David Blecken
Jan 15, 2019

Creative duo replaces Eugene Cheong at Ogilvy

The move reflects diminished need for Asia-Pacific regional leadership.

Sonal Dabral and Reed Collins
Sonal Dabral and Reed Collins

WPP agency Ogilvy has named Sonal Dabral and Reed Collins as its new creative leaders in Asia, as Eugene Cheong steps down as regional chief creative officer after a decade in the role.

Dabral, who rejoined Ogilvy from DDB in 2017, will oversee South and Southeast Asia, while Collins will continue to be responsible for North Asia. Collins joined Ogilvy as Hong Kong chief creative officer in 2013 and took on his sub-regional role last year. Cheong is in discussions with Ogilvy and WPP about his next move, according to a spokesperson.

Chris Reitermann, who leads Ogilvy as co-chief executive with Kent Wertime, said the change in structure reflected the industry-wide move away from regional work to a focus on individual markets. Wertime said the restructure went some way to mirroring his own shared leadership structure with Reitermann, and was “more of an evolution than a revolution”.

“Hardly any work is regional at the moment,” Reitermann said. “It’s China, India, big local markets, so the role of the regional chief creative officer needs to evolve from sitting in Singapore to much more of a market-focused setup.”

He said Ogilvy was “more committed than ever before to creativity” and that Dabral and Collins had “deep knowledge of the region and are very well respected in the creative community”. He added that it was advantageous that Dabral had already worked closely with Piyush Pandey, who was recently named global chief creative officer. Both remain based in India.

“The other quality that’s always important is that they love to spend time with clients on their business,” said Wertime. “Both are very hands-on and attuned with the business generally. They understand the needs of modern clients and that they are looking for much more out of creativity than in the old days.”

Eugene Cheong

Wertime did not specify whether or not Cheong would remain in the network, where he has spent more than 20 years. “I don’t want to get into speculation, but he is in active discussions about what would make the right next role,” he said. He noted that Cheong “loves the work” and in practice “loves the work more than the administration of the work”.

“I think he’ll be happy to focus back on the doing of the work and less on dealing with offices around the setup of the work,” Wertime said.

Ogilvy installed a number of new creative leaders across the region last year including in Tokyo, Shanghai, Indonesia and Vietnam. Pandey’s global appointment followed the sacking of long-serving Tham Khai Meng after an investigation into alleged misconduct.

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