For all of the talk of innovation, most advertising agencies basically just create ads. But Thailand’s BBDO Bangkok has a reputation for being able to do just about anything.
Instead of creating advertisements for mosquito prevention in the slums of Bangkok, the agency created “Nano Shoes”, which covered the feet of mosquitoes with larvicides and turned the pests into their own exterminators. Instead of putting up billboards about the safety of motorcycles, BBDO Bangkok has developed a smart helmet that can automatically report an accident even if the driver is unconscious.
At the forefront of all that creativity was Suthisak Sucharittanonta, a 22 year veteran of the agency and its globally respected creative chairman. He has won many of the best awards in the creative world including being named one of only 10 global talents on Adweeks Creative 100. 2017 Recently, Sucharittanonta announced that he will be stepping back from the agency world to focus on being director, photographer and being a solo artist.
As part of the transition, he made the agency’s latest short film, Giving Life, for the Ramathibodi Foundation, an organization that provides health care and services to disadvantaged people. You can watch the touching film based on a true story followed by Adweek’s conversation with Sucharittanonta about the lessons he learned from three decades in advertising.
Adweek: Why did you decide to leave the agency life?
Suthisak Sucharittanonta, Creative Chairman of BBDO Bangkok: It wasn’t an easy decision, but after three decades in the advertising industry building and promoting brands and products, I thought it was time for a change. Now, my goal is to give back by using my experiences, passions and skills to promote and promote the betterment of society for the common good through two things I love and love to do: photography and film directing.
Under your leadership, BBDO Bangkok has been a leader in creating not only campaigns but also really ambitious inventions and innovations. What are you most proud of?
There have been so many great ideas over the years, some of which have been lucky enough to come to life thanks to some supportive clients. Two projects that come to mind are:
“AbsorbPlate” for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. The plate is designed to help Thai people eat more healthily. It has hundreds of tiny holes, inspired by the texture of the sponge, so AbsorbPlate can separate excess oil from food before people eat it.
“Predict To Prevent” for Samsung. This was an innovative text prediction feature that recommends the right mix of words when writing with someone who is suffering from depression.
There is always a lot of skepticism when agencies create ambitious inventions. Some people say it’s only for awards or PR and can never be produced on a large scale. How would you defend inventing big ideas?
Create creatives. That’s what we do And I’m not just talking about the art directors and copywriters; Everyone can be creative. And now it is more important than ever that everyone in the agency is creative and drives big ideas – whether strategic or creative. From the planners to customer service to the creative departments, big ideas, new ideas, and crazy ideas are the ones breaking the compliance barrier that brands and agencies alike are constantly imposing.
More than ever, it is important that everyone in the agency is creative and drives big ideas – whether strategic or creative.
You have often talked about what makes Thailand such a unique market even in Asia. What are the biggest challenges for marketers in Thailand?
Thailand’s unique culture, way of life and people really love us for the rest of the world … our delicious food and beautiful beaches don’t hurt either. However, there are some real challenges that need to be considered and carefully addressed. Like the rest of the world, we are all affected by Covid-19. Fortunately, when it comes to health, our country has implemented and adhered to some strict measures to protect us from the pandemic. However, many industries and individuals suffer financially. That being said, our volatile local politics are constantly pulling us back as we try to move forward.