Chandra Wijaya Tan


Sharp is his pencil and modest are his words: ‘I don’t brag unless it’s mandatory.’ With his head in the clouds, Chandra Wijaya Tan is about to graduate in Advertising at the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has work experience at Y&R Jakarta and does freelancing (although he says this is the advertising term of being unemployed).

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Who I am: Just a person who tries to do good things and make a difference in everything I do.

What I do: Been interning in Y&R Jakarta as a Copywriter. Prior to that, I’ve been submitting essays for competitions. Despite not particularly good at it, I enjoyed the thrill of debating and later found myself more suited to adjudicating debates. These valuable experiences helped me to define my writing style.

What do you enjoy most about working in advertising?
The unpredictability. You never knew what kind of work awaits you, how your idea will be received, or even how long will you stay in one place. Now this may sound ridiculous, but I believe that people yearn for a bit of chaos to spice up their otherwise dull lives. Some get their dose from alcohols or weeds; I get mine from all the possibilities this creative industry has to offer.

Can you describe advertising in Indonesia?
Being one of the largest tobacco markets in the world, expect plenty of tobacco advertisements in Indonesia. Celebrity endorsement is also very popular, at times overshadowing the advertised product. Using catchy phrases highly increases the probability that people will talk about your advertisement, as they love to make jokes out of them.

For you, what makes a good advertisement?
A good advertisement fulfills its intended purpose. Beyond that, it’s a great one.

Can one learn copywriting, or do you simply have to be born with talent for it?
Talent is never a substitute for hard work. Read more than the average person, revise until you feel satisfied with your work; you’ll eventually get better. Then you might start to hear people praising the talent you never knew you had before.

Is long copy really dead?
Honestly, I am not so sure. Is long copy dead when people stopped reading them, or when people stopped writing them?

And last, what’s the best advice you can give to students around the world, who are pursuing a career in advertising?
Hang an inspirational quote on your wall.