#BehindtheSelfie with... Michelle Beh

This week, we go behind the selfie with Michelle Beh, MD and strategy director at the Jupiter Drawing Room, Cape Town and panel moderator at the IAB SA's most recent Insight Series event.
Beh says, “I hate selfies, so I hope the single patch of grass in the background doesn't disappoint!"

1. Where do you live, work and play?


Live: The ‘burbs, behind the mountain.
Work: In the middle of Cape Town’s city centre.
Play: The many mountains, beaches, parks and markets of Cape Town.

2. What’s your claim to fame?


Does singing on the bar, off-tune to an audience of 20 drunkards count?

3. Describe your career so far.


I am a die-hard believer of strategically driven creative-thinking. Now more than ever, businesses need to think emotionally, not just rationally to win in this very competitive world.

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After 20 years in the industry, both on the agency and client side, in Asia Pacific and South Africa, I have launched brands globally, regionally and locally; I have helped brands build their digital presence; I have run countless tactical promotions to drive immediate results; I have conducted multiple workshops; I have celebrated many brand successes and, at the same time, cried over many failures and failed attempts.
Some of the brands I've worked on include BMW, Burger King, Citibank, Development Bank of Singapore, Great Eastern Life Assurance, Heineken, HP, Hyundai, Nokia, Old Mutual Wealth and Asset Management, Pernod Ricard SA (Jameson, Chivas Regal, Absolut and Malibu), Sasko, Singapore Telecommunications, Singapore Tourism Board, Unilever, Windhoek Beer and Zurich Insurance.

4. Tell us a few of your favourite things.


Morning cuddles with my kids. Sundowners at Bakoven. The rare dinner date at a new restaurant with my favourite man, when we can find time. The Jupiter team right now.

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5. What do you love about your industry?


The opportunity to combine creativity and business. The mixed bag of people. The energy and sometimes the craziness.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.


It starts off with a mad rush of trying to get the kids to school on time, then a coffee in the office to calm down before the madness of the day starts, which usually includes meetings with clients, reviews with the team, some thinking time for the client and for our business, sometimes new business meetings, and putting together proposals. No, there isn’t an average day!

7. What are the tools of your trade?


Interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. It’s a people business.

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8. Who is getting it right in your industry?


Probably Wieden + Kennedy, for their continuous amazing work on Nike, Bud Light and Old Spice that connects emotionally, no matter where or who you are. They’ve managed to not be boxed in as a traditional or digital agency, but as a creative agency that is relevant, no matter what the channels are.
RG/A is the other agency I watch closely. It’s amazing how they just keep changing and transforming to stay ahead of the game.

9. List a few pain points the industry can improve on.


We don’t do what we do for our clients, for ourselves! As advertising agencies, we are so bad at advertising ourselves.

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10. What are you working on right now?

  • Defining our business’ mid- to long-term vision and developing the strategy to get there.
  • Building a framework to help our clients combine emotional marketing and business/product differentiation, long-term strategy and short-term tactics, as well as a campaign-tracking dashboard.
  • Looking for funding to launch a programme that will help low-income parents focus on early childhood education development that will create impact in their children’s lives.

11. Tell us some of the buzzwords floating around in your industry at the moment, and some of the catchphrases you utter yourself.


Customer experience. Chatbots. Influencer marketing. Big data. AI. Brand purpose. Brand purpose. Brand purpose.

12. Where and when do you have your best ideas?


In the car, when I’m stuck in traffic. When I’m about to fall asleep and then I have to wake up and jot the idea down so I don’t forget it.


13. What’s your secret talent/party trick?


I actually play the piano and saxophone, but so badly that I don’t usually tell anyone!

14. Are you a technophobe or a technophile?


Neither. It really depends on whether the new tech meet my needs. If it helps me with my life, then I’ll be the first to get it. But I guess a 15-year-old would say I’m a technophobe.

15. What would we find if we scrolled through your phone?


Food porn. Home décor. Yoga poses.

16. What advice would you give to newbies hoping to crack into the industry?


Don’t be afraid to have a point of view and voice it!

Simple as that. Follow Beh on LinkedIn; and visit the Jupiter Drawing Room’s press office, as well as their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds for the latest updates.

*Interviewed by Leigh Andrews.
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About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. She's also on the Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, was an #Inspiring50 2018 nominee, and can be reached at ...
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