Although the work of London-based advertising producer Susie Liu entails an overwhelming list of responsibilities, with the majority of them being logistical, Liu is actually an artist at heart—and that is what makes her so good at her job.
A visual person herself, Liu knows how to produce captivating ad material that excites viewers; and her work on campaigns for massive companies like an American multinational technology company, HSBC, HTC and Nokia prove it.
The now incredibly successful producer began her career as a graphic designer and digital artist working for major advertising firms like Saatchi & Saatchi (Sectorlight), and brand and communications agency, The Team.
Liu’s artistic prowess was undeniable, and she immersed herself in every aspect of the work of a digital creative in the advertising industry. In addition to being a creative visionary in digital advertising, Liu’s capacity as a leader was immediately recognized; and thanks to her exceptional ability to manage large projects, she soon found herself in the role of advertising producer.
Over the course of her 15-year career, Susie Liu has helped produce an extensive list of advertising campaigns and branding strategies for developments in the real estate sector, one that will probably be most recognizable to American viewers is the One World Trade Center, the main building of the new World Trade Center complex in Manhattan.
To find out more about the work of advertising producer Susie Liu make sure to check out our interview below, and pay a visit to her website: www.susieliu.info
PLM: Where are you from?
SL: I was born in Stirling, Scotland and moved to London where I’ve lived for the past 20 years.
PLM: Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing, and if you had any experiences early on that helped you realize that graphic design was the career for you?
SL: At a young age, I always gravitated towards anything visual or creative. At school, I enjoyed classes such as art, design, technical drawing and woodwork rather than the more academic lessons. As I grew up, I enjoyed spending time in my own company, drawing on paper and eventually drawing on the computer. I looked at ways to improve magazine articles/advertisements and change the style to my own liking by recreating visuals on the computer.
PLM: How long have you been working as a graphic designer, and how did you get started in the field?
SL: I enrolled in Kingston College of Art & Design in 1996, studying Graphic Design part-time over 3 years. While doing my studies, I worked for a small graphic design agency as a PA administrator, where over the course of the 2 years, I was exposed to graphic design. When I finished my studies, and with the experience I gained from the company, I ended up in my first role at Saatchi & Saatchi (Sectorlight).
PLM: When did you make the transition to working as an advertising producer?
SL: I took my first design role at Saatchi & Saatchi (Sectorlight) as a Junior Designer, which exposed me to the technical aspects of design, allowing me to move into the role of a Senior Creative Artworker. Both of these roles finally led me to the role of advertising producer in 2004.
PLM: Can you describe what your work as an advertising producer includes from the biggest projects down to the smallest projects?
SL: It includes working within all areas of design, print production and localization; and you have to have an excellent understanding of briefs from Digital, Creative, Below the Line and Above the Line Advertising. You have to be used to working in stressful, fast paced environments, to tight deadlines, with the ability to multi-task and self manage projects across multi-discipline campaigns. You are responsible for the organizational aspects of production, scheduling and budgeting, and you have to proactively and regularly update account teams on a project’s status, timing and any issues, as well as ensure the correct procedures are followed by your team. It is important to keep a tight rein on project progress from the initial brief through the final delivery and project evaluation. You are also responsible for quality control of all creative/studio/proofing work.
PLM: Wow, that is a pretty long list of responsibilities! Can you shed some light on how your background as a graphic designer has made you a better advertising producer?
SL: These dual skill sets have provided me with a better understanding of the whole design process. As a designer, you have the knowledge and background to implement the client’s needs. This has helped me in the role of advertising producer, as you can be involved with the design team at the early stages to make sure the clients needs are considered and can manage the work due to the understanding of design in the time frame given.
PLM: Generally, what kinds of companies have you designed campaigns for the most over the course of your career?
SL: Real Estate, Technology, Retail.
PLM: Why are you passionate about your work?
SL: I love problem solving and finding solutions. It’s exciting to work for clients and people I feel passionate about and being able to deliver a great piece of work that inspires and meets their expectations. Being involved with a project from the start and seeing it progress through the stages to the final product is an incredible feeling.
PLM: What are your strengths in the field, what separates you from the rest?
