The 43rd International Advertising Association (IAA) World Congress was held in Beijing over May 8-10, 2014. At the grand opening and award dinner, which took place in the Great Hall of the People on the evening of May 9th, Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China CEO Michael Lee took home the “Outstanding Contribution to the Advertising Industry in China Award”, the first and only Chinese CEO to win this individual achievement award. Alongside Michael, the two other industry elites distinguished with this award were Miles Young, Worldwide Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, and Serge Dumont, Vice Chairman of Omnicom Group.
Michael, currently CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China, has had twenty-five years of experience in the advertising world, in which he is known as “The Rainmaker”. Michael started his career in 1989 in Hong Kong with a Computer Science degree from University of Melbourne. In 1997, Michael left the relatively comfortable and secure advertising life in Australia to plunge headfirst into the developing China market as one of China’s earliest advertising pioneers. With a finely-tuned business acumen and an outstanding track record of business success, he became General Manager of DMB&B Beijing at the age of 29 — still the youngest to do so at an international ad agency in China to this day. In the sixteen years since, Michael has never strayed from his mission to develop and advance creativity and innovation.
In 2005, Michael broke the norm by creating a partnership of four great creative leaders (deemed “The Four Gods” by the industry) to lead the agency instead of having a single ECD. As a result, Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai topped the Greater China Creative Ranking at CampaignBrief and became one of the most influential creative agencies in China within three short years. He also kickstarted many innovative business ideas in China, such as founding OgilvyFashion, the country’s first international agency to specialize in fashion and lifestyle communications.
After joining Saatchi & Saatchi in 2012, Michael continued to blaze forward, leading the agency to win CR3 China Creative Agency of the Year for 2 consecutive years, and producing China’s first “Nano Movie” (a new form of branded entertainment) as well as China’s first Cannes–winning public service ad for CCTV. Michael also positioned himself at the forefront of the corporate communications field, promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, and leading the Greater China team to support and partner with a diverse range of domestic and international NGOs and charity organizations to realize Saatchi & Saatchi’s mission of changing the world through love and creativity. Even as an experienced agency leader in China, however, Michael always stays ahead of industry trends. In response to the challenges posed to advertising by new media and the development of new technologies, Michael launched a new “Monsters Attack” campaign at the beginning of 2014, aimed at returning the industry to its former heights of glory.
Michael also presented a speech at the IAA World Congress entitled “Chinese Elements, Global Catalysts: How Chinese Culture Can Empower Brands for Global Impact”, in which he shared his insights with an audience of 1,600 on integrating Chinese culture into brand communications. He has given multiple interviews to the media about his feelings on receiving the award and his predictions and suggestions for the future of China’s advertising market.