WRITER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
I’ve been enthralled by great advertising ideas ever since I can first remember. As a kid in London, I waited for the ad-breaks between tv shows to watch Heineken, Hamlet and Hovis commercials.
It wasn’t until I was doing my MA in Information Graphic Design that I re-discovered the fascination I had for great advertising ideas.
After completing my MA, I initially found a job at an agency in London but found working for 30 quid a week on briefs no one else in the department wanted to do, while living in a bedsit with a broken window, which I couldn’t afford to fix, not very rewarding.
So, I hopped on a plane to Australia and, within a week, got a job in Sydney. Life was great, even though I was still earning peanuts. I had the opportunity to do good work (well it seemed good at the time). I won awards in Australia, got work into London International and won metal at New York Festivals.
After 3 years I was offered the chance to work for Jim Aitchison (the regional ECD at Batey Ads, Singapore). I won local and regional awards as well as getting work in the One Show Annual and finalists at Cannes. I also thought up the idea: “Am I naked or am I not”, which won the agency the Swatch global project for the sub-brand Swatch Skin.
After two years at Batey Ads, I was offered a job by David Droga at Saatchi and Saatchi, Singapore. Dave Droga was a great creative to learn from. While working for him at Saatchi's, I won metal at Cannes and One Show, had two campaigns accepted into the D&AD Annual, picked-up runner-up at best of show at the Singapore Creative Circle awards and won other regional awards. I was also part of the Saatchi's Singapore team that won AdAge International agency of the year, beating DDB London.
After David Droga left for the Saatchi's ECD job in London, I stayed in Singapore and moved to Bates Singapore. While there, I won Best of Bates Worldwide for Land Rover. But the most challenging part of my role was to ‘turn ‘round’ Nokia, who were unhappy with the creative work the agency was presenting. This wasn’t as difficult a task as it seemed and, after six months, the Nokia client was satisfied once again.
After Bates Singapore, I was offered a very different kind of role at Grey, Kuala Lumpur (KL is the regional hub for the Grey SEA network). My role there was to focus on winning new business. We picked up accounts, including Mitsubishi, a Petronas project as well as government projects and a Chinese brand of phone.
Two years into working for Grey in KL, my father passed away. And it felt like the right time to take a break from work. However, after only a few months, I was offered a job at BBH, New York. I didn’t really feel ready to start working again but you don’t turn down BBH. I was at BBH NY for less than a year but, during that time, got my hunger back for advertising.
I headed to Dubai, which was booming at the time. I targeted 5 agencies to work at and was offered three different jobs. The one I accepted was as a CD at JWT. In my first year, I won JWT Middle East their first ever Cannes Lion. That year, the agency also won Lynx agency of the year. The following year, I created a global campaign for HSBC, which the client chose over work from other JWT global hubs, including London and New York.
Then the global recession hit hard. All non-management senior creatives in the agency were made redundant, except me. I took a sizeable pay cut in order to keep my job at JWT. Finally, the only option left for me was to move with JWT to their office in the mid-east’s biggest market (Saudi Arabia). This wasn’t a market I wanted to move to due to the fact I couldn’t speak Arabic.
So instead, I left JWT and put together my first website. I bounced around, doing freelance in south east asia and the middle east for a year before taking on the Chief Copywriter role at HSAd’s global creative department in Seoul. Here, I did work that won LG electronics projects against agencies in New York for the North American market.
Seoul is quite an isolating place to stay on a long-term basis if you don’t speak Korean though. So, after 18 months, I headed back to Dubai on an 8-month freelance contract at DDB. While in Dubai I also did freelance work for JWT, where I was the head writer on the pitch, which won JWT the global Egyptian Tourism Board business, worth $68 million.
I remained in touch with my former ECD at HSAd in Seoul however. We got along well during my initial spell at the agency and I respected his work ethic. So I rejoined HSAd, with a far better grasp of how to deal with life in Korea. After just a month back at the agency, we won the first pitch I worked on: Kumho tyres, for the Russian market. I also worked on an outdoor project, for which the agency won two Lions. And more recently, had a LG electronics campaign showcased in Archive magazine.
