Mike Fromowitz
Nov 4, 2013

Creative People: The most important resource of all

Campaign Asia’s recent celebration of their 40th Anniversary covering the media and marketing industry was brilliant in reflecting on the leaders, thinkers, and creators who have shaped, influenced, and changed the industry we work in. But there are more accolades to pass around.

Creative People: The most important resource of all

Over the course of my career in advertising, I’ve been blessed to have met, hired, worked with, mentored, advised, groomed, nurtured, and partnered with some truly amazing creative people. Many of these people could not be cited in Campaign’s “40 Years” of course—so I’ve decided to make this post all about them. They are some of the best creative names in the business and some of their work has made a big difference to local and Asian Advertising.

This may be my longest blog post ever!

Visit 40th.campaignasia.com

Read Mike Fromowitz's 40th anniversary piece: The rise and
fall of the creative bar

You don’t have to read through the whole thing. You may wish to scan the names and read about the ones you are most interested in knowing more about. Perhaps you may want to hire some of them—if your agency is good enough to attract them.  Not every creative person that has worked with me in Asia over my many years is mentioned here—this is a blog, not a book! Sorry to those whose names I’ve not included. They have moved on and I have no idea where they are. I hope some will write to me and let me know their whereabouts.

Most important to me these days, are the long-term friendships I’ve made along the way. When I open some of the award show books in my library, their names printed aside their amazing work comes blazing through with fond memories and enjoyable times. They were the brave souls that not only helped me build successful, award winning creative departments in four of Asia’s most celebrated agencies, but they made my time doing it a sheer pleasure.

Truth is, when you employ the brightest talent, the agency shines. Retain the dullest, and the flame soon goes out.

They don't work for you - they work with you

The job of the Executive Creative Director in an agency can be immensely enjoyable if you approach it the right way.  My approach had always been: “They don't work for you - they work with you.” That way, your creative people feel valued, respected, and trusted. Being a quality boss isn't about bossing people around. When morale is high, the atmosphere leads to better productivity, which leads to better results. When people care about the people they work with they go the extra mile; they take ownership of a job, a decision or problem, and work through it without feeling like they have to go up the chain to get things done.

Most importantly, you have to treat each creative person as an individual, be concerned about his or her success in the organization, and make it a priority.  Patience, generosity, and personal interaction all conspire to create a more balanced, functional, aggressive and successful company.

I often connect these days with many of my ex-colleagues and friends - thanks in part to the blogosphere and the likes of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, emails, and more.  Many of them have risen to great heights in our business. They’ve become Senior Writers and Senior Art Directors, Creative Directors, Executive Creative Directors, Regional Creative Directors, Management Executives, film and video commercial directors, photographers, and owners of their own ad agencies and design studios. Many have relocated with key jobs in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Victoria (B.C.), Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and London.

Who are they? And where are they now?


Graham Button - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

Graham was a young writer from London and my very first hire in Hong Kong. He joined us at Meridian (an agency owned by O&M) which later became The Ball Partnership. I liked Graham from the get-go. At the interview he told me that his creative director at FCB kept changing his copy, “making it worse!”. So I asked him to show me an ad with his original copy and the final finished product. True to his word, Graham’s writing was better than his boss’s. I hired him then and there and we went to work on clients like the South China Morning Post, Haagen-Dazs, and the Royal Garden Hotel.

Today, Graham is a Partner at Genesis Inc. a strategic and creative consultancy where he is a managing partner, strategist, creative director, and writer. He’s also a regular guest blogger for Fast Company (http://www.fastcodesign.com/users/graham-button). He was previously creative director and executive vice president at Grey Worldwide in New York City. Graham has always believed that “nothing is more worthwhile than the pursuit of great ideas, in this century or any other”.


Mark Amdur - Formerly Meridian Advertising (HK)

I hired Mark to Meridian Advertising which later became The Ball Partnership. Mark was a man of many talents and disciplines He could take on a job from beginning to end—no sweat!. He went on to found his own agency after fifteen years working for major multi-national advertising agencies as copywriter and Creative Director. The agency was bought by DDB. Seven years later it was bought by Citigate, a global PR firm. Wanting more independence, he created On Creative to concentrate more on film and video work.

