Lim Sau Hoong

10AM Communications Pte Ltd, Singapore

Picture a vast blue sky with moving clouds and below, a field of emerald green. Then a parade of villagers dressed in vibrant jewel-toned costumes beaming with sheer joy and excitement as they paint their humble little abodes. With each stroke of the paint brush, they move rhythmically to the tune of an uplifting Mongolian folk song. This advertisement gave viewers a rare glimpse of village life in rural Mongolia and changed the way they perceive ordinary household paints forever. A strong combination of visual and musical artistry - perfected by none other than Lim Sau Hoong of 10AM Communications.

Sau Hoong holds an honours degree in Arts from the National University of Singapore and a Diploma in Education from the Institute of Education, majoring in Music. She began her career at Ogilvy & Mather Singapore. She had spent a total of 11 years working her way from junior Copywriter to Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai.

Following this, Sau Hoong took her stewardship to the BBDO network, where she served as both Executive Creative Director of the Singapore office and Creative Consultant for the network’s China arm.

In Oct 2000, Sau Hoong made her biggest move yet, starting a small shop with just ten colleagues. 10AM Communications, which Sau Hoong co-founded and remains Chief Executive Officer/Executive Creative Director of, has since burgeoned to a highly regarded full service agency of 25 professionals. 10AM’s reputation has lead to work for some of the world’s most reputable brands including McDonald's, CCTV, Sony Ericsson, Sony and CapitaLand.

Sau Hoong brought her Midas touch with her, creating many unforgettable commercials, many of which proved to be some of the region's most timeless and memorable work. These include: a picturesque piece for Nippon paint that was shot in Mongolia, a progressive campaign for Pidemco Land, Guinness 'Word of Wisdom' campaign that ran from 1989 to 1994 (featuring Hong Kong celebrity, George Lam), work for China’s national TV station, CCTV, Sony Ericsson 'Squirrel' commercial, and the Bank of China campaign that not only garnered over 70 international awards but also created an enduring brand image for the bank.

"Sau Hoong is a visionary in all aspects. Her uncanny ability to create and inspire isn't a skill one simply picks up from a curriculum. Rather, it's a combination of her innate artistry, her gift for grace and her unique ethos. And whilst her talent has touched many, few can fathom just what it is about Sau Hoong's work that lends itself such stirring emotional qualities," says Theseus Chan, Creative Director of WORK Advertising.

Sau Hoong was also the Project Studio Master of DesignSingapore's Studio project which culminated in an exhibition of seven designers and design-makers titled 'HYBRICITY:SINGAPORE', that made it an inaugural launch at the Singapore Seasons in Shanghai and Beijing in October 2007.

10AM Communications has earned recognitions from the D&AD, One Show, Clio, Asia TV Awards, Asia Media Awards and Cannes Lion. Sau Hoong herself had represented Singapore in judging Cannes, Clio, Times Asia Pacific Advertising Awards, the New York Advertising Festival, London International Advertising Awards, the International China Times Creative Awards, Asia-Pacific Media Awards, the Singapore Creative Circle Awards and many other international awards. Last year, she was invited to judge in the prestigious President Design Award in Singapore. And early this year, she was also voted as one of the Top 3 most influential person in media, marketing and advertising in Singapore.

10AM's very personal approach to brand building is what marks the agency from many other local firms and MNCs. Also, Sau Hoong and 10AM hold the same dream – to build a truly unique Singapore brand.

‘‘At some point in your life, you would absolutely have to let go of the safety (comforts) of school, of home, and of your last good work.’’

Insights from the Recipient

What does it mean to practise as a designer in Singapore?

To be honest, I see myself more as a creative than a traditional designer. From small things in my daily life to big projects, I've always believed that we should design not for design's safe. Rather, we need to make sure that our work makes sense. This is what I enjoy doing the most in my life . Being creative is part of my daily life and it forms part of my own personal identity.

As a designer, what will you never compromise on?

As a designer, the key role is to pay attention to details, and to never compromise on even the smallest aspect of whatever it is that I'm working on. I will never compromise on what I believe is right for the brand, and I'll do whatever I feel is right for the task.

Where do you want to see design in Singapore go?

My wish is for design in Singapore to be truly world-class. Hopefully, and this is my deepest wish, we can eventually develop our own uniquely Singaporean style, rather than copying and adapting from other nations and regions.


‘‘At some point in your life, you would absolutely have to let go of the safety (comforts) of school, of home, and of your last good work.’’

Jury Citation

As Creative Director, CEO and designer, Sau Hoong’s advertising portfolio covers many important Asian markets and is filled with great storytelling adventures. In a career, which spans from being a Creative Director for a multi-national agency to managing her own internationally renowned advertising agency, 10AM Communications in Singapore, she has created an impressive array of work for CCTV, Sony Ericsson, Nippon Paint, Bank of China and Sony.

Each advertising campaign captures the indigenous cultural spirit of the East and is imbued with pure, poetic compositions of lush images that move with hauntingly beautiful music. Sau Hoong's work resonates with a serene, sophisticated style that is unmistakably hers and stirs our inner most human emotions. She is a great ambassador for Singapore Design as exemplified by some of her work for China. Many of which have earned the reputation for most memorable television work of all time – making her a truly international storyteller.


Nominator Citation


Lim Sau Hoong first came to my attention for her work on Guinness. The campaign titled, Words of Wisdom, would put a waning Hong Kong star back into the spotlight, set Guinness taps running double time, and earn a parody from a popular Hong Kong flick – all these from a Singaporean writer, just barely a year into the business.

Not to be outdone by her younger self, Sau Hoong went on to create her 'Bank of China' campaign, which would prove to be one of the most memorable campaigns in China. But more that anything else, Sau Hoong's work for 'Bank of China' bespoke a new Asian sensibility. Yet her visual vocabulary and musical direction clearly pointed to someone with a wider international learning. We hear hints of Schubert’s cadence and catch compositions that nod to the woodcut of Japan’s Edo period. Taken together, Sau Hoong’s assured tapestry of language, light, colour, rhythm and message, signals a new direction for what makes for compelling communication. Before long, advertising coming out of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China began to bear hints of Sau Hoong's signature. Despite the deluge of 'me-toos' though, none bore the consistency and flair of Sau Hoong's original body of work. And every time you think she has done something truly ground-breaking, you can't help but think the best is yet to come.

Little wonder then that Sau Hoong's work has won the hearts of the foreign press and both regional and international award juries alike, including Cannes, the British Design & Art Direction club, the One Show, Clio, Communication Arts and the Asian Media Awards. These achievements are not what set Sau Hoong apart though. The accolades are but concomitants of her talent, ingenuity, and vision. It’s only natural then that her works are decorated as such. However, if awards were the only measure that merits one’s nomination, there’re others in the industry that qualify as well, to be sure.

No. Sau Hoong is a visionary in all aspects. Her uncanny ability to create and inspire isn't a skill one simply picks up from a curriculum. Rather, it’s a combination of her innate artistry, her gift for grace and her unique ethos. And whilst her talent has touched many, few can fathom just what it is about Sau Hoong’s work that lends itself such stirring emotional qualities.

Sau Hoong's inspiration is refreshing and her confidence, disarming. She's a truly rare and exceptional Singaporean who has put Singapore on the world’s creative map. It's therefore my sincerest believe that Lim Sau Hoong would be a worthy nominee for the President’s Design Award 2007. Isn’t it time Singapore recognises one of her prodigious daughters, whose contributions have helped steer the global creative community to recognise Singapore?