Six Things You Didn't Know about KBS Shanghai's Jonathan Ip

He Wears a Good Luck Charm Passed Down From His Granddad, a Nine-Fingered Sailor

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Jonathan Ip
Jonathan Ip

KBS launched this week in China, debuting its new name and logo for the local market. The name "shi hua" is a loose interpretation of the agency slogan "do things that matter," and the logo echoes the look of a Chinese stamp.

The eight-person office in Shanghai is run by partner and CEO Douglas Lin, the former managing director of TBWA's Digital Arts Network China, and Jonathan Ip, partner and chief creative officer.

Mr. Ip, 38, was born in Hong Kong and moved as a teenager to Queens, where he haunted local basketball courts. His last job was as digital executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Greater China. One favorite project there was for Safeguard soap, teaching kids in 2,000 schools to wash their hands with an interactive game where they had to scrub away cartoon germs.

For the latest edition of Six Things, Mr. Ip caught up with Ad Age to talk about his past on Hong Kong's small screen and the story of his vintage Rolex.

1. He was a regular on Hong Kong TV. His mom was a makeup artist when he was a kid, and she would always ask him to be an extra on TV shoots. "I used to get paid something like $10 to walk around in the background and look really happy."

2. He has a thing for viewfinders. As a boy, he dreamed of being a cinematographer. He used to spend hours on TV sets waiting for the cameramen to let him peek into the camera. "After I grew older, I started to understand why I loved that viewfinder so much – it's the idea that you can control the framing and capturing of the beautiful things in your life."

The KBS logo for China
The KBS logo for China

3. His first pitch was the most important one. Though his mom was in a creative field, his parents didn't want the same for him. But he pitched them on going to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study computer graphics and interactive media. He focused on the word "computer," downplaying the whole "art school" thing.

4. He designed a vinyl collectable toy. A friend was opening a designer toy shop, and he designed the store's first vinyl collectable toy, signing with the initials JIP. "From the front side it looks like Mickey Mouse mixed with Ronald McDonald, and from the back it's a skull with a gun in the pocket." He named it McDonkey.

5. He has two conversational ice breakers: design and basketball. "When I was young my English was very street because I hung out on the basketball court every day after school." He had to stop playing after a knee injury, but he keeps up to date on NBA news via ESPN online.

6. His grandpa's vintage Rolex is his good luck charm. "My grandpa was a mechanic on a cargo boat, a really strong good-looking guy whose finger got cut off in a machine. He gave me the watch before he passed away." The Rolex has uncertain origins – it may be something his grandpa saved for, an investment that could be pawned if times got tough. Or, as his grandmother said, it could be a gift from an old mistress.

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