Today, Mark is back in Australia, giving back and teaching Film Production at Sydney Institute Film Academy and conducting Advertising workshops with the Communications Council (an amalgamation of agencies big and small). 


Mike Chu - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

Mike Chu stands out as one of the first Chinese locals to achieve great success in Hong Kong advertising. He was a man of considerable influence helping to change the way local consumers thought about advertising by employing simple visuals, a more photographic style, and executional beauty. Mike opened his own agency, Synergie, something few local creatives ever did. The agency went on to win numerous ad awards. Synergie, later merged with The Ball Partnership and Mike and I shared the stage as Co-Chairman and ECDs. He died an untimely death at the age of 53 in 2007. Those people who worked with Mike still feel his contribution to this day.


CC Tang - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

I hired CC Tang to The Ball Partnership in Hong Kong because I believed he was one of the best Chinese writers in the territory—and he was. He was definitely not a poser—he loved to write and think about what he was writing. No translation stuff for him.
From Ball, he joined Ogilvy & Mather, then moved to HK Polytechnic University as Assistant Professor in the School of Design. Euro RSCG bought The Ball Partnership, and they wanted CC back. He joined the group as its Chief Creative Officer for Greater China and Chairman of the Hong Kong office. He moved in 2012 into a similar role with HAVAS Worldwide. CC Tang was always one of my favourite people. He had a fun personality, with an edge. He recently wrote to me and declared: “I have retired. My favourite line is "So far so bad, not worse."


Alex Shipley - Formerly Bates (HK) on a project basis

I hired Alex to Bates as a freelance Associate Creative Director following our win of the Taj Mahal Hotel Group global business in 1993. Given the extensive workload required for the project, I asked Alex to represent Bates on a six-month assignment, requiring him to do some extensive travel throughout India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. This culminated in a new global rebranding and advertising campaign for the Taj Group of Hotels & Resorts. During this period of time Bates was building a solid reputation for outstanding creative work region wide, and the Hong Kong office was on fire.

Alex and I only worked together for a short time but he and I have stayed in touch ever since. I value his friendship. He has worked at several big name agencies since his days at Bates, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, and Lowe Singapore. Today, Alex is a Creative Director and Strategist for Heli International in Shanghai. He’s a top drawer bloke.


Graham Kelly - Formerly TBWA Singapore

I hired Graham Kelly to become Creative Director of TBWA’s office in Singapore. He had this thing for understanding digital long before anyone else did—so he was a step or two ahead of the rest of us. Graham has served as Executive CD, Regional CD and Creative Director of several big brand agencies including: BBH, OgilvyOne, Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore, Ogilvy Interactive Asia, Leo Burnett, and Ogilvy & Mather.

Today, he is one of the region’s most celebrated digital and mobile creatives and is the Isobar’s first Regional Executive Creative Director. He’s always been very passionate about what he does.


Robert Kleman - Formerly TBWA Singapore

Robert Kleman began his career in advertising with a double major in Criminology from the University of Melbourne in Australia. He furthered his studies at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where he focused on advertising. After various stints at agencies in Melbourne, Rob joined TBWA Singapore in 1999.

Rob was a highly creative individual and one of TBWA Singapore youngest hires. He had a deft hand at creating award winning work. Six-years on, he rose to become a Creative Partner in the agency heading up the Sony, BMW and MINI accounts. In 2005, he and his partner Marcus Rebeschini were ranked the ‘Number 1 Most Awarded Creatives in Asia’ by Campaign Brief Asia. Their creative work and new business wins helped TBWA become Agency of the Year in 2004 and 2005.

Rob is not one of those to rest on his laurels. In 2005, he moved to TBWA Chiat Day in New York as an Associate Creative Director. A few years later, he moved to Euro RSCG Worldwide and to BBH in New York as Executive Creative Director. Another big break came when he took on the job of Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, one of the world’s top creative shops. Today, Rob is the ECD of Sapient Nitro in Miami Florida and aiming high once more. We’re all watching Rob!


