An Exclusive Interview with Raihan Hadi
It goes without saying that Naga DDB Tribal is one of the most consistently creative agencies in the region, a true exemplar for the industry. Creative work, especially on occasions like the Chinese New Year, requires a union between humour and common sense to cater to any audience.
Speaking of which, I just watched Naga’s CNY 2022 spot on what prosperity (“Fatt”) actually means and jumped at the opportunity to speak to the man at the helm of all things creative at the creative powerhouse – Alvin Teoh, Chief Creative Officer at Naga DDB Tribal.
Before we get into the talk, let’s take a look at the actual walk – of finding prosperity.
What were the inspirations and key aspirations behind this simple yet wonderful spot?
We did more than just a short film. We also created a deck of cards, each carrying a vital lesson about the potential of what prosperity could be.
The thought is pretty simple. A lot of us are not in the best of times and not doing as well as we would like to. And we’re approaching a season that has prosperity as part of its narrative. And on the surface, prosperity automatically equates to material wealth and possessions, as well as our titles and status in society as a symbol of success.
We tend to put so much value in these things that it sometimes feels like life is one big competition about who’s head is bigger than whose, all in the pursuit of inflating our egos. We are all so concerned about these glitzy and bling things, we fail to see the greatest treasure and wealth there is; the gift of the human person in all of us.
If we can discard all these notions of what prosperity is, all these things that have been drummed into us by an undiscerning society, and learn the art of gratitude instead, we might learn to celebrate all things around us and prosper in happiness. Right?
That’s what we were trying to convey in that short 60 sec film. As for the cards, we wanted to turn the meaning Fatt (Prosperity) upside down, literally, to see beneath the surface of things and get to the things that really matter. We talked about good character, empathy, self-acceptance, service to others, commitment to love, the pursuit of knowledge as opposed to big money, important titles, expensive meals and large diamond rings to try to change the narrative of what fatt means. Because at the end of the day, real wealth lies in the beauty, the character and the potential of the human person.
That’s where the real treasure is. As an ad agency, we’ve always tried to look for a refreshing point of view that matters in society, something perhaps many have missed. And we think this is a much needed message.
What are your feelings about how CNY TVCs or short films are generally done in Malaysia and the region, what is a great example and which is the worst ad you’ve ever seen and why?
Generally speaking, everyone is trying to find a story or a point of view that marries the brand role with cultural and human insight that’s relevant for the season. And it’s not always easy.
Think about it. There is an average of 40-60 CNY content every year for the past 2 decades. That’s more than 1000 CNY stories so far and everyone of them derives from very similar insights and cultural observations. That we still have content to create is a testimony to the critical need for creativity. Sometimes we do well. Other times, meh. And once in a while, there is a breakthrough.
I won’t pick on what’s best or worst, but a really good festive content needs to come from a place of authenticity and offer a refreshing take on something familiar. Failing which, it becomes wallpaper content. Sometimes this requires some degree of experimentation, which of course is risky. But without risk, there is no breakthrough.
The peeps at Ted Talks once said, about ads – we want to see something that enriches us, not disrupts us. Something that makes me feel, think and react.
So maybe the first question is – do we respect our audiences enough to engage them honestly about things that they care about?
Do we respect the craft and art of storytelling enough so we can serve them something worthy of their time?
Do we see them as intelligent people so that we can go beneath the surface of things, the cliche things, the safe things, and talk to them about the things that matter in the experience of being human?
After all, good content has the power to challenge, to inspire, to educate. If we’re not bothered about that, then the result will be the boring, the expected, the shallow, the ‘hehe-haha-no-meaning’ and forgettable content.
And even if you remember them, it’s because it’s so cringy, it feels like it’s the stuff demons will show you in hell for eternity to punish you for being a horrible person.
Thanks for your amazing input Alvin, I loved getting “Fatt” with you!
And I wish you and the readers of MARKETING Magazine all the “Fatt-ness” this Chinese New Year!
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