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LIA Insider: Paul Chan: A Phone Call From London; Nish Shah: Finding Joy in Uncommon Places and Lucas Sfair: Prepare to Take Pictures With Your Ears

07 October 2020

A Phone Call From London

Paul Chan
CCO, Cheil Hong Kong

Paul has been at the creative helm of Cheil since 2012.  Thankfully, he hit the ground running and quickly put the office on the map. In Campaign Brief’s THE WORK, Cheil was Hong Kong's #1-ranked agency for four years running in 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020 —most recently ranking #4 overall in Asia. 

Paul himself was Hong Kong's #1-ranked creative for three years running in Campaign Brief Asia’s Creative Rankings and in 2020, he topped the rankings as the #1 'Most Awarded Creative in Asia’.

Beyond his passion for the business, Paul is married with a beautiful wife and two very loud kids, none of whom give a flying hoot about his rankings. He has no say in the household.  
My First Encounter With LIA
A few weeks ago, the lovely Patricia at LIA invited me to write an article.
So this got me jogging down memory lane and thinking about my first encounter with LIA.
(Or the London International Awards, as it was known as back then.)
The incident took place almost 20 years ago but I remember it like it happened yesterday.
My art-based partner, Steve, and I were both in our cubicle when the secretary rushed over and told us to pick up the phone.
It was an important call from London, apparently.
Our first baffled reaction was, ‘London? Who can it possibly be?’
And more importantly, ‘What have we done?’
Steve looked at me and instinctively turned away, leaving me to find out.
(Thanks Steve.)
It was Barbara Levy, the founder and President of the London International Awards.
‘Are you responsible for the Volkswagen ‘Jet’ ad?’ she asked.
Volkswagen Jet Ad
My heart was pounding. I knew Steve was shitting bricks beside me.
‘Yes.’ I replied nervously.
‘Excellent. Then you must come to the award ceremony in London!’ 
Now at this stage, I should rewind a bit.
At the time, I had just gotten my first big break at DDB—where I had the blessing and the curse of working on one of the world's most prestigious accounts, Volkswagen.
Well, strictly speaking, I wasn’t on the account at the time. 
I had just joined DDB as a young copywriter. 
And there was an internal shoot-out at the agency, with all the senior teams working on ideas for the new Volkswagen Golf R32.
Coincidentally, Steve and I were both Golf drivers. We knew the car and we knew the brand. And we saw this as a massive opportunity. 
So we worked on ideas, even though it wasn’t ‘our’ brief to work on. 
We narrowed our focus and decided that this was the fastest, most powerful Golf ever. And from that thinking came our idea of Volkswagen ‘Jet’.
We made a sketch and soon realised the senior teams were struggling. So we introduced ourselves to our new ECD and politely asked if we could present our idea. 
To his credit, he gave it the thumbs-up.
We were over the moon.
This was our first proper print work. For Volkswagen, no less.
The following week, we sold it to the client and shortly afterwards became the de facto Volkswagen team.
Around the same time, our ECD asked us if we’d like to enter the London International Awards.
Now this was all new to us. It sounded important, so we just agreed.
We mounted a copy of the ad (as you did back in those days), sent it off and got our heads back down to work.
A few months went by and that’s when the phone call came.
‘I can’t tell you much more,’ said Barbara. ‘But just believe me; it’ll be worth your while.’
Our minds were racing.
We asked (no, we begged) our ECD if we could go to London.
And while he was thinking it through, we kept muttering that famous line from Snatch, ‘I’m coming to London!’
Unfortunately, that’s where the story ends. We never did make it to London.
But we did manage to win our first Gold.
Back then; there was no Silver or Bronze. It was Gold or nothing. So it was a lot harder to win.
We were grateful.
They say you never forget your first, and it’s true.
The London International Awards will always mean a lot to me personally. It was the first global award show I’d ever entered back in 2003.
And despite not making it to the award show that year, I’ve had my fair share of luck in the years that followed.
Which makes up for missing out on the ceremony that night.
And I’ll never forget that phone call.


VP, Strategy, Initiative, Toronto

One part strategy, one part creative, Nish has developed award winning work across a broad range of clients and agencies from creative to media.
In his current role as Vice President of Strategy, Nish goes beyond what is expected, redefining the work of a media agency. Initiative was also recently named "Media Agency of the Year" by Strategy Magazine, a first for the agency.
Outside of work, Nish also serves on the Board of Vibe Arts, a non-profit focused on supporting emerging artists and bringing arts education to underprivileged youth in order to help them discover their creative potential. In his spare time, Nish enjoys spending time with his family, collecting vinyl records and dancing off-beat.


Finding Joy In Uncommon Places

Have you ever asked yourself what the point of all this is?
Ads that are viewed for mere seconds. Click-through rates that are close to zero. Views that were never even fully in view.
We spend months, tirelessly working on the launch of a campaign only to quickly move on to the next.
Underneath it all, there is a growing anxiety towards the fleeting nature of our work.
You are not alone.
Cue eye roll. Here's yet another article about "people being the most important element within this industry".
Wait! Don’t go click on something else just yet.
This is not another piece about the vague importance of people. It's about what you can do for the people, and for yourself in the process.
And the secret lies in finding joy in the mundane.




Co-Founder / Creative Director
CANJA Audio Culture

Lucas is a born musician. He started to work in advertising as a copywriter – then decided to follow his passion for music, and founded CANJA Audio Culture – an audio production company.
In 2019 CANJA was named “The Music & Sound Company of the Year” at LIA (London International Awards).
Over the past three years, CANJA have won 32 Cannes Lions. In 2017 CANJA produced the 3rd most awarded campaign in the world: The Refugee Nation, with Ogilvy NY, which won Best of Show on One Show.

Landscape by

It was a friend of mine who said that songs are landscapes. We were listening to Hermeto Pascoal and that phrase was enough to realize that I was immersed in another reality. The air gets denser, the room temperature changes and your body is taken to another frequency. I won't say it had colors because I wasn't crazy, but I remember its purple and blue shades hovering around.
So we decided to explore more songs that are able to transport us, and that's how the "Landscape by" was created. A playlist full of rare textures and beautiful images.  
A gift from the first art to all of those who, in this rough times, would love to visit new places.
Prepare to take pictures with your ears.

Open Spotify