An interview with Craig Mapleston, Regional Director of VCCP Singapore.
In what ways does the city of Singapore inspire you?
Singapore sees opportunity in adversity. A swamp has become a global city. A lack of natural resources has become a hub of waste re-use. A small domestic market has become a regional powerhouse. That’s pretty inspiring.
Singapore is a hotspot for so many young talents and industry leaders. What has contributed to that?
In our industry, it’s been cyclical. In the early 2000s, Singapore was a hotspot for creative talent who have gone onto much bigger things. Dave Droga probably tops the list. But it has also spawned some pretty dark days of scam, which resulted in plenty of awards, but also an obsession with vacuous work. In the last few years, the better agencies have been getting back into work that makes a difference to clients. It’s not always high profile, but it’s helping to rebuild trust and attract good talent again. So when creative talent and tech leadership finally aligns, we’ll see the profile of creativity here receive more recognition.
The chance to work on regional and global work is one of the biggest attractions here. The Singapore domestic market is tiny and limited in its opportunities, but the established and emerging international businesses are all here, with their eyes firmly focused outside of Singapore. So, with that, agencies have a great mix of cultures, nationalities and outlooks. Both of these are a great drawcard for talent of all levels.
What is your favourite hidden-gem in Singapore?
This is a bit left-field, but the Chinese Swimming Club is my favourite hidden gem. It’s a non-pretentious sports club that mainly teaches kids to swim and hopefully unearths the next generation of swimming stars.
It might have taken Joseph Schooling to win Singapore’s first ever gold medal in the 2016 Olympics (beating Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly) to super-charge interest in the sport, but it’s brilliant to see so many Singaporean kids and parents embracing the sport. Some for potential fame. But most for pure enjoyment.
If you could change something about Singapore, what would it be?
Keeping the success-driven spirit, but embracing a few more passions outside of work. Most Singaporean kids are involved in music, arts and sports at an early age, but the drop off into adolescence and adulthood is enormous as other pressures kick in. It would be great to see these more expressive passions continuing for fun and personal development – not just to assess whether it’s a career option or not.