Thirasak Tanapatanakul works for an agency, Thailand’s Creative Juice\G1 (TBWA), that doesn’t believe in pitching for accounts. It doesn’t create multiple campaigns. It does one, “a main theme for the creative and once that is done, everything else falls into place,” according to Tanapatanakul (call him Guy, everyone does). Creative Juice\G1 (TBWA) must be doing something right because it is among the hottest agencies in this part of the world. It was named the No.1 shop at the 2005 Asia Pacific Adfest.
Guy has enough notches on his pen, or brush (or whatever it is for creative directors): medals at Cannes for eight years running including three Gold Lions; four Gold Clios; two silvers at The One Show; two Grand Prixs at the Asia Pacific Advertising Festival; and then some.
Guy is a good speaker, as a recent presentation at the Advertising Agencies Association of India organized adfest, Goafest, proves. He likes to speak of how the Thais and, ergo Thai advertising, are different from that created in other parts of the world. “While other countries eat French fries, we eat worm fries. We are unique in our own way of living and so are our ads,” he likes to say. (He said pretty much the same thing at Goa). He also likes to speak of why his ads are as funny as they are—a sort of divine commission from a monk he met 10 years ago, who said to him, “the world is desperate and serious (and) your responsibility is to entertain people with your ads”. (Guy didn’t use that story at Goa, but many had already heard of it).
Awards are a motivator for the Thailand-born, US educated Guy who has worked with Y&R (San Francisco), BBDO (Thailand) and O&M (Bangkok), but not in the usual way. “I don’t keep any of my Cannes Gold Lion trophies at home,” he said in an interview with Mintin Goa. “Not seeing them around helps me strive for more.”
Creative Juice\G1 and Guy have a unique way of working on their campaigns: They get to know the client really well. “We use workshops to get to know our clients. We hang out with them, party together and try to understand the issues with their brand. Our involvement with brands is much like doctors’ equation with their patients,” said Guy. Doing that, he adds, gives the agency a lateral perspective into a company or a brand. He points to the ad he created for Bangkok Insurance which shows an insurance, agent turning into a roach every time he tries to sell a policy. (The ad won a Gold Lion, two Gold Clios, a silver at the One Show). “It was during one of those (informal) interactions that a client happened to mention that insurance agents were treated like scum, rats or cockroaches,” said Guy.
Like most admen, Guy believes much of the more-creative-than-creative advertising he has done is because of “brave clients”. Irrespective of who the client is, Guy believes successful advertising has to be local. The very localness of some ads created in Thailand and India has catapulted their creators into the global advertising arena, say experts such as Donald Gunn, author and founder of the Gunn Report, a listing of award-winning ads from all over the world.
Sometimes, this localness results in a certain universality of appeal that makes the ad extremely successful. Guy’s ad for the Tamiya Model Shop, which showed representations of a smashed watermelon, a frog over-run by a vehicle and a broken lightbulb as jigsaw-like numbered pieces in the mind of the model maker, was adjudged “the world’s most awarded print campaign in 2005” by the Gunn Report.
It told a story. It worked for the client. And it made people laugh. The monk would have approved.