Challenging the Norm

Advertising in Malaysia is a challenging industry. On one hand, there are many cultural and racial considerations that advertisers must take into account. On the other hand, many brands and business owners are more concerned with how an advertising campaign drives sales than its’ creativity.
Due to changes in the pattern of media consumption, advertisers now have to step up their game in producing works that engage the audience better!
IACT College senior lecturer Lawrence Chan says, “The industry says there’s a lack of talent today, but I don’t agree. I’ve seen many local creatives over the last 30 years and they can definitely deliver world-class works. All they need is the opportunity to do what they are capable of!”

Lawrence Chan and advertising students
Senior Lecturer of IACT College, Mr. Lawrence Chan with his advertising students

For IACT College Department for Advertising and Marketing head Winston Lom, some companies set too many limits and impose a certain “box”in terms of vision or concept of an advertisement.
“After all, it’s about dollars and cents, so they don’t want to take much risk. Advertising becomes very hard-sell and they all look similar.” He explains.
Lawrence Chan agrees with this sentiment, adding: “It’s the general attitude in Malaysia towards creativity. We lack the courage to try something new for the fear of potentially losing our market.”
When asked what are the important skills to master to challenge the norms of the advertising industry, Winston Lim says, “It is definitely creativity, which is different for each individual. We try to get the best out of our students, be it in terms of writing or designing.”
Lawrence Chan adds, “Creativity is timeless – though the vehicles that deliver the ideas have changed, the core principles haven’t.
It’s about helping them to master the basics – the skill of crafting an idea and campaign development.”
Winston Lim specifies resilience as another important trait, which “can be acquired by training our students to think far and wide about a particular problem.”
Winston Lim (standing, middle), Head of School in Advertising of IACT College and his students
Winston Lim (standing, middle), Head of School in Advertising of IACT College and his students

Lawrence Chan elaborates, “It is the thought process behind an idea that we want to see, not just the idea itself. It takes up to 7 weeks to help them refine their original idea to perfection so that they finally have an idea that works.”
He also shared how having lecturers from the industry helps: “Our industry lecturers know how tough the industry can be, so we set very high standards for our students.”
“We have to be tough to tamper them for the industry. We believe that resilience and skills when combined can go very far.”
IACT College has been producing advertising talents for the industry since its inception in 1970, where most of them have gone on to take prominent roles in advertising agencies.
IACT College also provides modules that are relevant to the needs of the industry.
“We have an Industry Advisory Board formed by practitioners from the creative industry. Our yearly meeting is very crucial as they will look at our modules and give us advice on how to improve them.”
“This adds strength to our academic team as we know we are giving our students the best possible education!” Lawrence Chan adds.
(This article was published in The Star Newspaper on 12th April 2018)