Last name: Calvin Chong
Origin: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Places lived/worked: Canberra and Kuala Lumpur
Pronouns: He she
Creative Group Leader, Zeno Group, 2020-present
Senior Writer, BBDO, 2018-2020
Copywriter, Naga DDB Tribal, 2016-2018
Copywriter, Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid, 2013-2015
Junior Editor, G2DI/Grey, 2012-2013
1. How did you become creative?
Luckily. I took the ad on a friend’s suggestion that I might like it. Fortunately, he was right. After graduation, I got my first job in an agency as a tailor. It was luck in disguise because I knew right away that I had to do something else. I was lucky again when I met my first creative director, who tried my luck despite a non-existent portfolio and what he described as “a lack of flair”. This all happened about a decade ago and in the years since, more luck has followed in the form of great bosses, mentors and peers. But I worked hard too.
2. What is your favorite work in your portfolio?
‘Which fan are you?’ for Tiger Beer. It was my first real campaign and it was also where I got my first taste of ideation, scripting and filming. Also, I had to “co-manage” it because I was one of only two football fans on the team. I’ve worked on other things since but this will always be, if not my favorite, then one of my favorites for how fun and memorable it was.
3. What is your favorite work created by someone else?
“Who is Adam King?” by Guinness. I’ve always loved how stylish it was and even today I still watch it occasionally for entertainment and inspiration. However, I never found out who the people behind it were.
4. What kind of student were you?
The kind just enough. I didn’t like studying, but I had the good sense to put in the hours to get the grades I needed. And everything went well… except for the math.
5. Who do you admire the most?
Brave people. Those who succeed, no matter how hard it is to do so. It’s a trait I wish I had more of and I greatly admire those who are blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it.
6. What career did you think you would have when you were a kid?
A cop. I spent much of my childhood watching TVB crime dramas with my late grandmother. They were good times but the influence… a little less. It was cool to dream and role-play, though.
7. Do you have any secret or strange talents?
I learn the sport quite easily. Football is my thing, but I became proficient at basketball, badminton, table tennis and snooker pretty quickly when I played. I’m sure I could have been an athlete…if I was taller.
8. What is your favorite music/movie/TV show/book/other from the past year, and why?
“The Boys” on Amazon Prime. For its creepy and corrupt villain, its believable revenge-driven heroes, and above all, the way the world it’s set in is dark, gruesome, and depressing. It’s a break from the utopian worldview of most shows and movies and I love it.
9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Toys! Payday? Gundams. Bad day? Transformers. Have a good day? Ultramen. Right now, I’m dedicating an entire room to show them in my new place which will be finished soon.
10. Do you have a slogan?
Meh lei geh?, which is Cantonese for ‘What is this?’. I use it for everything; when I’m annoyed by something, impressed by something, or really confused by something. It’s very versatile.
11. What makes you really happy?
My child. When he hugs me, when he pulls my hands to show me something, when he surprises me with phrases I didn’t know he knew, when he jumps for joy on the way to the toy store. I can have the worst day at work and instantly feel better when I see it.