Q&A: Raymund Sison – Partner & Chief Creative Officer at Propel Manila

Raymund has gone from being a small-town boy in the Deep South of the Philippines to a Chief Creative Officer nominated as Creative Leader of the Year 2023 by Campaign Asia.

He’s won pretty much every award going, from Cannes Lions to Clios and Spikes, not to mention a Grand Prix at Ad Stars.

Ahead of judging The Caples Awards in April, I caught up with him to pose 10 questions that would let us learn more about the man and what drives him.


 

You’re a Chief Creative Officer with all the pressure that the job entails. Do you have a side hustle? What do you do as a counterbalance to the demands of your workplace?

I love island camping. I’ve gone to camps where you have no idea where you’re going and you only find out about the location once you’re there. I live for those thrills. Pre-pandemic, I co-founded a social enterprise that takes people camping in off-the-grid islands. I’m quite lucky I live in a country with over 7000 beautiful islands.

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

I’d either be a mathematician or a lawyer. Two weird and far-from-each-other choices lol. My first course in college was BS Math (I actually joined the Math Olympiad in High School). But my grandpa convinced me to be a lawyer, so I took up the course that at that time topped the Law entrance exams in the university – BS English Studies.

And just as I was finishing up my degree, I had the greatest adventure as a copywriter intern at DDB and forgot about Law. 18 years later, I’m still actually having a great adventure as a creative.

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

I’m truly proudest of our work Pepsi Liter of Light at BBDO Guerrero in collaboration with My Shelter Foundation, where we turned old plastic bottles (that would otherwise have gone to waste) into solar bulbs that refract 45W of light, to help give light to the homes of underprivileged communities who couldn’t afford light. It was a simple, brilliant innovation that truly helped families and was taken to other countries for implementation in more communities.


 

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

We created a campaign called Retold With Pride in partnership with Globe Telecom and Pride@Tech. It was a retelling of the stories we’ve all grown up with, to turn the page towards representation and inclusion. A collection of ten stories retold the world’s most famous tales as well as the most iconic of our local classics.

We rewrote unfair and outdated views on gender, bringing to light authentic modern-day LGBTQ+ realities, on the centre stage of today’s Filipino entertainment. Took us more than a year to make, but my pride remains until today.

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

I love the KitKat Punctuation Breaks from the Philippines. As a creative who studied language for years, the writing was such a treat. Aaah, I enjoyed reading every bit of the work. So well crafted. The idea of using those ‘breakers’ — to pause, to take a moment, to slow down, to breathe, to stop — was absolutely brilliant.

Can you identify trends that you and your fellow judges should look at for at the Caples 2024? Gen AI perhaps or new development in influencer marketing, etc?

With the impact of Gen AI on creativity, content creation, and innovation, I am quite excited to see where creativity influences automation and personalisation, where the radical convergence of all fields (whether creative, mathematical or scientific) can enrich and deepen the creative work and where there is an obvious desire for balance between humans and AI.

But I also expect there will be a lot of platform-based and platform-native work, where creativity truly maximises the medium. And these trends are a response to technological advancement and accessibility and the ever-changing consumer behaviours across generations.

Are awards important?

There is a reason why people line up for restaurants with Michelin stars or why Academy Award winners get the best of roles. It’s because they’re the best at what they do.

Awards are def important. They celebrate the best of the best and benchmark creativity, showing us a way forward. They make us all want to be better.

On an agency level, they are good for business. They give us credibility, attract clients and beguile talents. And give us that sweet collective pride.

On a personal level, awards lend us creative confidence and inspire us to keep pushing to be the best we can be.

What does it mean to you to be a juror of The Caples Awards in 2023?

Jury duty is always a privilege. Getting a front-row seat to some of the world’s best work is special. But what makes this more special is this award show is run by idiots, I mean creatives. So I expect it’s going to be a ride.

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’d like to have Mezcal with John Lennon, Bill Bernbach, Walt Disney, Lady Gaga, and Oscar Wilde. One of our conversations would be about today’s hottest topic: Gen AI.
What sort of work would this brilliant collective generate? We’d be discussing all the possible iterations non-stop.

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

So many works come to mind right now, but I think Budweiser’s Real Men of Genius’ comes top of my list. It’s brilliant, clever, hilarious. It’s the work that made me fall in love with advertising.


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

Propel Manila

Picture of Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister

Patrick Collister is Custodian, The Caples Awards

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