Staff Reporters
Oct 7, 2021

Creative Minds: Wang Ie Tjer's way with words

We get to know the creative director at FCB Malaysia through his answers to 11 questions. Learn about how he dreamed of becoming a waiter but ended up a copywriter, his surprising guilty pleasure, his several tattoos and much more.

Creative Minds: Wang Ie Tjer's way with words

Name: Wang Ie Tjer

Origin: Malaysia

Places lived/worked: Malaysia

Pronouns: He/his

CV:

  • FCB Malaysia: Creative director (2018 - present)
  • ADK Malaysia: Creative group head (2017 - 2018)
  • 180 Degrees: Senior copywriter/creative group head (2007 - 2017)
  • Spade Communications: Copywriter (2006 - 2007)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I graduated from an advertising college, so being a creative was the only thing I didn’t really suck at. And ever since I was a young boy, I’ve always enjoyed using words to draw reactions from people (sorry mum, sorry dad!), and copywriting/advertising allows me to do just that. Plus, I never liked the idea of a 9 am to 5 pm job. So I pursued a 9 am to 5 am job instead.

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

It’s tough to pick one out but I really enjoyed working on the Mother’s Day piece for Darlie Malaysia titled ‘Expectations’ because the idea was driven by such a fantastic insight that nobody can argue against, which is how the world is always trying to teach a mum how to be a mum. People don’t realise it because the path to hell is paved with good intentions, but this issue places mothers under a lot of pressure to meet the expectations of the society, their friends and even family, on top of their own. By confronting the harsh realities of life instead of sweeping them under a rug, I think we really helped Darlie Malaysia carve out its differentiation in a segment where brands are so used to depicting sunshines, rainbows and dancing unicorns.

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

There have been so many. But something from more recent times would be Spotify’s 'Let The Song Play'. When I watched it for the first time, I remember thinking, “My God, how has nobody ever thought of doing something like this before?”. To me, that is a genius piece of work because the human truth behind it is so strong, so much so that the work would naturally strike a chord with anyone watching it because we’ve all done what the characters in the film did before, at least once in our life. Of course, the superb timing of the comedy, the apt music and the amazing acting by the talents really helped too.

4. What/who are your key creative influences?

The ‘what’ would be Reddit. I spend 95% of my internet time on that site and on a good day (or a bad one, depending how busy my day is), it can become a rabbit hole of crazy ideas, inspirational reading and outrageous content.

The ‘who’ would be Christopher Nolan and my chief creative officer, Shi Ping. Both remarkable storytellers, phenomenal achievers in their respective fields and people who I really look to for inspiration.

5. What kind of student were you?

The kind who ended up with advertising as a career. So, not the cream of the crop, obviously.

6. What's on your bucket list?

Every time I’m in the airport waiting for the dreaded flight home after an amazing holiday, I’d think to myself, “It’d be great if I can just walk up to the ticketing counter right now, book a flight and go for another holiday instead of going home.” I’d like to be able to do that at least once before I call it a life.

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

Believe it or not, I actually wanted to be a waiter in a coffee shop. No, not some fancy hipster coffee shop, I’m talking about the old-school Chinese kopitiams. Why? Because I thought that’d entitle me to an unlimited supply of free Coca-Cola.

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

Selling expensive candles to rich old ladies in an upscale shopping mall when I was 16. Candles weren’t really my thing back then, and neither were rich old ladies.

9. What's your guilty pleasure? 

Grocery shopping. There’s just something quite liberating about going on a supermarket run as an adult and just dropping whatever I want into the cart… until my wife gives me the stare, of course.

10. Tell us about your tattoo(s).

I have a Celtic Cross on my right forearm. That was my first tattoo from 11 years ago, and I figured it had to be something religious in order to not upset my mum when she found out about the tattoo (I was wrong). I also have a sizable portrait of Jesus Christ on the back of my right arm, something to remind myself that Jesus is watching whenever I do something naughty with my hand. Also on my right arm, I have Super Mario stomping on a turtle as a representation of how I always strive to kick ass in life. I also have the Chinese character of my surname, which means ‘king’, on my right shoulder, just in case I ever forget that I’m a Chinese.

On my left arm, I have a phrase that reads ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ because I’m a huge Liverpool fan, but I had it done in Latin because I didn’t want something that can be easily understood for fear of getting assaulted by Man Utd fans in public (just joking, guys). I also have the Libra sign on the back of my neck, and that’s a funny one, because I don’t even believe in horoscopes. On one side of my chest, I have an ancient Chinese seal that comprises the names of my family members, because family should be kept close to the heart, right?

I have a number ‘9’ on my right calf as it has been my football number since I was a kid. And on my right wrist is a tattoo of the date of our wedding anniversary, which has been a real lifesaver on many occasions. Under the date is a line of lyrics from Coldplay’s Yellow, because that song was played during our march-in at the wedding.

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

If the past 1.5 years have shown us anything, I think now, more so than ever, the world should start paying more attention to mental health issues and taking mental well-being seriously.

In Creative Minds, we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions—three required and the rest from a long list ranging from serious to silly. Want to be featured? Contact us.

BONUS QUESTIONS

Editor's note: Normally when people answer more than 11 of our many, many questions for this feature, we choose the best and cut the rest. But Tjer is a copywriter, so we think you will enjoy his other responses.

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

Don’t fuss over the small things. Always look after the people around you. Buy some shares in Apple and invest in a mask-manufacturing company.

What really motivates you?

Trying to prove dumb people wrong.

Who was the most important person in your life that wasn’t your parent?

Since my wife would probably read this and my daughter is still too young to read, I’m going to have to say my wife. In all seriousness, she has been an absolute rock in our relationship that has been going for 11 years and counting, and annoying as it may be, she really keeps my life in check and stops me from doing things I’d regret… most of the time.

How would your co-workers describe you?

Surprisingly and annoyingly very punctual, especially for a creative.

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

Anthony Bourdain, preferably not dead or else it’d be a very awkward dinner.

What's the last song/artist you listened to?

Very likely something from Cocomelon. As a new dad, children’s songs are all I listen to these days. For my own pleasure? 1901 by Phoenix.

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

This YouTube channel called There I’ve Ruined It. Imagine listening to a Bluegrass version of an Eminem song, or a Soviet edition of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Art in its purest form.

What's your favourite GIF/meme, and why?

I don’t have one, but I’d put that down to the fact that I’m actually over the age of 20 at the time of writing.

Do you have a catchphrase?

“Havoc”. I think I use it in every other sentence that comes out of my mouth.

What makes you really angry?

When dumb people prove me wrong.

What makes you really happy?

When I’m around people who can take a joke without getting their knickers in a knot.

Early riser or night owl?

What do you mean ‘or’? It’s more of an ‘and’ for me. I go to bed at around 4 am every night/morning and I’m up by 8 am the latest to get my daughter ready for her day.

Do you have any recurring dreams?

Not really. I don’t sleep long enough to arrive at the dream state.

Who is your 'hall pass' celebrity?

Blonde - Charlize Theron.
Brunette - Kate Beckinsale.
Redhead - Isla Fisher.

Even my wife would agree that I’m a man of culture.

Cats or dogs?

Cats because they don’t demand a lot of attention. 

iPhone or Android?

I generally enjoy getting my money’s worth when it comes to buying something… so, Android.

Extrovert or introvert?

I’m very much an introvert. I tend to keep to myself whenever I’m with a large group of people and I feel extremely uncomfortable when I become the subject of a conversation. Too much socialising tires me out.

Any regrets?

Only when a deadline is just hours away and the work is far from done.

 

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