SL: Having the design background provides me with the ideas and visual understanding of how something should look and feel and the role of a Creative Artworker gives you the technical skill set to create it. These two areas have given me the understanding of the whole process from the beginning to the end.
PLM: What do you think the most important characteristics for an advertising producer to have are if they wish to be successful?
SL: The most important qualities for an advertising producer are: organization, hands on, highly motivated and strong interpersonal skills. All of these qualities combine to make a reliable leader and team player. Having a methodical approach to your work and being able to manage your time effectively, as well as everyone else’s, is incredibly important. In order to be successful in this profession a person also needs to be extremely focused, a good problem solver, offer high quality execution skills, a calm approach under pressure and pay attention to detail.
PLM: Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve done over the years?
SL: Through Wordsearch I worked as the advertising producer of the global launch of a 42-acre new regeneration development for Battersea Power Station, London, one of London’s most iconic structures. The project included some of the world’s leading architects, Foster + Partners and Frank Gehry, and developers, SP Setia and Sime Darby, to transform the iconic power station into a large multi complex development.
This campaign was worked on by a team of designers, art directors, project managers and myself as the advertising producer, which involved me working on the creative art working as well as managing the production of the work. We produced icon brochures, apartment brochures, marketing suites, exhibition stands, and a quarterly magazine that kept everyone up to date on the progress of the development, as well as the advertising material that was distributed to the public.
The client provided the timings on deliverables and the required expectations; and it was my role to organize and ascertain from the briefs how long each element would take to execute and deliver in a timely manner. Needless to say, in order to deliver it was imperative to be organized and have a structure from the start, as is the case with every large project.
Through Wordsearch I also worked as the advertising producer for Masdar City, a 6 square kilometer eco-city in Abu Dhabi, designed by Foster + Partners, which relies on solar and renewable energy sources. Its aim is to be a hub for clean tech companies and it has a MIT partner campus on site, and so they hired us to adapt its existing brand and produce series of printed and digital marketing literature to entice people into this new, not yet built city. Over a period of 2 years, the requirements were to design and produce magazines, brochures, advertising, leaflets, internal forms, point of sale, exhibition stands/space (WFES), marketing suites, banners, computer generated images and a website. The idea was to entice people and investors into this eco-city by demonstrating what it had to offer and how it would look when the city would be finished.
I’ve worked on a lot of projects through Wordsearch, some of the other’s include the launch of The Shard, one of the newest 95-storey skyscrapers in London, and the launch of the One World Trade Center, the main building of the new World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, which is also the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.
Through Saatchi & Saatchi TFG (Sectorlight) I worked as the advertising producer of the Canary Wharf branding campaign, which helped establish this new development as one of the world’s leading financial districts.
Through Hogarth Worldwide I worked as the advertising producer for a localized campaign for HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, the largest and most widely represented international bank in the Middle East. We produced an ongoing global campaign across a variety of markets and usages, including Publication and Press fulfillment, In-store, Out of Home. This included a variety of markets and languages, each with their own unique requirements. The majority of the work that we did for these campaigns was for the English and Arabic markets, which included UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Egypt.
Through Hogarth Worldwide I also worked as the advertising producer for HTC, London on the HTC One Phone. This was a global campaign that was rolled out to a very tight deadline and within strict security restrictions. Our job included the translation and localisation of all literature (in up to 40 languages), and creating a variety of advertisements, point of sale and signage.
PLM: What agencies/firms have you worked with and what was your role?
SL: For ZONE I stared out as a digital artist and moved up to the team lead before becoming the content advertising producer. For Hogarth Worldwide I was the content advertising producer and production team lead; for Wordsearch I was the advertising producer; for Saatchi & Saatchi (Sectorlight) I was a senior advertising producer, creative artworker and designer; for TS Designs I was a advertising producer and for S-Kape Design I was a advertising producer. I was also a senior creative artworker for FTI Consulting, Radley Yeldar, JWT, Burocreative and The Team.
PLM: What upcoming projects do you have?
SL: 181 Fremont. The initial work that I will be involved will be working on the artwork and production of residential brochures. The project will also involve the development of interactive presentation to create assets and components for the technical build, clean and prepare floor plan sheets for print, and retouching the final imagery for print and post production.