Matthew Miller
Sep 18, 2015

DDB announces retirement of John Zeigler, names new Asia CEO

ASIA-PACIFIC - John Zeigler is retiring after 29 years at DDB and 11 as APAC head, as the agency promotes David Tang to Asia CEO effective 1 October.

L-R: John Zeigler, David Tang
L-R: John Zeigler, David Tang

Tang, currently CEO of DDB Singapore and vice chairman of DDB Asia, has been with the agency for 17 years. Based in Singapore, he will oversee offices in Southeast Asia, Greater China, Japan, and Korea, reporting directly to Chuck Brymer, CEO of DDB Worldwide.

In a change from the structure under Zeigler, DDB’s offices in Australia and New Zealand (led by Marty O’Halloran, DDB Group Australia and New Zealand chairman) and India (led by Madhukar Kamath, group CEO and managing director of DDB Mudra Group and chairman of Interbrand India) will report directly to Brymer. 

In addition, Neil Johnson, currently chief creative officer at DDB Group Singapore will be promoted to executive chairman of the Singapore office.  

Zeigler becomes chairman emeritus of DDB Asia Pacific.

“This decision has not come easily," he said in a press statement. "Mostly because of the people I have worked with and those who have done so much to make the region what it is today. I often tell my kids two things: Change the world and then when you do, get out while it's still good. And so I am heeding my own advice."

Zeigler said DDB has been his "extended family" and he will always think of it with "fondness, pride and admiration".

Zeigler joined DDB in 1986 when the network bought his agency, Kuscyinski and Zeigler. He has led agencies in Melbourne, Dallas and Singapore. But it was after assuming APAC leadership in 2004 that he made his legacy, building up the network's capabilities and creative output, culminating in Network of the Year honours in Campaign Asia-Pacific's Agency of the Year awards in 2010 and 2012. Zeigler was named Agency Head of the Year in 2010. 

In 2013, Zeigler was honoured as Global Marketer of the Year by the Academy of Marketing Science along with the Brand Leadership Award at the CMO Asia Awards.

DDB Asia Pacific now spans 26 agencies in 14 countries and employs more than 3,200 people. 

“John has been a terrific partner for both DDB and myself," Brymer said in a press release. "He contributed an enormous amount to our agency’s growth in terms of our people, our work and our clients. We wish him well in his new endeavours.”

“I’m humbled and thrilled to work with my colleagues across Asia and build on the track record of success that we have enjoyed with John,” Tang said in the release.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate David," Zeigler added. "He is a great fit for the position. It has been a terrific ride with DDB and I’m looking forward to helping David transition into his new role.”

Tang joined DDB Singapore in 1998 as vice president. He was promoted to president and CEO in 2004, and appointed vice chairman of DDB Group Asia in 2013.

Zeigler becomes the second Asia leader for an Omnicom creative network to leave his role this year, after Chris Thomas stepped up to head the Americas for BBDO.

Zeigler in Campaign

2015: Emotion and expertise: two priorities for the future of market research

2014: The demise and rise of the industry, Part 1 and Part 2

2014: Let's take a walk back to the future

2013: Reflections by John Zeigler: Embracing Asia's future super-economies (for Campaign Asia-Pacific's 40th Anniversary)

2011: DDB's John Zeigler says CEOs are not managing brands for long-term success

2011: Video interview on effectiveness with other agency heads

2010: Video interview from 2010 regional CEO dinner (BBC video)

Editor's note: An early version of this story incorrectly used the title "APAC CEO" for Tang. The correct title is Asia CEO.


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