Lee and Chau, currently MD and ECD of JWT Shanghai, will become the MD and ECD, as well as partners, of the newly formed Anomaly Shanghai office. The duo will lead the 20-person office starting in mid-June.
Founded in New York in 2004 by Carl Johnson, former worldwide COO of TBWA Worldwide, and partners, Anomaly started its international expansion in 2009 and now has overseas offices in London, Amsterdam and Toronto. Key clients include Budweiser, Converse, Diageo, Google, P&G and Marriot Hotel Group.
The Shanghai office, occupying two floors of a refurbished building in the French Concession on Wulumuqi Lu, will work closely with Budweiser and Diageo.
As its name implies, Anomaly is about deviation from the norm, Johnson said. "That’s why we prefer to buy our new office from scratch to maintain the company's culture and values, rather than compromising them with buying a local JV," he added. Further explaining the choice to build from scratch, Johnson commented that It is easier to start a revolution than to manage an evolution. He added that he speaks from experience; he was a partner in UK independent agency Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson, which was sold to TBWA in 1997.
Lee told Campaign Asia-Pacific that Anomaly China will not just be a digital or integrated service agency, adding that its focus will be on seeking the best solutions to solve clients' marketing issues. "Marketers in China are no longer satisfied with what an advertising or digital agency can provide," he said. "They need an ideal partner to solve their problems using a wide spectrum of tools including product innovation, experiential enhancement, customer journey optimization and creative communication."
Lee and Chau have been focused on building their team. "Anomaly is not just a creative company," Chau said. "It is a creative community. Great talent matters immensely to us, and we aim to partner with the very best to deliver ground-breaking solutions."
Johnson said the decision to expand into China was an obvious one, as the dynamic market is central to the growth plans of all global clients. “China is the number one priority globally, and we are investing a great deal of time there," he said.
Johnson rejected suggestions that the company is lagging behind the 4A networks and foreign and local independent agencies that have already set up shop in China. He emphasised that everything in China is changing right now. It used to be easy money for clients and businesses, he said, but with the increasing pressure on domestic growth, the marketing requirments have become more sophisticated, and the nation is entering a new era of marketing.