AAPI Creative Spotlight: RPA's Bang Pham and Yama Rahyar Are Building a 'Human-Centric' Space

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The creative director team strikes a working balance that is highly collaborative and explorative

California-based RPA vps and creative directors Yama Rahyar and Bang Pham show that embracing differences while working toward shared beliefs can be a major part of what makes a partnership click. Their advertising origin stories couldn’t be more different.

For Pham, “It all started with a typeface: Futura Bold Oblique. As an art history undergrad, I was always drawn to the work of the conceptual artist Barbara Kruger. Her layouts were sharp and distinctive: black and white photography, a signature red palette and headlines always set in Futura Bold Oblique.”

“That was the spark,”he continued for Adweek’s AAPI Creative Spotlight, made in partnership with Asians in Advertising. “I knew that I wanted to develop branded creative that was easy to identify with a particular client and impossible to ignore in the marketplace.”

For Rahyar, it was a bit more needs-based. “I needed a job and it seemed like the least terrible option,” he shared candidly. “I wish I could say I thought it through more carefully than that. But I didn’t. I’m lucky it turned out to be such a good fit.”

When asked about their proudest work, each cited the development of RPA’s “People First” brand identity.  “I started at this agency as an intern. I experienced firsthand the difference that a culture makes—especially when that culture empowers the individual and elevates diverse voices, which RPA has always done,” said Pham. “I love that this spot captures the optimistic, collaborative, democratic spirit of this unique agency.”

“RPA is the first agency I’ve been part of where we devote adequate resources, and careful thought and attention, to what we stand for and how we express,” continued Rahyar.

“Let’s go for it”

On their ideal client: “My ideal client shares many of the qualities of my agency: curious, collaborative, human-centric and willing to try things that haven’t been done,” said Pham. “I love it when the agency says, ‘Let’s go for it.’ I’m always looking for client partners who can do the same.”

Meanwhile, Rahyar takes a more structural approach. “As creatives, we should want to apply our storytelling skills precisely where they are most needed,” he explained. “Creatives daydream about working on perfect and captivating brands. Why? The work is done already. Find a troubled brand and turn it around.”

On what they hope to accomplish in the next year: “I’d love to produce some work that employs Unreal Engine,” said Rahyar. “Out of all the things that are ‘hot’ right now in the industry, I have a feeling it’s the only one that anyone is still going to be talking about in five years.”

Meanwhile, Pham said, “After a record year where I was able to lead four successful new business pitches, I’d like to take my first international vacation in over two years. Not sure where yet!”