Persistence, preparation and a fearless attitude speak volumes in success; PT Hakuhodo Indonesia’s eye-catching advertisement for a language school took top honors at the recent region-wide Adfest 2013 competition

Persistence, preparation and a fearless attitude speak volumes in success

Bruce Emond, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Sat, April 13 2013, 2:50 PM

Paper Edition | Page: 16


Words of wisdom: PT Hakuhodo Indonesia’s eye-catching advertisement for a language school took top honors at the recent region-wide Adfest 2013 competition in Pattaya.(Courtesy of PT Hakuhodo Indonesia)

Many people reveal grand ambitions to head out of their own backyard and achieve success in international arenas. In most instances, they remain ambitions, based mostly on boasting and bragging, or taking a bit of creative license, in the attempt to show they can compete on the world stage.

It’s not so for Irfan Ramli, director of PT Hakuhodo Indonesia, which scooped Agency of the Year in the 2012 Citra Pariwara awards for ad agencies in Indonesia. His company also has the metal – and the mettle – of international success after taking one gold and two bronzes at the prestigious Adfest 2013 competition in Pattaya, Thailand, in March. The gathering of the leading lights in the Asia Pacific and Middle East ad world focused on the theme of “connect the dots” – aiming to link and converge strategic knowledge, tools and experiences with creative innovation and ideas. More than 1,000 works were submitted for consideration, including more than 100 from Indonesia.

Hakuhodo Indonesia was honored for its Berlitz Language Center campaign, titled “IndiJap, Arabmerican, Afrochina – Speak Like a Native”. It is a triptych of close-up photos of three people, with their mouths distorted to reveal the face of another person of a different ethnicity.

It’s a simple and startling concept, sending the message that the right language teaching can reveal the hidden language speaker raring – and roaring – to have their say.

“Of course, I am proud that our team won in showing that Indonesia has what it takes to compete,” Irfan said recently of taking the first Gold Press Lotus honor for Indonesia, a category that is usually dominated by agencies from Singapore.

He also believes that Indonesians are making headway in reaching international standards, but there is still a way to go for many. He shared some of his tips for achieving success, at every level.

Have no fear: Don’t be afraid of competition, Irfan says, but embrace it. As with the sports world, we will only get stronger and smarter by competing against the very top in our field in business. “And to do that you have to be fully prepared to give your best,” he said. “We have to face the fact that some people aren’t ready to put in the hard work to achieve that success.”

Take your time: Irfan holds no misgivings about the quality and creativity of his compatriots. However, he sees that many people, especially the younger generation, come into projects expecting instant success, and are despondent when, inevitably, they do not achieve it. “Nothing happens overnight, I have been working on this since 2006,” he said. “Good things take time.” Consider failure as part of the learning process in getting ahead.

Looking to learn: Never be easily satisfied with what you achieve, but always seek to get better, he advised. That means a constant search for knowledge and learning. Although Hakusodo Indonesia is a thoroughly Indonesian arm of the Japanese ad agency, replete with local knowledge and insight, he said he was on the constant lookout to learn from others, whether it was foreign consultants in his own firm or ad industry peers abroad.

Keep up to date: Irfan says that what is “under the sun” is limited and little changed over time. “You have to always take a look to see if something you plan to do has been done before, and if so, what approach you should take instead,” he said. The massive rise of technology has inevitably altered approaches to campaigns. Indonesian creative talents can learn a lot about digital campaigns and innovations from the Japanese, he adds.

With Hakuhodo Indonesia’s win, clearly local talent is making strides internationally. And it was not the only Indonesian agency to be honored. Leo Burnett Kreasindo and JWT Indonesia each received bronzes, while Grey Indonesia was also among the finalists.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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