Simon Hayward - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

These days, Simon calls himself a “Humble Writer”. But trust me, he is much more than that. This man knows how to write. He’s excellent at his craft. I hired him to The Ball Partnership along with his partner Tan Khiang (more on him later). They became one of The Ball Partnership’s key creative teams, and their work helped to carry the agency in Hong Kong to become Advertising Age’s International Advertising Agency of the Year (runner-up) in 1989-90. No other agency in Asia had ever done that before. Their work has been featured in almost every awards show book.

Simon wrote to me last week and said: “I think The Ball Partnership represented the Glory Days for many of us, not only because of its creative dominance for a few years in Asia but also because the ‘times, they were a changing’.

Following my departure from The Ball Partnership to Bates, Simon and his partner Tan Khiang become Co-Creative Directors of the agency. Later, Simon moved on to join Batey Ads in Hong Kong as Creative Director. From there, Simon moved to Wellington, New Zealand and became “a freelance farmer and chopped down trees for a while to make a very poor living”. On the recommendation of our good friend Chris Kyme (KymeChow HK), Simon moved to India with FCB-Ulka. After an interesting three years in Indian advertising, Simon realised that he did not want to leave India, where he was born. He sold his “farmlet (called 'Penis Paddock')” and bought a crumbling old mansion in South Goa which later became the newly renovated Vivenda Dos Palhacos—voted one of the UK Tatler's Hundred Best Hotels in the world in their second year of operation.

Today Simon lives a double life doing what he loves to do—he’s a freelance copywriter and owner of the Vivenda in Goa, India.

Time out for a commercial message: Vivenda Dos Palhacos is a picture perfect Portugese mansion (restored painstakingly by the Simon and his sister) tucked away off the Majorda Beach in South Goa. It is a perfect getaway from the normally touristy and commercial beaches and is highly recommended to anybody reading this blog post.

Simon still does a little freelancing, if you ask him nicely.


Tan Khiang - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

Tan Khiang fell in love with the business of advertising when he first took on the post of Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi under Linda Locke “who saw something in this scrawny Singaporean kid”. I hired him as art director and his writer partner Simon Hayward as a team—my first hire as Chairman and ECD of the newly formed Ball Partnership.

Following my exit from Ball, Tan Khiang, known to friends as TK, moved on to become Creative Director of Grey Worldwide. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Ball (now known as Euro RSCG) as Creative Partner.  But he had an itch to do something different. So he moved to Singapore and opened the D. Store, selling Philippe Starck furniture. By 1996, following his 3-years of retail experience, TK got the film bug and started directing TV spots for Water Films in Singapore. He also gave back during that time and took a year teaching Graphic Design at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

In 2003, he opened his own film production studio Wowwowtank Co Ltd. He describes it this way: “Owning a company has its rewards. You do what you want. You worry about the work, salaries, rent, cash flow, taxes, personnel, motivations, image. A million things really. Lots of white hair. The journey has been great.”


Doug Brown - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

I hired Doug to The Ball Partnership as a copywriter. He had previously been with Saatchi and Saatchi. From Ball, he quickly moved up the ladder to become Creative Group Head at JWT in Hong Kong,  Creative Director at JWT in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and with Lowe-Lintas in Singapore. Some of his work hit gold at international award shows. By now Doug was a ten-year veteran of Asian advertising. He decided on change again, and moved back to Canada in 1994.

Doug recently wrote to me and said: “It was my incredible good fortune to get a job at Ball during those golden years. You Mike, were taking the town by storm and we had Neil in Singapore...then along came Simon and TK and Richard White Smith. Boom. What an amazing time to be passing through the Ball gates.”

Back in Canada, Doug worked with Telus, generating more than 50 campaigns for the Telecom giant. He did a 3-year digital stint with HSBC Bank Canada, and in 2008, he joined Copeland Communications in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. One year later he became the Managing Director of the company and shortly thereafter, he bought the company outright—a man with balls.

