Young people are not replacements. They’re reinforcements

By Edward Ong, Founder and Creative Director of Borderless.

n the 1976 movie Logan’s Run, nobody lives past age 30.

At 30, each person is sent for ‘rebirth’. When the crystal on your left hand, implanted during birth, starts blinking, you know your time is almost up.

Keeping the population young conserves precious resources, and increases society’s overall happiness and well-being.

In ad-land, agency executives like to boast that everybody in their creative department are ‘30 and below’.

Management proudly tell clients they have young creatives (people with less than 5 years of experience) working on multi-million Ringgit accounts.

The mantra being “We need to empower millennials and not be afraid to fail.”

Undervalued and underappreciated, enterprising seniors have set up their own shops. Or joined the client side or leave the industry to do something else altogether.

This week, Campaign UK published an article titled ‘The upward talent drain: Pressure on juniors as ‘gurus’ depart’.

An article that should have come out 10 years ago

Nobody will deny that the juniorisation of agencies has irrevocably changed the landscape.

Just look at Campaign Brief Asia’s recent annual agency rankings.

Besides the usual MNCs, there are lots of small independent shops.

You’ve probably never heard of them. They weren’t in the list the year before.

If the trend persists, next year there’ll be newer shops in the list.

Not surprisingly, inhouse-client studios have also overtaken established agencies.

Granted, being young biologically doesn’t necessarily mean one is creatively immature.

Then again, nobody really grows up in advertising. We either grow old or grow tired.

Lest I get cancelled, this isn’t an article about putting down young people.

Nor is it about elevating one generation over another.

Rather, it’s about recognizing and building on each other’s strengths.

It’s about acknowledging that nobody has a monopoly over ideas.

{Although, being senior- one tends to have a monopoly over experience}.

Living in multicultural Malaysia should at least make us realise one thing:

We are better together. We are stronger together.

The motto on our coat of arms isn’t there by accident.

Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu. Unity is Strength.

When we let the media department go in the 90s, we lost a crucial component of the marketing mix.

We also lost market intelligence and our biggest source of income- and conveniently forgot about all the amazing ideas developed while shooting the breeze with media people.

In my experience, some of the best media folks can also sell in great ideas, and make great ideas happen.

Today, media agencies with in-house creative depts are growing faster than ‘traditional’ agencies.

In China, clients are even setting up in-house media departments to complement their in-house creative studios.

How long before Malaysian clients follow suit?

Juniors and seniors.

Media and creative.

Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, Peranakan and everybody else.

Orang Semenanjung and Orang Sabah and Orang Sarawak

Better together. Stronger together.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.

Likewise, it takes all generations to make a brand.

You don’t need a glowing crystal to tell you that.

Edward Ong is the Founder and Creative Director of Borderless. Besides mentoring young people, he also develops ideas with and alongside clients’ in-house studios.

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

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APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
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