10 minutes with Steve Hough

SteveHough_Sml.jpgEach week Campaign Brief Asia sits down with a prominent creative talent from our region and gets to know them better. This week in this regular "10 Minutes With" column is Steve Hough, who this year moved back from Saatchi & Saatchi Vietnam to be Executive Creative Director of Y&R Malaysia.

What did you do before getting into advertising?
When i was 16 my father told me that the local Art College was full of people who did very little work and who only wanted to have a good time. Eureka! I'd found my perfect career path.
How did you first get into advertising as a career?
Back in the eighties I was doing a Graphic Design course in Manchester and came across a D&AD annual. It was full of great ads by John Webster, David Abbott and Dave Trott. It immediately struck me how comparatively boring graphics was and that I needed to escape to the murky world of Advertising, which was far more fun.   
Who gave you your first big break?
My first big break came when Paul Arden hired me to work at Saatchi's London. 

Economist_Brain.jpgWhat is your career highlight to date?
Probably the D&AD Yellow Pencil for the Economist Brain.
Your best ads/campaigns that you have been involved with?
The campaigns I'm most proud of are the Wonderbra "3D" ads, the Amnesty "Stamps" posters, and the Guinness "Greatness" campaign platform.
Wonderbra "3D" for me is a great example of simple visual thinking.  Most people view me as a headline writer but I prefer visual work, this is my most original example to date.
Amnesty I think we executed particularly well. It took months of work, but it was worth it.
I'm also proud of the Guinness "Greatness" concept. The heart of our business is about really big ideas and this was such a simple yet powerful statement which became a global 360 degree platform.

Wonderbra 3D_street_sml.jpgWonderbra 3D_Lounge_sml.jpgWonderbra 3D_board_sml.jpg 


You've worked in several countries in Asia. Which country do you prefer working in?
Singapore is the easiest country to work in, by a long way. The systems are organized and professional, and backed up with great suppliers. In countries like Vietnam, it's much more challenging to make great ads, but it was worth it as we did manage to pull in a few lions. 
Why did you move back to Malaysia?
I'd been quite happy with Saatchi's, and was considering a move to another big office in the network, but then Tony Granger and Marcus Rebeschini approached me to join Y&R in Malaysia. It was the toughest decision of my career to date. In the end I had to go with my gut, and Y&R KL just seemed like an interesting new challenge with huge potential.
Y&R is on a mission to become recognized as a true creative force, and they have the people in place to make it happen, so it's a great time to be here and be part of that.
Having lived in KL before, I'm very familiar with the place. It's a good city for family too.
What's your take on creativity in Vietnam? What is holding creativity back there and are there any signs of improvement?
Vietnam has huge potential, and some surprisingly good clients. The biggest obstacle I see is the TV budgets which always tend to be about a quarter of what is actually needed to do the job well. 
Is there an ad that makes you green with envy?
My favourite TVC is the Guinness "Surfer". A true masterpiece in every sense.
I also love the Burger King Whopper "Freakout" and Droga 5's work for Net 10. Both use brutal honesty in an amazingly clever, engaging way.   
Do you have a 'worst mistake' or a most embarrassing moment in your advertising career to date?
We once did a Silk Cut shoot in Yorkshire. We arrived at the shoot an hour late to find that our model maker had made the entire front of a house into a 1950's barbers shop. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong house. Luckily the owners were on holiday, so we hastily moved to the right location.
Two weeks later, we had to send them 500 quid as we'd drilled a few holes in their brickwork, and thankfully all was forgiven.

Joel_Clement-office.jpgIs there a person you have enjoyed working with the most?
The person I enjoyed working with the most is Joel Clement, Saatchi's regional head of art for Asia, although we had the most bizarre of partnerships. In the four years we worked together I don't think we agreed on a single thing. Usually that's the death knell of a partnership, but in this case, it completely motivated us in the most bizarre and amusing way.
As a result, a great deal of humour and a lot of great work came out of it. Joel is a one of the most talented and funniest people I've ever met. Deep down he's brilliant at what he does. Although, if he's reading this, he will no doubt disagree just because I've said it.
Who is the most inspiring, person you have ever met or worked with?
That clearly has to be Andy Greenaway, he's a truly inspired leader. The biggest part of being a good ECD is to inspire and Andy is a master at it.
Eugene Cheong has been a massive inspiration too. His knowledge of the craft of making great ads is truly awesome. I learned a hell of a lot from working with those guys.
What's your favourite leisure activity/hobbies outside of advertising?
When I can find the time, fishing and following Man City, but not at the same time.
Favourite holiday destination?
Ireland is fantastic. I have an old thatched cottage in the Kerry mountains and try and get back there a couple of times a year. It's a wonderful, rugged, unspoilt place, the people and the landscape are full of character. The fishing is great, and if it rains, which it usually does, you can always go to the pub.
Favourite hotels?
I stayed at a place in the English lake district near lake Windermere a couple of times called the Uplands hotel in Cartmel. It was just superb.
Tell me something about yourself that not many people would know.
In my spare time I paint landscapes and go back work on my thatched cottage which is now available for rent to tourists. If any of your readers would like to visit I will give them a 30% discount, they can view it today at www.cottagesinkenmare.com  You see, I never stop doing ads!
Beyond that, my real ambition is to write a screenplay about Oliver Cromwell's invasion of Ireland. He's one of the most revered men in English history, and by far the most hated man in Irish history. I want to tell the story from a neutral perspective. If the audience could be left with a level of understanding of each others point of view, and motives, then this could foster compassion and bring closure. It will be a way of putting history to bed. If I can do that, it will feel like I've achieved something truly worthwhile.
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Anonymous said:

Good read.
I like this section of CB blog, Kim.

Nice work Hough.
Best of luck in KL.

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A blog for advertising creatives in Asia. To pass on news or advertise on the CB Asia blog, or to subscribe to Campaign Brief Asia or Campaign Brief Australia/NZ magazines, or The Work 09 Annual, email: Kim or Michael

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