Chinatown in singapore by night

First Time Working In Singapore

After spending the first five weeks of our Pop Up Tour in Europe, we were ready to hit another continent. After a long flight with a stop in Kuala Lumpur we landed in one of the fasted growing countries and cities of the world: Singapore. As someone who was born and raised in the Netherlands and has spent the last six months living in Stockholm, I was immediately struck by one big, shining thing. Here comes the sun, indeed.

A client as old as we are

Let’s talk more about our job in Singapore and what we experienced while working in this city. Our client was BBH, a globally recognized advertising agency founded in 1982 by John Bartle, Nigel Bogle and John Hegarty. Unfortunately, I can’t talk more about BBH or the brief, so, for now, will devote my attention to our process.

Normally, we present our pitch after spending two days with the client, but the agency was so busy, we were forced to deliver a day early. This was a big challenge and marks the first time we spent less than the allotted 48 hours on a project.

Let’s get started

We realized it was going to be a long day when we gathered onThursday morning. Even before breakfast, the lack of sleep and jet lag conspired against us.

Because we set out to accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time, we always begin by setting our goals for the current project. The whole team sits down to discuss everything from whether or not we like the client to what we hope to achieve.

In this case, it was “no worries” all around. Everybody was excited about the job. After defining what the ideal outcome would be, we began the ideation process. People threw out some good ideas, but after two hours of filling post-it notes with thoughts, we needed to try some new brainstorming tactics.

Of course, trying something new costs more time, but we believe it’s worth it. Getting bored of doing our job is a big fear. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we constantly try to vary our methods and expand our toolkit for solving cases. Each new job provides an opportunity to do so.

That first afternoon, we checked in with the executive creative director at BBH and he gave us feedback on the concepts we’d chosen to present him with. Based on that conversation, we were able to kill the ideas that weren’t working, build on favorites, combine a few, and develop some alternatives. As the sun set, we had our final, winning vision.

It was time to build on this idea and formulate the pitch. We divided tasks and started working on them. By four o’clock in the morning, we could no longer keep our eyes open and allowed ourselves to sleep. The next day, we woke up a bit late, but at 4:55 PM, five minutes before the pitch meeting, everything was done. The client liked the idea a lot.

In the next few days, BBH would further develop our idea. Last Tuesday, the agency pitched it to its client. The response was positive.

What did we learn?

When we were traveling through Europe, the changes in culture affected us minimally. Working on a new continent throws so much more at you. First of all, there’s the change in temperature. In Singapore, it gets extremely hot — around 30ºC every day; walking from the hostel to the agency’s office takes more energy in the heat of the burning sun. The cuisine was different, too. During the day, we ate at open market places where they have all different kinds of Asian food.

There are so many new impressions to assimilate. On top of that, you’re working on a brand new brief for a brand new client. Not easy.

The upshot is that you learn a lot. In Singapore, we did just that. Over the weekend, we toured the city and were amazed; it’s booming. Construction workers sweat day and night, and new buildings are rising everywhere. From what we heard and saw, the economy seems to be growing as fast as the skyline. Singapore really is an up and coming city, which explains why more and more agencies are opening here.

The following Monday and Tuesday, we did some short sessions with the creative teams of BBH. We shared ways of working and got insight into how it rolls in a big agency like theirs (as opposed to a six-person agency, like ours). Both parties embrace novelty and implement it to suit their current ways of working.

To sum it up, we learned a lot and had a great experience in a booming, burning-hot city.