Today, he spends his time consulting to businesses across Canada and overseas through a new company, Brand Intervention which specializes in branding, strategic planning, marketing tactics and reputation management. True to his roots, Doug will tell you: “At heart though, I remain an ideas guy.”

An email from Doug came through days before this post was finalised It contained this little gem:

"A couple of years ago, when I was a member of T-CAAN (Trans Canada Ad Agency Network), I met Dan King, my counterpart at Zero Gravity in Calgary. Upon being introduced to me, he said: "I checked out your Linkedin profile. Man, you worked at The Ball Partnership!"


Jimmy Lam - Formerly The Ball Partnership (HK)

Jimmy started his advertising career as a Chinese language copywriter, first at Bozell, then DDB, and McCann. I hired Jimmy Lam away from McCann to join us at The Ball Partnership as Creative Director. Today, the boy wonder is the Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of DDB Group North China (Shanghai & Beijing). Jimmy has been one of the most successful creative talents in Greater China. He’s the author of two books: “Pet Phrases in Advertising” and “No Truth in Advertising”. He also is the founder of the Longyin Review, a quarterly showcase for Chinese language advertising. His involvement in Longyin and AdFest in Asia has made him a household name in the Asian ad agency world.

From The Ball Partnership he moved to Lintas, where he became the CEO and ECD of the Hong Kong office. While at Lintas, the office won a Cannes Lion and Jimmy went on the following year to become the first creative person from Hong Kong to sit on the judging panel at Cannes. A veteran ad man with 36 years of experience, Jimmy was the first local executive to become CEO of Lintas (HK). Still, there’s no holding Jimmy down. He moved as to a new post as Chairman of the five D'Arcy offices in Greater China region, then followed that with an appointment to Dentsu Asia as its Regional Executive Creative Director. Over the years, Jimmy was the first Hong Kong creative invited to judge at Cannes Advertising Festival in 1994. He was also Chairman of Judges at the China National Advertising Festival in 2002 and 2003. Hard to beat that!


Kasey Lin - Formerly Batey Ads (Hong Kong)

Kasey Lin worked with me at Batey Ads in HK. He left the company to found his own agency MK2 which he ran for twelve years. The entrepreneurial spirit struck again, and Kasey soon found himself running his own beauty brand - Bijinsenmon (meaning Beauty Specialist in Japanese). Today his office is in HK and his products are selling in HK, China, Singapore and Malaysia.

 

 

 


Andy Lish - Formerly Bates (HK)

I hired Andy to join Bates in Hong Kong when I was the agency’s Regional Creative Director. My plans were to make Hong Kong the agency’s centre of excellence. I consider myself fortunate to have hired Andy. The timing was perfect. Of course, I was impressed by Andy’s creative work—especially his writing ability. Andy had passion, and it showed both in his writing and art directing. If your plans are to turn an agency on and turn it around, and make it an award winning shop, you need to surround yourself with people like Andy.

Throughout his time at Bates, “Lishy”, as he is known to friends, was more than just one of the creative staff—he became a partner, working with me on major brands. His style is all about action, innovation and sincerity—taking to heart everything that he does. His is extremely original, and he can do it all. Andy was always open-minded, but when he believed in an idea, he was true to the core and pushed hard to sell it in across the board. He is both a conceptualizer and a ‘communicator’ and understands that consumers need to be engaged, touched, involved, and moved by ideas.

It hasn’t been easy to keep up with Andy, he’s always on the move.  He has worked for Grey in London, and The Ball Partnership in Singapore with guru Neil French. He was with Saatchi and Saatchi in New Zealand, Whybin/TBWA across Australasia, and Creative Director for DDB and Zoo in Melbourne. Until recently, he was Creative Director of TBWA East Africa based in Tanzania. Today, he’s Associate Creative Director for Zoo Advertising in Canberra, Australia. But then again....


