Creative Leaders Corner: Ng Tian It – ‘Human Care and Soul are Still Imperative’

Ng Tian It is Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Communications Beijing.

Time for another visit to Creative Leaders Corner. Pull up a seat for some insights from creative world leaders talking about their own creative journeys, and how they lead others on theirs.

This time we talk with Ng Tian It, Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Communications Beijing.

Over the course of our conversation, he talks about what he misses most about only being simple a “creative”, the rewards of leading a creative team, working with clients, the changing landscape of the creative industry, and more.


 

What do you miss about being a creative without the leadership role, and what do you enjoy most about creative leadership?

Frankly, I miss having fewer meetings to attend, but then again, the world has changed so much now that creatives at all levels are getting more involved in every stage of the discussions.

As for leadership, I love being able to set the tone and create the kind of culture under which good work can be produced on a consistent basis.

Was there a particular ad or ads that inspired you to focus your creative talents on the ad industry?

It was a particular agency, as a matter of fact – Chiat/Day in Venice, Los Angeles.

I was selected for an internship program there and at that point in time, I just wanted to be an in-house illustrator anywhere.


 

Advertising never came to my mind till I witnessed a job that felt more like playing – one that allows for so much freedom, passion, and an ‘everything-is-possible’ mindset.

It helped that the agency was kicking up a storm then, so what I got to experience every day was a can-do creative spirit permeating from top to bottom.

That’s why I still firmly believe in the power of being in the right place – especially for beginners. It will help you to develop your talents with the right values in place.

“Advertising never came to my mind till I witnessed a job that felt more like playing – one that allows for so much freedom, passion, and an ‘everything-is-possible’ mindset.”

How do you persuade clients to take creative risks?

By first understanding their business issues.

What are your strategies for inspiring and motivating your creative team to push boundaries and challenge the status quo?

To lead by example in terms of care and passion for all projects. Followed by support and trust in them to experiment and make mistakes.

What is your take on Generative AI and its impact on the creative industry? How is your team using it?

Other than sending “it’s going to take over my job” shudders down everyone’s spines, in almost every industry, we can always view it as a collaborative tool.

“Human care and soul are still imperative: my sole gripe with AI is that the output tends to take on a certain look.”

To be honest, I would probably sing a different tune if not for a recent project that I really couldn’t fathom us delivering on costs, timing, and quality without the help of Generative AI. The team had to create an animated video idea that would normally cost a fair bit and require a certain timespan to attain an acceptable finish, and with the help of AI, we delivered.

However, the key for us is not to see AI as a one-for-all means to do everything cheap, fast, and good. Human care and soul are still imperative: my sole gripe with AI is that the output tends to take on a certain look.

What advice do you have for people navigating their way into the creative industry for the first time?

“How much do you want it?” is what I’ll ask. If it’s not 100%, I believe their interests will be better served elsewhere.

This is a business that requires undying passion because standing up to constant rejections can be very draining for most. If it’s merely a means or passing fad, don’t waste your time.

What is some campaign work you’ve done during your career that you are most proud of? (Share links to work, please)

I usually say, ‘The next one’, because I always feel there’s something I can still improve on. However, if pressed, I’d probably select a

15-second film because the brief had so many limitations. It had to be delivered with “no budget to shoot / could only use existing images / show lots of the product / must communicate key message of ‘fastest pick-up speed’ / a mandatory 15sec spot / double quick turnaround”.

I’d like to think we nailed it with good old-fashioned creativity.


Quick Hits:

Book everyone in the industry should read:

Paul Arden’s ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be’ and ‘Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite’.

Advertising creatives are easily the most underrated writers. You’ll often find their books concise, entertaining, and thought-provoking – just like the ones mentioned above.

Favourite show you’ve been watching lately:

‘Air’ directed by Ben Affleck. Because it’s never easy to be the only one who believes, and even harder to persevere like Sonny Vacarro did.

Something you want to learn or wish you were better at:

Dissecting strategy to find that gem of an idea.


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