Having made his mark in the demanding world of advertising, creative whiz Troy Lim finds himself at the forefront of the industry with his appointment as co-chairman of the Crowbar Awards.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF TROY LIM|
If you watch free-to-air-channels on television, you would most probably recall that cute, memorable advertisement of the health bar SoyJoy, which was among the top 10 TV commercials in Singapore last year as voted by viewers. The man behind it is Troy Lim, creative director at Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, who will be co-chairing the 2010 Crowbar Awards with his colleague and head of art, Jon Loke.
While the bigger Creative Circle Awards is a platform for the advertising industry at large, the Crowbar Awards competition is only open to students, giving young talents a chance to showcase their craft and creativity. In its 10th year now, it has grown from being just a local show to one which attracts entries from around the world, even as far as London.
“Another key difference is that while the CCA is an ad-centric show, the Crowbars’ categories go beyond advertising—there’ll be short films being submitted and photographs that need not be seen in the context of a print ad,” says Lim.
Having proven his creative chops to the industry with a string of recognition including the “Best New English Copywriter (Gold)” at the Creative Circle Awards years earlier, Lim, together with Loke, will in turn be setting the direction for this year’s Crowbar Awards, selecting the jury heads of the various creative categories, including design, interactive, film and photography, putting together a panel of mentors and judges for the Crowbar Challenge (where student creative teams will be given a brief to work on and be ready to present their creative solutions 24 hours later), and preside over the judging process.
Winners in the respective categories will win the Crowbar trophies. Of the award moniker, Lim says, “The general impression is that advertising is one of the hardest jobs to break into, so that’s where a crowbar would come in handy in breaking down the door.”
Previous years’ winners won internships in creative hot shops in London and New York, but this year’s “killer-prize” has yet been decided. Beyond the prizes, however, the prestige of a Crowbar award stems from the traction accorded to a winner, who will have a strong advantage when it comes to the hiring squad. Additionally, many previous Crowbar winners have gone on to make a name for themselves in their respective fields, which adds credibility to the high standards of the Crowbar Awards.
Lim himself first stumbled into the world of advertising when he took on an internship at a small Japanese advertising agency while studying for his Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences degree at the National University of Singapore. “The awards annuals in the department library really opened my eyes to the plethora of great work that was out there. There and then, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I also had a great mentor who really encouraged me and I spent the next few months devising and compiling my portfolio.”
As for how he got his lucky break, Lim has this to say: “Advertising is really tough to get into, because there is no institution which specifically teaches copywriting or art direction. The trick is to show your potential and passion by showing creative directors a sample of your best ideas, and if they’re willing to let you hang around the creative department, that’s your foot in the door.”
Far from having the road to success paved out for him, he was retrenched in 1998 when the Asian financial crisis hit, less than a year after he started working. While it hit him hard at that time, it turned out to be a blessing, as he had to learn the ropes fast while doing freelance work in various agencies. “It’s true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he says. It was only when he started winning awards two years into his career that the job offers started coming.
In addition to the aforementioned SoyJoy ad, some of his most prolific and compelling work include the Health Promotion Board Youth Campaigns to raise awareness for binge drinking, Aids and smoking. Asked about the current state of advertising in the country, he says, “We need more mavericks like (legendary creative director of the Ball Partnership) Neil French, whose work always stood out despite it being controversial most of the time. But more than that, we need clients who are able to recognize the value of great ideas for their brand.”
On the future of the industry, he adds, “Don’t just think of advertising as a printed image, words on a page, or a 30-second commercial anymore. It could be a music video or a stunt that finds its way around the world virally, or perhaps it could even be a movement. We live in exciting times, and advertising has always been about being on the cutting edge of ideas—with all the technology available to us, anything is possible.”
Outside of work, the married man enjoys making music (he plays the trombone in The Millennial Orchestra and helps with its branding efforts and concert promotions), watching movies, cycling and fast cars. Asked what God would say about advertising if he ever asked Him, he replies, “I think He would say that we are His best ads.”