The world's largest creative department
Largest creative department


Good, even brilliant ideas are all around us. One has only to look. (Well, maybe one has to look, hunt, discern, filter, elevate, mould, sell, produce….)

But indeed, looking is the first step.

Two recent ideas produced by Ogilvy Shanghai for Coca-Cola share a few inspiring distinctions along those lines:

  • they were the product of a continuous search for the best idea
  • they were sparked by young emerging talent located outside of the agency’s creative department
  • they convey a powerful message for Coca-Cola while using a fresh, iconic touch
  • and both have won international recognition that has set careers on fire!

Jonathan Mak Long is a budding Hong-Kong based designer, who as a design student gained online notoriety for creating an Apple logo that featured an offset profile of Steve Jobs. Upon the death of Jobs, the image went wildly viral, and was spotted in a UK paper by Graham Fink, CCO of Ogilvy China. Fink is a firm believer in the notion of “the whole world being my creative department”, so he did a simple thing: he picked up the phone and set about tracking down this young artist.

Johnathon Mak Interview

The rest of the story is well-known: Fink flew directly to Hong Kong and met up with Long.

Creative departments


They agreed to explore collaborations when the right opportunity arose.  So when a regional “open brief” was written for Coca-Cola, Long was one of many people to get the call. The resulting “CokeHands” Outdoor and Print execution was developed and launched to almost immediate global acclaim. It reached a lofty peak by winning a Grand Prix and Gold Lion at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity 2012, and has hardly come down since, picking up prizes at practically every major awards show. In the long and storied history of Coca-Cola, “CokeHands” is one of the most awarded creative pieces ever.

Coke story


This story did not escape the attention of Ricky Richards, a young UK-based art student. In October of last year he came up with a simple design for a Christmas poster which used the Coca-Cola can iconography in a clever depiction of Santa Claus.  He emailed the idea to Fink, who as he studied the visual on his computer, felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. Same brand, same medium, same stripped-down yet highly evocative visual approach…could it be?

It could.

The idea was championed by regional Coca-Cola marketer Leonardo O’Grady, who along with local Marketing Director Anubha Sahasrabuddhe quickly saw the potential to make a big, branded statement in the Philippines. “Coke Santa” was rushed to production and erected in the days leading up to Christmas Eve on the largest outdoor site in Manila, a huge 34 meter illuminated billboard.

Coke story 2


What does this mean for Richards? It means that just as he begins his career he has already produced work internationally for the world’s most famous brand. And his resume already boasts one major international award – a bronze CLIO awarded in NY on May 15.

What does this mean for Long? Now that he’s finished design school, it has given him the privilege of being extremely selective as he plans his first career steps. His notoriety and recognition have left him with no shortage of offers from the most innovative companies in the world.

And finally, what does this mean for Fink and Ogilvy?

More than anything, it’s an ongoing validation of our belief in pervasive creativity. We live in an amazing time: technology has done away with borders of age or geography, has given us instant access to endless forms of multi-sensorial inspiration, and has armed us with a digital “megaphone” with which to amplify and share ideas.

It is a time of creativity, within and outside of creative departments. It is a time of ideas, in traditional and in unconventional media. It is a time of collaboration, within one’s office floor and across continents.

In such a time, the real gems are out there, waiting to be spotted.

One has only to look.

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