Farkhan Salleh, is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Kevokanvas. Prior to this he was the creative lead for Social@Ogilvy Singapore, leading his team on over 20 accounts, both locally and across the APAC region.
He is an award winning creative and has a few Effies and Markies for various accounts like Guinness, Dreyer’s and AIA, to his credit. He shares with us, more about Kevokanvas and his CNM days.
How did Kevokanvas come about?
Kevokanvas was started about two years ago by a few friends/ex-colleagues and I from Ogilvy. We roped in a former sales director from Meltwater to help us in our business development and kevokanvas was born. Fast forward 2 years later and we’re now a full-fledged agency with over 50 employees across Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Our people come from a similar mould; a group of hungry, slightly dissatisfied advertising agency veterans who were looking for a place to finally call ‘home’. We’d also establish tie-ups with local colleges in Malaysia to roll out a graduate fellowship programme which allows fresh graduates to spend time across the different advertising disciplines that are available in kevo. The programme is designed for them to experience the different departments before finding their true calling at the end.
How did CNM impact your career, are there any special CNM moments you would like to share ?
Honestly I found my love for advertising in one of the CNM modules. Unfortunately it was a one-off module and that was it. The other modules did help me in one way or another to understand the people who I was communicating later on. I think the biggest advantage was that CNM helped me understand or enabled me to understand this new era of digital and social advertising that the industry was pivoting towards. I also had the opportunity to go for a work stint with the NUS-MDA SHAPE programme, thanks to Dr Denisa Kera, who connected me with qik, inc., just because she found them “interesting”. It was there that I got a hands-on experience in app development, video making and social media management. In an ironic twist, the landlady that I stayed with was a 30-year advertising veteran. Arguably, even after these short trysts with advertising, I knew I was severely disadvantaged if I wanted to make this my career. However as with many passions mixed with the folly of youth, I guess I wanted to see how far I could push myself in the field.
What words of advice would you offer to your juniors, especially those who have dream of their own start-up/creative enterprise?
I would say don’t do it fresh out of school. That is the worst thing to do, unless you’re well-connected. I think the romanticism of creating start-ups fuelled by ever-available tales of overnight millionaires is definitely a tempting prospect. I would say don’t do it especially when you’re talking about the advertising industry, where the big agencies are currently under siege from dozens of small to mid-sized boutique agencies. However the only reason that traditional agencies have survived is that their connections are so much more robust, allowing them to weather these spikes of challenges. Sure you may be able to survive, but that’s not to say you won’t be able to survive doing less at a 9 to 5 job. I would recommend spending at least 2 years in an job related to the field of interest to learn and more importantly to make friends. At a decent-sized agency like Ogilvy, where the turnover rate is close to 50%, you’d looking at making hundreds of friends over 2 years. And some of these friends eventually leave to join other companies and that’s where they might remember you, hopefully for the right reasons.