Six Things You Didn't Know About DigitasLBi North America CCO Ronald Ng

Offering to Work for Free Is Not a Foolproof Approach

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Ronald Ng
Ronald Ng

Ronald Ng joined Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi in January as North America chief creative officer. He came from Omnicom's BBDO & Proximity network where he had been for more than a decade, having worked in its Malaysia, New York and Singapore offices. In 2011, while exec VP/exec creative director at BBDO New York, his team's Kinect-powered interactive installation for Autism Speaks was added to the New York Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.

Ad Age caught up with him this week and gleaned some fun facts for this week's edition of Six Things.

1. He developed a pronounced case of sticky fingers at age four. Though his description of that phase goes back and forth between "kleptomaniac tendencies" and "I was just resourceful at a very young age," one thing he's not so fuzzy on is that he got caught. "Mom opened a can of whoopass," he said. Two things were established that day -- 1) that he would never take anything he didn't actually work for 2) his perennial fear of his mother's wrath.

2. Need a '70s and '80s TV show theme song trivia partner? He's your guy. "Call me," he said. "Consider it won." Shows nobody should challenge him on include "The A-Team," " Chips," "The Incredible Hulk," "Happy Days" and "Grizzly Adams."

3. He had "the world's most embarrassing mullet." A bold claim, given the strong competition among anyone who ever had a mullett. And we can't confirm it ourselves, because it was pre-Facebook, the photos have conveniently yet to be digitized and we're too far from the hard copies right now to view them. (We tried.) Still, he shared that his mullett went "all the way down." To his "posterior."

4. He speaks four languages: English, Bahasa Malaysia, Cantonese and Hakka -- the first two more often for daily conversation, the last two especially for swear words.

5. It took him a while to find his calling. Blame a short attention span, but he was a college adventurer, trying his hand at at law, hairdressing, psychology, literature and a few more subjects. Three years into a University of Nebraska undergraduate degree in question marks, essentially, his girlfriend inspired him to transfer into journalism school, where he majored in broadcast and advertising. "It was then that I made the fateful jump from below-average student to average student -- but fell in love with the industry… which allows me to wear 10 different hats," he said.

6. He offered to work for free once. And got turned down. After getting his first break at JWT as a perma-lancer, he approached Leo Burnett Malaysia Executive Creative Director Yasmin Ahmad (whose work includes this sweet Petronas campaign) and asked to work for her pro bono. "To my great embarrassment, she didn't take me up on my offer," he said. In hindsight, that was the kick he needed to make it in this tough business. To this day, healthy paranoia and insecurity drive him to be better.

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