Benjamin Li
Dec 6, 2012

Kinetic appoints King Lai to lead Asia-Pacific

ASIA-PACIFIC - Kinetic Worldwide has appointed King Lai as CEO of Kinetic Asia-Pacific, effective 1 January.

King Lai
King Lai

As CEO, Lai will oversee Kinetic’s operations in India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, with a key focus on the expanding Kinetic's China operation.

He will report to Steve Ridley, global CEO of Kinetic, who is based in London and New York.

Lai will be based in Shanghai and will work closely with Claudine Kwek, Asia-Pacific COO of tenthavenue, who is based in Singapore, as well as senior management within China offices. 

Lai replaced Chris O'Donnell, who resigned in late August after working for the company for two-and-a-half years in Asia and more than five years in London.

Kinetic has been in China since May 2008, with key clients including Yum, Nike and Mercedes-Benz. Other key regional clients include HSBC, Accenture and Marriott Hotels for their airport OOH business.

Lai brings more than 25 years of experience in advertising, marketing and management to Kinetic. He has held leadership positions at Initiative Worldwide as Asia-Pacific president; at Nasdaq-listed Chinese portal as CEO; and at Saatchi & Saatchi as CEO, China.

Lai was most recently at MediaCom China, where he served as managing partner for more than two years, overseeing the Swatch Group's account. 

MediaCom China confirmed that Nedra Chian, who took on general manager, client services on Swatch Group earlier this year, has assumed the role of day-to-day lead on the business.

Ridley said: “[Lai's] extensive Asian market knowledge, international outlook and a very successful management track record will strengthen Kinetic’s continued leadership in the region.”

What kind of challenges will Lai face in his new role? A top agency source who has worked in the OOH advertising industry in China told Campaign Asia-Pacific that many media owners in China are bypassing media agencies to contact advertising clients directly, "especially those listed OOH media owners who have large direct sales team, who are aggressively putting their fingers in the planning pies in China and want to have direct relationships with the clients".

Another ex-Kinetic Asia-Pacific top boss added that half of Kinetic's revenue comes from China and that Lai's challenges would be in the buying of media.

Kinetic is a WPP company and part of the tenthavenue performance-marketing division. Kinetic employs more than 800 professionals across 38 offices, with over 100 working in its China offices. 

In the OOH media agency scene in China, Freddie Wong, general manager for OOH at OMG China, resigned for personal reasons in late October. The agency is considering replacement candidates at the moment.

Campaign China

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