Q&A: Saharath Sawadatikom, Managing Director at CJ Worx

With the phenomenal success of ‘The Unusual Football Field’, CJ Worx has become of of Thailand’s most well-known agencies. Led by managing director, creative and partner,  Saharath Sawadatikom the agency has put together some of the great ad work flowing out of the Thai market.

Barbara Messer recently caught up with Sawadatikom to get his insights on how ‘The Unusual Football Field’ came to life, the launching last year of two new agencies and how to do a party right.

You won Thailand’s first Design Grand Prix at Cannes last year. Can you tell us the story of bringing The Unusual Football Field to life: what were the biggest hurdles?

Just winning Gold Cannes was already awesome, but winning Grand Prix was indescribable. The Unusual football field was the most unusual project that we ever did. We faced a lot of problems with people, community, time, weather and authority. The project started with “how to describe AP Thai brand’s idea”. “Think space” was the brief that needed to be translated into consumer language.

I try to break the norm of ads agency that I used to work with in the past.

The unusual football field project described how we turned unusable space into the usable one. This project tricked people to think more on their space and make the most use of it. It took 7 months to execute the project, to talk to several authorities for space approval, and to talk to nearby community for the agreement.

We waited several months for the rainy season to pass. We asked the production house to stay with us, and we tried to calm down clients to keep them hanging with us. Finally, it was worth the wait with 8 Grand Prix worldwide.

Last year, CJ Worx launched two new agencies: Rocket Cat and Submarine. Can you tell us why you launched these businesses and how they are doing?

We were so excited when clients ask us to find more people to serve them. We started with 11 people in 2011 and now we have reached 190 staffs with 5 companies. Rocket Cat and Submarine are our new creative agencies to serve more clients. They are located in the new separated building nearby. The two companies’ staffs are awards winning creatives with strategic planners, client service and social team.

You have over 400 advertising awards. But what is your proudest achievement?

The best one is absolutely 8 Grand Prix winners from “The unusual football field” This is the new form of idea that we describe as a new ad type that juries are looking for.  We did not create a work for award that do not give any benefits to client.

Joy is the key integration in life for us. I believe in hard working and doing things with passion, but joy will balance all those things out.

We are looking for a work that answers the brief, solves client’s problem for their business and finally we also achieve awards. These are the real proud that I am looking for.

I have heard that CJ Worx has the most serious parties in the industry and that the work “focuses on the joys of work and play”. Is ‘play’ an important part of your own creative process?

I try to break the norm of ads agency that I used to work with in the past. Other agencies host a party once or twice a year but we host parties bi-monthly, (it used to be monthly until we got bored and slowed it down).

Joy is the key integration in life for us. I believe in hard working and doing things with passion, but joy will balance all those things out. Actually, joy did not just come from the party but it should come from the way we live our life every day. We are the office that will not stay late. Most of our staffs leave around 7 P.M. while others agencies might stay until midnight. We are the agency that have the best outing in the industry i.e., Paris, Amsterdam. Our office design is one of the best that adds joy to our life.

What are your goals, personal or professional, for 2018?

We are independent agency and we do what we love. Last year, our goal was to pin our company in to the top awards ranking and luckily, we reach to the point we never thought of. This year, our goal is to expanding more companies and offer new services that others don’t.

You’re judging the Direct and Promo categories at AdFest 2018. Why do you enjoy judging these categories?

Direct and Promo are unique and they fascinate me since I was young. I grew up as an art director in Direct Marketing and I liked to earn awards in Direct. Direct is a small category in the big world of advertising it was segmented by intention.

It involved specific target with an idea. Promo is all about limited period of time with an idea. These two categories are different from any others. The challenge has increased since the introduction of digital marketing in the industry.