As a strategist, Cai Yu understands how a good brief leading to effective designs can uplift ad performance. She shares with us her experience freelancing with the ReFUEl4 team as a strategist.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself? Your professional background as well as your personal life that gives us an insight of you as a strategist and person. What makes you tick?
CY: I’ve always embraced creativity, in both the artistic and analytical sense. Little known fact – I took Art when I was in junior and senior high, and briefly contemplated continuing with it in college, but alas, the pragmatic person in me decided on the safe(r) choice of business school instead. Not to say that was a poor choice; my double major in Marketing and Corporate Communication showed me that creativity extended beyond paint on a canvas or ink on paper. It could, in fact, be exercised through clever problem-solving.
I’d like to think this balance of left and right brain thinking has benefitted my 4+ years in advertising working on brand, communication and social strategy; first in a global social media agency (of which I was the first employee of that office), followed by a stint in a large network creative agency. The combination of macro perspective and attention to detail has helped me approach not just brand strategy, but the entire process from investigation to ideation to execution, in a more holistic manner.
2. What made you become a strategist?
CY: My path to strategy was a result of social serendipity. I was in my last semester of college, had created a wiki page collating interesting statistics about the digital, social and mobile landscape in Indonesia (its startup and social scene was booming in 2011), and was promoting our team project with an infographic and animated video on Twitter. In addition to being featured in a tech publication and receiving an internship love note from a Director at Ogilvy, a Planner at BBH found me.
He asked me to join him when he started his own social media agency, and after a few months of taking on everything (yep, startup life) – research, content development, community management, new business – we both realised strategy was inherent in all aspects of my work, and my role as a strategist was naturally formalised.
As a strategist, I don’t aspire to change the world, or make it a better place. It would be both naive and self-important for me to think I could. What fascinates me is the investigation and dissection of human behaviour (my own included). By understanding what shapes people’s perspectives and informs their actions, I can be an interpreter of sorts between brand and consumer, by defining and communicating the value a brand can add to a person’s life by resolving said person’s desires or needs.
3. Why did you choose to become a freelancer? What were you looking for? The reasons you were looking?
CY: The winds of fate blew and transported me to San Francisco. Freelancing with ReFUEL4 has enabled me to continue working on strategy while I familiarise myself with SF’s ad scene and explore opportunities here.
4.How did you discover RF4? What compelled you to start working with us?
CY: Six degrees of separation – the founder of ReFUEL4 was someone my sister, who also works in advertising, had previously worked with, and she made the introduction. Having worked on creating Facebook ads for clients previously, I was curious to see how much more efficient and effective the process and output could be with ReFUEL4’s model.
At ReFUEL4, from my first brief, I felt that uploading my designs was an accomplishment. I had submitted my work and there was a very good chance, it was going to be selected. I wasn’t going to have to downgrade my value to get seen or spend time resubmitting bids. I could just design and that is what I want to do.
5. What has been the experience of working with RF4?
CY: I enjoy the breadth of clients, the variety of briefs, and the creative challenge of working within ad format boundaries. There’s also a great line of communication between the Customer Success Managers and myself.
6. What can we do to make your experience with RF4 more fulfilling? How can we grow together?
CY: Continue wooing a mix of clients. SMBs will definitely benefit more since it’s not as economical for them to engage a full-service agency, but larger clients (and larger budgets) may offer greater opportunities to push the boundaries of performance marketing. Imagine testing the permutations of 4 ad formats x 10 audience psychographics x 5 messaging x 3 creative directions. I can’t yet decide whether that will be a strategist’s nightmare or dream.