Q&A: Firrdaus Yusoff – Head of Creative, Forsman & Bodenfors, Singapore

Leading up to the 2024 Caples Awards, I recently caught up with Firrdaus Yusoff – Head of Creative, Forsman + Bodenfors, Singapore

There can’t be many logisticians who’ve transitioned into top creatives but that’s what Firrdaus has done.

Over the course of our conversation, he talks about the importance of switching off, some favorite work he’s done and from others, five creative luminaries he’d like to have sitting around your kitchen table, and more.


 

You’re a top creative director. Do you have a side hustle? What do you do as a counterbalance to the pressures of your workplace?

No, I don’t. I feel more people should also appreciate the art of slowing down and switching off. Work is hard enough as it is. I simply wind down with family and perhaps binge on random content on Tik Tok to recharge.

If you hadn’t ended up in advertising, what would you be doing instead?

Probably something to do with the logistics industry. That’s my educational background. Yes, quite the pivot.

In your career, what one piece of personal work are you most proud of?

I still quite like a thing we did for Carbon Story. To highlight rising sea levels, we created World Under Water. It was a website where users could type any address and see it virtually submerged. I would argue this project is even more relevant in today’s context. It was featured on CNN and won FWA’s Project of the Year. Forbes called it “One of summer’s biggest successes in scientific content marketing”. Not sure what that meant but we appreciated the love.


 

What work has your agency/team produced you’re particularly proud of?

There are a few from my agency which I am mighty proud of. The great thing is that they span across different clients within the agency. But the one I am particularly fond of is a project we did for Down Syndrome International. With the rise of virtual influencers and how they all tend to look a certain way, we felt that diversity and inclusion in the digital space was becoming an afterthought.

So we created the world’s first virtual influencer with Down Syndrome called Kami. She was co-created by over 100 women from the DSI network, and they determined every aspect of her social presence. Since her creation, Kami has been showing up in places that truly matter. She’s also now in META’s Ethics Guidebook as a case study for future virtual influencers.

What recent work have you seen from another agency (or agencies) that you would really like to see entered into The Caples? And why?

Hotshot Philippines agency GIGIL created a hilarious pop-up experience of what it’s like to be inside a giant cooking pot while giant chefs loom over you. Yes, the experience is as unnecessarily bizarre as it sounds. But it’s a smashingly fun idea for me. I think we should strive to reward advertising that is just unapologetically advertising.

@josephtaborr naging kare-kare for 2minutes. :)) check out this HUGE caldero in Glorietta! #ReplacingChefChico #NetflixPH ♬ original sound – Joseph Tabor

Are awards important?

It depends. It depends on the awards itself, the budgets that you have, the agenda of the agency in question, the career trajectory that you’re set on. And if those are aligned with your own personal goals, then sure. But one thing I remind my creatives is that the pursuit of great work should always be the priority—the awards are simply a by-product of that.

If you do excellent work and your agency has no budget to submit it to any show; it does not reduce the value of that work. Any creative leader worth their salt will be able to gauge good work and creatives (without the need to have metals attached to it).

That said, award-winning work tends to skew more on the side of thinking that’s different to what’s conventionally out there. And as creatives, that’s the kind of thinking we should all be striving for to help our clients.

What does it mean to you to be a juror of The Caples Awards in 2024?

It’s refreshing. It’s exhilarating. It’s interesting. Might come up with another word that rhymes.

If you could have five creative luminaries sitting around your kitchen table, having a drink and a chat, who would they be? What do you think you’d talk about?

I am always intrigued by people who start their own agencies and turn it into iconic names. So obviously Anselmo Ramos, Greg Hahn, Badong Abesamis, Tony Bradbourne, and Jaime Robinson. They’ll definitely talk about “AI and its impact on creativity”! Just kidding. Obviously they will talk about what koolaid they were all on when they decided to start their own stuff.

Impossible question. But what is your one all-time favourite piece of advertising, the idea you most wish you’d done yourself?

Oh, tricky. There are quite a few. Nike’s ‘Tag’ comes to mind. Maybe Audi’s ‘Clown’. Bing’s ‘Jay-z Decoded’ was another favourite of mine. I can’t decide. All of them. You’re right, this is an impossible question.


This interview was published in partnership with The Caples Awards. To learn more about the Caples Awards including entering this year, go here.

Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister is Custodian, The Caples Awards

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