Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
May 7, 2015

Strategy has to be more than planning or 'message massaging': FCB China

SHANGHAI - As FCB repositions as a 'behaviour change specialist', newly hired head of strategy and planning Willy Wong (黄栩材), has a big task ahead of him.

Willy Wong
Willy Wong

FCB’s new strategic approach to planning, according to Edward Bell, CEO of FCB Greater China, who like Wong comes from a planning background, should be built around behaviourial change.

"Behaviourial change is what marketing needs to focus on in the future, undoubtedly," said Bell adding that strategy in creative agencies needs to go beyond planning and root itself in original thinking that solves problems.

"We really need a real strategy otherwise we would be flapping around, doing message-massaging or just coming up with slogans," he said. 

Wong will be leading the agency's planning team to work on key client accounts including Skoda, Mondelez, Beiersdorf and Levi’s. Based in Shanghai, Wong will report directly to Bell.

Wong replaces Cynthia Zhu, who parted company with FCB a few months ago. Her role at FCB was her third new job in the same number of years. "It didn't work out with Cynthia," Bell said candidly. "In a people business where we're a mid-sized challenger creative agency, we have to pay attention to cultural fit."

Bell described Wong as a strong strategist with entrepreneurial instinct, a talent profile now needed the most for the fast-evolving Chinese market. "The reason why we hired Willy is because he has real, heavy-duty strategy experience—a renaissance strategy man. He is also easy to talk to, very energetic and optimistic, and has a personal, collaborative style."

Wong joins with more than 17 years of experience across business consulting, marketing, private equity and integrated communications. He founded two advertising startups specialising in digital customer experience and shopper marketing in the early 2000s.

Prior to joining FCB, he served as head of integration at McCann Shanghai for the General Motors Cadillac account.

In Wong's view, digital has enabled and hastened the planning shift from product-centric, to consumer-centric and now to "human-centric". "I look at things holistically, including from psychology and sociology viewpoints, and not just from one angle," commented Wong.

"A lot of traditional, true-bred planners may not be well-exposed to different and diverse disciplines. If you grew up in a communications environment, how can you solve a problem that is bigger than communications?" queried Wong. 


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