South Korea's biggest agency network has named Jason Zhao, 41, chief operating officer, a new position based in Beijing, and exec creative director for China, starting April 7. As ECD, he succeeds Morris Meng, who remains at the agency.
Since 2006, Mr. Zhao has served as exec creative partner at Publicis Worldwide, Beijing. Before that, he was co-founder and exec creative partner at graphic design company Ignite Creative Communications in China. He has worked in China's creative industry since 1993, when he joined Saatchi & Saatchi, Beijing, as a copywriter.
Cheil now has 187 staff in offices in Greater China, in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Shenyang, Hong Kong and Taipei. They handle advertising for brands such as Samsung, Orion and Hankook Tire.
Global expansion plans
Cheil has invested significant resources to build its global operation and reduce its reliance on Samsung since it hired a former Leo Burnett Worldwide executive, Bruce Haines, as its first non-Korean global chief operating officer.
After he was appointed in Seoul in April 2008, Mr. Haines told Ad Age, "We plan to grow [the agency] organically [under the Cheil name and] plan to attract some good new talent into our existing network in China soon."
Cheil is also focusing on growth in Europe. In December 2008 the network bought a 49% stake in London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay today in a first step toward creating a micro-network that will open a New York office this summer.
Cheil has 1,500 staffers and is the world's No. 16 ad agency, according to Ad Age figures, but is still perceived as a one-client agency even though Samsung now owns only 15% of the company. And Cheil often has an uneasy relationship with other agencies Samsung chooses to work with around the world. Signaling its ambition to become a top 10 global network by 2012, the agency recently changed its name to Cheil Worldwide from Cheil Communications.
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