Meet the folks trying to unleash ‘media thursday’ upon Singapore

L-R: Guy Hearn, Jo MacKenzie, Nik Vyas and Alberico de Nardis

Singapore has a vibrant and exciting media scene, agencies such as BBH are taking home loads of awards from Cannes, it’s digitally advanced and the weather is mostly ideal for an after work pint or two.

However, many who have worked in the industry in other markets, either foreign workers or Singaporeans who have worked abroad, will note that it’s lacking in a regular networking scene. Unleashed, a new committee of industry leaders, are hoping to change that, creating an event that encourages the industry to be social, without an agenda.

The Drum, a media partner of Unleashed, spoke to the committee to find out how it aims to connect the dots in the little red dot.

Nik Vyas, Publicis Media

Having moved over from working in media in London two years ago, one of the biggest differences I’ve found in Singapore is the dearth of industry social events. When they do happen, they invariably have an agenda and someone is trying very hard to sell you something. Media Thursday started in London as an event, which, essentially, was a place to meet new and old friends, listen to good tunes and have a bit of party. Most people spend long hours at the office and work and hard enough, so we deserve a little downtime.

We wanted to create the same type of experience in Singapore, getting like-minded people together to network, relax and just have some fun. Sure, the work conversations can happen, but let’s keep them outside of the event. It’s much easier to collaborate and work with someone professionally if you’ve bonded socially, busting a move on the dancefloor or doing some shots at the bar!

Despite all the talk of tech and data, our industry, ultimately, is about connecting with people. Unleashed is about walking the talk, bringing the human element front stage and getting to know people, not their job titles, all in an environment, which is just about enjoying yourself.

Klara Krok, JWT

Singapore is an incredibly competitive marketplace. Agencies are facing zero-based budgeting, baseline briefs, and award and travel bans which can create a political atmosphere. Unleashed looks to break through the day to day and remind everyone why we got into this industry in the first place. We work in THE most dynamic, forward thinking, innovative sector and over a glass of wine we can solve those big problems. Ultimately we are an industry that relies on people and it is our duty to nurture our relationships.

In Spikes Asia this year it was debated whether Singapore could be the next silicon valley: we say why not work together to bring the best parts of tech innovation of Silicon Valley but also the fun of Miami, the networking of Mumbai, the creativity of Sao Paulo, the shape shifting of London and of course, the tenacity of Singapore.

Guy Hearn, OMG

It's a demonstrable fact that one of the things that makes certain cities hubs of innovation and creativity is the capacity for like-minded people to get together and bounce ideas off each other and collaborate. It's not about having more smart people ... smart people live everywhere. It is about the ability to meet and get to know those like-minded people and find opportunities for collaboration. With Unleashed we want to play our small part in moving Singapore forward as a centre of innovation and creativity

The networking scene has struggled a bit in Singapore. Events like Web Wednesday that became IAMWednesday ran something for the digital sector but there has never been anything for the industry as a whole happening on a regular basis and certainly nothing like a Media Thursday. With Unleashed we hope that people can shed their agency colours and come together to have fun and feel part of something a bit bigger and a bit more important.

Jo MacKenzie, Publicis Media

Networking is crucial for building relationships and business connections. People asking to connect on LinkedIn isn't the same as meeting and talking with people to understand where they come from and what they do. You also never know where a connection will lead - I have been in Singapore for 6 years and I now have former clients as colleagues and former colleagues as clients and vendors. The world is a very small place and you cannot underestimate the importance that the people you meet will have on your career. Apart from that, it’s inspiring to come together and feel the energy of an industry. If you're head down in a laptop all night long how can you be coming up with fresh ideas and fresh energy to inject into your work? If you work in a media agency and never hang out with creatives, you build walls and have no understanding of the world that they work in.

We chose Unleashed because we wanted to remove the formality of current industry events and inject a bit of fun back into the comms industry. I'm sure everyone gets together within their teams or with their peers but there isn't anything that tries to bring people together from the industry as a whole. It doesn't matter if your WPP or Omnicom, media agency or creative, digital or TV, you’re welcome at Unleashed!

Alberico de Nardis, Blis

Moving to Singapore from London quite early on in my career, it was instantly notable how few events there were where I would have the opportunity to connect with other people in the industry. Media Thursdays in London were big, boozy affairs, but through attending some of those events I was able to meet some of the mentors who effectively led me to changing my life and moving to Singapore.

Out here, most the times that I have attended similar events or parties, I can expect to see the same familiar faces. I rarely see more junior members of our industry joining, and I think this is a huge problem. We must realise that our day jobs are not saving lives, and that although we all often work long hours, keeping stress levels too high is the perfect way to burn out. Creativity is sparked by enjoying what we do, and I want Unleashed to show all the young people in our industry that sometimes having a few drinks with someone new from the comms world is an amazing way to inspire you and help elevate your understanding of our ecosystem.

We cannot forget that so much of our industry is based on connections. We live in a world where people change jobs every few years, moving between vendor, agencies, clients, and so on. It can never be a bad thing to meet more likeminded people, and how better to do so than with a beer in your hand?

To find out more or RSVP for the next event on 26th October, visit Unleashed on Facebook.

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