Steve Elrick - Formerly Bates (HK)

Steve says “I’ve been scarily involved in advertising and communications most of my adult working life.” There’s nothing the man hasn’t done as one of Asia’s reigning stars—from concept to the creation of ideas and campaigns, to the management of creative departments, strategic brand development, and more.

I hired Steve to Bates in Hong Kong as a copywriter fresh from Scotland and teamed him with art director Phil Marchington. They were usually the first team in the door in the mornings. Little wonder then that they created some of the best ad campaigns in Asia at that time—some winning global acclaim in the world’s best award shows.

Steve left Bates shortly after I did, and joined O&M in Singapore as Creative Director and later became the agency’s Executive Creative Director. After four years there, he joined BBH as Executive Creative Director. BBH saw his amazing talents and abilities and promoted him to Regional Executive Creative Director Asia working across Singapore, Japan and Shanghai.

After 15 years with BBH, he recently stepped out of the traditional agency world to take on his next adventure, “to have a strangely good time” he says, “and to experiment in areas that will touch upon photography, art, and who knows what else?” Steve’s latest venture is St. Eve’s, “a fledging creative company” he says, “that could house everything from Art, Photography, Marketing Comms....to avant-garde Soda Stream recipes”.


Phillip Marchington - Formerly Bates (HK)

During my first days at Bates as the agency’s Regional Creative Director, I went around our Hong Kong office interviewing each and every member of the staff. Phil was one of our art directors. I asked him what he thought of the agency, and he told me that he was thinking of leaving. When I asked him why, he said: “I can’t do work that I am proud of. I have nothing that I would consider putting in my portfolio. Management trashes anything good, they don’t have any respect for what we think, and they let the clients run roughshod over them. We have no say at the end of the day.”

Phil had pinpointed the agency’s key problem, and why Bates had failed as a creative shop. I had been hired for that very reason—to turn the agency around and make it a highly creative shop, respected by our peers. I convinced Phil to stay on and give me a chance to show him that things would change for the better.

Everyone in management, and in the press, expected me to cut creative staff. I didn’t. I cut the top management. The agency needed a dramatic change in direction if it was to become a “hot”shop. Phil needed a new partner I concluded, and so I hired Steve Elrick. He and Phil became a team, and the work they did gave the agency a shot in the arm. Work that turned heads. Work that everyone noticed. Work that inspired others in the agency to be better at what they do. Bates went on to be Asia’s Agency of the Year in 1993.

Shortly after I left Bates, Phil left Asia for the USA, and was hired by Wieden & Kennedy. Two years later Asia beckoned again, and Phil returned with Ogilvy in Singapore. Today Phil is a Group Creative Director at McKinney in North Carolina USA, where he has worked for fifteen years on brands such as Audi, Ben & Jerry's, Royal Caribbean, Nasdaq, and most notably on Travelocity as the creator of the Roaming Gnome. In 2012, McKinney was named the most effective independent advertising agency in the world by Effie Worldwide. What’s next Phillip?


Rowan Chanen - Formerly Bates (HK)

Rowan started his advertising career in Melbourne at DDB where the very first ad he wrote earned him Australia’s much sought after Radio Campaign of the Year.  How’s that for starters? Rowan likes to travel, so he set out for Asia, settling in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Tokyo.
 
In Hong Kong he moved to Bates to work on airlines, telecoms, banks, TV stations and cars. During his years with Bates, the agency was named 'Asian Agency of the Year'. Rowan had done some great, award winning work. He moved to McCann-Erickson (HK) as Deputy Creative Director before joining Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore where he was ranked one of Asia's top ten creatives by Campaign Brief magazine. He was also part of the team that made the Saatchi agency Advertising Age's 'International Agency of the Year'.

In 2000, Rowan moved to Berlin Cameron in New York City, working on Coca-Cola, Reebok and General Motors. They say “you can take the man out of Asia, but you can’t take Asia out of the man”. After three years, Rowan returned to Asia as Executive Creative Director of DDB Japan.  In 2005, Rowan joined Y&R as Regional Executive Creative Director for Asia, and over a 3-year period he re-established the network's creative profile, increasing the agency’s creative awards tenfold and lifting the network's overall standing in Asia into the top five. In 2009 Rowan joined M&C Saatchi working regionally across Asia.

