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Why Advertising is 99% Sweat

Awards and Events 387 Add to collection

Adfest 2014: BBDO’s Ronald Ng shows why craft matters

Why Advertising is 99% Sweat


“I can’t stress enough how frustrating it is when you look at a good idea and that final 1 per cent of the craft lets it down.” Speaking to the elite of Asia’s young creative talent at Adfest’s Young Lotus Workshop, Ronald Ng today shared his views on the importance of craft.

While advertising festivals so often focus on the big ideas and chase the next big trend, the small but oh-so-important details of craft can be ignored or dismissed as unfashionable concerns. For Ng, sharing his wisdom with the assembled young creatives who had flown in from around Asia, it’s the craft that can turn a good idea into a great one. Obsessive attention to detail and constant re-drafting are why he reckons great advertising is all about ‘99% Sweat’.

Using the 2009 Jeep ‘Two Worlds’ print campaign that was named the most awarded campaign of that year in the Gunn Report, Ng showed how attention to detail and exhaustive research turned an idea that started off life as a dodgy scribble into a world-beater.


“It all started with a bad doodle,” he explained as he showed the group the crumpled scrap of paper that triggered the whole campaign. “I thought it could be the greatest work ever or could be a fucking disaster if we work with the wrong art director.”

They opted to work with a newly graduated art director, a risk perhaps but as Ng went on to show one that paid off. He shared a some of the visual research and endless redrafts the idea went through, including executions that never made it.

To illustrate the importance of craft and detail he also shared the story of one print campaign that was in the running to win a bronze award at an ad festival, only for the judges to notice that the kerning between the final letter and the full stop were not correct.

“Make it your second nature – every time you look at something, ask yourself is the kerning right, are the colours right. It’s not about the hours you put in, but it’s about the effort.” 


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BBDO Asia, Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:39:19 GMT