Bamboo Ye, a veteran Chinese creative who's starting up CP&B's new office in Beijing, has a lot of experience with car brands. Over the years he's worked on Jaguar, Land Rover, Citroen, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Mercedes, Volkswagen, General Motors and more recently, Infiniti.
Mr. Ye, the agency's general manager and executive creative director, is working on Infiniti again at CP&B, which has the Nissan-owned luxury car brand as a global account. Before the agency announced the new office two weeks ago, Mr. Ye had spent months helping put together a team of 18 to work on Infiniti; another global account, American Airlines; and Tencent, the Chinese internet giant.
Mr. Ye, a veteran of agencies including Young & Rubicam and BBDO, was setting up his own creative venture when he was approached by CP&B, which had created the emoji ordering system for Domino's that won the Titanium Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. He said he was drawn to the agency's "creative philosophy and business idea. To do interesting, effective and buzz-worthy advertising, crossing the limits of different media channels."
Lori Senecal, the global CEO of CP&B, describes Mr. Ye and his team as "passionate local creative entrepreneurs with a collaborative, global perspective."
China is quite a competitive market for agencies. Big Western agencies are well-represented, local players are getting stronger, and small and medium-sized international shops are making an impact. Fellow MDC Partners agency Anomaly is going strong in Shanghai, as is independent Fred & Farid, whose Shanghai office in January was named Ad Age's International Agency of the Year. Others are eyeing the market.
Mr. Ye believes it's a good time for CP&B to enter China.
"Right now there are a lot of clients in China looking for agencies that are 'small and beautiful'" – nimble across various media, with talent honed at strong international agencies, Mr. Ye said. Tencent is an example of that type of client, he added. He won the Tencent work when he was on his own, before joining CP&B. "The client said they trusted me to build the team, they weren't looking for an agency name," Mr. Ye said. He brought Tencent with him to CP&B.
The resulting campaign for Tencent's app store tapped Korean actor Song Joong-ki, star of the Korean drama "Descendants of the Sun," which was a megahit in China. The campaign, from commercial to H5 site to print and out-of-home ads, played on the actor's hearthrob status.
For Mr. Ye -- who is 42, and whose Chinese name Ye Qingzhu translates literally as "Leaf Green Bamboo" -- career highlights include six years at Y&R starting in 2000, with clients including Jaguar Land Rover. Later he worked at BBDO for four years, serving first Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, and then Mercedes after the agency won that client globally.
Early last year, while working at TBWA Hakuhodo, Mr. Ye was behind an impactful and big-budget project, a 7-minute film for the Infiniti QX50 starring two newlyweds who were creating a lot of buzz in China -- Zhou Xun, the Chinese actress from "Cloud Atlas," and her husband, American actor Archie Kao of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Jaume Collet-Serra ("The Shallows") directed the mini-movie, an extended chase scene showing them fleeing paparazzi in Los Angeles to steal romantic moments. The movie attracted extra buzz because it was one of the early newsfeed ads on Chinese mobile app WeChat; within a week it had 20 million video views.
After CP&B won the global Infiniti account, Ad Age reported in October 2014 that it was planning to open shop in Shanghai. Things evolved differently. The agency opened first in Hong Kong last year, leveraging other MDC resources in mainland China; then it set up in Beijing instead of Shanghai. The new office is the 10th for CP&B; others are in Boulder, Miami, Los Angeles, London, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Brazil and Hong Kong.