Staff Reporters
Aug 24, 2023

Creative Minds: FCB's Vikki Cheng on dreams about dumplings to directing art

Cheng might've wanted to be a primary school teacher or a dim sum cart-pusher as a 10-year-old, but her undeniable talent led her to becoming an advertising creative, passionate about philanthropy and sustainability.

Creative Minds: FCB's Vikki Cheng on dreams about dumplings to directing art
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Vikki Cheng

Origin: Hong Kong

Places lived/ worked: Hong Kong and Auckland, New Zealand

Pronouns: She/her

CV:

Senior Art Director, FCB New Zealand (2021-)
Senior Art Director, Dentsu New Zealand (2018-2021)
Art Director, justONE (2017-2018)
Art Director, Sugar&Partners (2013-2017)
Digital Creative, Sugar&Partners (2010-2013)
Interactive Creative, Y&R New Zealand (2007-2009)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I wish there was a more inspirational answer than just purely succumbing to the fear of disappointing my Asian parents, and being unemployed. After finishing art school at university, I quickly realised my career options were limited. It didn’t matter how well I did in uni—no one was actively hiring visual arts graduates at the time. I could only see two paths ahead of me: To be a starving artist, or to be a high school art teacher. None of these options appealed to me. The little rebel in me also felt that there was something empowering for a woman of colour to step into the world of advertising, which was (and still is in some sense) dominated by white males. So, I decided to pursue a post-graduate diploma in digital media and use it to get my foot in the door of the advertising industry.

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

ASB Sustainaball would have to be my favourite project of all time. The brief was to make the ASB Classics tennis tournament more relevant to 18 to 34-year-old Kiwis. We understood not everyone in New Zealand loves tennis, but we damn well love a tennis ball. Backyard cricket, handball, towbar covers. You name it, the little fuzzy ball will be there. And we keep losing stacks of them playing fetch with our dogs. That can’t be very good for the environment…to democratise tennis and get our young planet-loving, eco-friendly, plant-based focused target audience to talk about the tournament, our idea was simple: To make a tennis ball that plants a tree. So, we created the Sustainaball—a biodegradable tennis ball with a native seed inside so a native tree is planted every time you lose it. Even Serena Williams loved it, so much so she asked if she could take one home for her daughter. I hope the native tree seed survived the journey (and US customs)!

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

Whenever I get the gut feeling of, “Damn, I wish I thought of this idea first…”, it’s my indicator of good work. And I get that feeling A LOT because our industry is full of amazing creatives! But my recent favourite would have to be Skinny Mobile’s ‘Phone It In’ by Colenso BBDO.  One of the masterminds behind this incredible campaign was my amazing ex-boss Hadleigh. How cheeky was it to outsource their radio ads to New Zealanders and make them record ads for free? A fitting idea for Skinny, a low-cost provider that is always looking for ways to save money for its customers. In a world full of worthy ads that are created primarily to win awards, an idea like this is so fun.

4. What kind of student were you?

A studious, geeky one that followed every rule on the surface, but secretly loved hanging out with the naughtiest kids.

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

Performing a ‘Magic Mike’ routine as a drag king in front of the whole agency! Breaking out of my comfort zone felt incredible but raising over $2,000 for Auckland Pride was the icing on the cake.

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

I honestly thought I would either become a primary school teacher or a dim sum cart-pusher at yumcha. I even roped in my little sister—one moment we were lining up our soft toys as students in a classroom, and the next we were serving each other cookies as ‘dumplings’. Who would’ve known I’d become an advertising creative?

7. What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self, if you could?

Maybe you should’ve chosen the piano instead of ballet when Mum asked what you wanted to learn. I know you want to be graceful and beautiful like a ballerina, but sorry to break it to you—you’ll never have the flexibility to do the splits.

8. Tell us about an artist (any medium) that we've never probably heard of.

If you're into social commentary and you want to understand the minds of Gen Z, check out @akilimoree on TikTok. His takes are so interesting and compelling!

9. What's your favourite GIF/meme, and why?
It’s pretty self-explanatory, right?

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

RainbowYOUTH is an amazing charitable organisation that looks after the wellbeing of young New Zealanders who identify as LGBTQIA+, including support groups, counselling, and providing gender-affirmation clothing. It deserves way more hype.

11. What app could you absolutely not live without? What app do you wish you could delete?

TikTok and TikTok. I find inspiration on TikTok. I 'read' my news on TikTok. I make money from the content I create for TikTok. But the chokehold TikTok has on me makes me want to delete it.

12. Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?

People call me VikTok at work because of my vehement passion for TikTok and my content creation 'side hustle'.

13. What makes you really happy?

Seeing my ad not only having the praise and social likes from people in the industry, but having a real impact on everyday people. Oh, and Vietnamese lemongrass chicken rice and noodle soup.

14. Cat person or dog person?

Dog. I love cats too, but dogs provide a greater ROI.  

15. Any regrets?

Too many! But one of the key themes is that I wish I believed in myself and spoke up more. It took me years to realise—the Chinese saying, “Real gold will shine sooner or later” was detrimental to my career progression. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and work on your personal brand. It’s never too late!

Source:
Campaign Asia

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