2 Minutes With ... Andrea Lau, Creative Director at Across the Pond Singapore

On the 'ATP Casting Call' and whether god needs copywriters

Andrea is Across the Pond's first APAC creative director. She has a wealth of experience in conceptual and strategic thinking from two decades as a sought-after freelancer, collaborating with agencies such as TBWA, Wunderman Thompson and Leo Burnett, as well as brands like Apple.

Andrea is evangelical about the power of creativity to transform businesses and improve people's lives. She is passionate about helping tech brands find their authentic voices in order to create meaningful, engaging and relevant work.

We spent two minutes with Andrea to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.

Andrea, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Singapore and Singapore. I consider myself very blessed to be born and raised in a country that sits at the cultural and economic crossroads of the world.

How you first realized you were creative.

Aren't we all? And I really do mean all. I’ve never believed that our industry has a bigger monopoly on lateral thinking than the banker on Wall Street optimizing his client's portfolio or the anxious mother in Wenzhou fixing a cute lunchbox for her little picky eater. We just happened to have commoditized it. Anyone solving real-world problems with out-of-this-world solutions is creative. It isn't a nebulous gift only accessible by a select few.

A person you idolized creatively early on.            

Starting out as a junior copywriter, I looked to Mary Wear of AMV BBDO. There weren't many female creatives making work that was as clever, ballsy and timeless. These days, I find inspiration from un-lived lives–close calls, missed opportunities and regrets–of the people I meet.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

It was when I fully appreciated the responsibility that comes with being a media practitioner. That power to shape culture and influence society felt terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, and has since shaped some of the ethics I practice in my own work.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

How about a chef? Dan Barber has redefined culinary arts in his restaurants by redesigning the very farm that stocks his kitchens. Calling him an advocate of the farm-to-table concept would be too much of a shorthand, because what he does literally starts ground-up from the soil to create an ecosystem that's self-sustaining but dynamic. And by the time his produce is harvested and shipped, it's already near-perfect for the diners who show up for a good meal. I constantly wonder what this means for us in the advertising business. Would our equivalent be building more equity in creative schools or feeding better data sets to large language models in generative A.I.? Our business would look very different if we could do no wrong for the brands we work with, right from day one in the briefing room.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Forever Is a Long Time. It's a podcast by Ian Cross, who speaks to every living member in his family, who are all divorcees. The podcast explores commitment, companionship and even some comeuppance. And the question at the heart of it is; When love is a chemical and marriage is a construct, why should either really matter in our becoming?

Your favorite fictional character.    

Abigail Bartlet from The West Wing. She didn't shrink herself just because her husband was POTUS. Instead, she stood taller because she was the only person in the White House who could challenge his biases and double standards. Being the leader of the free world probably isn't very easy, but I'd argue that it's harder being the wife of one. Yet, her mic drops were always marked by such impartiality, wit and grace.

Someone or something worth following on social media.

Hydraulic Press Channel. So, so satisfying.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

I finally had some bandwidth to institutionalize two longtime interests: cross-stitching and sharing bizarre trivia with friends. SLOWPOKE is a store where I sell cross-stitched products that relate to the needs of Singaporeans I raise funds for. SPAM is a Telegram channel where I share obscure facts like how climate change has led to more home runs in baseball.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

Pretty much every radio commercial I made back in the day. There's just something fun about having very little to work with, and radio is all about tinkering with sound to stir up feelings and drive action.

A recent project you're proud of. 

At Across the Pond, we have been creating ads for a TikTok monetization tool for a year now and being able to contribute almost 40 percent of its global revenue just from APAC alone is something we're proud of. But our most recent venture related to this project wasn't its ads, but a campaign we ran to solve the casting issues we were facing on it. By leveraging the in-app Duet function, our "ATP Casting Call" ran in Indonesia for a month, garnering over 400 million views and more than a handful of potential talents we could work with in the future. The most laughable accident was how the APAC team behind it shot to fame at the same time with our first-ever TikTok.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

This campaign. It got me thinking about a career in advertising. Because if even God needed copywriters, then there would be no fairer democracy that I'd like to be part of.

Someone else's work you admired lately.            

"Tax Heaven 3000," an online dating game that also files your taxes. MSCHF's ideas are always an alchemy of cultural hyper-relevance and incisive social commentary—and they are almost always perfectly executed.

Your main strength as a creative person.    

I rarely ask for permission, which gets me into trouble sometimes. But I believe some harmless sabotage can only be healthy for creatives and beneficial for the clients we work with.

Your biggest weakness.            

I can never refuse a freshly poured pint of Guinness, even at breakfast.

One thing that always makes you happy.    

Hearing this anywhere.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Seeing elderly Golden Retrievers out on their daily walk.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I'd be a bus driver. There's an acceptable level of routine I know I'd enjoy, but also a revolving door of intrigue from both regulars and strangers based on where they boarded and alighted.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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