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Creative Catch-up: dentsu HK's Jeffry Gamble

Creative Catch-up: dentsu HK's Jeffry Gamble

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Creativity is often seen as part of a brand’s DNA in the marketing world. To celebrate the creative masterminds behind every successful campaign or strategy, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE is bringing its "Creative Catch-up" column to our readers in Hong Kong. The column is designed not only to highlight the unwavering work ethic exhibited by these leaders but also to present their remarkable journeys to attaining their current positions of influence. 

We kick off the series with Jeffry Gamble (pictured), chief creative officer, dentsu Hong Kong. Gamble first dipped into advertising as a trainee under a training scheme organised by the Hong Kong 4As and was rotated through account service, media and lastly, creative. Since then, he has developed a passion for creative and has helmed various senior roles at multiple agencies such as executive DDB and mcgarrybowen Greater China. 

Find out more about Gamble's journey in the creative industry thus far and who inspires him. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Tell us a little bit about your role. 

Every day, I try to inspire a talented group of creatives to be better than who they think they are. You can’t make great things unless you can go beyond what you already know. I try to create a culture that helps them believe they can make a difference for our clients, consumers and society.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How long have you been with the agency? 

I have been with the group in various roles for the last 10 years. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How did you stumble into this industry? 

I actually remember the moment quite clearly. I was studying in the UK at the time and Career Day was coming. At that point, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I was in the boarding house watching television, an ad just made everyone laugh and I thought advertising could be an interesting career. Here I am.   

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first impression of the advertising industry? 

I joined the industry through a training scheme organised by the Hong Kong 4As. I got a one-year contract and was rotated through account service, media and creative. I started in account service and I am by nature a very shy person so was shocked that I had to talk to people. Then media, well… anyone that knows me will know I have no head for numbers, so next.

Creative, I honestly never thought of being a creative when I joined. But when I got there, what hit me was how free it all felt. Ideas were just being thrown around no matter if they were right, wrong, smart or plain stupid. Through these fun chit-chats, sooner or later, something amazing happened. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Creatively, what do you feel has been the biggest shift? 

For me the biggest shift has been the explosion of technology, not just AI, but the stuff that came before and all the things that will come. It has enabled truly meaningful solutions that I would never have dreamt of when I first joined the industry.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What’s the most frustrating thing about being a creative? 

The frustrating thing for me is people say you can’t do it too quickly. My attitude has always been you can until you can’t. An idea is fragile, you need to nurture it and protect it. No good idea is easy to make. If it is too expensive, find ways to do it cheaper. If it takes too long to produce, burn the midnight oil and the list goes on. And nine times out of 10 you will find a solution to bring it to life. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Proudest moment in your career? 

The launch of Critical Core. C&C is a tabletop role-playing game that enables children on the autism spectrum to learn and discover social skills and critical thinking. I have a nephew who is on the autism spectrum, so I tasked the agency to come up with a solution that can make a difference in his life. And now thanks to the team, thousands of children around the world are enjoying the benefits of this amazing game. I couldn’t be more proud of the team. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is one career mistake you won’t forget? 

Fighting for titles. When your goal is simply to get a bigger title or earn more money, you tend to forget what you joined the industry for, to create and make amazing things.

You just end up trying to please people, your bosses, and your clients and just do work for them instead of fighting for what’s right even if it means putting your job on the line for it. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Mentor you look up to most? 

That will have to be Chris Kyme. Before I got my first job as a copywriter, Kyme used to give me creative briefs to work on to help me build my book. Every Saturday, I would go to his office to show him the work, he’d review it for me and then give me a new brief. After a month of that, he gave me my first job as a copywriter. And I am pretty sure, at the beginning anyway, he regretted it. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your favourite piece of advertising? 

The British Airways ‘A British Original’ print and outdoor campaign. It is simple, clever, emotional and witty all at the same time. Something I wished I had done.   

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do you dislike most in an ad? 

In Hong Kong right now, celebrities. I have nothing against celebrities themselves, just how creatives all too often think a celebrity is an idea, it’s not.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your dream brand to work with? 

I always believed if you have the right client, you can do great work on any brand.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you get inspired when you aren’t? 

What inspires me is hard to nail down, because it can be different every time. I just try to be curious and soak up as much as I can and then, hopefully, it will bubble up when it is needed.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your ritual/superstition before a big pitch? 

I never rehearse. It annoys the hell out of everyone I work with. It’s not that I don’t like preparing. I just like to think through all the things I want to say and then allow it to flow naturally. I am a better presenter when I don’t have to regurgitate a script. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: If you weren’t a creative, what would you be? 

I was once asked if I wanted to be the personal assistant to a famous Hong Kong celebrity, so probably that. Ironic, considering I just said I dislike celebrity advertising. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your guilty pleasure that you’ve kept hidden from the industry? 

I’ll keep that hidden, thank you. 

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world!

Related articles:

Dentsu Hong Kong names new chief creative officer
Dentsu Hong Kong reshuffles media leadership with new promotions

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