Ananya Saha
Sep 18, 2013

Spikes 2013: ‘Forge a culture where everyone is creative’

Ogilvy's Tham Khai Meng urged creative agencies to lure consumers in ‘stealth mode’ like a ‘Trojan Horse’ for maximum impact

Spikes 2013: ‘Forge a culture where everyone is creative’

In his presentation on the final day of Spikes Asia, worldwide chief creative officer of Ogilvy, Tham Khai Meng, took the audience on a whistlestop tour through the history of the human race and its amazing achievements. Starting out with archaeological evidence of the world's first creative department from 10,000 years ago, he led the audience through the ages to highlight how creativity has played a role in shaping our world.

"The first thing about the creative department back then was that everybody was in it together. No one was excluded. We need to look at pervasive creativity by forging a culture where everyone is creative. There is a tendency to guard creativity," Tham said.

On how DDB challenged that thinking by releasing an ad titled 'Lemons' for Volkswagon in 1950, he pointed out, "This ad was a revolution in Madison Avenue. Why did it work? Because the headline called the car a Lemon, which is referred to a car, often new, if often found to be defective only after it has been bought. The reader gets attracted to the headline and ends up embroiled in the copy."

He urged creative agencies to function in a stealth mode like a ‘Trojan Horse’. "At first, you present the reader with something spectacular like a Trojan Horse and smuggle your sales message even as the reader has no idea that he has been tricked and you get a foot in the door. True creatives work when in stealth and have the power to transform the mindsets of entire human race," said Tham, citing the example of Apple Macintosh's '1984' commercial.

On 'Dove Real Beauty Sketches' and 'Sports Club Recife' that made the club fans donate organs and become immortal fans, Tham said, "The creative ads that tickle your toes and tug at your brain cells are likely to have a lasting effect and get forwarded to friends through social media."

He added that it was fundamental to dial up emotions in advertising and create long-lasting positive effect on society. That point was made with the public service announcement  by Metro 'Dumb Ways to Die' and IBM's 'People for smarter cities'.


(An Ogilvy spokesperson has clarified that Tham Khai Meng's surname is Tham, and not Meng, as published earlier. The change has been effected on19 September at 0930 hrs IST.)

Campaign India

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