Young Gun: VMLY&R connections strategy lead Isaac Lai

17 October 2019

Our Young Gun profile takes a look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to VMLY&R connections strategy lead Isaac Lai.

Time in current role/time at the company:
Three and a half years.

How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the industry ever since I secured a paid freelance copywriting job to write about corsets way back in 2014. I’ve come a long way since I had to Google what a corset was (I Google other things now).

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
This wasn’t the explicit plan as the plan I shared with my parents was to either be a doctor or a lawyer but in my heart of hearts I knew I wanted to do something within the communications industry (preferably somewhere that allowed me to make as many puns as possible).

Who is your right hand person/who guides you day to day?
I’m incredibly lucky to have been influenced by some of the best strategists/planners/account service and creative folks in the industry. Even the guys who I don’t work with anymore are always willing to lend me an ear and a shoulder to cry on (big shout out to Dave Di Veroli, Scott Moore and Louise Peacock especially).

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
Every day, I get the chance to work with talented people across departments, industries and backgrounds and we can all throw our own fruits into a blender and create advertising smoothies. Some of them need a bit of extra love and sometimes we need to incorporate vegetables but it’s fun nonetheless.

And the biggest challenge?
Having to incorporate A LOT of vegetables in said smoothies.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
LeBron James can’t possible have that many years left in his legs, right?

Where do you turn for inspiration?
I’m a sucker for using basketball as an analogy to life so I always bust out old game tape of Michael Jordan and think that if he managed to score 38 points in the final with the flu, then I’ll definitely be able to put a presentation together the night before.

My favourite advert is:
SK-II put out an ad about the stigma that women face when they’re over 25 and still single. Watching the ad felt like someone had been secretly attending every family dinner I’ve been to since birth and used those observations to create a 'I’m nodding because it’s true’ ad.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’m writing a cookbook that absolutely no publisher wants to touch. The nerve!

In five years' time I'll be:
Way better at writing creative briefs, presentations and dealing with an even creakier back.

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