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Opinion and Insight

Tay Guan Hin Goes Gung-Ho with New Venture

J. Walter Thompson’s regional ECD for South East Asia talks to Laura Swinton about the importance of passion as he launches TGH Collective and announces new role with AGA

Tay Guan Hin Goes Gung-Ho with New Venture

Gearing up for a big presentation all about passion, there was a definite gleam of excitement in Tay Guan Hin’s eyes. Given the theme of his speech at Ad Stars 2018 – the importance of gung-ho spirit and gut feeling in driving one’s career and determining a creative’s relationship with data – perhaps that glint was inevitable. But it turns out that Guan Hin had another reason to turn up the enthusiasm as last week he revealed the launch of a new venture, TGH Collective.

TGH – named for Guan Hin’s initials and also his current obsession ‘the gung-ho’ – is to be a senior-led, project-based creative company in which Guan Hin and his collaborators will work directly with clients to reach ideas quickly. 

“In today’s world it’s about flexibility and being specialised,” he says. “So it’s about the collection of people you can pull together, much like Mission Impossible – the right teams for the right jobs for the right time. It’s going to be more senior-led to make sure that clients get to work directly with senior people but we still have support to do the work.”

“I think it’s a project-based model and it’s where most agencies are actually heading and something that big agencies will struggle to achieve,” continues Guan Hin. 

Guan Hin will continue to work with J. Walter Thompson, where he serves as regional executive creative director for South East Asia. However that role is now three days per week and he works with the WPP network as a consultant. In order to maintain a separation between both positions, TGH won’t work with clients that Guan Hin currently works with at JWT.

What makes TGH a little different, believes Guan Hin, is that instead of wasting time on big pitches, it will offer packages of senior ideation workshops. “Quite a lot of the time at a typical agency brief, it will be months before you get to the idea. I think what I’m trying to propose, which is part of my package, is to do a two-day workshop with a client and come up with an idea. Honestly, with the right expertise, I’m not saying it’s easy to come up with an idea but it’s easier to have that conversation with clients. Part of the reason that things take so long is we are not engaging with the people on top and you start to lose interest.”

As well as launching TGH, Guan Hin has also announced a partnership with the multi-disciplinary collective, AGA (APAC Global Advisory). The so-called ‘change architect’ brings together experts in fields as diverse as banking, architecture and creativity to help clients implement real change in their businesses. “I’ve become more of a change agent, so instead of being like a creative it’s offering clients real change,” explains Guan Hin of the partnership. “I think it’s a new era where everyone is a partner of everyone else; you’re not running solo anymore.”
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