Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production
Defining Award-Worthy: Q&A with ECD Kestrel Lee
Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
London, United Kingdom
Current ECD at Freeman China, Kestrel Lee talks creativity driven by data, his favourite work of the past year, and winning at One Show
With over 20 years of advertising experience, executive creative director Kestrel Lee manages Freeman China’s online-to-offline retail activation, experiential and integrated marketing capabilities. 

Kestrel has won almost 100 digital and integrated awards in regional and international award shows as well as being recognised in Campaign Asia Pacific’s Digital A-list for ecommerce in 2016. He is leading Freeman Asia’s use of creativity and data to build experiential / social / ecommerce ecosystems for brands via innovations in the use of AI, robotics and New Retail. 

In this interview, Kestrel muses over what creativity means to him and offers advice on how to generate award-winning work.

Q> What does creativity mean to you in just three words?

Kestrel Lee> Accountability. Relevance. Experience.

Q> What is your advice for those wanting to break the mould, think differently, and create work that stands out? 

Kestrel> If you think that way, the first 5 to 10 years of your career will make or break you. Just like the obsession with keeping TVC and print ads in the mix for campaigns, the ad industry is not as progressive as new media or technology-driven industries. But if you can bear the pain and disappointment and find a way to make your ideas work for the client, your career may take off much faster than you can expect after your formative years. 

Q> What makes a piece of work worthy of a Caples award? What will you be looking for when judging? 

Kestrel> Caples are different to other award shows due to their direct marketing DNA. While other award shows have silo craft and effectiveness categories, we will be assessing creative direction, effectiveness and craft for every award submission as they can’t work without each other.

Q> How have awards that you have won in the past influenced or changed your career? 

Kestrel> Winning at One Show was big for me as it has always honoured creativity all over the globe and I was honoured to be one of its jury in its Greater China 2019 awards show. Spikes Asia is also important as it gave a regional stage to showcase my digital-led integrated work which swept their categories in 2008 and 2010. As a Singapore-based award show, it is a constant reminder for me to do better work in Asia as I’m from Singapore too.

Q> The Caples give feedback on every entry. As a creative, do you find this helpful when creating future work? And would you wish there were more opportunities to hear from your peers as a younger creative? 

Kestrel> Constructive feedback improves our perception of our ideas and presentation. There are too many examples of creatives borrowing from old creative campaigns, YouTube videos and artistic creations and then getting caught on social media. 

Most of us judging Caples put in a lot more effort to judge ideas and give feedback so that creatives can push the envelope further into new areas. There are so many interesting consumer trends, tech innovations and data-driven opportunities to enhance creation ideation these days.

Q> What kind of work are you bored of and what are you hoping to see more of this year?

Kestrel> I am tired of print communications like direct mailers as the new consumer middle class born from 1980s onwards are more driven by mobile and social engagement. I would love to see more data and commerce driven work.

Q> What was your favourite piece of work in 2019?

Kestrel> The work I love most for B2C was Tencent Foundation’s corporate social responsibility 'Mission Enlightening' campaign that integrated online to offline activation, micro payments and created a real-world impact by improving the lives of children in five villages.

For B2B, I love Siemens China's corn to jersey digitisation initiative that integrated the use of online fil, corporate social responsibility with social and PR optimisation. 

For more on Freeman’s projects in Asia, do follow the Freeman APAC LinkedIn page.
Work from The Caples Awards