Mega Advertising recently made a splash at the 2013 Kancil Awards, taking home awards in the categories for craft in filming, scriptwriting and placing fourth on the leader board. However, let’s rewind back a couple of decades, which is exactly how long the local agency has been around.
“I’m an art director by trade. I was from a few ‘big boy’ companies and have done a bunch of stuff throughout the years as a contract freelancer. My decision to come back out was actually because my sister wanted me to,” Leister Yam says.
Yam comes from a traditional background and is the youngest of all his siblings. Although he preferred to sit behind his desk and churn out project after project, his sister drove a hard bargain and convinced him to start his own agency. “My sister thought I should get started on being my own boss and I listened!”
Yam credits his sister for being the one who started the ball rolling and says she is one brave woman. “She was a personal assistant to a Tan Sri of a big corporation. After she got married and applied for extended leave that got rejected, she resigned and went on her honeymoon. She has guts.”
The name Mega stemmed from nowhere in particular, however, Yam recalls his brother-in-law had chosen the name because “it’s easy to remember.”
“At that time, I wasn’t even keen on operating an agency so I hadn’t stopped to think if the name was creative or not. I just said ‘whatever’.”
Yam was 28 when Mega was born from a team of three to now, 20 years in the game, operating a 30-man outfit.
“The first client we landed was Olympia Land in Menara Olympia. It is now called DutaLand.”
Mega does everything from ATL, BTL and activation to digital and whatever else is required of it. Yam, as the agency’s managing and creative director, champions and exudes a get-the-job-done attitude, which has vastly translated to his success and recent award wins. “We never thought about awards shows. We aren’t picky and we also tell ourselves to not just deliver, but we must do everything with pride. A lot of times we get the scraps from the big boys where we’re not even a plan B for the clients; we’re more like plan C,” Yam says.
But as every town has its cowboys, every industry has its survivors.
“Solid client-agency relationships are important to me. It’s important to let your client understand that we’re not another ‘me too’ type of agency. The way I’m trying to benchmark myself is, if someone big can’t attend to you in time or give you enough access to decision-makers, that’s where we can come in.”
Yam’s practice is personal. He says with him, there’s no game of telephone to be played. “I’m a phone call away. I don’t have to filter phone calls through a personal assistant. Clients actually appreciate that and it keeps our work nimble.”
While being attentive and available to clients has worked to Mega’s advantage, being a local agency has its shortcomings. “Our work is not substandard, but we may just lose to bigger global agencies in the aspect of manpower and network, which the latter is our weakest link and something we are working to strengthen.”
According to Yam, the win at the Kancils for its client Gamuda Land (a real estate that originally did not attract young families because of its unpopular address) wasn’t only unplanned, but the fact it even managed to execute the work at all was remarkable. “The work was actually written by me, which in itself is a surprise since I’m known as an art man. But honestly, it’s hard to get a good writer, that occupation seems to be a rare species in town. We were on deadline so I had no choice, but to start writing.”
Luckily, the client was also daring enough to take an unconventional route, avoiding the tried and tested paths of flashy graphics and hysterical messages through traditional media. The outcome produced results that were down-to-earth and very human.
Mega may be an award-winning agency, but to Yam, it’s the work that he keeps in his heart.
“A willing heart, a never-say-die work ethic, willingness to go the extra mile for clients no matter what or who they are and, of course, the human touch are all the elements to success.”