Mr. Donovan, 33, is “the smartest planner I’ve worked with in Asia,” said George Gallate, Euro RSCG’s Shanghai-based CEO for Asia/Pacific. He persuaded the Australian--and Euro’s global management team--that Mr. Donovan should move from New York to China. In New York he was a member of the network’s management committee and served as managing director of its strategic consulting group, Euro RSCG Leap.
Before he moved to the U.S. in 2004, he spent two years at the agency’s Sydney office, where he was national strategy planning director for Australia. While there, he created Collabor8, a strategic planning tool, and helped spot the metrosexual trend among men. Earlier, he spent six years at FCB in Sydney, where he co-founded that agency's integrated marketing services division.
Although his new role is regional, he will spend about half his time in the mainland. China is already one of Euro’s strongest offices in Asia, but the country has evolved into one of the most important ad markets globally.
"China is something I've been thinking about for a while," said Mr. Donovan. He first visited the country in 2002, "but the place has changed incredibly since then. The market isn't as easy at it looks from London or New York. People there see linear, progressive growth charts, but the challenge here in terms of growth is the tremendous turmoil in the market, thousands of competitors who all want a piece of that growth. It takes a lot to manage a brand here and see your way through that. You need to be realistic to operate here."
An expected rise in spending over the next two years related to the next Olympic Games is likely to turn China--where Euro works with multinational marketers such as Reckitt Benckiser, Volvo, Dell, Schering-Plough, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Diageo and Nokia--into the world’s fifth-largest ad market by 2008. Euro also handles creative for local companies like Kangshifu Food and Inner Mongolia Yili Co., a major dairy.
China’s growing importance prompted Euro RSCG, which was named Advertising Age’s Global Agency Network of the Year in January 2007, to upgrade its consumer insight and planning capabilities there. In Shanghai, Mr. Donovan will work alongside Richard Tan, CEO of Greater China, and Eddie Wong, exec creative director, Greater China.
He has “an uncanny ability to get the right information and decipher what’s really happening in a market,” said Mr. Gallate. “Often, planners are either very good at channel planning or at brand insights, but not both like Matt [Donovan].”
He also has “strong awareness” of digital marketing, already an important advertising channel in China, and understands “viral marketing and buzz. He’s old and experienced enough to draw on a wealth of different skills in traditional advertising. But he’s been involved in digital since the start and understands new ways of building brands," which is particularly important in China.
The mainland's online population grew by 24% last year to 137 million, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, and is likely to surpass the world's largest internet market, the U.S. within two years. It is already the largest mobile phone market in the world with 460 million subscribers in 2006,
"more than the entire U.S. population," said Mr. Donovan. The number of mobile phone users is expected to top 520 million this year, according to the Ministry of Information Industry.
"Chinese really know how to make things, manufacturing is strong, but now they are also waking up to the power of brands," Mr. Donovan added. "While people often bucket China and India together as emerging markets, they are really re-emerging. China has a rich history and depth to the culture that you don't see in the U.S. There's a lot to work with here. The present is the future."
Other people news in Greater China
[hong kong] The Walt Disney Co. has appointed Simon George as VP-regional marketing, Asia/Pacific, a new position based in Hong Kong overseeing marketing strategies for Disney Channel and Disney-branded television businesses across the region. Previously, he worked at Turner Broadcasting System as VP of Cartoon Network Enterprises for Europe, Middle East and Africa in London.
[shanghai] The Home Depot has appointed Yves Chen as Shanghai-based president of its retail operations in China. Besides overseeing the operating and financial performance of The Home Depot's retail operations in China, he will be responsible for integrating HomeWay, a Chinese retail chain acquired last December, into The Home Depot. Most recently, he was executive president of the Chinese retailer Beijing Hualian Group. Prior to that, he held executive positions in China and France with two leading French retailers, Carrefour and Promodes.
[hong kong] Omnicom Group’s DDB Worldwide has appointed Karen See as corporate brand manager, Asia/Pacific for DDB, Tribal DDB, and Rapp Collins, a new position based in Hong Kong. Previously, she managed Sony Corp.’s senior manager, marketing communications in Europe, based in London.
[hong kong] The Hong Kong-based inflight publishing company Emphasis Media has appointed Matthew Jung as marketing and development director.
[shanghai] Omnicom Group;s TBWA Worldwide has appointed Gael Dube as creative director of Tequila, its direct marketing division in Shanghai. He succeeds Juan Tan who was promoted to exec creative director earlier this year.
[hong kong] BBDO Worldwide’s Jean-Paul Burge has relocated to Singapore, where he is managing director of the Omnicom-owned agency’s office there, from Hong Kong, where he was regional business director.
[hong kong] WPP Group’s OgilvyOne has promoted Hong Kong-based Jerry Smith to chief operating officer, Asia, a new position, from VP-regional operations director.
[beijing] Ogilvy & Mather has promoted Joyce Chang to managing director of its office in Beijing. During the past six years, the Taiwan native managed the agency’s IBM business in Greater China. In her new position, she succeeds Chris Reitermann, recently promoted to president of OgilvyOne’s operation in China.
[chengdu] MindShare has appointed Vicky Hsueh as general manager of its office in Chengdu in central China, opened in May 2006. Previously, she was general manager at Tom Cite Media Group’s business weekly publishing division in Taipei. Before that, she worked with MindShare and Maxus in Taiwan. The WPP-owned media division has also appointed Franco Miao as general manager of its office in Nanjing, which was opened in July 2005. Previously, he was general manager of Yuan Chuan Radio Advertising company, where he oversaw its offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.
[austin] The Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo Group has appointed Yolanda Conyers as VP, cultural Iintegration and diversity. Most recently, she was director, worldwide procurement at Dell, where she led the supply chain strategy team. She will remain based in Austin, Texas.