PETALING JAYA: Harmandar Singh, or Ham, was a junior copywriter-cum-errand boy when he hammered a headline in simply over 20 seconds throughout an interview in a bar.
The boss of a high promoting company, Stephen Bong, wished a one-word headline for the perfect cigarette lighter, and in a flick, Ham stated, “matchless”.
Possibly it was the drinks, as recommended in his biography, “The First E book of Ham”.
Or maybe it was simply an illustration of Ham’s inventive wit and grasp of the English language.
Everybody on the Lengthy Bar of the Royal Selangor Membership sobered immediately, and Bong’s booming and boisterous voice fell silent.
Bong raced after Ham as he left the bar, selecting to stay with McCann-Erickson, the place he was employed in a case of being mistaken for his lifelong good friend Malkeet Singh.
McCann-Erickson had thought they have been hiring Malkeet, a contemporary copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, as each the boys, companions in mischief, wore a turban.
Malkeet had inspired Ham to maneuver on from being a bartender and occasional 12-string pub folk-rock singer into the world of copywriting.
But it surely wasn’t what the lad from the iron ore mining city of Bukit Besi, Dungun in Terengganu, had anticipated as a RM250 a month inventive assistant.
He needed to function a cumbersome 35mm projector and make espresso, principally hanging round, volunteering snappy headlines to anybody who would hear.
In 4 months, there was an exodus of inventive employees who adopted their boss, John Lane, to a brand new unbiased company.
The inventive coronary heart of McCann-Erickson was decreased to 2 artwork administrators, Spencer Wing and Dick Yap, with Ham within the center.
There have been about 50 adverts to be accomplished, and the three guys ploughed by the workload, spending 24 hours a day within the workplace.
The consequence was spotless, they usually pulled the company again onto the highest of the heap from what was a possible catastrophe.
Inside two weeks, Ham turned a senior author on a princely month-to-month wage of RM3,000, and there was no stopping him.
At his first business awards, Ham, who as soon as acquired demoted to a decrease class for answering ‘yup” as an alternative of “sure” to the headmaster, had his title on over 20 prizes.
Ham had made it to the A-list of Malaysian inventive expertise for his work, together with for Coca-Cola, Gillette and Kodak.
“When Malkeet came visiting to congratulate us, my boss did a double-take however it was too late to eliminate me,” stated Ham.
The late Lim Kok Wing, who had months earlier denied Ham a job, had a change of coronary heart and supplied him a place together with his flourishing Wings Inventive Consultancy. Ham ignored him.
Rocker to elite copy creator
“The First E book of Ham”, by Paul Loosley is chock-full of private tales – some unhappy, some humorous – and intrigues within the promoting business.
Any bold particular person can use the visionary takeaways within the guide to turbocharge their profession.
The biography depicts Ham’s regular rise as an elite copy creator within the fiercely aggressive world of admen.
He had achieved success after struggling as a cement manufacturing facility employee blowing up limestone, fast-food worker, barman, pub singer, someday member of rock band Zachariah Sprint, and an errand boy.
Loosley describes Ham as an “wonderful testimony to sheer grit, resilience, and perseverance” and “just like the proverbial duck, seemingly calm and serene on the floor however paddling away like mad down beneath.”
Ham’s parables primarily based on curiosity, tenacity and good instincts, at occasions amid emotional ache, paint him like a charismatic mentor rooting for the success of underdogs.
Briton Loosley has identified Ham for about 33 years throughout his 45 years in Asia as inventive director of native and regional promoting companies, and as director of tv commercials.
Within the preface, he wrote Ham laughs just like the animated canine Muttley within the Nineteen Sixties American TV cartoon present Dastardly and Muttley, and “is just about the personification of the widespread definition of Sikh friendliness.”
Ham, 65, is probably the most well-known Punjabi within the Malaysian promoting and communication society at the moment.
He modestly credit considered one of his heroes, the late Daljindra Singh Dogra (Del) as the primary Sikh promoting icon within the nation.
He stated the six-footer Del drove a Porsche, rode a Triumph bike, and was identified for good headlines for manufacturers like Toyota and F&N Zapple whereas working at J Walter Thompson, Naga and Idris Pawanchik.
Del’s demise from a mind tumour simply after his fortieth birthday in 1986 crushed Ham, although not as devastating when, aged 14, his 32-year-old mom was killed in a automobile crash.
Dropping his mom after which seeing his distraught father consumed by alcoholism modified his outlook on life and the battles that he confronted alongside the way in which.
Chak Dey Fathey! (Nothing is insurmountable)
Ham recalled saving the Proton Satria launch storyboard by Suhaimi Saadun from the trash bin after the inventive director dumped it within the Nineteen Nineties.
He stated: “I used to be a part of the marketing campaign after I labored as a contract inventive, not in an enormous company. The one significant function I performed was to defend the concept from dying.”
Ham stated he and Malkeet bought it to the shopper and Loosley shot the award-winning work to the delight of then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He has amassed so many awards that he has misplaced rely. As a inventive director, he developed over 400 tv commercials (TVCs) and picked up quite a few awards for them.
His creativity and dedication earned him recognition and respect on his secondment to McCann’s places of work in London, Manila, New York and Singapore.
Armed with newfound data and contemporary views, he returned to Malaysia with a renewed vigour.
True to his pursuit of excellence, Ham based the Sledgehammer Institute upon his return to nurture younger abilities in promoting.
For his contribution to training, he was awarded the inaugural chairman’s award by the Affiliation of Accredited Promoting Brokers (4As).
Why sledgehammer? “The fearlessness of the inventive group, led by my former boss, the late Bruce Bendrey, to make displays is evoked by the phrase, sledgehammer.”
Sledgehammer later turned his pen-name within the weekly columns he wrote for The Star for over eight years, and for his communications firm that publishes the Advertising journal.
At the moment, he’s an adjunct professor, writer, coach extraordinaire, mentor, columnist, humanitarian, and a doting husband and father.