Q&A: Henry Glo Offers Advice on Ad Competitions for Up-And-Comers in the Ad World

Henry Glo and John Bellarmine Javier

If you’d like some tips on excelling in a junior advertising competition, New Stars winner Henry Glo of Nuworks Interactive Labs, Manila, shares his advice.

At Ad Stars 2019, Glo teamed up with John Bellarmine Javier to represent Nuworks Interactive Labs at the New Stars program for junior creatives.

Together, they competed against 32 other teams to come up with an idea to attract more international tourists to Busan, a beachside city in South Korea where Ad Stars calls home. This year’s New Stars competition will take place virtually, and the winners will be announced later this month.


Why did you choose a career in advertising?

I actually didn’t. I just followed a crush who also applied in advertising! But then I realized I was really good at it. So I stuck around. Prior to this, I worked in the social science field. Which is really helpful in advertising, too.

Can you tell us about the city where you live: how does it inspire you creatively?

I live in a suburban town on the fringes of the metro. It’s filled with angry boomers, Duterte supporters, simpletons, and intellectual-haters. But it is also filled with steadfast mothers, friendly neighbors, and ambitious high school non-graduates. And they are the market that most woke and modern ads pretend to not exist.

You can make the internet cry, or enjoy your western humor banters, or rally behind your brand for being politically correct or gender-empowered, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to product truth: are your sardines delicious? Does your detergent really remove stubborn stains?

It’s always been my pet peeve to see ads that try to pretend their target audience is something they are not. It’s what I learned talking to random strangers on the bus, or bonding with a mom while in line at the grocery. Solutions should be drawn on who people really are. Not on a creative’s fantasy of what people should be.


What are you up to now: Do you still work at Nuworks Interactive Labs? What is the best (or worst!) part of your job?

Bell has moved on. I stayed behind because I think there are still things to learn. But right now, I think I’m at a crossroads. I’m exploring. What I want to be is also evolving. Should I move on to a bigger agency? Should I explore outside advertising? There are still bigger things out there and I want to experience them. I want to eat the world and consume its knowledge. And I know that staying in my comfort zone isn’t going to give me that. I want to become better. And win some more. But right now, I think I’ll stick around and learn some more.

Are you working on any interesting projects right now?

Lately, I’ve been exploring content creation. I’ve put Facebook pages and IG accounts where I can share content and artworks.

Now more than ever people have turned into their pocket worlds inside their phones. TV has been dying ever since the government shut down ABS-CBN. And social media has become more potent than ever. I’m focusing more on YouTube and Instagram though because I still value quality and aesthetics.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

Well, I’m passionate about K-pop. So right now, I have a YouTube channel on K-pop. I do comedic parodies of K-pop songs. And so far, I’ve been receiving positive feedback on how my videos actually were their gateway to K-pop songs.

What I like about it the most is how in a way it helps me learn more about digital advertising. How people respond to specific content, and how format and screen sizes matter—they can be the difference between people liking your video or just scrolling past it.

I’m also into clay art. So I’ve been meaning to also put up a separate page or channel for that.

Can you name one campaign that you really love; or one person who has truly inspired you?

I really love R/GA’s Love Has No Labels campaign. The insight is just so beautiful. Great work will always excite you. It will give you goosebumps.

I’ve always been inspired by my mentors Joey Tiempo and Ryan Rubillar. It was actually Ryan who told me that a creative is like an avatar and your mentors are like your past lives as an avatar. And when faced with specific challenges, you access and embody a mentor and your learnings from that person. That nugget of wisdom is something that I always carry with me — in competitions, in pitches, or even in everyday life.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus means many people are still working from home. What has been the hardest part of the coronavirus lockdown for you?

PEOPLE DON’T RESPECT YOUR HOME ANY MORE! I think the lines between work and home have been blurred. But I’ve always been adamant that work ends at 6:30 pm and starts at 10 am the next day. No one gets to disrespect my breakfast with a meeting that should have been an email, ha ha!

When do you get your best ideas?

From life. Ads are stories. Of sadness. Of happiness. Of want and lack. And you can’t write stories you never lived through. So, my best ideas usually come from my own personal pain points.

What’s your favorite memory of the New Stars program in Busan last year?

Mine was when I found out that we won Bronze. Because I actually didn’t come to AD STARS with the thought that we’d win. I just thought at least I’d get to visit Korea. That was my priority, ha! The moment that the work was submitted, my mind already shifted towards hunting for face masks and essences and K-pop souvenirs. In my head, I was already boarding the Korail to Seoul to visit JYP and SM (famous Korean entertainment companies).

So, I came in late, and when I walked into the venue for the award ceremony, I saw our work flashed on the screen and saw my partner looking very happy. And when I checked my phone, I saw that he’d been bombarding me with messages that we won. The fact that it was unexpected made it such a satisfying and pleasant moment for me.

What was the hardest part of the competition, and what did you learn?

The hardest part is that we’re both copywriters. Neither of us has had experience in video editing. And as far as art direction is concerned, I’m pretty much a beginner.

And it was scary because we were up against these more experienced teams with better skills at executing art—especially for me because I was the one assigned to do the art. But we decided to just wing it. And I think that was an important lesson for both of us. To just enjoy the process. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then try harder next time.

Do you have any advice for people entering similar programs?

Don’t try to win over the judges. They’re just people, too, with experiences and culture that may or may not relate to your work.

Do something that you love — win or lose. Do an idea that you’d be proud to show to your creative lead, or as part of your portfolio in the next company that you’ll pursue.

Do a work that will lose not because it fell short, but because there was something better.

Don’t do it half-assed. There’s two of you on that team. Do it twice as kickass as you can.

Also, keep it simple. There’s a difference between intricate and complicated.

And also, sleep. And eat well. Advertising is worth your sweat but not worth your tears.

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