‘Singapore universities failing to encourage creatives of the future to think out of the box’

Farrokh Madon

Farrokh Madon

Universities in Singapore are not doing enough to encourage the unconventional thinking that ad agencies are looking for in new recruits, the creative director of a local agency has said.

Y&R Singapore’s chief creative officer Farrokh Madon, who ran the jury at the Mediacorp-sponsored Young Creatives Competition earlier this month, said that emerging talent in Singapore often lacks the “questioning attitude” needed to be a good creative.

“Students are always technically proficient. What is lacking is the ability to look at the world in weird, warped way and be comfortable with that,” he said.

A conservative culture, and a lack of encouragement by universities for students to “think out of the box”, are not helping young Singaporeans prepare for creative roles, he said.

“You can’t just put someone through arts college and flick a switch. You have got to instill a questioning attitude, a way of looking at things in a different way.”

The standard of work at the Young Creatives Competition, while good in places, was largely “me-too” and lacked fresh thinking, Madon noted.

The medium Singapore tends to excel at, print, was the big disappointment, he said.

“Barring the winner, which everyone agreed pushed print advertising into a new space, there was a perceptible drop in standard,” he said.

“It seemed like familiarity with the print medium was on the wane for today’s YouTube generation,” he said.

TV entries were much better, he said, with the caveat: “Singapore’s about as renowned for its TV as it is for its Russian cuisine.”

“Maybe it’s YouTube. Maybe it’s the improving quality of camera phones. Maybe it’s social media that’s encouraging all the sharing. But incredibly, the standard of films was better than anything I’d expected,” he said.

The winning TV ad was by Cheng Teom Ting and Malcolm Wee of

The winning print ad was by Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore’s Paolo Agulto and Pimwadee Lai.

Mediacorp Young Creatives Competition 2013 print winner

The runner up in the print category was by a creative team at a digital agency, Elen Winata and Meyvi Wedelia at Tribal DDB Singapore.

Runner-up print ad

Madon is to feature alongside JWT SEA ECD Tay Guan Hin and Ogilvy CD Troy Lim at Portfolio night, which claims to be the “world’s biggest simultaneous portfolio review session”.

The winner of best young creative from each host city will win a trip to New York where all 24 winners will work together on a live ad brief.


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