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They Call Him “Roy”

They Call Him “Roy”

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

March 25, 2019

Meet Maulana Sagala—aka Roy—a lead creative who knows how to create stories that connect with buyers in Indonesia.

"Indonesia’s population is young...making it one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the region."

Roy Sagala, Executive Creative Director at Havas Indonesia, shares how he got his nickname and what it takes to succeed in the Indonesian market.

So, why do people call you “Roy”?

My official name is Maulana Sagala…the nickname came from our neighbor back in Laos, Mrs. Townley. Her husband was a USAF pilot, missing in action in the Vietnam War, named Roy Townley. When I was born, she asked my parents to give me the nickname Roy because we share the same birthday.

How many languages do you speak?

Bahasa Indonesian, English, and German.

Which is your favorite, and why?

British English. It sounds very cool.

How would you describe the market of Indonesia?

The Indonesian market is quite different from other Southeast Asian countries; they’re mostly influenced by Chinese culture, while we are not so much. Indonesia’s population is young (nearly 60% of the population is under 30 years of age), growing, and rapidly urbanizing, making it one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the region.

What’s the best thing about creating stories in Jakarta?

Jakarta is a big and diverse city. Each corner of the street has its own unique character, history, and story. If you visit Jakarta, you’ll be facing one of the worst traffic jams in the world, but it also gives you an opportunity to meet new faces, to interact with people, to get through small streets, and to experience different stories of Jakarta every day.

How is storytelling in Indonesia similar to and different from other markets?

Indonesia and Thailand share a similar type of humor. The only differences are that our religion and culture require us to be more careful in telling our stories so they won’t offend others. Because of that, sensitive issues become taboo, or at least they have to be told from the more positive point of view.

"Through our work, we can encourage people to try new things, to take good care of themselves, and to become better."

What impact do you and your team hope to make on the community—both local and global?

I think the ability that creative people have to catch attention and persuade people is amazing, and it’s really a powerful tool. Through our work, we can encourage people to try new things, to take good care of themselves, and to become better.

What’s the best idea that you’ve ever had?

To replicate a flooded village as an art installation in front of the Indonesian Presidential Palace. It’s a campaign aimed to bring the government’s and people’s attention to the misery of the victims of Sidoarjo’s mudflow.

The worst?

We came out with an idea that gave an opportunity to date a celebrity as a promotional prize. It turned out consumers just wanted cash instead of that kind of experience. The sales went down, no matter what we did to save the promo campaign.

How’d you get your start in advertising?

I started as an intern in the accounts department at TBWA Düsseldorf.

Why Havas?

There’s a sense of freedom and entrepreneurial spirit at Havas that I didn’t experience in other networks.

How do you make stories that connect with people?

Engage in conversations with people, anybody from different social classes, to get valuable inspiration, from meaningless jokes to heartfelt life stories.

What, in your opinion, resonates with millennials and Generation Z?

Social media has changed everything. Their heroes now are no longer celebrities—they are social media influencers, Celebgrams, and YouTubers. It changed the way they find and interact with brands. What’s the secret to connecting with them? Don’t relate to the brands as we used to. Be authentic, be truthful, and be entertaining. Never think you can fool them…they’ll find out.

Your best advice for others?

Ensure whatever we produce can evoke emotion. It will get people’s attention, and probably, later on, will win their hearts.

"Indonesia’s population is young...making it one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the region."

Roy Sagala, Executive Creative Director at Havas Indonesia, shares how he got his nickname and what it takes to succeed in the Indonesian market.

So, why do people call you “Roy”?

My official name is Maulana Sagala…the nickname came from our neighbor back in Laos, Mrs. Townley. Her husband was a USAF pilot, missing in action in the Vietnam War, named Roy Townley. When I was born, she asked my parents to give me the nickname Roy because we share the same birthday.

How many languages do you speak?

Bahasa Indonesian, English, and German.

Which is your favorite, and why?

British English. It sounds very cool.

How would you describe the market of Indonesia?

The Indonesian market is quite different from other Southeast Asian countries; they’re mostly influenced by Chinese culture, while we are not so much. Indonesia’s population is young (nearly 60% of the population is under 30 years of age), growing, and rapidly urbanizing, making it one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the region.

What’s the best thing about creating stories in Jakarta?

Jakarta is a big and diverse city. Each corner of the street has its own unique character, history, and story. If you visit Jakarta, you’ll be facing one of the worst traffic jams in the world, but it also gives you an opportunity to meet new faces, to interact with people, to get through small streets, and to experience different stories of Jakarta every day.

How is storytelling in Indonesia similar to and different from other markets?

Indonesia and Thailand share a similar type of humor. The only differences are that our religion and culture require us to be more careful in telling our stories so they won’t offend others. Because of that, sensitive issues become taboo, or at least they have to be told from the more positive point of view.

"Through our work, we can encourage people to try new things, to take good care of themselves, and to become better."

What impact do you and your team hope to make on the community—both local and global?

I think the ability that creative people have to catch attention and persuade people is amazing, and it’s really a powerful tool. Through our work, we can encourage people to try new things, to take good care of themselves, and to become better.

What’s the best idea that you’ve ever had?

To replicate a flooded village as an art installation in front of the Indonesian Presidential Palace. It’s a campaign aimed to bring the government’s and people’s attention to the misery of the victims of Sidoarjo’s mudflow.

The worst?

We came out with an idea that gave an opportunity to date a celebrity as a promotional prize. It turned out consumers just wanted cash instead of that kind of experience. The sales went down, no matter what we did to save the promo campaign.

How’d you get your start in advertising?

I started as an intern in the accounts department at TBWA Düsseldorf.

Why Havas?

There’s a sense of freedom and entrepreneurial spirit at Havas that I didn’t experience in other networks.

How do you make stories that connect with people?

Engage in conversations with people, anybody from different social classes, to get valuable inspiration, from meaningless jokes to heartfelt life stories.

What, in your opinion, resonates with millennials and Generation Z?

Social media has changed everything. Their heroes now are no longer celebrities—they are social media influencers, Celebgrams, and YouTubers. It changed the way they find and interact with brands. What’s the secret to connecting with them? Don’t relate to the brands as we used to. Be authentic, be truthful, and be entertaining. Never think you can fool them…they’ll find out.

Your best advice for others?

Ensure whatever we produce can evoke emotion. It will get people’s attention, and probably, later on, will win their hearts.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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