Creative Cafe: Interview with Merlee Jayme, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, DM9 Jayme Syfu, Philippines | New York Festivals

Creative Cafe: Interview with Merlee Jayme, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, DM9 Jayme Syfu, Philippines | New York Festivals

This week’s NYF Creative Cafe interview finds us up close and personal with  New York Festivals International Advertising Awards® 2013 Executive Jury member, Merlee Jayme, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of DM9 Jayme Syfu, Philippines. Ms. Jayme will join the NYF Executive Jury this April in New York City to select the World’s Best Advertising®.

Merlee Jayme, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, DM9 Jaymee Syfu

Merlee Jayme was Executive Creative Director for BBDO Guerrero before starting her own agency, DM9 Jayme Syfu, almost 7 years ago. Prior to BBDO, she was Vice President & Executive Creative Director of ACE SAATCHI & SAATCHI. As Chairman & CCO of DM9 Jayme Syfu, a DDB Worldwide affiliate, her creative shop has been ranked the Philippines’ no. 1 in the 2010 Campaign Brief Asia Ranking and was awarded the very first Campaign Asia Pacific Creative Agency of the Year for the Philippines 2012. Her agency has racked up scores of awards in the process of handling numerous brands including: Department of Tourism Philippines, Mini Cooper, Smart, Pharex, AB, and Gabriella.

NYF: How did you get interested in advertising and was it your first choice as a career path?

MJ: My First choice will totally shock everyone. I became a nun. Yes, I was a Benedictine Novice for 3 years. I spent my days studying human and spiritual insights while physically working with nature. Then, with much conviction that this was not really my calling, my next move was just as shocking. I got into Advertising as a Copywriter. Believe it or not, that spiritual stint turned out to be the best “training” for this job.

NYF: What was your first big break?

MJ: My first break was snatching a copywriter position in a very exclusive creative department of 8 in Ace Saatchi & Saatchi. I was the only fresh grad. That experience was no different from the rigid life in the convent. I was pressured to learn the ropes fast: coming up with 50-100 ways of writing a print ad’s headline, presenting to difficult clients, drawing my own boards which my art director refused to work on, and cope up with awards which each creative was simply raking in every year. But this training truly paid off. In my 13 years with Saatchi, I moved up from Copywriter to Executive Creative Director.

NYF: What is your favorite all-time creative campaign for an iconic brand?

MJ: Just do it. Very insightful and inspiring. (I love sports but in this industry, having time to be fit is truly challenging)

NYF: Looking back at your advertising career, how much has changed since you started and is there anything you wish you could have pursued?

MJ: Many things have changed since the day I took a copy test. First, the attitude of young creatives. They’re less brave with ideas, they rely too much on the internet, and they are such in a hurry to reach the top that too often, they stumble along the way. Second, the emergence of technology. I must admit that I am still a paper and pencil kind of girl. It makes me think better. This however, doesn’t stop me from being a slave to social network.

If there’s anything I want to pursue, I’d really want to go back to school. Not to teach (I’ve already  taught creative writing in the University of Asia & Pacific last year) but to study further.

Today, I am a Creative leader facing many challenges. All these years, my actions and decisions are based on gut-feel. Never on mathematical equations or tried and tested formulas.

I want to go through an Executive MBA NOT to lose the fearless attitude, but to learn how to make this more foolproof. After all, as Kevin Roberts of Saatchi would say, the “idea is the currency of the future” and creative leaders are the future.

NYF: What are the words you live by?

MJ: “No success can compensate for failure in the home.”

NYF: What keeps you sane and on top of your game?

MJ: My four lovely daughters are my main source of crazy, funny, and real ideas. My usual ‘happy hour drink’ keeps me sane after a long day at work. My 21K runs with my husband keep me competitive and healthy at the same time.

NYF: In your opinion, what qualities does a campaign need to earn an award?

MJ: Simple.Simple.Simple.

NYF: How do you as CCO remain creatively involved with your network and aware of the work emanating from offices around the globe?

MJ: I am part of DDB’s Regional Council of Creative leaders. We’re a small group of friends and colleagues that simply discuss great ideas, show each other our work.

NYF: What challenges do you see advertising agencies facing in the next few years?

MJ: I could say that the challenge hasn’t really dramatically changed. The creative agencies like ours, and our media partners still need to adapt new ways, strategies and ideas that would creatively engage the consumers. They should be touched, involved and be free to react. Digital will still play a big role in this. Today and in the future, the power lies more with the consumer.

The 2013 International Advertising Awards Final Deadline is February 27th.

This content was originally published here.

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