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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > creatives >  Weerachon Weeraworawit
Weerachon Weeraworawit
dahninside Weerachon WeeraworawitExecutive Creative Director
BBDO Bangkok

Thailand has always been a force to be reckoned with on the award circuit. Not only in Asia, but on the global stage. Unfortunately, it’s rare the faces behind the winning work make it all the way across the Pacific ocean and to our part of the world. Weerachon “Dahn” Weeraworawit is one of those faces. On top of having accumulated quite the impressive collection of pats on the back and various other award shaped things, his work on Jeep in 2006 earned him the distinctive honour of being his country’s first ever One Show gold pencil recipient. Not being the sort to sit on his laurels, he topped that off by winning the country’s first Promo gold Lion for HomePro the next year.

I had to track him down all the way to the land of the smiles, but when I got a chance to sit down with him, I met one of the nicest guys ( the only thing I could possibly reproach him is being a Liverpool FC fan) playing their trade in the ad biz today.

Dahn celebrates his fifth BBDO anniversary with his very own ihaveanidea interview.

ihaveanidea: How did you become an executive creative director?  Is that what you wanted to do as a child?

Dahn: Yeah, of course!

Since my high school years actually. I was about 14-15 when I decided. You need to choose very early in Thailand and it was a pretty straight forward choice for me. I’d been watching TV commercials since childhood, and I loved all the things that combine to make advertising: Film, music, language, human behaviour.  That’s why I really got into it. It’s in my blood.

ihaveanidea: And how did you get your first job?

Dahn: I started at McCann Erickson. I made a portfolio and went knocking on doors. Traditionally you went straight to a CD and applied for a job. McCann had quite a good reputation at the time, so I thought it would be an interesting place to start right after graduating. So I got the CD’s phone number and called…

ihaveanidea: Does it still work this way? In North America you’d be lucky to get to an assistant’s voicemail, who’ll duly proceed to delete your message!

Dahn: It’s different. Less kids call me. I don’t know what happened to kids, maybe they’re shy or something, but they never approach CDs directly anymore. It’s all about trying to approach the right way…

It’s a great learning curve as you’re learning from the very best.

ihaveanidea: Did you move a lot from McCann?

Dahn: I went to study abroad after that. I only worked at McCann for a year as a copywriter. So I thought I needed to fulfill my art direction vision, and applied to The Academy of Art in San Francisco. I did that for two years, and spent another year studying programming. I was close to Silicon Valley, and since the internet was just coming up at the time it was a good opportunity. After that, I spent another year traveling around and enjoying life before my visa ran out!

When I came back I was kind of bored of advertising. I switched to the music industry by working at Warner Music for a year. After that, I jumped into the software business for another year, but I guess it just wasn’t in my blood to do that kind of thing. So I went back to advertising.

ihaveanidea: And did you have to re-do your portfolio?

Dahn: I had two interviews; at Ogilvy and Far East DDB. The ECD at O&M asked me to revise my whole portfolio, but as luck has it, the CD at DDB was my ex-boss. She liked my style and the things I’d done beforehand, so she gave me a job!

I stayed there four years, and I had a great time. But I was always impressed with BBDO’s work. It really stood out, and not just in TV commercials, but through all mediums. So I thought It was the sort of place I needed to be at, and I decided to give it a shot. My friend gave me the CD’s phone number, so I called  her to apply for a position. She picked me up straight away, it was good timing. She needed a copywriter and liked my portfolio. See you next month, she said.

And in the middle of that month, she quit! I had already left my position at Far East DDB, so imagine how stressful that was for me. The first thing I asked when I arrived here was “ Where’s my new boss?!?”. We weren’t meant to work together I guess (laughs).

ihaveanidea: You guys have quite an impressive collection of awards here. Even more impressive when you consider all your ads are in Thai, which most award show judges aren’t known to be fluent in. How do you break that language barrier and manage to clean up at the award ceremonies like you do?

