Proximity's Glenn Bartlett

And other people news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--To beef up its digital creative capabilities in Greater China, Omnicom Group’s Proximity Worldwide has tapped Canadian Glenn Bartlett, 38, as executive creative director, a new position based in Shanghai.

Most recently the integrated creative director, Greater China at M&C Saatchi in Hong Kong, he will oversee creative and content for the BBDO Worldwide division. Proximity specializes in relationship marketing services such as direct, interactive, promotions, data consulting and events. Proximity has only 12 staff in China, but BBDO is betting that Proximity will help build the ad agency’s overall business in China.

“Our clients want and need holistic communication in China and never more so than in the lead-up to the Olympics,” said Mr. Bartlett. The Toronto native has worked abroad for the past nine years, including stints in New York, London and Japan, where he developed the first fully dynamic e-commerce sites.

He has worked in Asia for seven years. Before joining M&C Saatchi early last year, he was executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup's MRM Worldwide division in Tokyo. Before that, he held senior creative roles in Hong Kong at MRM, where he led creative on Cathay Pacific online business, and at Modem Media in Toronto.

Most agency networks in China are investing in their own digifal and direct marketing capabilities. BBDO’s sibling agencies, DDB Worldwide and TBWA Worldwide, have their own Tribal DDB, Rapp Collins, Tequila, and divisions in China. Marketers already working with Proximity in China include Air New Zealand and Fendi.

While young Chinese are avid consumers of mobile and internet technology, they spend little time watching TV or reading newspapers. The country’s print market is heavily fragmented into thousands of local and niche titles.

Double-digit inflation for commercial time on China Central Television, the national broadcaster, means national TV exposure is prohibitively expensive, and wasteful, for brands that are not mass-market.

Proximity’s expansion is also part of an overall push by Omnicom to expand in China, following the appointment of Michael Birkin, Omnicom's Tokyo-based chairman-CEO, Asia/Pacific, in early 2005. The holding company has invested heavily in acquisitions and new staff, particularly to build up its BBDO and DDB networks in China.

Although Omnicom is the world’s largest advertising holding company, WPP Group and Publicis Groupe agencies in have grown faster in China, particularly Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Mr. Bartlett's appointment “shows our commitment to delivering the integrated work that our clients like Visa, Federal Express and General Electric need in the run-up to the Olympics, ” said Shanghai-based Carol Potter, BBDO’s CEO, China. He will also “of course, work on Pepsi,” she added, referring to one of the agency’s largest accounts, and one of the most innovative digital marketers in China.

Last month, for example, PepsiCo celebrated Chinese New Year with a mobile campaign, developed by BBDO, that received over nine million hits from late February through early March, according to Leo Tsoi, the U.S. soft drink giant’s marketing director for Pepsi-Cola in Shanghai.

Adding some creative energy to BBDO is another goal, Mr. Bartlett said last week while attending the Asia Pacific Advertising Festival in Pattaya, Thailand. China’s presence at the region’s largest creative awards show this year was “non-existent. We need to push our clients a lot further and harder. The country didn’t win much.” (See also “Chinese agencies underwhelm AdFest judges,” March 21, 2007)

China is “catching up,” he added, “but the whole region still lags behind the rest of the world. China is a hot bed of work by sheer volume and clients are beginning to accept creative ideas. Now we need to take it to the next level.”

Other people news in Greater China

[beijing] TBWA Worldwide has transferred Anthony Polovineo to Beijing as general manager of that office from its TBWAWhybin in Sydney, where he was group account director, responsible for the agency's Apple and Nissan business in Australia.

[taipei] News Corp.’s Star Group has promoted Jason Siu to general manager of its broadcasting operations in Taiwan. Based in Taipei, he succeeds Wayne Chou, who resigned. Previously, he was Star’s general manager, Chinese programming.

[shanghai] MindShare has appointed Gu Yuan as general manager, China of its sport and entertainment ESP division, a new position. Although based in Shanghai, Ms. Gu will mainly look after the division’s offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. Previously, she was general manager of News Corp.’s Channel [V] music channel in China, also in Shanghai.

[hong kong] The Hong Kong-based custom publishing company Emphasis has appointed Matthew Jung as marketing and development director. Previously, he was director of communications at Harbour Plaza Hotels & Resorts, also based in Hong Kong. He succeeds Sandy Lai, who resigned from the company.
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