-speaking feminist-oriented blogs reported on it. The Tampon Book kicked off a societal debate that generated awareness and helped the public see new ways of thinking.

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

Pressure. I procrastinate when things are calm.

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

Three solid mantras which I want to teach my younger self:

1. Don’t squeeze them pimples––they really do scar.
2. Learn how to dance, now. Attempting to learn at parties in your 30s is embarrassing.
3. Spend more time with the family: Mom’s got 6 years left, your sister will move to the States in 10, and you’ll move out in 15. Life will be good, but it will never be the same.

6. What really motivates you?
People telling me I can’t do it. Except for math… I’ll accept I can’t do math.

7. How would your co-workers describe you?
“You look 15.”

8. Tell us about an artist (any medium) that we've never probably heard of.

I don’t want to assume who knows what or whom… but it has to be Ai Nati Oggi by Alberto GaruttiThis public art project set in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo celebrates the universal event of birth.

Ai Nati Oggi means “to those born today”, and it is one of the most touching works I’ve ever witnessed. The streetlights of Piazza del Popolo are connected to the maternity ward of Policlinico Agostino Gemelli and every time the light blinks on the lampposts, it means a child is born. The work is dedicated to all the children born today in this city. 

Maternity Ward of the Hospital of Bergamo. Plate with caption and button, which activates the lighting of streetlamps of Piazza Dante

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

Can’t live without hotpot. Happy to never taste soybean again.

10. What makes you really angry?

Hunger. And people taking me for granted.

11. What makes you really happy?
The cuddle of my pets, especially when I'm chosen over my husband.


Campaign Asia

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