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  My4AsNews {December 2010}

Good things come in small packages

The 4As recently welcomed onboard the Goodfellas, headed by creative partners Patrick Low and Benny Quek. We caught up with Patrick as he shares how it has been like crossing over from the big guys to having their own startup.

After having worked at Ogilvy and Y&R for a large part of his thirty years in advertising, Patrick got an epiphany at the height of the US housing crisis in late 2009 and decided to take the plunge together with Benny, who has also worked in the two agencies for more than twenty years.

Running your own shop has its challenges and perks. While it means that they have to do practically everything on their own and sitting out on pitches for major government related businesses which has a minimum business turnover, the greatest advantage a small agency has over the big boys is agility. In his words, “An aircraft carrier takes a much longer time to change its course compared to a small destroyer.”

Now, office is a 15 inch laptop. A nocturnal creature who works best after 11pm, his typical day begins at 10am. If he doesn’t need to attend any meetings, his day is spent reading emails, conceptualising, writing, art directing or reviewing work.

As a small startup, they could choose who they want to work with. Their portfolio of clients to date are Malaysia Dairy Industries, GK Goh and the Singapore University of Technology and Design. To date, they have successfully launched SUTD, Singapore's forth university, Australian Fresh Milk for Marigold and soon a new form of currency trading.

“We have partnered another startup called A LOT OF EVERYTHING, founded by an ex-colleague. It was a great experience because we share similar aspirations and goals and I see great potential for this alliance to grow.” Patrick continues, “As a startup ourselves, we’d love to give startups a head start. Our hope is to champion the underdogs.”

Besides handling clients directly or via alliances, they also provide consultancy services for other agencies. So far they have helped a local agency win an electronic retail business and launch a brand campaign for a supermarket chain.

Witnessing the changes that advertising is going through, he laments that “As we evolved from telling to selling and now to sharing, social media has become the buzz word of our time and its impact on our industry will be hard to ignore. The question is, with this new-found romance towards audience participation in marketing, is there still a role for hardcore traditional marketers like ourselves?”

“My guess is yes. Whilst people may be interested to hear what others have to say about a brand, they are also equally interested to hear what the brand has to say. Ultimately, traditional advertising medium will become the only legitimate mouthpiece for brands in the clutter of information.”

He concludes, “At the end of the day, our survival is dependant on the size of our ideas, not the size of our business.” Indeed, here at Goodfellas, being small stands in their advantage. As adeptly articulated in their credo: “No big titles. No big organisation chart. And no big egos.”


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