Changing the way the Ad industry works

The dark days of depressive ad men hunched over their beers grumbling about having no life, no creative opportunity, no wife, no hair, ... is almost gone.

The dark days of depressive ad men hunched over their beers grumbling about having no life, no creative opportunity, no wife, no hair, ... is almost gone. What is darkness after all, but an absence of light? And light, there is now.

There is a group of bright young talent who are radiating positive energy and vibrance. They are the graduates of Shine, a training organised by the 4As, designed and conducted by 95% Trainings.

As the name suggests, Shine is designed with the objective of empowering young advertising talent, the ones who will be the new stars of the industry.

When you look at the Shine logo, you’ll notice that the ‘i’ is highlighted. This represents the empowerment of the individual, their willingness to take the lead in order to make things happen.

The brainchild of Tony Savarimuthu, the 4As’ Knowledge Committee Chairman and Vice President and Janet Lee, Director & Trainer of 95% Trainings, the 3-day residential Shine training is unlike any other advertising workshop or seminar.

It is a training where participants are guided to explore and discover the power within them to produce positive results at work. They get to experience a new level of communication and interaction with each other, and apply this to the process of creating advertising.

Day 1 guides the participants through a process of self-awareness and realisation. Day 2 is when they get to practise applying new ideas and concepts to interpersonal working relationships. On Day 3, the participants will present a project to a panel of industry leaders. They will also have the opportunity to ask these leaders, people who have made it in advertising, to share their own experiences, thrills and spills.

The inaugural intake of Shine took place in August 2005. To date, there have been three intakes, with a total of 22 ad agencies taking part. Here’s what some of the participants have to say about the training:

“Shine is something everybody in the advertising industry should undergo, precisely because we are in a position to make a difference in this country, in this world. It’s our responsibility.”
– Natasha Nair, Ogilvy PR

“I think this training is extremely useful for us advertising people, as it makes us realise that in order for us to successfully change people’s lives, we first need to look and evaluate ourselves.”
– Cassandra Lee, DDB International

“Very inspiring, touching and honestly, I came with a closed mind thinking it was just another ‘rah rah’ training. But this is truly one of a kind training.”
– Ho Wei Ling, TBWA-ISC

“The training gave me a deeper understanding of how authentic I am. It’s unthinkable!”
– Destine Lim Zack, Adsell Advertising

“It’s worth throwing away the first match of English Premier League to experience myself in a different tune. I love it!”
– Kelvin Gan, GanForHire

“Shine has given me the spark, the reminder that dreams do come true for real people. I know what to do now. ”
– Tan Zijill, Leo Burnett

“A truly useful and beneficial workshop that can not only benefit the new advertising people, but also the seniors. A workshop meant for everyone who has heart. Please bring the creative teams forward as well.”
– Joe Najib, TBWA-ISC

“I’ve never felt more alive.”
– Jess Seow, JWT


This is what some of the industry leaders who spent a weekend with the Shinesters have to say :
Michelle Ong, GM, McCann Erickson :
“The training had an amazing affect on the juniors - everyone I spoke to seem so inspired after the session. More importantly, they stopped looking at their jobs as “fighting with creative, delivering FAs, thinking that all Clients are painful”. I think they started to appreciate what they could contribute to their jobs and to the industry. It’s important they feel proud of vwhat they do and understand that their future is really what they make of it.

As a panelist - it was really refreshing. It made me think back of how it was when I started and what kept me going - I looked at the juniors and felt half sorry, half excited for them because really, the future is theirs. Also, it reminds me how important it was to connect back to them - sometimes I think we forget they’re so young and would appreciate any involvement from a Senior.”

Alan Lim, Chairman, Naga DDB:
“I am impressed with what I saw during the short time I was there. The frank yet fair opinions given to the participants will benefit them immensely. The use of a group of trainers is exceptionally good as this would ensure that everyone is given all the attention they need. The feedback from my Naga DDB staff was “....everyone should go...”


Bas Moreu, Executive CD of TBWA-ISC\Malaysia :

“I was impressed by the quality of participants. They are all very enthusiastic and full of energy. My feeling of the training is that it brings out a lot from the personal you.”

In addition to these comments, the feedback forms from the third Shine training show that 100% of the participants were satisfied with the training (15% are satisfied and 85% are totally satisfied). 100% of them felt it was practical and useful to their jobs.

This kind of feedback seems almost too good to be true. Well, maybe it was just something said in the heat of the moment - does the training produce any lasting results?

95%’s Trainer Janet Lee says, “It depends very much on the individual of course, and it’s very heartening to note that there are some who have been putting in the effort to make the improvements permanent…”

MORE than just a short burst of ‘rah-rah’

Shinesters who did the training six months ago, and they are still glowing.Teresa Leong from ogilvy said “I am more of a team player now. Before I didn’t contribute much at discussions,but now I am playing a bigger role. I have learnt to understand my client’s point of view and started getting to know them outside of work. it’s more fun working with them now. I’m glad have learnt how to bridge the gap.”

Natalie Chan from McCann Erickson says “Shine reaffirmed that what i’m doing is correct. I know that win-win works, and I go beyond what’s required to be done. Going the extra mile does a lot to build stronger relationships with my clients.”

If we go by what they say, Shine does indeed appear to be quite different from the usual seminars where the pumped up participants start to deflate after a week or two.


After 3 intakes, there are now 96 Shinesters. They are passionate and they are committed to give back to the community. They are now in the midst of planning a joint community service project VCwhich will be launched by the end of 2006.

The leaders of this initiative are Natalie, Azita, Keak, Kelvin and Sathi : they are from different agencies and different Shine intakes, but all are bound together by a common vision to use their advertising skills to make a difference to society.

It is often said that advertising is a people business. The 22 agencies who have invested in their people have taken the lead.

As more and more young talent go through the Shine training and start to realise their potential, whoa ... better get your shades ready because the future for the Malaysian ad industry will certainly be very bright indeed.