THE SWEETSHOP Asia: How a Love of Storytelling Is Transforming the Creative Landscape

22 June 2024

Written by

LBB Online

Regional Business Development Manager and Executive Producer at The Sweetshop Asia, Jenny Crabb, speaks to LBB’s Tom Loudon about navigating Bangkok's production hub, nurturing local talent, and the future of creative storytelling.

The Sweetshop

The Sweetshop's new regional business development manager for Asia, Jenny Crabb, brings a wealth of experience from broadcast TV and advertising to her new role in Bangkok.

She emphasises the value of collaboration and creativity in overcoming challenges like shrinking budgets and skyrocketing expectations, aiming to inspire and empower local talent.

Speaking with LBB, Jenny discusses the unique appeal of Thai production crews, the importance of leveraging both global and local talent, and her plans to make The Sweetshop a trendsetter in the dynamic Asian market.

LBB > With your extensive experience in broadcast TV and advertising, what motivated you to transition into your new role as executive producer and BDM for Asia at The Sweetshop?

Jenny > I mean, let’s be honest, a ton of factors drove that decision, not least of which was the opportunity to relocate to Bangkok to take up this new role – my lifelong wanderlust was definitely calling! After years of living in Asia and my experience working at the pointy end of production, it has given me a different perspective which I love to bring to the table. Working with our directors and agencies in a way that we are all bringing our best creative selves to the work. I love a good challenge; and this role gives me something to sink my teeth into. 

LBB > As you take on this pivotal position, what are your primary goals and objectives for driving growth and managing relationships across Asia for The Sweetshop?

Jenny > Sweetshop Asia finds itself in an enviable position in a highly competitive region. We can leverage the experience of our global network while adapting our approach to work for this market. Working closely with both our Sweetshop roster and a huge pool of premium global freelancers, we ensure we can match talent to creative. This year is about listening to the needs of agencies and clients and reflecting our high level of craft, flexibility, and capability back to the market to attract new opportunities.

LBB > Would you say you've always been a creative person, even as a child?

Jenny > I was always a creative child. I love design, photography, and writing, and I have had a lifelong passion for all things craft since falling in love with filmmaking after watching Jaws. Many years of working as an editor, plus directing shorts and documentary films in my downtime, have helped me hone my storytelling skills. My favourite way to be creative is through collaboration with like-minded people, and I like to develop a creative and logistical shorthand with my team for maximum efficiency.

LBB > How do you leverage your diverse background in broadcast, TVC production, and directing award-winning shorts to enhance The Sweetshop's creative capabilities and directing roster?

Jenny > Good storytelling and craft are universal. Having worked across so many areas of the industry, I have a deep respect and understanding of what is required, along with a network of amazing creative and technical professionals to tap into. This helps me relate to directors in terms of what they ultimately need and want and find creative ways to problem-solve for the benefit of the client and the project as a whole.  

LBB > Could you share some insights into the unique challenges and opportunities you anticipate while spearheading creative projects and nurturing talent in Asia?

Jenny > It will come as no surprise that our biggest challenges are shrinking budgets and timelines alongside skyrocketing expectations placed on creativity and craft. Asia is also a particularly dynamic and fast-moving market used to working with various directors from across the globe. Our job is to matchmake the best international and local directors to each script, with an eye on creative chemistry and flexibility to keep the experience smooth and rewarding for all. We aim to work with and develop as much fresh local talent as possible and strive to make Sweetshop a tastemaker within the region, spotting trends early.

LBB > Bangkok has become a sought-after hub for The Sweetshop. What factors contribute to the city's appeal as a production hub, and how do you plan to capitalise on this for the company's benefit?

Jenny > If you know, you know. Thai crews are highly skilled, passionate and hardworking - absolutely world-class. Their love and respect for filmmaking means they are fiercely proud of their industry, so you know you will get the best from your teams on every project. Being centrally located within one of the biggest regional markets in the world, we also have access to cutting-edge tech, with new studios and facilities springing up all the time and a wide range of clients and creatives.  Bangkok's affordability and progressive social culture also mean directors, agencies, and clients love to work here as it is reliably safe and fun.  And of course - the street food!

LBB > Given your recent experience judging at SPIKES and interacting with creative talents, what trends for emerging themes did you observe in the Asian creative landscape, and how do you plan to integrate these insights into your new role?

Jenny > Having grown up in Asia, I strongly appreciate the subtleties and nuances of the diverse cultures here. I was delighted to see that each of the countries repped within the Spikes Asia region (from Australia to Singapore, India to Japan) seems to have leaned into a focus on local mood, tone and storytelling. This, rather than a generic, homogenised view of advertising which lumps the region into limited audience stereotypes, means each local market has its own cultural voice - allowing a really exciting mix of points of view - from heart-wrenching to laugh-out-loud funny. So for me, it’s about seeking out and championing the best local talent in the region, something I am really excited about.

LBB > With the establishment of The Sweetshop's Asia office in Bangkok, how do you envision the office evolving under your leadership in the next few years?

Jenny > The most important thing for me in this first year is setting our team culture so we know what we are all trying to achieve and how we plan to do it. Advertising is a tough and relentless vocation that can be very demanding on time and brain cells. We love our jobs and feel lucky to get to work in such a dynamic work environment, so it is crucial that we not only work hard but also support one another’s growth and well-being. 

Additionally, as an office, we are continually hunting for quality local directors to suit a range of regional creative and budget requirements. We want agencies to come to us early and often so we can be part of the solution and a trusted partner in all things production.

We also have some exciting announcements about our AI offerings coming soon, so stay tuned! 

LBB > What excites you the most about working in Asia's dynamic and diverse creative industry, and how do you plan to harness this energy to drive innovation and excellence at The Sweetshop?

Jenny > Asia's creative scene endlessly excites us, and as a base for our new office Bangkok is a wonderful city, equal parts gritty and polished. Thai people are famously spirited and generous, and you are immersed in authentic culture everywhere you look.  Sweetshop was built upon the love of storytelling, and our task is to harness this with agility so we can step into our next chapter here in Thailand.

LBB > As you embark on this new chapter with The Sweetshop, what advice would you give to aspiring producers and directors looking to make their mark in the industry, especially in the vibrant landscape of Asia?

Jenny > Hard work is a given, but so is the fun. You can thrive here if you can stay nimble and creative throughout the process.