24 Jul

Secret Collections: All about advertising

We all have a favourite advertisement that we remember—one that we thought was funny, clever or touching. But have you ever thought about the big idea behind it? Today, we chat with Creative Director Adam Miranda about reading, advertising and good ideas.


1. Hi Adam, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m the Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder of an advertising agency called Fishermen. How did I end up here? I suspect it could have something to do with having very few toys when I was young, so I had to use my imagination a lot. That’s probably how I developed a love for ideas. I can attribute creativity to my mum. She makes and designs cakes beautifully; plus, she’s also a good writer. From my dad, I learnt people skills because he could strike up a conversation with anyone from all walks of life. I guess being raised in such an environment really set me up well for a career in advertising. 


2. What do you love about advertising books?

The advertising books I love to read are the ones that give me a peek inside really creative companies—their culture, their philosophy, their problems too. And how all of that mashed up to result in amazing work.


3. Which book kicked off your collection?

I was given The Copy Book back in 1999. It was a must-have for all copywriters back in the day. Some of the world’s brilliant copywriters talked about their best work. I was inspired and struck with fear at the same time. The Copy Book taught me so much, more than any other “how to write / how to think of ideas” publication. Sadly, I don’t have it with me anymore. I lent it to somebody who did not return it. And I forgot who that somebody was. I hope that somebody is reading this article.


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4. Which book is your latest addition?

I haven’t bought advertising books in a while. The latest would have to be Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, founder of Pixar. While not an advertising book, it is about how a creative company came to life and made the best computer animated films ever. I love the first person account of how the creative process works in Pixar. It’s great to know it’s as messy and sometimes frustrating as ever, but that’s where the magic happens. And how they got to where they are now wasn’t overnight either. 


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5. Is reading a big part of your creative process?

Yes. Reading articles on industry-related sites, such as Campaign Brief Asia, Contagious and Adweek, is a daily ritual. Some sites have write-ups on the latest and most interesting campaigns—this is usually where I stay updated with who’s doing cool stuff. While other sites I visit are about advertising news, gossip, who won new biz, who lost, who’s moving companies, who’s using the latest industry buzzwords—what can I say, I find this more exciting than celebrity gossip.

6. Who are some of your advertising idols?

Dan Wieden (W+K) and David Droga (Droga5), are industry legends on most people’s list. Mine included. These two individuals were not just great creative thinkers but they are inspiring leaders who founded agencies that made some of the most iconic work in the world. 

Closer to home, my former boss Ronald Ng, Global CCO of Isobar, is someone I look up to. I worked with him at BBDO and experienced first-hand how he inspired an amazingly creative environment that made us the best agency in the country. 

I have a number of mentors and good people who guided me over my career but if I list them all, it’ll be a very long article.

7. Which book had the biggest impact on you?

It’s hard to choose one book. I guess I still have these two books on my bookshelf after so many years. Hoopla is about Crispin Porter & Bogusky during the height of their creative years. I still flip through it once in a while. And Creativity, Inc that I mentioned earlier, has inspired how I want to tell stories.



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8. Do you think reading books is important in your industry?

Reading definitely helps us write better. Writers especially need to have a knack for writing style, storytelling and giving a brand a voice. 

But even if writing is not part of your job description, communicating with clients, colleagues and peers happen daily. So reading helps us to stay in the know and sharpen our point-of-view.


9. Could you share with us a favourite piece of copywriting?

I’ll share my favourite ad from The Copy Book about Sainsbury’s Olives written by Richard Foster. To understand how that ad came about, you’d have to read the book. Mr. Foster will take you through how every word in that body copy was specifically chosen with eye-opening, jaw-dropping effect. It’s craft in copywriting at its finest.


10. What book would you recommend to someone just starting out in the industry?

College would have probably taught the basics. So I’d recommend reading the D&AD and The One Show award winning annuals for a start. Studying these annuals will help you get a grasp of what is the standard of good work for that particular year. A lot of the work featured will be used as references or case studies over and over. It’s essential to understand why they won, what business problems they solved, what’s the insight and more importantly, why is that idea good.


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