WILSON ANG: Group Creative Director, J. Walter Thompson Hong Kong

My NativeAdVice:


Wilson Ang is Group Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson Hong Kong. Wilson stumbled into advertising in 2002. Since then, his works have been recognized with every award that matters—including Cannes Lions, D&AD pencils, One Show pencils, 1 CLIO Gold statue, 2 AdFest Golds, Spikes Asia, Effies, and 2 Grand Prixes at the local Kam Fan award show. Wilson received a degree in Computer Engineering. It was during this time, he realized he preferred communicating with people more than computers so, soon after he graduated, he said goodbye to his binary friends and started his career in advertising. His colleagues in the MIS department love him because he always fixes his computer issues on his own.

How did you get into the industry?

I received a degree in Computer Engineering. It was during this time, I realized I preferred communicating with people more than computers so, soon after I graduated, I said goodbye to my binary friends and started my career in advertising.

Any emerging industry trends?

I believe business can do great by doing good, and I’m seeing purposeful marketing growing bigger in recent years. CSR is definitely not something new to the industry, but it has been undervalued. What marketers often do is that they park aside a small budget to give back to the society, in the hope to build a better brand image. But we are now living in a transparent world. It’s all about how your brand behave in the world and you basically can’t fake it by ‘saying’ rather than ‘doing’. So if brands want to be meaningful to consumers, do real things and improve people’s lives. This is what your consumers want to see. Today, many of us (the agencies) have been trying to tap onto certain social topics to make brands relevant to consumers, while some are already starting to resolve particular social issues or cultural tensions. Moving forward, I expect to see more ‘doer’ brands – brands who take the lead to do good will be rewarded.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Digital disruption has posed some serious challenges to advertising. Everyday there are new pieces of technology being invented, new types of rule we have to follow on various digital platforms. It is the trend and the expectation. For sure we have to embrace it, but the biggest challenge will be how not to get lost in all these digital trends, and to create advertising that is still rooted to an insight, to an idea, without doing digital for digital sake.

Nevertheless, how digital has been changing the face of advertising also forces agencies to be more adventurous and ambitious. Advertising becomes more than TVC or print or even digital campaigns. We get to innovate and invent. It can be creating a CD for pharmaceutical brand, innovating a nail polish for fast food chain or even transforming the agency into a startup. Advertising can now be anything, and I still believe that we can make real changes with this transformation.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I’d say most of the inspirations come from real life observations. As a local Hong Konger, I try to keep myself down-to-earth and make sure I live in the local culture as a creative, but also as a consumer. It’s important for me to see what other consumers see and live that way they live. My insights can come from anywhere – a recent TV drama, a nostalgic shared memory or a local pop song. I’ll also talk to an array of people, including the team and people in the office. I’m always surprised by the rich inspirations I can get just by having a causal chitchat with the people around.

I won’t call it a vision, but I believe agency should work more fluidly and take on a more integrated approach. Right now, we have Ad agency, PR agency, digital agency, social media agency … etc. Yet this is not how consumers view brand communication – they view it as a whole. So our idea should be more integrated across all disciplines and agencies should be more fluid in proposing different formats of idea, as long as it is the best solution for clients’ business challenges.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

AR and VR will be the next big thing in the digital landscape, and I expect them to be the next big thing in advertising, or any other industries as well. Think about the technologies – VR transports you to a different world, whereas AR enriched our world by adding a layer of digital information. These are transformative in the way how we consume content, communicate with others or live our lives, and will definitely open up a whole new world for advertising. It is not a latest technology, but I see both AR and VR arrive a tipping point, which industry leaders, like Facebook & Google, are competing on the development, brands are more confident in technical capability, and most importantly, consumers have the devices and their knowledge ready for both tech using in advertising.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I’m a firm believer of the art of presentation and it takes finesse to sell in ideas, no matter it’s a pitch or to our existing clients. As creative people we spend lots of our time crafting great ideas, but often we rush our presentations, which can make it or break it. Because clients want to pick an agency partner that they want to work with and more importantly they can trust. So I’d say making an impression and build a relationship in such a short period of time is crucial. Therefore before every client presentation I’d make sure the team spent time crafting the flow and designing on a strategy that makes a lasting impression.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

It would be the time when we had come up with a great great idea that all of us were convinced it would take the brand to next level, except for the client. This happened a lot when we always want to stretch the brand and propose something that could be quite bold. However, I’ve also learned that this is our responsibility to build that trust so that our clients are willing to take that bigger step with us.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Our clients come to us, trusting that we will provide them with the best solutions and treat their business as our own. By doing so it will mean genuine interest in what they are doing and deep understanding of their products, their industries and their consumers. What also impresses them is when we as the agency are proactive in going the extra mile by proposing something out of the brief, that could work and help move the brand forward.

How do you motivate others?

Working in the ad industry can be wearing and we get frustrated easily – no matter its because of the ‘sweatshop’ hours or believing that we can never do what we want. So we do need some motivations from time to time. I’ve come to realize that there are 2 things that motivate and propel the team forward – growth and opportunities. When I build my team, I always find people who are better than me. I want to make sure we learn from each other every day, and everyone is feeling appreciated and rewarded with opportunities.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t get lost. Stay focus on the reason why you start your career in advertising. Keep the passion and be tenacious. It’s a marathon race.