Rowan has served on award juries around the world and has won recognition for his work at every major advertising festival including Cannes Lions, D&AD, The One Show, and more. Last time we looked, Rowan was in London England.


Mike Boekholt - Formerly Bates (HK)

Mike was well known to many senior creatives from his decade working as art director at Bates (HK), CD of Bates in Singapore, and Regional CD on Nokia, DHL and other major brands. I first met Mike upon my arrival to Bates as Regional CD, and liked him immediately. He did that to people. His smile was infectious. He was a quiet guy-quieter than the rest, and that had me a little worried that perhaps he might not have the skills I wanted for an agency that needed major change. But I soon learned that Mike was one of those people who spoke softly and carried a big stick. He was all about things creative—not just ads. 

One thing for sure, his colleagues adored him, as did many clients. Sadly for all of us, Mike passed away in Hong Kong in 2011 from pneumonia. RIP Mike.


 
Paul Grezoux - Formerly Bates (HK)

Paul was a Creative Director at Bates when I first met him. He moved on to McCann Erickson and then landed a new career with Schtung Music as a partner in the business. He got involved with music production for artists and bands, plus original music compositions for advertising, documentaries and film.

Currently in Sydney, Paul is freelance writing and occasionally blogging. He’s also working with one or two young musicians helping them get their career off the ground, and volunteering with the Whale & Seal Foundation, spending quite a lot of time counting whales and watching their behavior. A return to Asia is not out of the question. Paul’s currently pursuing a few avenues in the area of content creation and music sponsorship. Let us know what happens next Paul!


Ben Hunt - Formerly Bates (HK) and TBWA (Singapore)

Ben worked with me at both Bates and TBWA. He is an awesome writer. He’s in Africa. Kenya I think. We don’t hear much from him these days. Nor what he’s up to. But knowing Ben, he’s living his life the way he always has—like there's no tomorrow!

 

 


Mike Hart - Formerly Batey Ads (HK)

Mike and I worked together several years ago in Canada as joint creative directors. Mike really knew his way around big brand clients. He was a writer with a reputation for big productions and some award winning work. I brought Mike out to Hong Kong to join us at Batey Ads when the agency needed a boost creatively. He’s lived there ever since. Over the years, Mike has worked for DDB, Dentsu, Euro RSCG and TBWA (HK). In 2010, he founded HartCo and works as a creative consultant for several big Hong Kong banks, property groups, government services accounts and a host of others.


Justin Lim - Formerly TBWA Singapore

I first met Justin in Singapore. He worked with Ogilvy & Mather and, as the new (and first) Regional Creative Director of TBWA Asia Pacific, I was determined to hire him and his art director partner Gregory Yeo. The Singapore office needed a new infusion of talent and they were one of the teams on my wis-list.  O&M was not happy to lose them, but lose them they did. Justin and I remain in contact after 13 years. I consider myself unusually fortunate that our paths in life have crossed, professionally and personally.

Justin’s professional resume speaks for itself. He remains a ‘light house’ creative individual by virtue of his well-earned reputation and his remarkable ability to find the real heart of a brand and extol its virtues. People are drawn to this remarkable personality. Above all else, Justin loves creating advertising. He has the true and rare passion for uncovering powerful ideas, he’s open-minded and determined in the usually painful and demanding search for the idea that really stands out. It shows in his work. My only regret is that we haven’t worked together nearly long enough. Justin is a gentleman with brains. If you are fortunate enough to work with him, you might be lucky enough to discover a friend for life.

Justin returned to O&M for four more years shortly after I left TBWA. From there he went on to be a Creative Director for the Grey Group (Singapore). O&M, never one to give up, got Justin back in their door again in 2010.  But that lasted a short 2 years when Justin was offered the position of Partner at new agency start-up Blak Labs in Singapore where he resides today. Justin hasn’t lost his winning ways. He presents ideas in an engaging way and wins clients’ heads and hearts with his lateral thinking, and craftsmanship. Justin’s work entertains, amuses and keeps consumers engaged, willing to try something new or ready to buy. And that my friends, is exactly what advertising is suppose to do. Rock on Justin!


