Matthew Miller
Nov 7, 2021

Industry pays tribute to Jimmy Lam

A 'Godfather' of advertising who inspired and touched many people during a long career, Lam passed away on October 30.

A tribute circulating on social media (left) and file photos of Lam (right).
A tribute circulating on social media (left) and file photos of Lam (right).

Advertising figures across the region and world are expressing their respects to Jimmy Lam, a legendary figure in Hong Kong's advertising scene, who passed away October 30.

Lam was a central figure in the heyday of Hong Kong as an advertising hub, the first Hong Kong creative director to be invited to judge at Cannes Lions, and the co-founder, in 1989, of Adfest. He also co-founded the LongXi Chinese language awards show. Through the years he worked at many agencies, including McCann, Dentsu, and DDB.

News of Lam's death went public early Saturday, with comments pouring out on social media.

"His charisma and ability to galvanize the entire creative industry made him an influential yet authentic visionary leader," Tay Guan Hin, chief creative officer of BBDO Singapore, told Campaign Asia-Pacific via email Saturday. "Jimmy wants to do what's best for our industry, so it's not surprising to see such an intense outpouring from everyone who has ever worked with him. Thank you, Jimmy, for your kind generosity. You will always be remembered as my Master."

Alexis Chiu, chairman of HK4As, said he is profoundly saddened by the passing of "one of Asia’s greatest creative minds".

"As a grand master of creativity and one of the founders of Kam Fan, AdFest and LongXi awards, Jimmy made a tremendous contribution to the advertising industry in Hong Kong and Mainland China, not least in bringing our advertising achievements to the world stage," Chiu said in a statement issued to Campaign. "On behalf of HK4As, I bid a sad farewell to the godfather of creativity in Hong Kong. His every effort was dedicated to taking HK’s advertising industry to new heights, and his achievement will long be remembered by all his fellows and followers. Jimmy's indelible mark of creative excellence set a standard for the advertising industry which future generations will aspire to emulate.”

The HK4As also provided the following statement to Campaign Sunday night:

Longtime Hong Kong advertising executive Chris Kyme, owner and creative director of Kymechow, told Campaign:

There are few people working in the industry across Asia the past 25 years, of whom it could be said made selfless contributions that changed the way creativity evolved here in the way Jimmy did. From establishing Longyin Review, to unite Chinese language creativity across the region, to his role in founding and building up AdFest. Jimmy always had vision, and on top of that, he was such a brilliant person to be around. Always a smile. Never phased. A true leader who was loved by everyone who knew him. What a loss. 

Kyme has also written a lovely tribute to Lam in his regular column slot on Campaign Brief Asia (no relation to Campaign Asia-Pacific).

Many prominent industry figures commented on a Facebook post by Kim Shaw, publisher and editor of Australia-based publication Campaign Brief Asia. A sampling: 

John Zeigler, former regional head of DDB:

Very sorry to hear this news. We were lucky enough to have Jimmy in our business and lift the DDB journey across Asia. Not just creatively but more essentially emotionally and spiritually. He was fun, smart, intuitive and an ambassador for people across the industry not just DDB. Definitely the grandfather of creativity who led In so many ways. Rest In Peace Jimmy as you have helped so many of us find a higher level of peace in ourselves. I will miss many memories but I will also live better for knowing you.

David Guerrero, creative chairman at BBDO Guerrero:

Very sad news indeed. He was the life of the adfest party. Always pushing us to explain why we liked what we liked or voted how we did. And sometimes pushing us on stage to ask others the same questions. I had the honor to work with him on the Adfest Collective and saw close up how passionate he was about Asia’s place in the world. My condolences to Jimmy’s family, Vinit and the entire adfest family as well.

Ted Lim, former regional chief creative officer at Dentsu Aegis: 

Jimmy was the voice for Asian creativity that we will continue to hear in every creative discussion. Thank you my friend for the inspiration and guidance.

Dick van Motman, former global CEO for creative and content at Dentsu Aegis:

1998 is when we met. A big standoff transformed into a big friendship because of his big passion and heart. Many adventures ensued from there. Lucky to have worked together twice (D’Arcy and DDB). The naked idea, midnight hotpot’s and your thundering laugh will always remain with me. Thanks for all you have shared generously with everyone and me. RIP Jimmy.

Merlee Jayme, chief creative officer, Dentsu International:

So sad. He was the life of any award show celebration. He always made us feel at home and welcomed. Jimmy thank you so much.

Campaign Asia-Pacific extends sincere condolences to Lam's family and all who are grieving his loss.

This article is being updated with new statements as they come. If you would like to comment about Jimmy Lam, contact us via [email protected].

Campaign Asia

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