Suthon Petchsuwan, Matching Studio/Thomas Winter Cooke

By Published on .

Suthon Petchsuwan has risen through the ranks of Thailand's ad industry to become one of the world's most-awarded directors. "Everyone here wants to work with him because they want to have successful ads," says Thirasak Tanapatanakul Bangkok-based ECD at Creative Juice/G1, part of Omnicom's TBWA Worldwide network. "He's a godfather of human insight. He looks serious on the outside, but he's so damn funny inside, it's a very rare mixture within one person."

After ten years on the agency side, where he worked his way up to a CD role at SSC&B Lintas, Bangkok, in 1993 Petchsuwan launched his directing career at Matching Studio, Thailand's largest production company. He first attracted international attention in 1997, with a funny, fast-paced, chase spot for Black Cat Whisky, about a Mob boss trying to collect on a loan. Created out of BBDO Worldwide, the spot not only earned him international attention as a finalist in the London International Advertising Awards, but it has also been credited with starting a new Thai advertising trend of entertaining, comical nd often bizarre work.

Petchsuwan's work ranges from such outrageous comedy to poignant storytelling, like on a recent ad for Twin Lotus Herbal Toothpaste, out of Ongoing, Bangkok, an Asia Pacific Advertising Festival Gold winner that confronts social stereotypes with a moving story about a black man who attempts to help an Asian girl retrieve a balloon.

Apart from shunning "typical Hollywood style-ads," Petchsuwan denies having one particular style. "I don't actually have any directing skills. I just feel and know how something should come out before I start to shoot. I just do what the brief demands." But he does focus heavily on pre-production. "I typically spend much more time working the script and developing the idea before the shoot. It's the preliminaries that are most important to my process."

His personal favorites are winners from last year's Cannes festival, for Uni-President's Unif Green Tea, created by Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, and Soken Electronics for Euro RSCG Flagship in Bangkok, "because they are universally understandable and accepted by the consumer." The Unif series, for example, feature cunning green caterpillars who hilariously try to outfox anyone blocking their path to the best tea leaves.

As for his arrival in the U.S., "One of the things that impressed me was how well his work translates," observes Mark Thomas, EP at Thomas Winter Cooke, which represents him in the U.S. "His spots would play just as well for American viewers as they do for Asian audiences and cut across cultures." But Stateside work is just the next step of his burgeoning career. "I want to work with great creative directors around the world, not just in America," says Petchsuwan.

Most Popular