Tommy Lai is a student from Bucks Ad School and is now on a copywriting internship with Wunderman Singapore. His passion lies in capturing hearts with an honest truth and he's determined to do some good with his work. His ambitious spirit is complemented by a witty sense of humour and he's out to rock the world as a creative.
What attracted you to work in the creative industries – particularly as a copywriter?
I always felt the need to create and I like that I get to put a bit of my soul in everything I do. Also, that sense of fulfilment after so much hard work feels incredible and it’s that feeling that makes me love working in the creative industries.
"…that sense of fulfilment after so much hard work feels incredible..."
I started out with a graphics background but later, a friend asked for some help with their deck and was really impressed with what I wrote. When I looked back again, I remembered doing really well in English classes and it suddenly struck me that I could become a great copywriter.
Writing always felt enjoyable - even therapeutic sometimes - and I find crafting strategies, concepts and executions into words extremely thrilling.
How have you found studying creative advertising at Bucks New University so far?
I think Bucks Ad School has got the killer strategy that gives us the competitive edge - we are taught how to think differently, not what to think and to try everything before making a decision.
The course is flexible and constantly updating to the latest industry insights, and agencies seem to acknowledge Bucks Ad School as a great place for creatives to hone their skills. I personally think Bucks Ad School is as close as you can to being in an advertising agency, considering it is an educational facility after all.
Tell us more about your placement at Wunderman Singapore. How did you land it?
I was only halfway through my first year but I thought it’s never too early to get some work experience. Earlier this year, I sent out several emails to agencies in Singapore – I wanted to spend time with my family over the summer break as well - enquiring about their internship programmes.
"I heard back from a few who were interested in taking me in but Wunderman was the agency I found most interesting…"
I heard back from a few who were interested in taking me in, but Wunderman was the agency I found most interesting because of their Z Academy which promised me real work rather than merely shadowing someone or working on less important jobs in other agencies. I’ve been writing for all things digital for the past few months at Wunderman, and it’s an eye-opener from a student’s perspective. The experience has been nothing short of amazing and fruitful.
What is it like living in Singapore? Has it influenced your creativity and work?
Singapore stands out as a melting pot of different cultures and has taught me that people are constantly searching for a sense of identity and belonging.
"I try to spark conversations with that little insight to create communities in a lot of my work."
I try to spark conversations with that little insight to create communities in a lot of my work. As one of the Four Asian Tigers, Singapore is also a very competitive society and it becomes second nature for one to constantly upgrade and do better. I noticed I am rather career-driven and goal-oriented because of this and living in Singapore has made me think differently to stay ahead of the competition.
Which campaign has caught your eye in the last 6 months and why?
The HIV-Positive Poster by Ogilvy Brazil for the NGO Life Support Group (GIV) - it’s a topic close to my heart. It’s still such a huge social stigma being infected with HIV that carrying the virus becomes extremely difficult to deal with. Under treatment, HIV+ people can still live normal, healthy lives but because of how society sees them, accepting the condition becomes so painful that many can’t deal with it and have taken their own lives. This campaign has the potential to save many lives by educating minds and connecting hearts. I felt the tingly chills and shed a tear as I watched the case study.
Sell yourself. Why should someone hire you after finishing uni?
That dreaded interview question. Here goes…
My ability to think and solve problems from different angles is one of my biggest strengths but I believe people like working with me because of how much I am willing to learn and contribute – giving more than 100% is in my nature and I enjoy helping my team out however I can.
I am also an open-minded and honest individual who voices my unfiltered thoughts when I feel the need to but I also believe listening to my peers is just as important. Moreover, I happen to be a friendly and fun person and many find it a joy to have me around.
"Convinced? Drop me a message and let’s talk over some coffee - @ToothsomeTommy."
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