Former BBDO ECD Donevan Chew joins creative shop Muma

Donevan Chew, former ECD of BBDO Malaysia, has joined creative agency Muma as creative partner, working with co-founders Choo Chee Wee (pictured centre) and Pang Li Li (pictured left). Chew left Ogilvy in 2018 after five years to join BBDO, replacing VJ Anand who left the agency. BBDO began winding down its operations in April this year and officially shuttered in July. Prior to Ogilvy, he also worked at Leo Burnett and Grey. 

When asked why he chose to join Muma in particular and what stood out to him, Chew said he has known Choo for over 10 years and admires the work that he does, the passion he possesses and his relentless pursuit of the craft. Furthermore, both Choo and Pang have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to eCommerce marketing, and bring years of experience working in China where eCommerce is much more sophisticated.

"For over two years, both of them have done the hard groundwork, building the agency to where it is today. And they have graciously invited me to be their partner, to take the agency to the next level. Together, we have over 50 years of global network creative agency experience across five countries in Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East. We know what works, what doesn’t and this is an opportunity for us to build a place where creativity can thrive to the benefit of like-minded clients," he added.

Choo and Pang said Chew will definitely fuel its creative horsepower. In fact, Pang added that the team has already won two business contracts and five projects together. During that time, they worked on brands across various industries, including FMCG, automotive, telecommunications, beauty, F&B, retail and finance.

The trio believes that while data informs, creativity will transform brands. "Data should not be seen as a safety net for creativity to fall back on. It should be a springboard from which ideas leap from. We’re here to add magic to logic," Chew said.

Choo added that when the industry has become very much about dollars and cents, its team of honest and passionate people, along with a dash of good old gut-feel could work wonders for brands. Meanwhile, Pang said that in this age of uncertainty and disruption, brands need to adopt a challenger attitude. "To thrive in today’s environment, brands need to adopt the dark horse mentality. Shun the status quo, act in unexpected ways, that’s how you win," she said.

Read the rest of the interview here:

A+M: How big is the team at Muma and are you guys hiring? If yes, what skills are you looking for in particular?

Pang: We have a lean team at Muma. We make sure every headcount counts. We look for passionate creative talents who can add value to the team. By passionate we really mean it. People who don’t mind pouring their heart and soul into crafting an idea to make it a gem. People who get excited over great ideas and are resourceful and resilient when they encounter challenges and obstacles.

Chew: We’re also interested in talents who have a side gig or a hobby that has got to do with creativity. This shows that they actually love what they do. This is important to succeed in this industry.

Aside from hiring, we are also into collaborations. We collaborate with some of the best minds in strategic planning, data research, digital tech as well as production craftsmen to bring ideas to life for clients. So clients pay for only what they need. "Plug-and-play" is the call of the day. We need not be large to deliver the goods.

A+M: How has COVID-19 changed the creative industry?

Chew: While the nation takes refuge in homes, brands should take refuge in creativity. The last thing that brands should do is stay safe. We see brands like Nike rise to the occasion with creativity. So, creativity has now become more important than ever, which is good.

Choo: We’ve also seen marketing budgets being slashed. This is when brands need to ramp up on creativity to make their presence felt. Having no visibility during this time will hurt a brand more in the long run. And when it comes to the way we develop ideas to the way we execute them, we all need to adapt to the new norm. It can be hard, but that’s the way it’s going to be, so we have to make it work.

Pang: COVID-19 has hit us hard. With the current uncertainty, we need to be agile and ready to do things above and beyond what we are comfortable with to be able to survive. Then we can think about growth when the pandemic comes under control.

A+M: What trends do you expect to see next year for the creative industry?

Choo: We need to shift the way we think of the marketing strategy, creative ideas and how we reach our consumers. Because consumer behaviour has changed. The big shift towards eCommerce will see the need for creativity in that space. No longer will it be enough to just have presence on eCommerce platforms. We need to add creativity to the way we do things on eCommerce.

How can we make our online store stand out? Is there a way to do Lazada Live differently? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves. And here’s where our experience come in.

Chew: We have already been seeing a global trend of brands that are being honest about who they are, what they stand for and what their products can or cannot do. Be real, be relevant. This will lead brands to fertile creative grounds. And that’s how you win fans on social, that’s how you win loyalty as a brand.

Pang: Exciting times ahead. We’ll probably see more competition as well as collaborations amongst related industry. As more and more of us realise that it may not be how big an agency is, but how creative you can be.

A+M: What are some things in the creative industry that are overhyped?

Chew: Data. Or rather the abuse of data. I’ve seen data being cut in amazing ways to justify marketing strategies and ideas. I’ve also seen great ideas that move people, thanks to data. The point is to not be blinded by data. Data can guide but should never override our experience as creatives and marketeers. Trust our gut-feel a bit more. Let’s add our magic to logic.

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