“I love the film honestly speaking. The script is so simple. It’s a love story about a girl discovering herself. You take what you take from it,” says director Andrew Lok of his latest work, an ambitious 12-minute piece of cinema for Lays, starring Taiwanese movie star Amber Kuo, set in Somerset, England.
他向我们描述了这段迷人的拍摄经历。在得到允许之后，骆耀明一行来到萨默塞特郡大西部铁路线 –——这是英格兰仅存的蒸汽火车线路之一，而且恰好赶上了这条唯一的多塞特和萨默塞特联合铁路线的50周年庆。与此同时，对于摄影导演Alan Yap的参与，骆耀明深感幸运。“其实他一般不会接这样的活儿，他没有帮手，也没有大的灯去打光，有的只是一个助手加上两盏LED灯，但我跟他保证我们可以都用自然光。最后他接了这个活，其实原因就一个——他非常喜欢这个剧本。”
He describes a charmed shoot. The production secured permission to use the Western Somerset Railway, a steam train that happened to be running at the time, amid 50th Anniversary celebrations of the last ever Dorset and Somerset Joint Railway journey. He also feels fortunate to have secured the services of DoP Alan Yap. “It’s not his usual job, he had no helpers, no big lights, just an assistant and 2 LED lights. I promised him we’d go all natural light. He took on the job for one reason only, he loved the script.”
A tight budget necessitated a slim-line crew built around Lok, Yap, his assistant and a producer doubling as an assistant director, on a meticulously planned five-day shoot. He reveals the shot from the window as the train chugs across the countryside was captured with his iPhone.
乐事《香芝一刻》｜Lay’s Cheddar A Moment In Time
Lok acknowledges that luck and a great script would have been irrelevant without Lays’ complete trust. “That’s the freedom clients have to give creators if they want to do long form now” he says. “They don’t want to spend a lot of money so they have to trust us. We cannot have a lot of meetings, we cannot have a big crew. If they want content like this, clients have to start accepting that’s the way things are done.”
乐事《香芝一刻》摄制组｜Lay’s Cheddar A Moment In Time crew
Be Safe or Get Famous
Lok is in boisterous spirits on the evening we meet in the Civilization offices, the independent Shanghai agency he co-founded in 2012. Dressed in a royal purple track top and a backwards baseball cap, he takes sporadic gulps of water generously infused with Scotch, as he recalls his first meeting with Clarence Mak, the then marketing director of Wrigley’s.
文明创始人谢建文与骆耀明｜Civilization founders Alex Xie & Andrew Lok
It was 2011, just as theatres were beginning to spring up across China to satisfy a growing domestic hunger for cinema. Lok, as ECD of BBDO Shanghai, was pitching Mak the script that would lead to the “Flavours of Life” campaign, “I asked him very simply, ‘you know, a rising tide rises all boats. If you keep doing exactly what you’re doing, you’ll grow 10 or 15% every year, and that’s fine. You’ll get promoted every year, as per normal, but you won’t get famous.”
骆耀明提出做一系列电影式的广告，讲述一对年轻的情侣游历中国的浪漫故事，保证能让麦伟坚出名。麦伟坚接受了他的想法，骆耀明也兑现了自己的诺言。后来这一系列由Arthur Tsang（时任BBDO华南区执行创意总监）和Howard Mok（时任BBDO大中华区执行创意总监）创意，David Tsui执导的片子成为有史以来中国最受欢迎的品牌广告战役之一。
Lok offered to make Mak famous with a cinematic campaign charting a young couple’s romance as they road trip across China. Mak was sold and Lok delivered on his promise. The eventual series of films, created by Arthur Tsang (then ECD, BBDO South China) and Howard Mok (then ECD, BBDO Greater China) and directed by David Tsui, went on to become one of the most popular advertising campaigns of all time in China.
益达《酸甜苦辣》｜Wrigley’s Extra The Flavors of Life
With an average tenure of just two years, Lok cannot understand caution among brand-marketing managers, “If you’re not going to get famous why the hell are you doing this job? If this job gives you media money to push work that can get you famous, why don’t you do that?” It’s not about risk, he says, it’s about convincing a client not to go with the most neutral idea, to ignore the focus groups and make an investment.
He thinks of himself as a doctor for brands, “A guy comes into your clinic and, because you’re a professional, you give him the best advice. If he takes it, you build a relationship. That takes time and it depends on mutual trust. Those that trust me get better work, those that don’t get average work. If it fails and they blame me, fine, but I don’t fail very often.” Despite his convictions, he is philosophical about those ‘patients’ that don’t listen, “It’s his body, his money and his decision. If he wants to smoke, if he likes to drink liquor, if he wants to kill his own brand, what right do you have to stop him? All you can do is give him your best advice because it’s your job to do so.”
A native Singaporean, Lok cut his teeth writing copy for five years in the local advertising industry, followed by a spell freelancing in Hong Kong. In 2004 he moved into the Chinese mainland, in a new role leading a team as ECD of Ogilvy Guangzhou. Following another stint in Singapore, he switched to Ogilvy Beijing before arriving finally in Shanghai in 2008, as ECD of BBDO. Across four successful years, Lok worked on all the agency’s major accounts including Gillette, Pepsi and Wrigley’s.
In 2012, seeking to create an agile indie agency that could better navigate the digital sea change, he founded Civilization with Art Director partner Alex Xie. He explains that he was driven by a passion for brands that he didn’t feel was as all-encompassing in the big 4As as it used to be, “I would propose things and people would say ‘it’s not in our contract’. What does that even mean? My contract is helping this brand grow. If other agencies…make the money, as long as it helps the brand, I really don’t care.”