Dahn: That would be the creative culture at BBDO. Especially Suthi’s (Suthisak Sucharittanonta – BBDO Bangkok’s Chairman and CCO) vision. I think the leader is very important – he’s crazy about winning. He always motivates us. For him bronze is not enough, silver is not enough; it has to be gold. That’s the big stage. If you don’t win gold, you don’t get on the stage to pick up your awards. When we realise how high his aim is, we need to adopt it too.

ihaveanidea: How is it to work for a guy like Suthisak? Is he a though boss to work for?

Dahn: Yeah. It takes time to adjust to it, but now we have the same aim. Whenever he looks at my work he would say “Hey, that’s not a gold”. And then I’d look at it and realise he’s right. So we start over, and because we have the same aim it’s not a problem at all. He gives us a lot of freedom and that’s how we grow up. He’s not that though on me now, unlike the first and second year! (laughs)

It’s a great learning curve as you’re learning from the very best.

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ihaveanidea: Since you lived in both places, what would you say is the main difference between the markets in Thailand and the US?

Dahn: I think It’s tough in both markets. In the US, it’s very hard to do great work on traditional mediums. That’s why I admire places like CP+B, Droga5 or BBDO NY. As I understand it, the clients are very marketing oriented in the US and they don’t like to take as many risks. We have the same difficulties in Thailand, mostly with the regional clients. The best clients for Thai creatives are the local brands as they are more open to new approaches.

ihaveanidea: TV from Thailand is amongst the best in the world, but what about other mediums? You rarely see any interactive work from you guys for example, so where do you stand on that front?

Dahn: To be honest, we’re really far on that front. We’ve been left behind. It’s going to take time. The strong mediums that we own are TV and Print, we have some of the very best creatives and best productions companies here.

But for interactive, it’s still very much emerging. Hopefully It will jump out. We’re working on it.

ihaveanidea: How do you think you can catch up?

Dahn: We need to naturally integrate it into our campaigns. Making that happen also depends on the client. Right now, they see it as a separate unit from the big idea campaign and there’s somewhat of a bridge that needs to be crossed.

Once they realise that interactive can be an important part of the bigger picture, and the agencies are ready to promote that sort of thing, it’s going to be possible. We’re working  very hard on that.

The first thing I asked when I arrived here was “ Where’s my new boss?!?”

ihaveanidea: Who’s your biggest inspiration outside of Thai advertising?

Dahn: There’re quite a few. I love Paul Arden’s way of thinking: his books and his inspiration are really unique. Bill Bernbach has always been a big mentor for me also, I always go back and to read his ads. I really like Alex Bogusky’s work too.

Outside advertising, it’s the people who make amazing films, I get really inspired by that and I love art in all its forms.

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ihaveanidea: Tell us about a moment in your career your particularly enjoyed

Dahn: Something I keep very fond memories of was when I was shooting the “Anyone can sell” TV commercial for Homepro.

We went on the Bangkok streets with a production team and asked the general public to advertise their products. The concept behind it was that anyone can sell when things are this cheap. You don’t need a polished advertising campaign, it can be anyone and we wanted to emphasize that.

So we walked around the street and asked anyone to advertise a toilet boil. I loved the reaction we got. Thai people are always very kind to strangers, so they were very cooperative. This probably wouldn’t work in New York (laughs). Looking at people’s reactions was really fun. The best one was from a homeless guy. It was a case of “Hey, wake up. Now advertise this!”

He did a great job.

The people involved in the commercials were very excited to see themselves on TV, and it got great results for the client so everybody was happy.

ihaveanidea: Would you say it’s the work that makes you the proudest?

Dahn: I have a problem with saying that, because when I look back at anything I’ve done, I really want to change it for the better. It is for now, but it only means I need to do better work.

ihaveanidea: And where do you see for yourself in the future?

Dahn: I want to be the best in the world. If you don’t aim for the best, you’re not going to be proud of your work. It’s a tough way to live.

Interview by:

Rafik Belmesk
Operations, AKOS

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