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Sheung Yan Lo retires after a career spanning over 3 decades – togetherbe



After a remarkable career spanning over three decades, advertising legend Sheung Yan Lo – who is known as ‘Ma Yan’ by his peers, bids adieu to the industry.

 

Most recently serving as Chief Creative Officer, APAC for leading company, Wunderman Thompson, Ma Yan, who is originally from Hong Kong, has come a long way. From humble beginnings as a secondary school teacher, he started his career in 1996, joining China’s advertising industry as a copywriter for JWT Shanghai. An illustrious career saw him quickly shooting up the ranks, eventually becoming the Chairman of JWT’s Asia-Pacific Creative Council in 2013, before being appointed Chief Creative Officer, APAC for Wunderman Thompson in 2019.

Throughout his career, Ma Yan played a pivotal role in shaping the advertising landscape in China. Under his leadership, JWT garnered numerous prestigious awards, cementing its reputation as a powerhouse in the industry, and China’s most awarded agency. From being named “Network Agency of the Year” by AdFest (2008 & 2009) and Media Spikes (2009), along with “Agency of the Year” by Campaign Asia in 2011, Ma Yan’s contributions have been instrumental in elevating the agency’s profile on the global stage.

Having worked across numerous high profile award-winning campaigns, Ma Yan was also responsible for producing many firsts for China’s advertising industry, from winning China’s first gold Clio, to helping lead China to its very first Grand Prix at Cannes in 2011.

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In 2012, he made history once again, becoming the first Chinese jury head of Cannes’ Outdoor Advertising Awards. Ma Yan has also continued to support the industry by serving as a juror at regional awards like Longxi Chinese Advertising Awards, Spikes Asia and ADFEST. His achievements were further recognised when he was honoured as “Lotus Legend” at Adfest 2016, and was awarded the Honorary University Fellow by the University of Hong Kong in 2021.

A well-rounded creative, Ma Yan has more than 15 years’ experience writing, directing and acting in stage plays, and writing lyrics for Asian pop songs and musicals, as an active member of the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong. In 2009 the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce also honoured him as one of the Outstanding Hong Kong People in Shanghai.

In this next chapter, he plans to spend more time with his family, while continuing to explore his creative passions, including writing for musical theatre and studying.

Audrey Kuah, co-CEO APAC, VML, said: “Today, we bid farewell to a creative visionary whose impact on the APAC advertising industry is immeasurable. Ma Yan’s innovative spirit, dedication, and unwavering passion have left an indelible mark on us and the entire industry. As he embarks on this new exciting chapter, we wish him a retirement as vibrant and inspiring as his career has been.”

Ma Yan, says: “As I retire from this thrilling 36-year journey, I reflect with profound gratitude on all my years of creativity, growth, and camaraderie. I am reminded of the wise words of Mao Zedong “The world is yours, as well as ours, but but in the last analysis, it is yours.” To the fearless, passionate souls who now carry the torch, I offer my sincerest blessings.”

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LETTER FOR CAMPAIGN BRIEF ASIA BY MA YAN

When I moved on from being a secondary school teacher and applied to become a Chinese Copywriter decades ago, I wrote application letters to the creative leaders of the 4As agencies in Hong Kong. I think it is only appropriate for me to write another letter when I am saying goodbye to the industry:

Dear readers,

I am letting you know that I am retiring from this exciting business. I have enjoyed it all the way, and I feel today, it might be too exciting for a veteran who has spent more than 36 years in the industry, and among those, 28 of them in one company (although the name of the company has changed a few times). It’s time to pass the baton on as I see a group of energetic, hungry, and inspirational creative leaders charging forward to make their mark on the world.

It has been a wonderful journey, starting and ending in Hong Kong, with great cities in between. I am truly grateful that Shanghai, China, gave me the opportunity to work in such a gigantic and unexplored market some 28 years ago. I thought I was going to see China, but instead it ended up bringing me to see the world. Speaking of this experience, I must express my utmost gratitude to my mentor, Jimmy Lam. It’s he who selflessly shared what he had, and he who also inspired a generation of Chinese creatives with his LongYin Review and LongXi Chinese Award. Later, he even called upon Asian creatives to make their voices heard in the regional and global arena with Khun Vinit. Without a pioneer like him, the Chinese and wider Asian creative scenes would be very different.

I guess that’s why we keep hearing the saying: “Agency is a people’s business.” Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s so true. I leave this industry hoping we remember this very important fact. While it’s great to be inspired by the Human-Inspired artificial intelligence (AI) and new trends, let’s not forget the people around us. How can we put the next generation in the center of our business so that everyone can benefit from the value of exchanging, sharing and caring?

Last year, I was part of a Cantonese production of the musical “Godspell”. Now in 2024, we are working on a new musical project, “Into the Woods”. How will it look when you are “in the woods”? Well, it’s worth exploring. Time is limited and precious, so I will now focus on what I enjoyed most about this job when I started my journey: To observe, to learn and to continue writing what is interesting and meaningful.

I am reminded of the wise words of Mao Zedong, “The world is yours, as well as ours, but on final analysis, it’s yours.” I am cheering for the passionate and fearless new generation; you will take this industry in a more exciting direction and towards a brighter place.

I have loved every part of this adventurous journey, and I am honored to have gained so many unforgettable companions throughout. Without you, life would be very bland.

Blessings,
Ma Yan



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Miranda Cosgrove

My Miranda cosgrove is an accomplished article writer with a flair for crafting engaging and informative content. With a deep curiosity for various subjects and a dedication to thorough research, Miranda cosgrove brings a unique blend of creativity and accuracy to every piece.

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