In an appointment that was more than a year in the making, Publicis Groupe has named Natalie Lam as its first group-level chief creative officer for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
Based in Singapore and Hong Kong and reporting to Loris Nold, the group's CEO for the same geographical regions, Lam will have oversight over the creative product and will manage and activate the creative community across the region, according to Nold.
Lam was most recently an ECD at large since 2018, which followed a stint with Google in New York, leading the creative team for its Art, Copy & Code initiative. Prior to that she was ECD with Razorfish and McCann in the US, which followed time with OgilvyOne in Shanghai and R/GA in New York. Her brand portfolio includes Coca-Cola, Mercedes, Spotify, Nike and Instagram. She is also a co-founder of a New York school for DJs and electronic musicians.
Nold told Campaign Asia-Pacific he has wanted to create this role since as long as two years ago, and has been searching the world for the right person. The ambition is to raise the creative bar across the group. "I want to see magic coming out of this region," he said. "I want to see meaningful magic. Purposeful work. Work that sits across the platforms and drives business impact." The position requires a "rare breed," combining world-class talent, knowledge of the region, an understanding of creativity's present and future, strength in craft and also experience in tech, he said.
The role is not a creative-agency role, but rather a group role about creativity, which Nold asserted is central not just to traditional creative work, but also to media, technology, brand experience and use of data. In addition to creative oversight, Nold expects Lam to help foster creativity in the company by working with the creative leaders across the markets and the group's agency brands (Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide and Saatchi & Saatchi). From her group-level position, she will also be able to connect the group's creatives with more opportunities and exposure to different parts of the business, he added. "We're not trying to rectify anything or correct something that's not working," Nold said. "This is about elevating and accelerating."
Lam will also be charged with helping to drive the group's agenda around DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), particularly within the Publicis creative ranks, Nold said. For her part, Lam called the new position a "once-in-a-lifetime dream role". "In my year-long discussion with Loris I was impressed with the breadth and depth of the Groupe’s offerings and ambition, the region’s endless possibilities, and the incredible opportunity to work with the amazing talent pool in the network," she said in a release. "Being a New Yorker from Hong Kong, I appreciate the beauty of diverse cultures and the changes that shape our lives every day around the world. I’m excited to join the dynamic community in the region and create work that’s modern, relevant, touches lives in positive ways and moves brands forward.”