As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.
This time we talk to Martien Hakim, a 28-year-old Strategist at VaynerMedia APAC in Singapore.
Over the course of our conversation, he talks about how he got his first break in the industry, what he loves about the work, what he’s not so crazy about it, and more.
Name: Martien Hakim
Agency: VaynerMedia APAC
Current Location: Singapore
Education: Singapore Management University (SMU), Bachelor of Social Science in 2020
How did you get your first break in the industry?
It was an internship program at BBH called ‘Barn’. I took a chance and applied even though I wasn’t studying anything related to advertising at the time, and they were kind enough to give me a shot.
It was a great experience getting to observe how an agency operates and seeing how Strategy, Account and Creative come together to produce great work.
What is your personal mantra?
I’d simply say ‘Be Kind’. I always try my best to give everyone around me the benefit of the doubt, and I’d like to think that they would do the same for me.
Not just being kind to others but also being kind to yourself – negative self-talk is a major challenge that I’ve had to deal with as a young professional, so I try my best not to be too hard on myself, but that’s still a work in progress.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
I would say just creators in general – TikTokers, YouTubers, filmmakers, etc. – people who make stuff. I think there’s so much to learn from someone who takes their passion and brings it to life in some way.
We’re all in the business of making – making creatives that people care about, so I hold creators in really high regard, as they often are the ones who pave the way.
What do you love about the job?
I love that I don’t always have all the answers. As a Strategist, it’s rare to have it all figured out. There’s always more research to be done, more questions to ask, and that’s something beautiful because I always have an excuse to deep dive into something that I would never have thought of on my own accord. Be it fandoms, slang, ‘cores’, ‘my… era’ etc, I always get to jump into culture and conversations for a living, and that never gets old.
What about your job are you not so crazy about?
At the same time, I think being immersed in culture can also be a double-edged sword. Being plugged in across platforms and different types of conversations happening in real-time can take a mental toll.
“As a Strategist, it’s rare to have it all figured out. There’s always more research to be done, more questions to ask, and that’s something beautiful…”
So for me, being intentional is really important, quite simply, making sure that I put time aside to keep a lookout for trends and signals, but also taking time out of the day to just disconnect and unwind.
What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
I’d say I’m very proud of most things I’ve worked on, but two specific projects really stand out for me. The first is Twisties Australia’s TikTok content. I was only involved with this at the beginning (so I take absolutely no credit), but it’s just been amazing for me to see what it’s turned into.
It’s become a real case study for the types of fun and quirky content that brands can get up to on TikTok, and I’m very proud to have been involved in some small capacity. Check that out here.
The other one would be Otterbox, where we did a really nice short video called “WORRY LESS, LIVE IN THE MOMENT”.
It holds a lot of sentimental meaning for me because it was my first opportunity really being able to lead strategy and seeing something come to life – from strategy to the creative ideation to storyboarding to production, and down to the final output.
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
This one is just right off the top of my head, but I’d say I would be a firefighter. It was the only other profession that I seriously considered apart from being a Strategist.
First responders in general are real-life heroes, and I really appreciate the work they do. Also, there’s something quite thrilling about riding in the back of a fire truck (I was a firefighter back in NS, so I’m also quite sentimental about it).