DDB's Ruth Lee

Other news in Greater China

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HONG KONG--China's explosive growth in the last few years has sent ethnic Chinese creatives from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia scurrying northward. Ad agencies there are struggling to keep top talent in place. While China is not yet a hotbed for world-class advertising, the country is teaming with energy and opportunity.

Swimming against this current, one of China's best-known creatives, Ruth Lee, is returning to her native Hong Kong in January as group creative chief of DDB Group in Hong Kong, effective January 2, 2008. She succeeds Christine Pong, who has resigned and will leave the agency next month. Most recently, Ms. Lee, 42, was national exec creative director, China at Leo Burnett Worldwide, a Shanghai-based position she held for five years.

While working at Leo Burnett, she was voted one of the top 50 women in advertising in China by China Advertising magazine and one of top 10 creative directors in China by Modern Advertising magazine, which is partly-owned by the China Advertising Association. Ads created under her leadership picked up awards at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, The One Show, D&AD, New York Festival and the Asia Pacific Advertising Festival, as well as local awards organized by LongXi and the China Advertising Festival.

She left the Publicis Groupe agency five months ago, and has spent the interim traveling to contemporary art exhibitions in Germany, Italy, Singapore, South Korea and other countries. Before hat, she worked at Admerasia, a full-service multicultural advertising and marketing agency located in New York, primarily focused on the Asian market.

“With Christine’s departure imminent, we have been looking at suitable candidates to take on the role. We are really pleased to have lured Ruth back to Hong Kong. Having spent the last six years in Shanghai, Ruth has gained a deep understanding of the Chinese market and appreciates the finer nuances of the two markets. She will be a real asset to our Hong Kong agency at a time when the communications industry is evolving and redefining itself in Greater China," said Richard Thomas, DDB's president-CEO in Hong Kong.

While Greater China as a whole is expanding quickly, the exodus of the top talent from Hong Kong to the mainland has turned the former British territory into one of the least creative markets in Asia. While Ms. Lee is returning to Hong Kong for family reasons, her appointment could help rejuvenate Hong Kong's lackluster ad industry.

"I want to do a lot of experiments on team structures and team dynamics at DDB, my role is to inspire," Ms. Lee said cheerfully. "This is the best time to come back to Hong Kong. In China over the past five years, every day I saw positive changes and optimism. It was infectious. When I met some of my future teammates in DDB recently, they told me I hadn't missed too much in the past eight years. The [Hong Kong] market is waiting for change. It shouldn’t be like that, the whole world is doing things so differently, and business is so mobilized and connected. In Hong Kong, I can work on projects [for DDB offices] anywhere in the world."

Other appointment news in Greater China

[shanghai] Diageo, the global spirits manufacturer of brands like Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys and Smirnoff, has appointed Shanghai-based Mike Wong as marketing director for Greater China, a position that has been unfilled since the departure of Frank Pan in the same role late last year. Previously, Mr. Wong was head of strategy for North Asia for Bates Asia.

[hong kong] DDB appointed another ex-Leo Burnett executive, Hong Kong-based Peter Rawlings, as chief operating officer, Asia, a new position reporting to John Zeigler, DDB's president-CEO, Asia/Pacific. Previously, he was chief financial officer, Asia/Pacific for Leo Burnett and Arc.
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