Stress, politics, fire-fighting, irate clients? No thanks. Calvin Soh on why he left advertising

Calvin SohThe former vice chairman and chief creative officer of Publicis Asia Pacific, Calvin Soh, who now runs a number of businesses including his own consultancy, has spoken out about why he left the advertising industry five years ago.

Writing on Facebook last night, Soh started a post by saying that he had been described as “eccentric” for having walked away from a successful career in advertising.

The Singaporean responded that he had quit to spend more time with his family, reconnect with nature and find peace.

He then voiced his frustrations with working in advertising, highlighting the stress of the working environment, politics, fire fighting, handholding “irate” clients and the “vicious circle” of buying things that he didn’t need and couldn’t afford.

The post was well received, with many of Soh’s contacts and former colleagues and associates applauding the sentiment, calling it “inspiring” and his decision to leave the industry worthy of respect.

Soh’s post in full:

Today, someone said I was eccentric because I walked away from a lucrative and successful advertising career.

Because I wanted to spend more time with the family and be around the kids while they still wanted me. Reconnect with nature and learn how to grow my own food. Write a book with my son and help my daughter design her capsule collection. Designed and built an urban soil and hydroponic farm in the old family home. Made more interesting, diverse friends than I ever had. Most importantly, finding and being at peace.

As opposed to working in a stressful environment, dealing with global politics, fighting fires and handholding irate clients, buying things you don’t need, that you can’t afford, so you have to work longer and cement yourself into a vicious cycle you can’t get out of. And that’s the norm.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Soh started the consultancy Ninety Nine Percent four years ago, and has since co-founded startups Time Travellr, Humint and

He started his career in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather in the 1990s, and also worked for Saatchi & Saatchi and then Fallon, which later merged into Publicis Groupe.


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