Nicky Wang has been promoted from managing director and head of strategy to CEO of WE Red Bridge. Based in Shanghai, Wang succeeds current CEO Penny Burgess who will transition into the role of executive chairman. Wang joined the agency—then known as Red Bridge Communications—in 2009.
As CEO effective January 1, she will oversee the day-to-day operations of the agency. Her focus is to empower the team to be strategically capable consultants and support clients to deliver business growth in China.
Following the move, Burgess will support Wang and the leadership team through the transition and handing over day-to-day operations. Burgess was integral in the merging of Red Bridge Communications and WE, including the restructuring of the integrated agency.
Kass Sells, WE’s global COO and president international, said: “Our China team does some of the most creative and innovative work in our network. This is thanks to leaders to Penny and Nicky building a supportive culture that encourages experimentation and continuous learning.”
The agency has seen “significant growth in pandemic-resilient segments" such as beauty, healthcare, and luxury as Chinese consumers are spending more on these areas and within the country versus abroad with the China border closed.
“From a capability perspective, we continue to expand on our brand consultancy and integrated marketing offerings, including doubling down on our creative production capabilities and continuously expanding digital offerings,” Wang said.
She added that since China exited lockdowns and returned to ‘normal’ earlier than the rest of the world, multinationals counted on China to deliver for their businesses, so WE saw more-than-usual new business activity as the economy recovered.
“It has been an uneven recovery, with some sectors growing faster than others, as we have seen elsewhere in the world. What has remained is the steady increase in consumer confidence and the increasing expectations from consumers for brands to deliver both functionality and enhanced experiences, both physical and digital,” said Wang.
“We need to remember life within the China border was nearly back to normal from April 2020. The Chinese economy has bounded back quickly is back on track for strong growth this year. On its own, China is a huge economy and a large population with growing spending power and consumer confidence, making it a focus for many brands.”
She said that one of the challenges for Chinese brands at the moment is greater competition from local brands who adapt faster to local consumer needs and are less risk-adverse when it comes to innovation and experimentation. This is fuelled by a rising sense of national pride among young consumers.
On top of that, China’s Covid-zero strategy means that travel restrictions can occur any time when local cases are discovered, and brands and their agencies must accept that plans can change overnight and be prepared to shift gear and adapt on the fly.
Some of WE Red Bridge’s clients include Aruba, Covestro, Elsevier, FC Barcelona Football Club, GSK, Honeywell, iRobot, LaLiga, Marshall, Melia Hotels International, Pomellato, Scoot and Sweaty Betty.