Gregory Yeo - Formerly TBWA Singapore

The “Headhunter from Borneo” as he likes to call himself, was an art director, partnered to copywriter Justin Lim when I convinced the team to join me at TBWA Singapore. We’ve remained friends ever since. After leaving TBWA, Gregory worked for Leo Burnett and then BBDO. But the “freedom” bug hit, and today, Gregory is a freelancer and seems to like being the man on the spot for McCann, Ogilvy, Rapp KL, BBH, JWT, Y&R, Leo Burnett, DDB Jakarta, Blak Labs, and more.

Justin Lim says it best: “Greg is a tremendously talented art director. He makes the ugliest ad I write look like a million dollars (that's a gift in itself!). Greg is highly conceptual, understanding, loyal and an awesome Sarawak Laksa chef (go easy on the chilli though... don't say I didn't warn you!).


Terrence Tan - Formerly TBWA Singapore

Terrence Tan is one of the most amazing creative people I have met and had the pleasure to work with. He is one of the best. He is passionate in everything he touches. He is Best-of-Breed. And what’s more, he is a hell of a nice man.

Terrence started out as a graphic artist and worked at some of the most regarded agencies in the region: Saatchi & Saatchi, DMB&B Singapore and Hong Kong, Fong Haque & Soh, Ogilvy, TBWA, BBDO, M&C Saatch and DDBi. He was also one of the co-founders of creative hot shop 10AM Communications. In his two and a half years tenure at M&C Saatchi Singapore, he steered the agency to become a recognised creative force, winning Gold at Ad Fest and the Singapore Creative Circle Awards.

As testimony to his winning ways, Terrence has won more than 300 awards from the world’s best award shows including Effies, Cannes, D&AD, One Show, Communication Arts, Singapore 4A’s Creative Awards, Media Asian Advertising Awards, and more—a list too long to mention here. During my time at TBWA, Terrence worked on the Haagen Dazs Green Tea Ice Cream campaign which was rated one of the 50 most awarded campaigns by The Gunn Report 1999.

Recently Terrence wrote to me: “1980s and 1990s were the golden years of advertising. I worked with you Mike in 1996 to 2000, one of the best agencies I have been to. Nice people, nice culture, and we produced very nice work. Caltex, Hagen Dazs and Nissan. Of course I had heard of your reputation before you arrived in Singapore. In particularly The Ball Partnership HK. Was very excited that you came. I knew you were going to raise the bar. And you did. Those were the great years in my career.”

No doubt about it, I was one of the most fortunate Region CDs to have Terrence on my team. By 2004, he was ranked 23rd Hottest CD in Asia. But that didn’t stop him. In 2008, Terrence was named Hall of Fame Creative Director of the Year and Singapore’s Most Influential Creative Director, 2007 to 2010. Wow!

Today, Terrence is owner and Chief Creative Officer of ICE Inc., a boutique creative agency he founded in 2011. His work continues to astound me.


Koh Hwee Peng - Formerly TBWA Singapore

I met Hwee when she was an art director at TBWA in Singapore. She was always open to ideas, approachable, yet highly persuasive when she talked to you about her work.

Before TBWA she worked at icon agency Batey Ads, no doubt learning from some of the best people in the region. She moved on from TBWA to Leo Burnett, then Ogilvy, Grey (with Justin Lim), and JWT, before co-founding her own firm Blak Labs in Singapore. The agency is a creative collective of diverse senior talents who focus on collaboration, co-creation and creative care, working in film, print, digital, experiential and more. I’m told Hwee is “a true joy and inspiration to work with”. I have no doubt about that. Blak Labs is hot!



All of you, please take a bow. It’s been a pleasure to work with you.

Mike Fromowitz

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