5 minutes with... in association withAdobe Firefly

5 Minutes with… Vinod Savio

Advertising Agency
Singapore, Singapore
Speaking to LBB’s Tom Loudon, the DDB Singapore chief creative officer discusses goals, strategy, and the power of human emotion in advertising

Having recently been appointed chief creative officer at DDB Singapore, Vinod Savio’s reputation in advertising proceeds him. Well-known as a champion of fostering a positive culture, DDB Singapore’s track record of innovation and leveraging data for creative excellence is, in some part, thanks to Vinod.

Sharing insights into his return to the agency, his pivotal career moments, and his vision for transforming the creative landscape, Vinod explores the evolving role of technology in advertising.

With a wealth of experience working with major brands, he delves into strategies that consistently drive creative excellence and advises aspiring creatives seeking recognition in the industry.

LBB> You've recently returned to DDB Group Singapore as the chief creative officer. Can you share what inspired your decision to return to DDB, and what are your goals for this new role?

Vinod> I'm excited to return to DDB because it's more than just an agency to me – it’s played a pivotal role in my career, and I can quickly identify with its values and philosophy. DDB believes in creativity, humanity, and diversity, and these are the things that matter to me as well. It’s where I was mentored by some of the best minds on building brands, growing and nurturing teams, and solving problems with innovative ideas.
DDB is poised for significant growth and transformation in Southeast Asia. I am committed to helping the agency achieve its goals by building on its strengths, defining a clear vision for the region, introducing a rigorous and practical creative review process, inspiring the next generation of creative talent, and delivering increased business value for clients.

LBB> What aspects of your career journey have been the most fulfilling or pivotal for you?

Vinod> I stumbled into advertising in Bangalore, India, nearly two decades ago. I still remember my first day as an intern in the creative department, like yesterday. I watched as people discussed ideas and how exciting the process was, and I knew on day one that this was where I needed to be.
My journey in advertising has been a roller coaster as I've shifted markets, agencies, and clients. But each change has brought new friends, learnings, and adventures. My opportunity to work closely with Google's marketing team in Southeast Asia and India was pivotal. I'm particularly proud of the campaigns we created for Google in Indonesia and India. They tackled critical social issues like diversity and inclusion, making mobile gaming more accessible for all, and the responsible use of AI. 

These campaigns have also won some of the most prestigious awards in the creative industry, such as One Show, D&AD, Smarties, Spikes Asia, and Effies. These awards have validated and motivated me to continue creating the best work possible and to strive for excellence and innovation.
But the most fulfilling aspect has been the people. This business is a people business. Diverse minds come together to solve, create, and build. You realise it's the heart and soul of everything we do. Diversity of thought is essential.

LBB> During your previous tenure at DDB Group Singapore, you held the role of creative director. How do you envision the agency's creative landscape evolving, considering the changes and innovations in the advertising industry over the years?

Vinod> DDB Singapore is evolving to keep pace with the changing industry landscape, focusing on two key areas: technology and teams.
  • Technology: AI rapidly changes how we think, create, and deliver work. DDB is designing for transformation by building solutions embodying the brand's vision and values while following transparency and privacy principles.  
  • Teams: Today's briefs need a dynamic way to solve emerging challenges. I envision DDB Singapore as a hub of innovation and collaboration, where diverse and talented people work together to create work that matters.

LBB> Could you tell us about your approach to unlocking the power of human emotion in advertising? How do you believe this impacts consumer behaviour and client outcomes?

Vinod> Human emotion is the most powerful consumer behaviour and decision-making driver. People buy products and services not because of rational reasons but because of how they make them feel.

My approach to unlocking the power of human emotion in advertising starts with asking the most pertinent question: What emotion do we want our audience to feel when they see our ad or use our product or service? Spending as much time as possible early in the process to answer this question helps the team get sharp in the ideas they approach. There are millions of ways to solve a problem, so discussing the emotion we want to evoke early on is essential.  

LBB> You've worked with major brands like Google, McDonald's, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson, earning prestigious awards along the way. What key strategies or principles have consistently driven creative excellence in your projects?

Vinod> In my experience, creative excellence is driven by a good understanding of culture, data and media.

  • Culture: Understanding people, communities, markets, social conversations, semiotics, and behavioural insights is essential for identifying the cultural triggers that will resonate with our audience.  
  • Data: Creativity today is part heart, part science. Data-informed creativity can improve brand awareness, consideration, and purchase intent. 
  • Media: Which platforms have relevance for the objective? Are there innovations we can experiment with? If we can fully understand what will give us the most reach – paid or organic – then we will be sharp in delivering ideas that outperform industry and category standards. How do we not add to the noise but add to the journey of consumer experience?

LBB> As a creative leader, how do you foster a culture of innovation and collaboration within your teams, particularly in a fast-evolving digital landscape?

Vinod> To foster a culture of innovation and collaboration within my teams, I start with diversity and inclusion. To make that happen, I design for inclusive methods, ensuring teams understand each other, respect each other's working styles, and are open to hybrid work arrangements.
I also believe in giving teams the autonomy to make decisions. That means clarifying expectations and outcomes and creating a culture of respect and open-mindedness. I encourage team members to challenge each other and build on each other's ideas.

LBB> How do you see technology and data shaping the future of creative solutions and advertising?

Vinod> At DDB, we constantly develop and upgrade tools to help our teams be more creative, efficient, and effective.
We are testing AI-powered tools to help our teams generate many creative ideas quickly and efficiently. We are enhancing our data-driven tools to help our teams better understand the needs and preferences of our target audiences. We are implementing collaborative tools to help our teams work more effectively on creative projects. We are also developing data-driven strategy tools that leverage our strategic framework and knowledge to help the entire agency make better decisions faster.

LBB> You've served on international award show juries and received numerous accolades. How has this experience informed your creative perspective, and what advice do you give young creatives seeking recognition in the industry?

Vinod> Serving on juries has been a great experience for me, as it has helped me to develop a more global and inclusive creative perspective. It has exposed me to a wide range of creative work from different markets, cultures, and disciplines and helped me appreciate the diversity and richness of the global creative industry.
My advice for young creatives seeking recognition in the industry is:
  • Create strategic and relevant solutions. Don't create work for the sake of awards, but to solve problems and create value.
  • Stay curious and expand your skills and knowledge. Read, watch, listen, and learn from the work of others, both within and outside your field of expertise.
  • Explore fresh executions. This can lead to more effective and creative work, with a greater chance of success on multiple levels.
  • Be open to feedback and learn from your successes and failures. Criticism is a natural part of the creative process. The important thing is to learn from them and to keep moving forward.

Agency / Creative
Work from DDB Singapore
Ministry of Education - The Speech
Ministry of Education