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Creative Catch-Up: Narrow Door’s Joseph Mok

Creative Catch-Up: Narrow Door’s Joseph Mok

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Joseph Mok (pictured), creative consultant, aka the most senior creative director at Narrow Door, discovered the power of storytelling when he was a university student.

During the time as a student, Mok took on a project to create a storybook illustrating a typical day in the life of a father and son at Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park. This experience led him to realise the profound connection between storytelling and the creative realm of advertising.

In the early stages of his career, Mok encountered individuals with diverse personalities such as rational, emotional, serious and playful. He then noticed that their unique personality traits were reflected in their work. It dawned on him that advertising is not about right or wrong. Instead, it presents a multitude of possibilities that are both thrilling and inspiring.

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

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

My role is to understand the business needs of our clients, looking into the realm of creativity within that space, and presenting to clients the essence of our creative ideas.

Internally, I hope to provide support to our team members and encourage them to explore their creative potential.

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

I have been with Narrow Door for the last three years. The company places a strong emphasis on fostering creativity, embracing authenticity and humour. This aligns perfectly with my own creative principles and values.

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

During my final year at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I undertook a project to design a storybook depicting a day in the life of a father and son at Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park.

Through this endeavor, I uncovered the captivating allure of storytelling, which resonated with the creative nature of advertising. Upon attending our graduation show, my first boss, Ron Cheung, was interested in my work and it led to an invitation to join his team.

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

I encountered all sorts of people in the beginning of my career, the rational ones, emotional ones, serious ones, and playful ones. Their personality traits were represented in their works. I realised that advertising has no right or wrong. Instead, it offers many possibilities that are exciting and inspiring.

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

In the past, the advertising model was rigid and passive. There were many limitations on creativity. With the continuous advancements in technology and media, the advertising model has become much more versatile and interactive, requiring a lot of engagement with the target audience.

Creatives need to constantly innovate and respond quickly to market trends.

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

The efforts and resources put in by the advertising company in pitching clients are sometimes overlooked. Providing pitching fee is a sign of respect towards the advertising company, and I hope it can become a common practice.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE:  Proudest moment in your career?

Back in 2010, my team created a brand campaign “Future daily”, a paper published by Metro Daily that featured the news of what Hong Kong people think would happen in 18 years.

On the launch day, everyone inside the MTR train was holding onto my work and reading it page by page. It made me feel deeply moved.

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

Insisting too much on my own ideas, my relationship with others once become tense. I later realised that good works require the collaboration and efforts of the entire team, and relationships are as important as the success in creative work.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE:  Mentor you look up to most?

That has to be Nick Lim who helped expanding my horizon. I recalled that when I reviewed ideas with him and provided him with five creative options, he would come up with ten more ideas. When I presented ten options to him the next time, he developed them into twenty alternatives. Nowadays, we still meet to chit-chat about movies, art, and creative trends.

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

It is John Lewis' annual Christmas advertisement of which many are always looking forward to it. The message every year is simple but they always come up with impressive and creative storytelling and executions.

Until now, many brands still follow their paths. These are the things I really want to achieve for my clients.

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

Advertising targeted at different audiences cannot be subjectively judged as liked or disliked. Generally speaking, I would avoid creating mediocre advertisements.

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

When I was young, I admired Nike, Adidas and Apple's advertisements. Nowadays, the brands that share similar values and seek for strategic partnership would be my dream brands to work with.

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

Sweating a lot during a 7k run. Ride a bus with no clear destination. See a mind-boggling movie or exhibition.

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

Find some lame gags to tell at the appropriate time. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What makes the difference between an average ads and mind-blowing creativity?

It would be observation and imagination and both require a lot of efforts and hard work.

Take Burger King “Confusing times” campaign as an example, it captured the insights that felt by many, and by incorporating a lot of imaginations, the campaign stretched the boundless creative platform.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What does your family think you do?

My mum was a fan of TVB television dramas and she has preconceived ideas about many things. As I often dozed off with drowsiness after numerous evenings spent working overtime in the beginning of my career, she suspected that I was engaged in improper activities.

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

It could be a film critic being placed in a corner of a newspaper, a librarian, or perhaps a security guard at art museum.

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:

Creative Catch-Up: Branding Records' Marcus Wong
Creative Catch-Up: Edelman HK's John Koay

Creative Catch-Up: Havas Group HK's Kenneth Tung

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