I then accepted a role as senior writer at JWT Riyadh. I had my reservations as I'd turned down job offers in Saudi before. But I knew the regional CCO from my previous time at JWT Dubai. Riyadh isn't an inspiring city for any kind of creative person in which to live though and the level of work wasn't challenging. I stayed as long as I felt I could but, when I was offered an open-ended freelance role at DDB in Dubai, I decided to move there.
Everything was going well at DDB Dubai. The work was more challenging and, therefore, the satisfaction was greater. But in February 2020, it became clear that covid would be a global pandemic, which would inevitably impact all types of businesses all around the world. And when there are negative global economic events, advertising budgets are always the first thing clients cut. So I returned to Singapore as this is where my girlfriend lives and Singapore seemed like it would be a far safer place to be during a pandemic.
I applied for an employment pass, started my own agency and, after almost six months, I was granted the employment pass. Unfortunately, there was a complete lack of advertising work to do. The industry had, effectively, shut down. So I increased the trading I was doing in biotech stocks and continued with that throughout 2020 and 2021, which proved fruitful. All the while though, I've missed creative problem-solving immensely as that is my greatest passion.
David Droga (Founder and Chairman droga5)
“Peter is possibly the most obsessive, hard-working, creative guy I know. He eats,
drinks and sleeps advertising, which is why his book is so much better looking than
Hubert Boulos (Regional CEO, DDB Middle East)
"I've had the pleasure of working with Peter at both JWT and DDB Dubai. Peter is beyond a copywriter; he is a world class conceptualiser. Peter was my 'go to' creative when seeking an intelligent and creative answer to a difficult problem. On new business pitches, I felt Peter was also always the one to crack the difficult briefs with smart ideas that answered some very complex constraints. Peter is also a great mentor to less experienced creatives."
Tham Khai Meng (Global CCO and co-Charman, Ogilvy Worldwide)
Peter is a top bloke. A truly original and brilliant thinker. By far, one of the best
writers I’ve ever worked with.
Ramsey Naja (CCO JWT Middle East and North Africa)
“Peter thinks and writes with the kind of productive cynicism that only intelligent,
experienced, cultured and solution-minded creatives can display. He looks at the
status quo and familiar territories with disdain and remains unsatisfied until he
comes up with the ideas and writing that consigns them to the bin.”
Kash Sree (ECD Gyro New York and Cannes Grand Prix winner)
“I have always been impressed with the intelligence and insights Peter’s work
displays. He has received many accolades in the U.S., Europe, Australia and
Singapore. This is not just a testament to his talent and his unique way of seeing
things but to his incredible work ethic too.”
Chris Leong (Former Regional President, Grey south east asia)
“I’ve employed Peter twice. He’s not just the hardest-working creative I’ve come
across in this business. His insightfulness and ability to find ways to solve difficult
creative problems is a great asset. In our industry, much is said about ‘thinking
outside the box’. One of Peter’s strengths is that when the parameters of a brief are
tight, he can also think ‘inside the box’.”
Andy Clarke (GCD JWT NY, Former Creative Partner Saatchi and Saatchi London)
“Peter is conceptually strong. He’s keen to push the creative work to arrive at the
most original solutions. If you don’t want your agency to do better creative work,
don’t hire him.”
Mark Ringer (ECD Anthem Worldwide)
“Peter is hard-working, strategic in thought, media neutral and has the rarest of
qualities in a creative director: a strong sense of realism. Indeed he works well
across cultures and is very perceptive of both people and situations.”
Jim Aitchison (Former Regional ECD Batey Ads, Singapore and successful author)
“Peter is a very incisive strategic thinker. He takes what he does very seriously but
not so himself. I’m always reminded that this business is fun when peter is around.”
Tony Redman (Former ECD Batey Ads, Singapore and Film Director)
“Peter has a laugh. It’s not an ordinary laugh. It’s a big manly whoop, like a seal
balancing a ball on its nose.”
CCO HSAd, Seoul
Peter is a world-class advertising creative. That's why he's the only creative I have ever hired twice.