Danny Mok (莫熙慈) will come on board as DDB's new China president and CEO from 20 February.
Formerly CEO of Leo Burnett China, Mok takes over from his predecessor Richard Tan (陳仲翰), who clocked "quite a record" of seven years at the agency.
"I’m hungry and excited about my next chapter ahead,” said Tan, who did not reveal his imminent move.
Mok has over two decades of experience in the Greater China ad industry on both agency and client sides.
His last (short) two-year tenure was at Leo Burnett China, and prior to that, chief marketing officer at Hong Kong mobile communications company CSL Limited, where he led a team of 100 for 17 months. Before that, he was CEO of Grey Shanghai and Hong Kong for seven years, and deputy general manager at BBDO Hong Kong for eight years.
“Danny will add new momentum, fresh talent and best practices to our DDB China offices, which has been earmarked as our most important market for growth in Asia,” commented DDB Asia CEO David Tang.
What’s the backstory to joining DDB from Leo Burnett? You mentioned once that Leo Burnett was 'different' until the Publicis restructure in 2016.
I may be new to DDB but not new to the Omnicom culture. It's also not the first time DDB has approached me.
I’m attracted to DDB’s values of creativity and humanity, particularly David Tang's focus on the work. I love the bold opportunities and challenges in China, and I’m really encouraged by the energy and the drive for innovative marketing solutions with the T-divisions [Editor's note: T-divisions are the agency's specialised units, so far in tech innovation (Tribal), e-commerce (Track), shopper marketing (TracyLocke), data-mining (Tasseologic) and social good (Tango5)] at DDB.
My experience as a client marketer [at CSL] has helped me understand and deliver what clients really need in smart marketing solutions.
DDB described your hire as a "signpost of its bold ambition for China". What ambition do you yourself have for the market?
We are still a great agency brand on the global stage, but in China we are not in deep trouble of course, but got huge potential for improvement.
The first thing we need to do in China is to build up a stronger client list. [Editor's Note: Qualcomm was one of the notable losses for DDB Guoan in Beijing]
Secondly, we need to build up DDB China's reputation. Right now, it’s a little bit too low-profile to me. The reputation of an agency is not just built by one person, but all the people in the whole agency. We've got to encourage our people in China to be more outgoing and expressive as well as participate in more industry activities.
Thirdly, we need to build up focus and coherence in our China management teams; I cannot tell my people to do 100 things at one time. My observation from other agencies: if all offices are under the same focused and coherent management, the agency can provide a lot of resources—at the nationwide level—to clients instead of going to individual offices in different geographical proximities.
What do you want to achieve at DDB that you couldn't before at LB and other agencies?
David Tang, being Asian, has the right vision for China, and he is very kind to offer me a lot of autonomy. China is such a complicated and fast-changing market that I would need a lot of autonomy to deal with different situations. DDB understands this and is confident enough to allow me to have autonomy.
Typical agency bosses only care about the numbers. Some may say they care about the work, but they really care more about the money. What sets apart a good agency from a mediocre agency is the question they ask internally: work first or money first?
Yes, every agency is a commercial organisation, and the final objective is to deliver on the finances, but we cannot run an agency looking at the numbers everyday. If you manage the agency well, the money will come.
A lot of 4A agencies in China have been attacked for not moving fast enough on digital. I’m quite sick of this conversation, and I want to say that compared to other multinational agencies, DDB is pushing the digital agenda with Tribal, TracyLocke and more. DDB is for real and not just saying it.
I was a client before. Clients know when agencies fluff about their digital capabilities, because they don’t just hear about agencies, they actually meet and engage with agencies directly. So, never underestimate your clients and the 'intelligence' floating around in the market.