Be brave, be bold, and be kind. This is the refrain of Sai Tzy Horng, the youngest son of Su Chin Hock, the founder of Malaysian biscuit and snack manufacturer Julie’s Biscuits.
“I have always been a strong proponent of taking care of society and openness is important for corporations. We must embrace other ideas, perspectives, and ways of doing things,” says Sai, who splits his time between Singapore and Malaysia.
While spending 12 years in Canada, he did his master’s in educational psychology and helped Julie’s with marketing and corporate social responsibility projects. The brand is famous on both sides of the Causeway, and is sold in 80 countries, including Thailand, Australia and Mauritius.
In 2013, he took a decisive step to become Julie’s brand director. As a result, his mother asked him to write the story for the company’s rebranding exercise, which became a reality in 2017. The iconic logo of a blonde girl with pigtails posing for a passport photo received a modern makeover: she is smiling and glancing sideways, her hair blowing in the wind. She is also looking up with a sense of hope and anticipation of an adventure, both traits Sai wanted the brand to embody.
“During the rebranding process, there was a lot of soul-searching about who and what we were as a brand, and where we wanted to go. Our goal was to re-establish and develop engaging social conversations, and create meaningful advertisements,” the 41-year-old emphasises.
A number of projects, including The Best of You campaign, have reflected these beliefs by highlighting marginalised communities such as low-income families and migrant workers. Julie’s used to hold concerts in schools to instil empathy for these groups in children pre-Covid.
I will listen to opinions, but at some point, leadership can’t be a forever circle of consensus-building.Sai Tzy Horng
More recently, its Hari Raya ads challenged stereotypes about the role of women in society by using tongue-in-cheek humour. Sai muses: “I aspire to remain relevant. I love to push the envelope and have more progressive ideas.”
This boldness applies to new products, the details of which Sai is keeping under wraps. As for new flavours, he would only say they will gradually be released over the next few years, and they will be a “mix of heritage and the new”, such as the butter waffle cookies. They will also be designed based on occasion, like office pantry snacks or afterdinner desserts.
Despite having a good working relationship with his family, Sai admits that he had to be very cautious when he first joined the company since “tension is not good for business”. Yet he has been unapologetic about decisions he believes in.
“I will listen to opinions, but at some point, leadership can’t be a forever circle of consensus-building,” he states firmly. Serious social messaging aside, Sai wants Julie’s to be a happy note in customers’ lives. “Biscuits are still biscuits. Just enjoy them and know that the flavours are there to give you a break from a very stressful day,” he says with a smile.
Photography: Joel Low
Styling: Chia Wei Choong
Grooming: Vivien Ng | Arly
Special thanks: The Clan Hotel Singapore