The People Of China’s Ad Industry: Angela Hsu

Interview with M&C Saatchi's Angela Hsu

Saatchi. One of, if not, the greatest names in the history of advertising. Here is a piece of adman folklore for those unfamiliar the name. In 1970, two brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi hired a dozen strangers to sit an office and pose as advertising executives to convince a prospective client that they had a busy and successful company. The stunt worked and the advertising agency “Saatchi & Saatchi” was officially born.

Maurice & Charles Saatchi in 1970

Maurice & Charles Saatchi in 1970

Within 10 years the London based agency had become the biggest in the UK and before reaching 20 it became the biggest and most respected agency in the world. Yet come 1995, in what was to be one of the biggest shake-ups ever in the advertising industry, the Saatchi brothers were ousted out of their own agency by its investors.

Following the ousting, Maurice Saatchi swiftly setup a new agency and titled it ‘M&C Saatchi‘. His old clients soon followed him and before long the new agency had offices springing up all over the world and recently M&C Saatchi celebrated its 40th anniversary in advertising. The agency’s main Chinese office is based in Shanghai and we had the privilege of having a quick chat with its lovely CEO, Angela Hsu.

Hi Angela, an easy one to start with, what is your background?

I am Taiwanese. I was born and grew up in Taiwan. My second degree was completed in the UK (MBA).

How did you get into advertising and why did you want to work in the industry?

My major at university was in advertising. Naturally, I found an internship in an advertising agency and have loved it ever since.

What was your career path to becoming CEO of M&C Saatchi China?

M&C Saatchi Logo
I always wanted to join M&C Saatchi. Finally they called me in January 2004 and I officially joined them on May 1st that year, and I have been here ever since. I started my first job at M&C Saatchi as Director of Client Services in the Shanghai office. Then in 2006, I was assigned to be General Manager. In 2008, I was promoted to Managing Director and had a broader responsibility in M&C Saatchi-I (our digital capability).

In 2010, I became CEO for Central and North China, responsible for both Beijing and Shanghai offices – and focused more on how to build talent/business pipelines. This year, I became China CEO with my goal to develop M&C Saatchi’s China Strategy. It’s been a long march but very challenging and fun one.

What is the goal of M&C Saatchi in China? How does the agency differentiate itself from all the other agencies in the Mainland?

It’s an agency of friends. We enjoy working together, facing challenges together, and having fun together. It’s also an agency of quality. We want our work to be the most sought after.

M&C Saatchi China

Angela and her team

Are there many women in the Chinese advertising industry?

I have no idea about the quantity, but there are many women in advertising in this part of world. A number of them have made their way to management level. I am not an unique case.

Do you feel there are any equality issues in China? Do women have the same opportunities as men?

In my experience I don’t feel any equality issues – I feel women have equal opportunities in advertising. In other fields maybe it’s different.

What would you say to young Chinese students to encourage them to work in advertising?

Saatchi is the most powerful, influential and glamourous name in advertising. We have a romantic belief, ‘Nothing is impossible‘.
If you are not afraid of changes, challenges, pressures then you will have lots of fun and be able to help change the world.

M&C Saatchi China’s advertisements for the Lenovo “LePhone S1” smartphone
Lenovo LePhone print

What inspires you?

Brilliant people.

How do you inspire others?

Dream with them.

What is your opinion of this year’s Chinese entries to the Cannes Lions Festival? Is the best of Chinese creativity still yet to come?

The Chinese market itself has lots of restrictions, but I think Chinese advertising people are great and their time to shine is coming.

How does your agency help Chinese brands go global?

We have people from around the world, we also have an excellent network of 25 global offices. As an agency of friends – we help each other.

Some photos of the Shanghai Office
M&C Saatchi Shanghai

M&C Saatchi Shanghai

M&C Saatchi 'Idea Room'

Is there a particular Confucius teaching you live by?

Yin Cai Shi Jiao, roughly meaning ‘to teach in accordance to individual aptitudes’.

Therefore helping understand how to motivate those with different talents.

What do you do in your spare time outside the office?

I do nothing related to work so I can rest better and then begin to miss working after my “spare time”.

Finally, what has been the proudest moment in your career to date?

Building the Beijing office from nothing. I told my Shanghai team in January 2010, we need to have an office in Beijing. We all had a consensus of making our goal to establish a Beijing office. Come October 2010 we won one client, so we could build a proper team. By April 2011, we had won another client, which meant we could build a proper office space. I am very proud of my team and how we worked together.

Thank you Angela and xiè xiè.

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