The students of Advertising & Graphic Design, The One Academy, were up for a treat at the latest edition of Advertising Master Forum featured Mr. Gavin Earle Simpson, a highly-acclaimed advertising professional with over twenty-five years of field experience.
Before embarking in a challenging advertising career, Gavin bartended for drunkards while attending college at the same time. Some of his customers were advertising people who told him interesting stories. Somehow, those individuals and stories sparked an underlying passion in advertising, giving him dreams to make it big in the industry.
Today, that passion has lead him to one of the most essential roles in the current Malaysian advertising scene. Now the Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy & Mather Kuala Lumpur, Simpson has previously held imperative lead positions in Jakarta, Manila and Hong Kong.
In the master forum, he complemented his advices in the form of explanations with previous award-winning ads that he has worked on, providing vivid examples to show that the industry is challenging and rewarding at the same time.
In real advertising, accuracy is always appreciated and reciprocated by viewers. “Find the truth, sell the truth,” Gavin said. Two instances of such marketing are his work for ‘Pictionary’ (You don’t need to be an artist to play) and an older ad for ‘Panasonic fax machines’ (There’s certain things you can’t do well over the phone).
Great advertising contains a strong selling idea, and one favorite idea of Gavin’s involves “making things that seem familiar become fresh and unfamiliar”. Gavin’s ‘Land Rover’ print ad utilised this surprise element by portraying an aborigine in the wild asking for directions from a Land Rover driver, and not the other way round, because the driver has been “everywhere”.
According to Gavin, advertising can also be a process of identifying a problem and then offering a solution. In his Milo ad for instance, it highlighted the unfair academic priorities parents assign to their children, hence sacrificing playtime for studies and tuition. What the Milo ad did then was encouraging sports, which is imperative for children’s growth, while also telling them that being number one in studies isn’t everything.
Before departing, Gavin had a brief Q&A session with the students and professionals in Advertising & Graphic Design. In job interviews, he would usually look for interviewees who are hardworking, persistent and open to criticism. “You don’t know as much as you think you know,” he imparted an inspiring quote. Having won awards, such as the prestigious Kancil Awards can also increase the chances of getting hired.
In terms of preparing a portfolio, students need to compile their best works. Also, they are reminded to pick ads of products that carry the potential to make a difference for the better, yet is simple enough to comprehend. “Keep being eager to learn, improve yourselves and update your portfolio constantly,” Gavin added.
Despite owning some of the industry’s highly sought after awards such as Yellow Pencil (D&AD), Gold Cannes, Gold One Show Pencil, among plenty of others, Gavin confidently told students that awards are not everything. “Do work that is good and makes you proud,” he said.
[ The One Academy of Communication Design was established in 1991 with the aim of promoting the region as the world’s center of creative reference. Strategically located in the thriving creative hub of Bandar Sunway, Selangor, with a branch in Georgetown, Penang, The One Academy is today a top notch leading international institute in art, design and creative multimedia, renowned with graduates who steer successful careers in creative capitals worldwide. The courses offered are Multimedia Design with Digital Media and Interactive Design, Digital Animation with Game Development, Film Visual Effects, Illustration, Movie & Game Art, Advertising & Graphic Design, Interior Design, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making and Fine Arts. ]
Gavin Simpson with Advertising students and lecturers of The One Academy during an intimate Q&A session.