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by Jia Ying Chia

With over 15 years of ad experience under his belt, Hamdi Matussin (better known as NJ) describes himself as an impassioned storyteller with a flair for simple, intellectual and thought-provoking ideas that solve the world’s usual, and occasionally unusual problems. After reaching the height of his career in Brunei with leading creative agency MixMedia, NJ took a leap of faith and a short plane ride to start fresh in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has since joined his dream agency to work for, Wunderman Thompson, as Creative Group Head for their Indonesia office. 

Q: You were described by peers as having an ‘unorthodox’ thought process — do you feel this is accurate and how does the creative thought process work for you in solving the client needs?

NJ: If that’s what they say, I won’t argue with that haha! I don’t have an elaborate thought process to be honest. But since every client or business problems varies, it definitely helps to understand the entire process of “selling an idea” rather than just the creative aspect. Everything from understanding the business problem, asking the hard questions, finding a killer insight, turning decks into works of art, and the power of persuasion without overselling. Don’t shy away from challenging the brief OR the client either, with respect. More often than not, clients will admire you for it. 


Q: In a world where hyder-connectivity and social media leave no stone unturned, are there really any original ideas left or is imitation still the best form of flattery?

NJ: That’s a good question, and the answer is yes for both. There are 2 words in advertising which no creative ever wants but NEEDS to hear; “Been done”. so that either means, tweak the copy or try a fresher visual approach, maybe base it off a different insight and repackage it to make it your own. Or scrap it and start over and make sure it hasn’t been done before. It’s longer route but if you’re lucky, you’ll strike gold and there’s really no greater feeling for a creative. 

Q: What’s been the most interesting developments for you in social media over the last two decades?

NJ:  It’s definitely been the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and how it’s been used in so many groundbreaking ways, like The Unfiltered History Tour by VICE World News which was an unofficial interactive tour of the British Museum’s disputed artifacts, secretly accessible through a dedicated Instagram AR filter, causing plenty of controversy and triggering important questions surrounding the ownership and return of these artifacts. the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for automation is also another interesting topic, especially in terms of art and creative writing, which many claim to be a growing threat. But that’s a conversation for another day!


Q: Thriving in the creative industry often relies on human connection and interaction — are you a secret introvert or real life of the party?

NJ: I’m a Gemini so it really depends on my mood. If I’m up for it, I can definitely get into the swing of things no matter what the occasion. But these days I enjoy a smaller, more intimate crowd, and that usually consist of my wife, my son Gaby, plus a few close friends. There’s always something new happening in Jakarta, so a normal day out usually involves going somewhere new, a whole lot of eating and drinking, usually capped off with a bit of grocery shopping! That never gets old. But I definitely am, haha!


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