Stan Lim has been with dentsu Singapore as chief creative officer since December 2020. Lim is touted to be a strategic thinker well versed in multiple creative languages. In his current role he leads both the creative and experience practices across the creative line of business in Singapore for clients such as Toyota, Intel, CapitaLand, Ocean Network Express, and Coca Cola.
Prior to this, Lim was the chief experience officer for the creative line of business. When taking on the role in 2020, Lim said creative and experience needs to work hand in hand as people do not perceive a brand’s ads, content, events, apps or stores as separate encounters. They expect consistency in the way a brand portrays itself to the world, the way it interacts with the individual at any given moment.
Meanwhile, Lim's first foray in adland began in AKQA as an interactive designer. He got his advertising foundation with time spent at Formul8 before joining The Upper Storey as art director.
Find out what keeps Lim ticking.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Tell us a little bit about your role.
I spend my days helping to build an agency from the future that addresses the business needs of today. A lot of that is creating a culture and environment where different talents can team up dynamically to spark new offerings.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How long have you been with the agency?
I’ve been with dentsu for 10 years, and 16 years with the independent agency (The Upper Storey) that got acquired by dentsu. Quite a few of my creative partners from that agency are still active in the network today.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How did you stumble into this industry?
After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine arts, a good friend of mine from the industry asked me if I could design web buttons. This was during the Geocity days. I looked and said ‘Yup, I think I can manage that.’ That was how I ended up joining AKQA.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first impression of the advertising industry?
To be honest, back when I was a young digital designer, I thought the advertising folks were really snobbish.
They treated digital creatives as second-class citizens. It was emotionally rough learning the ropes in that environment. That is one thing I have grown to avoid. Becoming a creative snob.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Creatively, what do you feel has been the biggest shift?
The number of creative languages one must master these days has increased exponentially. It used to be that an idea only needed to be articulated through a powerful line of copy with some key visuals to accompany it. These days, that idea must be so big that it can live across films, images, social entertainment, digital channels, events, live streams, virtual worlds, you name it. That shift into creative complexity has been huge but so fun!
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What’s the most frustrating thing about being a creative?
Our best ideas tend to remain unsold.
Due to their nature of pushing people out of their comfort zones, it can be hard to convince everyone that it needs to be done. It is a constant test of a creative’s determination to not give up trying to bring great ideas to life.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Proudest moment in your career?
Seeing people’s faces light up each time they encounter Rumi, the virtual human we created as part of our Dentsu VI offering, live on camera. Being able to create that bit of magic that reaches people’s hearts... that has always been most important to me as a creative.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is one career mistake you won’t forget?
This was my first year as a young creative. I was designing an entry form for an online contest in Korea. Between the unfamiliar words and my bad coding skills as a designer, I messed up the code and while the campaign ran for four weeks, not a single entry was captured. I was lucky the client was extremely forgiving and empathetic.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Mentor you look up to most?
That would be my dad. He was the one who kept me going as a young creative. He told me not to worry about how the world saw me but to keep at my work one small step at a time. That is how I continue to rise up to the biggest challenges in my career.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your favourite piece of advertising?
Gatsby – Takuya Kimura. No other ad has made me laugh so hard or want to buy a face wash so much in 30 seconds. I am still a Gatsby fan today.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do you dislike most in an ad?
Empty virtue signaling. I find it detestable. When done well, purpose driven campaigns are in sync with a brand’s actions and urge new and positive actions. But sometimes, brands unashamedly use society’s pain as a lever for fame with no real action behind it. That I cannot condone.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your dream brand to work with?
I have worked on some really exciting brands but it really boils down to the client partners you meet. The more ambitious and the more passionate the clients are, the better the work we can create together. I would rather create a dream brand together with these clients.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you get inspired when you aren’t?
Stop. Drop. And run, eat, play with my kid, do some leathercraft, whatever makes me happy and gets me back into an alpha state of mind. I am most productive when I am calm, relaxed but focused.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your ritual/superstition before a big pitch?
Get all the prep done the day before and never discuss the work on pitch day itself. It is too late to change anything and will only lead to doubts about whether we have done everything we could.
Trusting in our work and preparations will keep the team calm and focused going into the presentation.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What makes the difference between an average ads and mind-blowing creativity?
An average ad explains offerings you already think you don’t need with messages you don’t care about.
A powerful idea takes you into uncharted territories. It shows you a new perspective that you never knew was needed in the world and yet there it is. And you feel drawn to it, sometimes even despite yourself.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What does your family think you do?
My kid thinks I type a lot, video call with friends and play with colors all day long. She doesn’t take me very seriously when I say I am too busy.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: If you weren’t a creative, what would you be?
Boring. Being creative is not limited to the job or the role you are in. I was a really creative problem solver as an army sergeant when I was serving national service, but that is a story best told over drinks.
What is your guilty pleasure that you’ve kept hidden from the industry?
I love mobile gacha games. I am hopelessly drawn to collecting rare gear and characters. They are about the only games I have time for these days.