Leo Q+A: Carol Lam, Greater China
Catch up with the region’s new president and chief creative officer to gain insights into her priorities and where she finds her creative inspiration
Carol Lam returns to Leo Burnett to lead the Greater China office in a newly created dual role as president and chief creative officer. Reporting to Michael Lee, CEO of Publicis Communications Greater China, she is tasked with further developing and enhancing Leo Burnett’s creative reputation across the region.
In other regional news, Jeff Ho has been named managing director of Leo Burnett Hong Kong. He is a more than 20-year Leo Burnett veteran, having worked in Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and Guangzhou offices during different phases of his career. Ho will also report to Lee.
Lam created McDonald’s first Cannes-winning work from Leo Burnett Hong Kong in 1997. The Hong Kong native has won multiple awards at a number of prestigious award shows, many of which she has judged in past years. Her successful work for multinational brands, such as Adidas, L’Oreal and P&G, makes her a strong creative asset to the market.
We caught up with Lam for this quick Q&A.
You’ve returned to Leo Burnett Greater China in a newly created combo role. What are your short-term and long-term priorities for the agency?
Quality work generates quality business. Superior creative output—that helps our clients transform their business—is our all-time priority, bar none.
We have many strong individual players in the agency. There will be many more to come. My primary focus is to get everyone to enjoy each other, work closely together and amplify our collective power in pursuing our common goal of producing great work, consistently.
What are some of the most pressing business problems for clients in Greater China?
Speed. Clients are struggling to keep up with their consumers—be it in product innovations, marketing innovations or communications. Consumers in China are progressing at ultra-speed and demands are paramount. Brands that are not fast enough to react to reality will fail and will fail very quickly.
You’re returning to Leo Burnett after working there in the 1990s. Any major changes you’ve noticed? What’s stayed the same?
Technology changes everything. The whole media landscape and the way people consume content has been turned upside down. An entrepreneurial spirit and agility have become more important than ever to keep up with the change. Looking back, the Burnetters I knew in the 1990s still embraced some traits of Mad Men, in all good senses. Today, I’d like to imagine we are Batman—who can befriend fear and uncertainty, transform pain and use it as fuel to awaken our own greater potential.
What’s stayed the same is the incredible culture: the wit and wisdom behind “Reach for the Stars,” the big black pencil, the apples, the 7+, The Breakfast, the Cannes Predictions, the “When to take my name off the door” speech. All of these things make me feel at home again.
What are you looking forward to most as you prepare to lead the Leo Burnett Greater China office?
Adventure. I’m on board the world’s fastest high-speed train, and we perpetually try to do things that we think we can’t do, together, with smart minds and good souls.
Your most cherished creative possession is…
Curiosity and courage.
Where do you go to find creativity?
Everywhere. From a client’s brief to their products and services. From market visits to random web surfing. From talking to the people out there, the real people. From acquaintances. From strangers. From our millennial colleagues. From my silver-hair friends. From art shows and movies. From picking up new skills. From books and magazines. From the guilty pleasure of listening to cheesy music. From practicing mindfulness to daydreaming on the road. From hiking through nature. From the pressure of meeting deadlines. From the hunger of wanting to win…