Staff Reporters
Nov 10, 2021

40 Under 40 2021: Nicole Ma, BBDO

As the creative mastermind behind key Olympic campaigns for Chinese brands, Ma is influencing a new generation in advertising with passion and persistence.

40 Under 40 2021: Nicole Ma, BBDO
Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry

Nicole Ma

Chief creative officer

Recognized as an advertising industry ‘goddess’ by Chinese media, Nicole Ma started her career 15 years ago as a copywriter at BBDO, then briefly worked for Ogilvy before leading the Proximity and BBDO Chinese creative team. 

Bringing her creative thinking and strong determination to her work, Ma has in recent years been known for her stirring Olympic campaigns for Alibaba, International Olympic Committee (IOC) global partner and Anta, the IOC's Official Sportswear Uniform Supplier. 

One of her biggest projects, ‘To the greatness of small’ kicked off Alibaba's global Olympic campaigns in January 2018 for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. It received 1.2 billion impressions worldwide and won global media coverage, including a CNN special report and a One Show CMO Pencil award as the very first Olympic campaign to receive such an honour. Ma's relationship with key client Alibaba is now more than five years old and going strong. 

In the face of the pandemic, Ma and her team embraced all the uncertainty and changes facing the Games in their subsequent campaigns. ‘Stay Strong’, which allowed people to send blessings to athletes, generated 1.8 million views and 1.8 billion discussions. ‘Let Hope Shine, Brighter Together’ featuring the hopeful stories of a Chinese and a Japanese athlete, helped to keep the flame of anticipation alive for the year during which the Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed.

Other Olympic campaigns from Ma include a powerful piece of work about persistence for sportswear brand Anta, helping to differentiate it from competitors. This helped Ma earn the deep trust and cooperation of Anta’s CMO alongside more than 600 million impressions on Weibo. 

Many of these same themes of hope, persistence and overcoming obstacles have in turn become inspiration for Ma’s team and clients. Despite an industry brain drain, her team retention rate is above the industry norm, and she has developed team members from interns to creative directors. Both as a mentor and lecturer at the Chinese Academy Awards, Ma takes personal time in sharing experiences with university students and employees to cultivate a new generation of talent. 

Beyond this, Ma has been a jury member for numerous local and international awards, including One Show, LongXi, China 4As and the Shanghai International Advertising Festival.

Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry


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