Grey Beijing has hired Xu to lead the agency as MD and also wear another hat as the agency's chief integration officer (not chief information officer, as the title may commonly suggest) for China.
The CIO role is a newly created one to integrate advertising with other specialist units, according to Grey. Most agencies have realised the importance of integration of services for brand stewardship on behalf of clients, Xu told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
This will reverse the problem of most communications campaigns in China being fragmented. "Agencies are now going back to 20 years ago trying to offer a 'total' solution," he said.
Xu will oversee the Mengniu, GSK, Futon Automobile, Microsoft and Intel accounts, in addition to deploying the agency’s shopper marketing and activation capabilities, developing new CRM and digital functions and "putting them all together".
"Grey has really gone from strength to strength in recent years, and business is on the upside," Xu said. "What TH Peng [chairman and CEO of Grey Greater China] has done with the network in China is really impressive. TH is a legend. It's rare to see someone of such leadership calibre being so down-to-earth and at the frontline while most other agency heads are already in semi-retirement mode."
Xu has held a series of senior leadership roles at Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO, JWT and TBWA. He joins Grey today, and replaces Ivan Yuen, who left in July 2014 to become chief marketing officer for ChinaHR.com.