Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

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Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

Chris Kyme continues his “Postcard from Hong Kong” series and this month his topic is The Kam Fans, a new beginning? …..


So there I was poncing about networking at The Spikes in Singapore last week, when I bumped into Onie Chu, who is now Executive Director at the Hong Kong 4As. What a coincidence. What timing! Of course that led us to start nattering about all things work related in Hong Kong, seeing as we’d just been privy the best of the best in Asia, and there’s a show coming up back home.

Not that I’m involved officially you understand. Been there, done that (or it did me..can’t remember), but I’m always keen to help out and do my bit for our industry and our city.

So earlier this week I popped in to see Onie at her office, and having been recently refurbished, was looking rather snazzy. All colourful and with, stone the crows – a bar!

Many important 5pm future-of-Hong Kong-advertising- meetings coming up, that’s all I can say.

Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

So I asked Onie (pictured above) what her plans were and what we can expect moving forward. “I think the big challenge is to get all members to join hands with us to refresh the HK4As as a leading contemporary advertising and creative body. When I first started, I spent most of my time connecting with members, and simply listened. I couldn’t thank them enough for their input and comments. Having digested and compiled all the information, I conclude that our members still value the HK4As, but feel that it has been lagging behind while the industry was transforming at an extremely fast pace. Looks like we have some catch-up to do. I am grateful to be working with our super supportive Executive Committee chaired by Keith Ho, of DDB.”

I see, so new office and new energy perhaps? “Indeed. Our past décor was almost two decades old, needless to say, very outdated, which quite contradicted with the essence of our industry. As such, we applied design thinking when we planned for our new office. We were very sure that it’s not simply a renovation. We’d like to re-examine our space and see how we can make it of value to our members. Do we just want to be the back office for admin or we can actually attract participation and usage? With an objective of connection, we decided to make it into a free-form space. We have a bar taking the centre stage as we want to remind ourselves to stay out-of-the-box. We want our members and partners to feel our vibe and energy. They can come up for a drink or coffee and brainstorm with us on collaboration opportunities. We do have a whole line up of activities, be it business-related or networking in mind. We have a motto for this: Our office, Your space!”

Which is great to hear and I immediately volunteered to move my entire office and staff into the 4As office, but alas, it wasn’t quite what Onie had in mind. Instead, we got onto more serious matters, such as – what of the state of the industry today? Onie was realistic enough. “I wasn’t a creative. But as a PR person, I always looked at the creatives from outside the net. Definitely years ago, the creative industry was portrayed as mysterious, exciting and inspiring. I still remember those days that I drafted PR plans, I would always name the creatives as trendsetters. Now in this ‘Me’ era, the creative industry has expanded, entry barriers have become blurred. Propelled by technology, everyone can basically be a creative. And of course, we constantly have debates of whether it’s a creative piece or simply copycat. It’s getting harder to find the commonality amongst them all. That said, this creates opportunities of getting people from different backgrounds to exchange, share and inspire each other.”

That’s one way of putting it. We did discuss the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much getting together and sharing these days, which I feel, if anyone is going to be the catalyst for that it should be the 4As (ie, not just me calling people for another happy hour). So I asked how things were going to change from now on.

“I would like to start simple. As said, I started with a few conversations with our members, the CEOs, the creatives, the planners and the administrators. We like to ensure them that we are around. As an industry support network, I’d focus on building the affinity amongst 4As members. We will continuously look for collaboration opportunities with the industry, the partners, the government, local and abroad. We have also decided to put more resources on nurturing talents. As such we will stage inspiring talks and competitions for our mid-level practitioners. We will also work closely with universities and institutions on practical training and career opportunities. Lastly we will keep doing our long-standing awards. We have just finished the Effie Awards and we are going full steam ahead with our Kam Fan Awards now. To refresh the HK4As, we always challenge ourselves to do things differently. Like the Effies, we just staged our inaugural Effie Next 50 Workshop and shifted from a gala dinner to a more vibrant format of award presentation. Similarly for the Kam Fan Awards, we will be adding a new category named Hong Kong Roots this year. We are specifically calling for entries that resonates to local insight, culture or behaviour. We aim to make the Kam Fan night a gathering for creatives of different era!

Well I had my cuppa tea and I sauntered off with all this buzzing around in my head. I like the new-found energy Onie is giving off, and I really do hope that translates into some positive vibes from the local creative community. The Kam Fans has long upheld a tradition of quality judging (let’s face it, there are enough shows around these days where the judges are anyone and their uncle) and that’s something to maintain if we are to inspire future generations to want to be a part of the industry.

That said, top notch judges have been lined up this year, including Jureeporn Thaidumrong (Judy), Chief Creative officer/ Global creative board member GREYnj United, Thailand, Ronald Ng Global Chief Creative Officer Isobar, New York and Joakim (Jab) Borgström, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer BBH, Singapore

The Kam Fan Awards show will be on November 22nd. Watch this space.

Chris Kyme is Co-founder and Creative Director at Kymechow, Hong Kong.