Ogilvy China is working a little differently from the rest of the world to foster talent for the future of the industry rather than just recruit it, and these latest changes reflect this modus operandi.
Thomas Zhu (formerly group creative director in Shanghai) and Juggi Ramakrishnan (formerly ECD at Ogilvy Beijing) have been appointed as ECDs in Shanghai, while Chong Kin (formerly ECD at Leo Burnett Shanghai) takes on Ramakrishnan's former role at Ogilvy Beijing.
Zhu and Ramakrishnan will form a dual leadership team under Graham Fink, chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather China, who has assumed the duties of former Shanghai creative head Francis Wee since Wee resigned from his role around February 2014.
"Having two ECDs to help me now will allow me to work on my bigger-vision stuff [for Ogilvy]," Fink told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Two ECDs will also fill the large shoes of what the Chinese market currently demands of a creative lead. "To produce effective work, we need to understand the comfort zones of our clients," Fink said. "Our ECDs need to win respect of local clients, need to speak both English and Chinese, need to understand both digital and strategy in generating creativity. No one person can really do all that."
Wee "got along very well" with Fink in his two-year tenure at the agency, but his knowledge of Chinese culture as a Singaporean could not rival local natives such as Zhu.
Zhu is known as one of the top Chinese writers in the market. "His Chinese is so good that women fell over their feet reading his Weibo," Fink said. After Zhu's promotion from his position of group creative director, he is now one of the few local Chinese professionals in the industry to hold such a senior creative position (Feiwei, CCO of FCB Greater China, is another).
Zhu is responsible for both broadening and deepening Ogilvy’s creative capabilities in the social and digital space in China. "I’ll be using my energy and creative spirit to develop more cutting-edge, culturally relevant campaigns,” he commented.
Ramakrishnan, who will take up his new role in June, has a proven track record in Beijing—one highlight of his work is the 'Visit Britain' campaign, which Ogilvy expects to be a frontrunner at Cannes 2015.
Yuan Yong, managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai, described Zhu and Ramakrishnan as the "culturally grounded and immensely charismatic…duo engines we have been looking for to propel the giant Ogilvy Jumbo Jet to a new height".
"This is a new chapter in the Ogilvy book," added Fink, who sees his job as creating an environment that will groom, nurture and foster local talent in order to inject confidence in the creative community for clients, day by day.
For this reason, he initiated a series of internal 'Misfit Sessions' two months ago, meant to challenge local Chinese ingrained with conservatism to "lead a creative rebellion for themselves".
Many advertising agencies treat the talent issue by complaining about how tough it is to find good talent in China, as if talent comes pre-packaged in a tin. Fink believes that "if you can find a spark in a talent, work with it".
"Even if they f**k up, you know they're trying," he added. "It's a slow induction process, but slower is better than a flash in the pan that doesn't last."