Wain Choi, vice president and global executive creative director, Cheil Worldwide was in Gurgaon recently with an objective of taking stock of the creative product of the agency and impart some of his creative wisdom, gained in the last 20 years in various parts of the world, to Cheil’s India team. Riding on Cheil Korea’s success at Cannes, with the agency bagging a Media Grand Prix for its work on Tesco, Choi’s mood was undeniably upbeat.
Campaign India’s Gunjan Prasad met him to find out more about his vision for Cheil’s India operations.
How does Cheil get out of Samsung’s shadow?
Historically, in Korea, Cheil has been a very dominant agency with 40% of the local work coming out of it. However, outside of Korea, we are still very young with about 28 offices around the world, a lot of which are not set up. The challenge for me is to replicate Cheil Korea’s performance, creativity and credibility globally. And the only way to achieve that is through our work. We bagged a Grand Prix for our work on Tesco that suddenly got everyone interested. In Korea, we have started work on General Motor’s Chevy and all eyes are once again on us on us. Good work is the only way we can attract new clients.
Where does Cheil India fit into this scheme of things?
While we are still a fairly new agency, outside of Korea, India is one of the countries where we have a proper shop with a wide range of services and 100 plus people doing some good work. The agency did some brilliant work in the years 2007-2009 with a win at Cannes, too. It’s time to replicate the success yet again and we are fully geared for it. Great work is done by great people and we are looking to build a strong creative team under Elvis Sequiera who joined us in March.
Has the exit of Prathap Suthan affected the agency in any way?
It is never easy to lose good people but in this business, it happens. Cheil India did some very good work under Suthan and he built a strong creative platform for the agency. Sequiera has to build on it and he surely has the potential to do it.
It has been a good year for Cheil Korea award-wise. How important are awards for agencies?
Awards are very important as they work towards an all-around well being of the agency. They keep the internal staff feeling proud, refreshed and on their toes; make industry sit up and notice and keep the clients happy. While India has been a bit slow on that front, especially in the last two years, I am sure it will soon add to the awards tally, adding to our scores in Campaign India’s Agency Report Card.
What do you think about Indian work being entered at award functions?
Indian work is much more mature now. It is easy to do a one off funny work that wins, but to consistently produce world-class work that engages people at every touch point is difficult to create. India has learnt how to effectively communicate its local flavours globally. It is no longer just Bollywood work – it is smarter, sharper and cutting edge.
What are your thoughts on scam ads?
I believe that good work is good work, whether or not heavily funded by big clients. While there should be a true client behind the work that an agency creates, it does not necessarily need an established lineage. Also, I believe that agencies that can’t create great original work don’t have it in them to create award winning scam work either (chuckles). I started out in this business in 1992 and did a campaign for mom’s dry-cleaning outfit for announcing change of location. It was very well received by the clients and when I entered it in “Marketing Awards” in Canada, it won a bronze. Is that scam…I don’t think so. There was a real client, real consumer and a real reaction.
Cannes has introduced an “effectiveness” award this year. What are your thoughts on it?
Effectiveness has different places to be showcased in and discussed. Cannes has been and should be a purely creative platform and according to me, it is not a place for effectiveness. Are we saying that a piece of work has won the Grand Prix but is not effective/ It has touched the judges and that is effectiveness enough for me.