This passion has helped Civilization build a dedicated roster of clients, largely across FMCG, including Sedrin, Jack Daniels and PepsiCo. Having first laid roots with the latter while at BBDO, Civilization’s first job for the brand was a 133-page PowerPoint presentation. It marked the beginning of a pragmatic philosophy that Lok still applies, “A lot of agencies start with a flag saying ‘we only do this, and this is our mission statement’. I was more like ‘I have four people and I need to pay their salaries, and I’ll go broke in six months if I don’t get business.’
雪津啤酒《谢谢你兄弟》｜Serdin Thank You Bro
He elaborates, “It’s not about ‘digital’ or ‘social’, it’s about whether you can do the stuff that really gets traction with the consumers. Ultimately it boils down to you, your experiences and how you relate that to the brand and sell that to a client. That will never change. We’re still moved by the narrative, we still want to feel something.”
Part of what Lok calls ‘the age of great generalists’ is a blurring of the traditional boundaries, whereby clients are acting as creatives, production companies are creating original content and creatives are directing. He admits stepping behind the camera presented a sharp learning curve, “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, honestly. I knew how to string a story together and that was my advantage, but I knew nothing about cameras, framing, blocking, light, shots.” He credits his directing education to YouTube, reading ‘a hell of a lot’ and learning from some of the best directors in the industry during his time at the 4As.
骆耀明轻松进入了他的新角色，他所导演的短片入围亚太广告节Fabulous Four，之后还做了一系列小的商业广告。他最喜欢的三个作品：由香港演员余文乐主演的李维斯全球性品牌活动《Live In Levi’s》，乐事广告《香芝一刻》，还有最成功的百事广告《把乐带回家之猴王世家》。
Lok eased into his new role, directing a short for Adfest’s Fabulous Four, followed by a series of small commercial jobs. He names three of his films as favourites: the Live In Levi’s spot with Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, Lays Cheddar Moment and his most accomplished piece yet, Monkey King Family for Pepsi.
For the Pepsi film, he again cites luck, this time in securing the participation of Zhang Jinlai, the Chinese cultural icon and national treasure best known for playing the Monkey King in the 1986 television series Journey to the West. Pepsi bought the idea ‘immediately with no changes and almost no PPMs’ on the basis of a PowerPoint with some sketches and the all-important script. The production was an intense labour of love, “Everyone poured their heart into it. It was eight days of hell,” but, he explains, “We went all in, and it worked out.” Monkey King Family garnered over 830million views over the Chinese New Year period and, in shooting Zhang, Lok realized a boyhood dream.
百事可乐《猴王世家》｜Pepsi Monkey King Family
Deal With The Devil
Lok’s manner fluctuates between gentle musing on his own work, “People come up to me and tell me how things I did make them feel, and I’m very touched by it”, and fierce condemnation of those that don’t share his passion, “What’s the point if it doesn’t move anybody? You’re wasting your life.” He is unmoved by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns, which Civilization frequently refuses, “I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it. My job is getting brands healthy.” If those brands want to invest in good causes, he says, he would prefer they do it and keep quiet.
骆耀明不像大多数广告公司一样，对那些奖项感兴趣，他更喜欢把参赛费用拿来给员工当福利，休假或者涨工资，他解释说，“因为作品都是这些人做的。”他进一步说道，“我们是要创造客户群体。这不是通过做广告来实现，而是通过那些有钱买得起汽车、冰箱、房子的人！”虽然在这方面他比较保守，但是他还是比较认可诸如D&AD还有The One Show的价值，而且表示也会考虑《猴王世家》参选今年的戛纳广告节。
Lok isn’t interested in the awards that motivate most agencies, preferring to spend the submission fees on holidays, bonuses and pay rises for his staff “because those are the people that give you the work.” He adds, “We are here to create consumers. You don’t do that by creating advertising, you do that by creating people who are rich enough to buy a car, a refrigerator and a house!” Despite his reservations, he believes there is value to the likes of D&AD and The One Show and hints he is considering submitting Monkey King Family to Cannes this year.
Lok relishes the enormous commercial opportunities China has brought to his agency, “we were four people three-and-a-half years ago and now we’re 80. Nowhere else in the world does that happen,” but admits he has made a “deal with the devil” to be there amongst the pollution and chaos. He misses the sense of community in Singapore in the early 2000s and seems resigned to the relatively low overall standard of work in the market.
李维斯501CT余文乐篇｜Levi’s 501CT Shawn Yue
For him, the Chinese industry needs to find its own voice. That process begins with himself, “You have be part of their world. That style, culture and humour. Embrace it, know it, speak it”. As such, he has little time for foreign creative directors who don’t try to integrate, “I think they [bring value] if they get off their ivory tower. Would you respect me if I worked in Moscow and I didn’t speak a word of Russian? I’m sorry but if you don’t speak a word of Chinese, why the hell are you here?”
Lok was approached last year about selling Civilization but declined in favour of maintaining creative control, “After buying, you have to meet the numbers. My partner and I, we’ve had so many bosses, we’re not sure after two years whether we could go back to that.” Moreover, he feared selling would erode the agency’s creative culture, the feeling among his team that they have the power to make a difference to the work and the company’s destiny.
Lok prefers to keep making work that moves people and, as his experience, ambition and trusting client relationships converge, he is in a better position than ever to do that. Disobedient ‘patients’ is not a problem he often faces these days, “I’ve come to a stage where I’m older than all my clients, where I’ve been there longer than all the marketing people, where they listen and I’m not too old or too tired to do good work. I’m at a nice little phase right now and I’m hoping to enjoy it for as long as I can.”