Where would BnBC be without a team? Nowhere. That’s equivalent to asking where we would be without our mothers. The answer? Non-existent. It’s a fact – an agency is really “nothing more than a team”, as quoted by Benjamin Ng (or Ben, as we know him by), the founder of BnBC. Being a seasoned player in the industry, Ben has a large ration of knowledge that many have yet to conquer and with a creative team hard at work behind his office doors, he sits contently monitoring the progress of his own success story, BnBC.
14 years, is the number Ben has been powering BnBC into the agency it is today. With one man’s determination, the agency is now fuelled with a closely-knit creative team because just like any other firm, success is moulded by the creative forces and the brains behind the operations who work tirelessly to push beyond boundaries.
However, building a team is not without its hardships. It’s definitely not “a bed of roses” he says adding, “We’re quite stringent in getting the right people. Finding the right talent, it’s quite a challenge in a way.” Having had his own fair share of ups and downs, he’s managed to secure a pretty solid team, “Rivalry is really out of the picture, so what we can do is really concentrate on the job itself,” he states. “We do not have any products; our creativity and our work itself is our product.”
Having first dipped his toes in the competitive pool of advertising with McCann Erickson – an international pioneer in the industry – it grew his love for the business even more. “My forte is actually handling cigarette clients; I started off with Salem [cigarettes] in McCann Erickson, where I was in the pitch team and then I moved to PB&F and spent five years handling Dunhill [cigarettes],” he recalls.
But what actually drove him to open his own agency? Passion. Friends started asking him to open his own agency and so, he did. “I had the experience and had the promise of clients. So, without hesitating or doing more research, that started the first BnBC,” he says. But what began as a small local startup has now turned into a full force advertising agency, landing prominent local and international clients parked right under his name.
“I like designing new things and seeing different adverts. It’s more of an aesthetic reason,” he replies when asked what sparked his interest for the field. But advertising as we all know, is more than just eye-catching photos and smart copywriting. “When I started growing in the industry and studied it, it took another tangent, which is more on strategy and the interest on concepts,” he recalls. As for what fuelled him even further? The excitement as he answers: “I think there’s a certain joy in the pace of advertising that makes the adrenaline pump up.”
One of the most prominent accomplishments that BnBC has secured is being the only agency in Asia to work on the highly publicised Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. Undoubtedly proud of the milestone, he says “They can very well afford any other agency in the world, but why BnBC? I think it says a lot already.” For Qatar’s bid, it was having to conceptualise over 800 merchandising items among other above-the-line and below-the-line communications. This however, isn’t the first international client that his agency has won over, as the opening door was with the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha. Nowadays, working with international clients is a norm.
But beyond the triumphs, advertising surely is a fast-paced industry. With deadlines and managing tough clients, one has to “love what you do,” to flourish he says. What we’ve learned from him is that time management is imperative; otherwise things could easily fall apart. “It’s always the deadline, it seems impossible at the start but then again, you always get through,” and if you can’t keep up well, “join the bank,” he smiles.
With the years that BnBC has been in the business and the impressive clientele, you’d expect us to be a part of 4As, but we’re not. “We’ve been around for 14 years and with the number of clients that we have handled, we’re definitely qualified,” he says before stating, “But does being a 4A agency necessarily make us a better agency? I do not think so.” Some may argue on this stance but he stands firm with his words. Realistically, it is somewhat the truth – being accredited under an organisation as such doesn’t necessarily make you the better than the ones that are not.
Indeed a wise and strategic man, another one of his quotes that always has us pondering is, “There are only seven ideas in the world”, which he says is “an encouragement to the team that ideas are recycled.” Basically, over the years that he’s been in the business, he finds that there are no new ideas saying, “It’s almost impossible to come up with new ideas, because every other possibility has been done.”
To justify his belief he tells, “Once in a blue moon, you might have someone that comes up with fantastic stuff, but to me, it’s still the same idea,” as he offers examples such as, “Tyres are round, black and made up of rubber, but do people stop inventing tires?” You’re probably agreeing with him this moment because without tyres, there would be no cars. So, definitely not, people do not stop inventing tyres because every year manufacturers come up with new technology, better grips and better tyres. The message he’s conveying is that, ideas are just elevated from ideas that were made decades ago. “The limitation is there, but it’s how far you want to push,” he says. See, it’s these types of thoughts that have compelled the agency to where it is today.
Though he’s secured BnBC as a contender in the industry, he’s still got quite a journey ahead, hoping that BnBC will be the agency for the 2022 World Cup team. “Our feet are already in with a successful bid for Qatar, so hopefully we’ll be part of the World Cup team.” And with his relaxed manner, you can tell he’s already having that planned. Watch out, world.