Staff Reporters
Dec 9, 2021

Creative Minds: Cola Chan's life of adventure

Learn how the creative director at DDB Hong Kong wishes he'd taken more chances as a kid, but made up for it by giving up a career as a teacher to enter advertising. Plus, find out what really motivates him, what makes him most angry, and the food he'll travel all over town for.

Creative Minds: Cola Chan's life of adventure
In Creative Minds, we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions, ranging from serious to silly (Why 11? Just because). Want to be featured?

Name: Cola Chan

Origin: Hong Kong

Places lived/worked: Hong Kong

Pronouns: He/him

CV:

  • Creative director, DDB, Hong Kong (2021-present)
  • Associate creative director, DDB, Hong Kong (2018-2021)
  • Senior copywriter, Hakuhodo, Hong Kong (2018)
  • Senior copywriter, Uth Creative, Hong Kong (2017-2018)
  • Senior copywriter, McCann & Spencer, Hong Kong (2016-2017)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I was a secondary school teacher before getting into the industry. I was driven to it because of 2 main reasons: I believe advertising is like the clothing or expression of a city and I wanted my words on Hong Kong. I also wanted to have the freedom to colour my hair. 

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

I actually like all the work I have done but I really liked the brand campaign, #StrongBeauty, we did for Mannings. It was not only the development of a long-term platform that connects customers with the brand, but also a chance to share some positivity to everyone in hard times. The work felt really relevant at that moment in time. We are not alone, and we are all fighting together. We all have #StrongBeauty.

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

Diesel's 'Be a follower' campaign. Simple and direct but really insightful. One message that is relevant to so many. It’s very powerful.

Also, In Love We Trust for Sinyi Realty. The Grand Prix winner at Cannes Entertainment Lions this year. Taiwan brings its own culture and style to the world. And I hope one day I can be a part of bringing something unique of our Hong Kong culture to the world too.

4. What/who are your key creative influences?

LoFai, my copywriting teacher. He was the first person to ask me to really believe in myself and encourage me to keep going. He always tells us to keep exploring and keep learning about as many different things as we can. Creativity is not only advertising, creativity is actually everywhere and everything.

5. What kind of student were you?

I think a bit of a boring one. When I was student, I felt like things were quite black and white. You were either right or wrong and I always wanted to be right. Looking back, I don’t think I had enough adventures.

6. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Quitting my stable teaching job to start an unknown adventure in advertising. Even now, people still ask me why.

 

7. What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid?

I 'thought I’d be an actor. Only actors can experience such a wide range of careers and experiences. When I was kid, I always thought about what it would be like to be other people.

 

8. What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could?

Have the bravery to take risks. Even be a bit naughty to create more life stories. And importantly, don’t eat too much… the world can be a harsh place for an unfit guy.

9. What really motivates you?

Real stories. All of us can only live once and we all have our own life story. Everyone’s story is unique and inspiring. I feel believe every encounter we have with other people is a meaningful experience.

10. What makes you really angry?

When someone gives up on something, but you know they are missing out on an opportunity.

11. How would your co-workers describe you?

Probably as someone who makes them nervous! Haha, sorry team! Perhaps sometimes I get a bit over-excited or enthusiastic about ideas and this can happen at any time so I think working with me can be unpredictable and take some getting used to... but I really try to make work a positive experience for everyone. I want us all to be passionate and experience success together. 

BONUS QUESTIONS (THIS ONE GOES BEYOND 11)

Do you have any secret or odd talents?

I can sleep on any transportation but be able to wake up right before arriving at my destination.

What food can you not live without?

Hong Kong’s signature snack: fish balls. I can’t live without them! Each store’s fish balls have their own taste so sometimes I will travel quite far to try new fish balls.

Tell us about a charity or cause you think needs more attention.

3 things. 1) LGBTQ+. HK is still a very traditional city regarding this issue. 2) Mental health. We all are living in such a high pressure and stressful environment. It’s so hard to notice if someone is really struggling. 3) Homelessness. It feels like the homeless are invisible, but if you look around, you can actually see homelessness everywhere. 

Who do you most admire?

Luffy from One piece (the comic). He lives for his dream. Nothing can change his mind. And most importantly, he enjoys everything, every day.

What makes you really happy?

When I write something or have an idea that I didn’t really know I was capable of. I like surprising myself with what I can do.

What's the last song/artist you listened to?

Songs from Yoasobi. I recommend them to everyone.

Do you have any recurring dreams?

I can always remember dreams. And most of the time they are really dramatic, like comics. I’m always a detective investigating murder cases.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. They are passionate about everything.

 

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