DDB said Thursday it has bought back Milo Chao as its chief strategy officer in Chicago.
Chao worked at DDB from 2011 to 2013, when he was head of strategic planning for Greater China, working out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He returns to the agency to work under Andrea Diquez, who joined as CEO of DDB Chicago in May.
Prior to his return to DDB, Chao went brand-side to head up marketing at SimpleHuman in California in 2019. He returns to DDB and the agency world “to have a greater impact” and refocus on pure creative work, he told Campaign US.
“I want to be part of an organization that has a lot of influence on different brands and can have a greater impact globally,” he said. “I want to be surrounded by people who are excited about creativity on a daily basis.”
Before his stint on the brand side, Chao had extensive experience working at agencies in Asia Pacific, including at Grey in Beijing, where he launched Starbucks in China. He was also chief strategy officer TBWA\China out of Shanghai, working with brands including Adidas, Mastercard and McDonald’s.
Chao also has regional experience in the US, having started his career at Grey NY and working for Rapp Collins in Dallas on AT&T, Toyota and Dell.
DDB is Chao’s “favorite agency I’ve ever worked at,” he says, and he believes that DDB Chicago in particular is the “mecca for DDB advertising.”
Chao was intrigued by DDB’s new global positioning and creative philosophy, “Unexpected Works,” which places emphasis on breaking through the noise and stopping people in their tracks with creativity.
“Most people are numb to the things thrown at them on a daily basis,” he said. “Giving them something unexpected that will stop them, but also make them think and feel, is really important.”
As a strategy leader, Chao expects his team, which will be roughly 30 people, to be as good at working with data as they are at telling stories and understanding the nuts and bolts of client businesses.
“We need planners to understand the entire picture to create and sell better work,” he says. “We need to have a much more profound understanding of the products we're pushing.”
He also plans to bring his experience from China, where campaigns start from a digital and mobile-first perspective, influencers drive culture and marketing moves rapidly.
“It’s important for us to be a little bit more neutral in terms of how we start [campaigns],” he said.