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5 Minutes with… Andrea Lau


CD for Across the Pond, Andrea shares with Esther Faith Lew the finer points of creative sophistication for global tech brands

5 Minutes with… Andrea Lau

“Do no harm; take no shit.” That work philosophy has been said to best describe Across the Pond’s CD Andrea Lau to a T. And when one considers her creative style, it is clear that brands can expect no less than ideas that test boundaries – if not, come swinging out from left field. As Andrea attests, her creativity is best identified as “good-humoured subversion, with little regard for the status quo”.

Andrea was a highly sought-after freelance creative for 16 years before joining Across the Pond’s Singapore office in September this year. During that time, she has collaborated with agencies such as TBWA, Wunderman Thompson and Leo Burnett, as well as with brands such as Apple. 

Given her expertise and experience in working with tech brands, she is now spearheading creative initiatives with a particular focus on Google and TikTok. Working with a tight team of empowered talents, Andrea is ready to “grow her impact in the world through work and help others around her do the same”. 

She fervently believes that, “We are all one-person start-ups and the agency you have to grow as a respectable one on your own terms is the most powerful gift you can give yourself every Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.”

LBB> What is it about Across the Pond that finally hooked you and landed you on shore as a full-time creative?

Andrea> Across the Pond is fiercely built on expertise, not just experience. That means nobody is shackled to the job titles they once had. Instead, we are defined by the job descriptions we’re encouraged to create according to our talents in line with the agency’s ambitions. It is this autonomy that naturally fosters a culture where everyone brings nothing short of their best because they want to and they get to, not because they have to. And when I got to do it with them first as a freelancer, the more I wanted to do it with them as a full-time creative.

LBB> What’s the “counter-cultural belief” that you like about Across the Pond?

Andrea> The optimism about tech as a force for good is palpable at Across the Pond and the belief that our collective influence as humans to shape tech with hope can make it a force to be reckoned with in creating a better world.

LBB> You are working across all clients, but with a particular focus on Google and TikTok. Do share more about your expertise and knowledge of these tech clients and what challenges and opportunities exist for you as a creative.

Andrea> Even though both clients are in tech, they exist on opposite ends of the spectrum. Google is inherently driven by purpose, so everything they do is informed by how they can solve the world’s most pressing challenges. TikTok is ultimately revenue-focused, so they’re run by our generation’s most quick-thinking life-hackers. So, bringing real value to tech clients in general requires a blend of both long-termism and opportunism, which makes every day a fun masterclass in creative shape-shifting.

LBB> What are some of the common misconceptions that people have about approaching briefs for tech clients? What do you do differently? 

Andrea> That tech briefs are so dry because we’re just pushing around a bunch of code to people who aren’t interested in learning why it even works. Quite the contrary! At Across the Pond, every brief we get is treated like a sociology exercise, because everything tech does is measured by the impact it has on the end user. We are also acutely aware that we’re often starting on the back foot because almost everyone is mildly suspicious of Big Tech.

LBB> As the first CD for Across the Pond Singapore, what are the priorities and goals you are focusing on?

Andrea> Unlocking creative opportunities for the agency to help solve Big Tech’s more strategic concerns; defining our value for the same tech brands operating in different regions like Greater China vs Southeast Asia, and setting up internal processes that allow us to tap on APAC’s diverse talents.

LBB> What are some of the significant campaigns you have worked on? Do share more on how they have pushed boundaries or raised the bar in its approach and treatment.

Andrea> Google's Ru9 case study. Even though it was just a single film, what we offered the client was far more valuable: our Story Search capability. Being in tech means our clients are sometimes looking for businesses that have used their tools in ways that may not even exist yet. To be able to help them discover a business that used YouTube to drive conversational commerce in Vietnam when over 80,000 SMBs folded during the pandemic was very gratifying.

TikTok Promote Ads. This was the first time TikTok wanted to get people in APAC to monetise their TikTok videos with an in-app tool called Promote. Because we were reaching out to savvy Gen Z creators who are averse to being marketed to, our creative strategy was to push out TikTok videos, not ads, that would be rely on the TikTok algorithm to serve up to the most receptive #fyp. Our clients have since told us that this campaign now contributes to more than 60% of the global revenue for the Promote tool.

Google’s 3M skilling amplification project. In 2018, Google made the commitment to upskill 3 million MSME workers across 10 ASEAN countries. When they achieved the commitment, they engaged us to drive awareness about it amongst some of the most difficult-to-impress crowd: key opinion formers. Since Q1 this year, we have helped Google communicate this announcement to government leaders, policymakers, and journalists from the US-ASEAN Summit in Washington D.C. to the newly concluded APEC 2022 Summit in Bangkok.

LBB> What are the trends you have noticed in client briefs and in expectations for campaigns? How have they evolved over the years?

Andrea> Clients come to agencies with asks, not aspirations. This immediately silences the many frank conversations that can only serve to enrich the client-agency relationship. As a lifelong agency creative who knows there are others like myself who are genuinely invested in their client’s success, I’ve observed that this curbs the audacious ambitions agencies are capable of helping their clients achieve in an ever-increasingly complex world where business solutions need to be multi-disciplinary. 

LBB> How is Across the Pond well positioned to leverage and optimise their core strengths to deepen relationships with clients?

Andrea> First of all, our conviction that tech has the power to create a better world is unquestioning. That means we are single-minded in helping tech brands achieve the best outcomes, whether they are about promoting a monetisation tool or trying to rehabilitate its image problem to its loudest sceptics. 

But what really sets us apart from other agencies is our expertise-first way of working. It makes our competencies interdisciplinary and versatile, constantly in a state of synthesis to help our clients uncover surprising solutions.

LBB> In talking about tech, what’s your opinion of creative tech trends and their application in campaigns? What works; what doesn’t? What are the important ones to take note of and why?

Andrea> Most of the commonly seen tech in creative campaigns these days are just ornamental bells and whistles that are undeniably hypercool – but only in a micro moment. With tech set to become even more immersive, intuitive, and individualistic, creative applications of tech will need to start meeting an intrinsic need founded on raw, human insights to sustain stickiness. 


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Across The Pond Singapore, Tue, 29 Nov 2022 03:07:59 GMT