Campaign Brief Asia spoke with Cyril Louis, who was national ECD at Holler Australia for 2 years in 2015-17, about launching LePub APAC in Singapore, bringing home its first Cannes Lions, designing starships, and two special projects on the horizon.
After opening its APAC headquarters in Singapore last year, LePub announced a new APAC leadership duo with Cyril Louis as Executive Creative Director and Hanh Kanssen as General Manager. Since then, LePub has launched ghostly bar experiences for Heineken and epic campaigns for Tiger Beer starring Son Heung-Min and G-Dragon, to name just a few recent projects. CB asked Cyril how it’s been going so far.
LePub is one of the most awarded agencies in the world. Was it intimidating taking the creative helm in APAC?
I saw it as an opportunity to work with top creative leaders – Bruno Bertelli and Natalie Lam. To me, the most challenging thing is also the most compelling: building something from scratch in APAC that lives up to LePub’s name and reputation as the most creative agency in the world, while knowing that getting it off the ground and matching the reputable name should be done in a timely manner. Needless to say, I leapt at the chance. Publicis Groupe’s Power of One was well used in the first year as it took time to build a team, so reaching the network to assemble teams to deliver quality work was the way to go.
How are things going so far?
Building the agency, raising standards and positioning the agency in APAC has been the first year’s focus (and still is). In just one year, we have done well to elevate the work to a global standard, bringing 8 Cannes Lions and 14 shortlists home in the first year of operation. I’m pretty proud of that momentum.
You started your career building robots in the South of France. How did you find your way from mechatronics into advertising?
When young architects start their careers, most believe they will be Zaha Hadid in a short time, working on amazing projects and making the most beautiful buildings. As an engineer, I thought the same. I thought I would be building starships (I know, pretty naive for a 23 year-old as they exist only in sci-fi movies). Deceived by a lie sold to me by American sci-fi movies, I turned to my passions music & design. And soon after, I returned to school from an engineering career path to an exciting fanciful one: the Arts. The world of design and advertising came right after my studies with my move to London.
But my earlier career has made a comeback. I realised ten years ago how my previous background in mechatronics was giving me an edge in understanding and navigating the complex landscape that advertising has become – a landscape where linear storytelling is today only part of a complex ecosystem, and technology has become a crucial skill set to create more modern ideas. But ideas come first, always, as tech is just an enabler.
You’ve worked everywhere from Dubai to Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo. What are the creative projects you’ve loved making most?
There are many, but I would like to talk about 2 from different parts of the world.
The first, from Australia, is myAudi: it is not a campaign but a cutting-edge, connected car platform allowing users to access advanced car telematics, including vehicle location, trip information and advanced geo-fencing tracking functions… A tool proving you are a good driver to get cheaper insurance, get parcels delivered to your car boot, get higher resale value by confirming good care… the list is long. A piece of work that builds a brand ecosystem around the customer giving unprecedented benefits to them, valuable and long-lasting.
The second, from Asia. Working with BBH Singapore and their talented team, we launched Heinekicks. It fits within what we believe at LePub, to get brands a permanent seat at the table of culture. Heineken launched Heineken Silver, a lighter, less bitter beer brewed for Gen Z. The problem was that Gen Z perceived Heineken as not relevant, predictable, distant and elitist. So we went where Heineken’s never gone by putting its smooth beer into sneakers. Not just any sneakers, but Heinekicks – ones specially designed by The Shoe Surgeon outta LA, and yes, authentic Heineken Silver in its soles. Through Heinekicks, we got a whole new generation talking about Heineken, and Heineken Silver became part of Gen-Z fashion and culture, effectively reaching our audience in dark and non-dark markets.
You returned to Asia to join LePub. What made you want to return to this part of the world?
One of the main criteria for returning to Asia is the energy and the drive of all nations to build a better future. Everything is moving forward, and this energy and drive is uplifting. It is also exciting and a great challenge to make work that resonates with all the different nations and cultures.
LePub is positioned as the place “where brands meet culture”. What’s your focus for the next 12 months?
We are living in a loud world filled with content. Brands have never been easier to ignore. So we find better ways to matter. A shift from a marketing mindset to an entertainment mindset that builds association, affinity, and contribution to culture. We make the stuff people want to seek out. Not pay to avoid. We will continue to deliver work positioning and cementing brands’ role in culture.
As a ‘creative hybrid’, do you still find time to experiment with tech?
Using tech has invariably been a constant in my workflow and always had one purpose. To be at the service of the idea and create things that have never been done before and feel magical to the audience. And today is an exciting time for this.
We are on the cusp of an era marked by the emergence of novel thinking combinations. Among these exciting blends is the fusion of creative thought, ingenuity, and imagination of the human mind with the vast generative capabilities of machine learning and AI. Those who embrace a unique mindset early in their workflow and become adept at utilising Generative AI will gain a competitive advantage.
Outside of work, what are you into?
Music has always been my passion; I, unfortunately, have many unfinished electronic music tracks. I am an avid surfer and skater, making the Bali run from Singapore as often as possible.
Anything on the horizon we should know about?
We have a very special project launching in the next few weeks for Tiger Beer (again in partnership with BBH) and another one for Heineken in October. They are both non-traditional work and place both brands in culture.